The picture is of my cousins… after the visitation in Webster City… after a few beverages… obviously. EDITOR’S NOTE - We’ll be back to the craziness you count on… the Year in Review is next.
Hey, QCI-ders… what a long week. I hope you will forgive me for not blogging that much. Really haven’t felt like it. But today… after saying a final good bye to my Grandpa Robert… my brain has been working… thinking… and getting in a mindset to put some thoughts out there. So here’s a little bit that’s on my mind in the randomnous way it always works. So I hope I’m making sense. If not, get your own damn blog.
I am so grateful and blessed to have gotten to know my Grandpa. Many of my friends have never met or were to young to remember theirs. He was a very special person. For the past few days I have heard millions of stories from family, friends and acquaintances of my Grandpa. Here’s a few things I learned (some of them I’ve known for years…) over the past few days.
First, as my Dad said all week, he had 2 loves…. Farming and my Grandma Ula Mae. Other than serving on boards or volunteering with the Lions… he really had no hobbies. My grandpa absolutely loved being in the tractor or combine. Some guys have bumper stickers that say, “I’d rather be fishing.” Well, Grandpa Robert’s sticker would read, “I’d rather be in a tractor.” Then there’s my Grandma… to whom they were married for 65 years. They got married 2 weeks before he shipped off to the South Pacific in World War II. There was an article later about WWII vets from the God’s Country, Iowa… he was asked what he looked forward to the most when he got back to the States. He said simply, “To see the beautiful face of my bride.” That’s all he thought about during the time of his service in the Navy. Now, I did say he didn’t have much for hobbies… but man did my Grandparents love to dance. I think that’s where I secretly get all of my sweet dance moves. He and my Grandma could polka dance for as long as you let them. Man could he cut a rug… and a lot of the ladies (and fellas) at the church today did mention he was a hell of a dancer… but danced even better if he was with his best partner… my Grandma Ula Mae.
For you South Hammies reading… there would be no South Hamilton as we all know and love today if it wasn’t for guys like my Grandpa. He along with Richard Arends were the representatives of the Stanhope area on School Board in the early 60s. The plan was to build a brand new High School and Junior High in Jewell. Top of the line… a very progressive plan. This would consolidate Jewell, Stanhope, Ellsworth and Randall to South Hamilton in a new building. It may seem very small deal to some you who aren’t from God’s Country, Iowa… but this was one of the hottest issues of the time. Grandpa, along with many others, made the bold and brave decision to not only build the new school… but to ensure the kids from their communities would go there. This of course brought hostile feelings… telling my Grandpa, “You are taking away our school and identity.” But he like others knew that this was for the best option for future generations. I’m told, he’s still got some hell about it from time to time, even today… but he was really proud of that. He was just as proud as he greeted all of the students off of the buses the day the school opened… 40 years ago… and ironically enough, today is the 40 year anniversary of the public open house at the high school.
Alright… I really could go on forever here… I can still hear some stories being told in the other room by my family and others… so I gotta get back to that. I just want to thank many of you again, for your calls, prayers, texts and emails of warm words. That’s what’s made this whole deal be a little easier… many of you asked, let me know what I can do. As a family we’re sending memorials to the Wednesday Night in the Park for Stanhope, so if you’d like to, let me know… I can get you the info… But if you’d like to make just a little salute/tribute to my Grandpa… next time you’re out to eat… eat pork. The license plates on his pickup read, “IA PORK”. My grandpa was a proud hog farmer until the day he died… it’s been instilled in me as a kid for years… he always said, “I’ve had bad prime rib… but I’ve never had a bad pork chop.” He sure does got that right. Or hell, a ham sandwich… while you all have been eating turkeys for your family events… we eat big ass hams… a Bell’s Mill Ham of course… from over by Stratford that you can get up in Webster City…
It was a long and rough day… so I’ll end with my goodbye. I will miss you Grandpa Robert. Thank you for all of the memories… the lessons… the extra dollars for games at Watermelon Day… for fudge cicles… for being at my ballgames… for humoring me when I was on campaigns… for showing me what real hard work is… for the times you listened… and everything in between. I love you Grandpa.