Posted by: Robin Foster | February 18, 2009

Happy 93rd Grandpa

My grandfather turns 93 today. Throughout my childhood I treasured the times I got to visit with my grandparents. Since my mother’s parents had already passed, I especially enjoyed when I had the opportunity to see my dad’s parents. I recently heard the song in the video and it got me to thinking about grandpa and all he had done in his life. He was born in 1916 in a little town in Arkansas. By the time he was ten, he had moved in a covered wagon from his birthplace to Eastern Oklahoma and his father passed away.

From that time he and his mom went from farm to farm trying to survive by picking cotton or anything else that would grow. He told me that at night when they could not find a barn or some shelter, they would find some hay that was stacked in piles to cover themselves for protection from the elements. Grandpa was a man formed from his culture. Oklahoma was in many ways still wild and he told me once that there was one man whom he would always fight. They didn’t have to be mad at each other, but if they saw each other, they would fight. Sometimes the other fellow would win and sometimes grandpa would win. Years later, grandma and grandpa were sitting in church when the wife of the other guy walked over and introduced herself. I asked grandpa if he went over to say hello to the other man. Grandpa answered no and when I asked him why he said that he was afraid the other feller would want to fight again. 🙂

He did various jobs as a young man including, from what my father told me, running moonshine in the hills in Eastern Oklahoma. Years later his call name on the CB radio was “Ridge Runner.” He met grandma and his life of running shine was over, especially considering that grandma’s dad was the local sheriff! It was during the depression that he started a dairy farm near Zeb Oklahoma. Things were progressing pretty well until the government came to his front door one day and told him that his land was no longer his. Camp Gruber was installed to prepare troops to for WWII. But the government was nice (sarcasm inserted) enough to help him, since he was now jobless, and they drafted him into the Army. He served our country in Southeast Asia and I have the little New Testament he carried around with him for four years. Upon returning home, he moved the family to Detroit and worked in the automotive industry until he retired sometime in the early 1970’s. During that period he and grandma raised four children. He also built their very own house with the help of my dad and uncles. It still stands to this very day. After retirement, for nearly twenty years, he and grandma traveled the United States until Alzheimer’s was getting her best. He was her primary care giver until she went to be with the Lord in 1997.

Grandpa left school in the second grade because he needed to work and help support the family. Later, though, he learned to read on his own and one of his favorite authors was Louis L’Amour. He was a self taught man and could figure out almost anything. When it came to cars, he could listen to the engine idle and tell you what was wrong. One of my cousins (who was great with cars to begin with) was having trouble with his carburetor. Grandpa told him to try a couple of things and viola, it was working good as new. Dad tells me of when he went back to school and while he was working on a math problem, grandpa just gave him the answer. Dad asked him how he knew it, grandpa responded that he did not know how he figured it out, but he gave dad the correct answer.

The best gift grandpa has is telling stories. He can grab your attention and keep it for hours. When I have the time to visit, I sit and learn from him. Through his stories, I gained wisdom that I never could have gotten on my own, but I won’t gain what grandpa experienced in his life. It is almost as if we can only see things like the pictures of times past, in black and white. That generation lived a roller coaster. About ten years ago I was talking to grandpa over the phone and I made the statement that maybe we needed another great depression to shake up our country. His response was that he wouldn’t wish a time like he lived through upon anyone. He lived the Great Depression in color, I have only seen it in black and white photos. Again, his wisdom taught me.

Grandpa passed a good name to my father and my father to me. I can only hope that when my name is passed to my son and his son (if the Lord wills), that they will have a name as good as the one I got. Happy Birthday grandpa.


  1. Well said. I am glad you had a good PaPa.



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