Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grandpa's Life Before He was Grandpa

My eleven-year-old sister is taking a drama and speech class this year. Her assignment this week was to interview someone who lived during the Great Depression. My Grandfather fits the bill. Actually, all of my grandparents fit the bill, but Dad's dad is the only one old enough to remember it. If you think about it, hunting someone down you know who was alive in the 20's and 30's isn't something my daughter will be able to do in 10 years.

So, when I lived with Grandpa, he and I would talk about life before children and even Grandma. I was sharing a story with Dad once that made him say, "I never knew that." I could tell he was a little jealous that I had a relationship with his father that he didn't. But really, that father role wasn't there when I lived with him. Yes he worried about me and tried to guide me in the right directions, but ultimately, we were roommates. I enjoyed learning about Grandpa's dating life. Didn't really like talking about his military tours. He loved talking about his and Grandma's life prior to children.

My sister asked about the Depression and technological changes in his lifetime. As far as the Great Depression, he said his family had a working farm that provided all the food they needed for the family. He remembers his mother feeding hobos and other people migrating west who would hop off the train and them not fearing any criminal activity. They weren't really affected during the 30's, but then again, he was her age, so he may not have seen the overall effects.

As for technology, I thought his recollections were funny. He remembered being 7 when they got their first radio. It ran on batteries that they had to replace every other week. At that time a kid in his class talked about new technology they were coming out with that had a window that you could see the people on the radio while you listened. He said all the kids in his class just laughed at this guy. It wasn't until he was an adult that he finally saw a TV. It was then that he realized television was what that crazy kid in elementary school was talking about.


Breaking the roles we conform people into (Parent, Grandparent, Spouse, Child) is very difficult. The idea of my Father as a young stoner is hard for me to wrap my mind around. I can see his looking at his father as a man, before he met Grandma, would be difficult.

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