My Grandpa

Walter Chandler passed away 50 years ago.  I still miss him. He was my grandpa, and how I loved him.  He was a kind man who was fun-loving to his large brood of grandchildren.  Each of us received individual attention.

I remember surprise trips to the Whippi-Dip on Route 7 in Pierpont, Ohio.  The building is now dilapidated. Foliage and trees overrun the remaining debris.  Grandpa, who was financially limited, would say, “You yung-ins get in the truck. Let’s go to the Whippi-Dip.”  We jumped into the back of his blue pick-up truck, and Walter Chandler, who never held a driver’s license, drove us to get an ice cream cone.  

The breakfast table holds still more boyhood memories.  How grandpa loved homemade biscuits, smothered in butter and molasses.  He would put whole biscuits in his mouth and let me watch him chew, while opening wide his mouth. Seven-year-old boys love to watch such gross things!  Grandma would say, “Daddy, don’t do that in front of those children.”  

While sitting on his knee, grandpa would pretend that he was going to chew on my arm.  He also used his thumb to flick my head! Then, he would stretch the skin on my head and say, “Now then, your brain will have room to grow.”  His antics intrigued me. And best of all, he introduced me to instant Maxwell House coffee, doctored by three heaping teaspoons of sugar and lots of milk!  

Grandpa would occasionally take an afternoon nap, and ask me to rub his scalp.  He was mostly bald. Before falling asleep, he gave me a quarter. Back in those days a quarter bought a candy bar, a can of pop, or an ice cream cone.  Life was good for a boy and his grandpa!
Walter Chandler was one-quarter Cherokee Indian.  His stories, originating from the hills of Tennessee, kept me spellbound.  One hot summer day, Grandpa let me sit on his Massey Ferguson tractor as he drove to the back pasture of his 90-acre farm.  We drove past cow paths and eventually rested under the shade of a large maple tree. Grandpa placed his large hand on my head and said, “You’re a good boy and I’m proud of you.”  I smiled as my heart was further woven to his.

That Christmas I just had to buy my grandpa a special gift.  I gave him a little blue-green thermometer, which he hung in his kitchen.  He enjoyed watching the temperature drop during Ohio’s harsh, cold winter, and seemed so proud of it.  

Less than a month later, on his 62nd birthday, grandpa passed away suddenly.  I grieved deeply for him, who I had the privilege of knowing for 13 years. I still occasionally visit his (and grandma’s) grave. His love and many kindnesses enriched my life then and now.   



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