Jan 1, 2007

A Few Words about a Great Man

I went to visit my grandfather today, who will turn 90 years of age tomorrow. He is one of the smartest people I have ever known, although he never attended college.

Over the next few weeks I will be writing more about him, mostly for my own benefit. I plan to interview him and harvest as many family anecdotes, historical recollections, and assorted pearls of wisdom while his mind is still so sharp.

Chuck Maples served in the Pacific during World War II, and worked for a number of manufacturing firms until he retired in the 1980s. For the last 20 years of his working career he was a tool and die maker.

My grandfather could fix anything to which he set his mind, and I have fond memories of him tinkering in the garage on old lawnmowers, radios, or televisions he salvaged. A child of the Great Depression, he found value in machines that others were ready to throw away.

"Give it to Chuck - if anyone can get it going, he can," was the usual mantra. Someone on his street gave up on a riding mower about 15 years ago, and after a day of working on the engine, he had a well-tuned mini-tractor to cut his half-acre.

He still rides it today.

He and my grandmother, who has already passed the 90-year mark, are two of the kindest people in the world, and I am truly blessed to have them as grandparents.


Anonymous said...

Mike --

If it is not already within your plans, may I suggest that you videotape your interviews with your grandfather. We videotaped me and my husband's grandparents cooking a cuban dinner. Now that grandpa is gone, it is even more priceless.

Stephanie said...

Share and cherish these priceless memories whenever you can. It's so easy to lose family history now, when so many of us are scattered to the wind.

Do said...

What wonderful people and how lucky you are to still have them. Cherish each and every moment.

So many people discount the memories as the ramblings of an old person. This is sad in that we can learn so much from them - if we let ourselves.

If your grandparents would be uncomfortable with a video camera running, try to at least do an audio recording. Even if you are unable to capture the facial expressions to go with the conversation, you will be able to capture the voice inflections.

Good luck with this project. I wish I had done it with my grandparents - and my folks.

I'd love to hear more about these wonderful folks.

liberal_dem said...

I never had a grandfather, both were dead before I was born.

May you continue to learn from him and absorb his wisdom.

-Sepp said...

I was lucky enough to also have had some top of the line Grandparents too HM. My Grandad was a Navy salvage diver who also served in the Pacific and came home to teach at Macomber until he retired. I was amazed about how many former students came and spoke at his funeral about the impact he had in their lives too.

Saskboy said...

My great grandmother was interviewed in '71 on audio cassette tape by the provincial archives for some reason. I have a copy of the tape now in MP3 format. I made sure to get a tape recording/MP3 of my grandmother this past year, while a few other family members were present too to give input. I may interview my other grandmother the same way, but she's hard of hearing so I'd have to write the questions down before hand.

I think it works best if the interview is simply family conversation about family events that come up, with minimal structure to the "interview".

Hooda Thunkit said...

There should be a natural instinct within each of us to gather, cherish and write down what our elders deem fit to share with us.

I certainly wish that my instinct to do so had developed earlier...