Sunday, November 10, 2013
“The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandfather.” -- Sam Levenson
Today, sixty-one years ago, my grandfather on my mother's side, passed away. It was 1952 and I was only eight years old. My grandfather on my father's side died before I was born, so my only memory of any grandfather, was Papa Roebuck. Ironically, my father worked for Sears, Roebuck and Company for over forty years, but there was no connection. The picture to the right includes a brief obituary which simply says he worked for the YMCA. He was, in fact, the night janitor having no education and no real work skills. My only memory of him was that when we were visiting, we (the grandkids) would be waking up about the time he was getting home from work. He had an old-fashioned (I'm sure it was trendy then) black metal lunch box with a rounded top and thermos inside. We always ran to meet him because he would always have some candy in that old lunch box, so we would start our day with candy before breakfast and felt really sinful but happy. Then he would go into his little study and smoke a pipe before going off to bed. I remember the candy and the smell of his pipe tobacco to this day. It also adds in the obituary that he was a member of Scott Street Methodist Church (not United Methodist Church because that name change didn't happen until 1968). What was notable is that Scott Street Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, did not become part of the Methodist Church, South, but stayed with the churches in the Union during the Civil War. My radicalness comes from a long line of radicals who hated slavery and segregation. My grandfather was a wonderful, patient man who believed, as did his wife, my grandmother, that all people were equal in the sight of God and passed that belief onto me. Later, in the early seventies, I would be a teacher in a Los Angeles ghetto and a worker for civil rights and desegregation in Pomona, California. Even though I knew him only briefly, he had an impact on the rest of my life. Candy and the smell of pipe smoke are what I remember, but I knew he loved me and I loved him. I think that's enough.