Remembering Elvis and Grandpa

This Thursday – August 16th – marks two very important events:

First (only by virtue that it occurred first in history) – it marks the 30th anniversary of Elvis’ death. Yes, I do recognize he’s dead and I don’t look for him to put in an appearance at some 7/11 somewhere! I was madly in love with Elvis — I remember as a young girl sitting within inches of the TV screen watching his movies and sobbing hysterically as I pretended that the girls in the movies were me and he was singing just for me!!! My favorite Elvis songs were Trouble and If I Can Dream! His recording of Amazing Grace is also a favorite – I’d like to have that and If I Can Dream played at my funeral. Favorites aside, there isn’t an Elvis song that I don’t know every word to and still melt when I hear them. I was heart broken when he married Priscilla! I was particularly fond of “black leather, ’68 come back” Elvis — talk about making a twelve year old girl weak in the knees……..WOW!!! By the time he got to Vegas and was into sequined jumpsuits, I had moved on to The Eagles, The Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and others, but Elvis’ music still touched my heart and took my breathe away……..and it still does!!! Most people now think of him as a corny Las Vegas act and that is so sad, cause that was just a small portion of the long and amazing career of a man who helped shape Rock and Roll and lead the way for so many others to follow!

The second and most important event to occur on Thursday, August 16th is the 9th anniversary of the passing of my beloved Grandfather. Grandpa was an amazing man – he could grow anything and grow it bigger and better than anyone else! We always joked that if Grandpa touched it, it would grow like a weed!!! He was especially proud of his tomatoes – they grew HUGE and were solid and delicious! This was ironic because he wouldn’t eat a tomato or anything made with tomatoes – even if it was the only thing between him and starvation – something about they were originally thought to be poison and he just wasn’t eating them! For a while when I was little, my Mom, my brother, and I lived with my Grandparents. Grandpa was strict and had some very old fashioned ideas about how things should be done, but he was also kind and loving. I was the first grandchild and the only granddaughter – and it was apparent to me that I was the favorite – or at least he made me think that I was! (Don’t tell my brother – I think he thought HE was the favorite – ha-ha). Grandpa was an excellent bowler – he used to travel all over NY bowling in ABC tournaments and was very successful. He had a wicked curve ball that hit right in the pocket to mow those pins down for perfect 300 games more often than not. He watched me bowl and said I had his curve ball – it was a natural trait, I guess, but I never really learned how to control it like he did – I do alright, but never came close to a 300 game! He was also a math whiz – he didn’t finish school cause he had to quit in his junior year to go to work. But he was smart and great with numbers! He was so proud when I graduated from college! He worked as a foreman at the local Hunts plant for many years. The factory was just up the street from where he lived and just beyond that was Woolcott’s Dairy. I remember many times walking to Woolcott’s to buy a Pineapple milkshake to take to him on his lunch break. When he retired, he took a job as a rural newspaper deliverer. During the summers and on days I didn’t have to go to school, he used to take me along with him so I could fold the papers and put them in the boxes. We’d always stop for lunch, an orange soda, and an ice cream and he’d give me some change or a couple dollars for my “work”. He would often say “I plan to be here to sign my name in the year 2000!” We talked about how I would be up there that New Year’s Eve to witness that one!!! On August 16, 1998, Grandpa was in his garden tending to his crops when he had a stroke and died later that day. Alas, he didn’t get to sign his name in the year 2000……..

As I grew up in his house, one thing that was always present was a Seth Thomas electric mantle clock that he purchased from a jewelry store in the mid 1930s on one of his bowling trips to New York City. That clock chimed every hour and 1/2 hour all the years of my life. I have that clock – he gave it to me after my Grandmother passed away and I cherish it more than anything else I own. The chiming in my home brought such comfort and warm, fuzzy feelings for me. Sadly, it doesn’t work anymore – I have tried to get it repaired, but found that there are very few people in the entire country (none in NC or neighboring states that I can find) that work on those old electric clocks and one shop I spoke with recommended I convert it to a battery mechanism – but I don’t have the heart to do that – it would have a different chime sound and I’m sure Grandpa would not be pleased if I did that! So, I’ll just keep it as is – just the sight of it warms my heart! My brother lives in Grandpa’s house, now, and is keeping both my Grandparents alive in spirit through the pictures and furnishings in the house.

So – this Thursday, I will be remembering two major icons —- Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll, and my Grandpa – bigger than life and one of the three guardian angels that watch over me and are part of my very soul (BTW – the other two are my Grandma and my Poppie)!

I love and miss you, Grandpa……..hugs and kisses!

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