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franklin county times

If I could be half the man Grandpa was

By Bob Stickley

One of the most wonderful men in my life was my dear Grandpa.

If he were living today, he would be 121 years old. He passed away 44 years ago.

James Buell was his name and he lived and worked at a paper mill for 37 years until he retired.

I sat with him and held his hand all night as he passed away.

Grandpa was a man who loved everybody — especially his grandchildren and he showed no partiality for one over the other. I don’t think he had anybody he knew that didn’t love him.

He was a man that could do just about anything. In his spare time he would take on wallpaper jobs — that was the big thing back in those days — and I used to help him when I spent the weekends with him.

He loved his roses and peonies and he did not let a single weed grow in them. They were so beautiful — as was his entire yard.

I don’t think I ever heard him say a bad word and he would preach to us kids not to use bad words. He did not like to be around those who cussed.

He and Grandma had been married 58 years when he passed away, but I can’t remember a time when they weren’t together. They raised four children — two boys and two girls.

We lived in the country about 45 miles from Grandpa’s and always looked forward as they would come spend a Sunday at our house. I can hear the sound of his old 1939 Buick as he came down the dirt road slinging dust and blowing his horn.

Oh, how happy he was to see us.

Grandpa called square dances just about every Friday and Saturday night, which was the big thing in those days. My daddy’s side of the family — Grandpa Stickley, my dad, Uncle Carly and Grandma — was the band.

Back in those days people enjoyed themselves without alcohol. They would always have an intermission and the ladies would pack up sandwiches and make coffee.

Grandpa bought me a real kid’s banjo and I would get on stage by Mr. Smead, who played the banjo, and I would pluck it and sing like a big shot.

I guess the day I shall never forget is the day I left for basic training at Fort Riley in Kansas.

Grandpa didn’t want to leave for work that day. He finally got up, picked up his dinner pail and left. Grandma said he didn’t pass in front of the bay window on the front of their house, so I went outside and found him standing there crying.

He said, “Son I love you and I want you to be a good boy, but I don’t want you to be killed.” He told me I would make a good soldier and how proud he was of me before leaving for work.

Grandpa was a man who liked the simple kind of life. He didn’t wear a lot of fancy clothes — just a shirt and britches and I remember that old slouch hat so well — but he always respected those who did.

He loved baseball and was a big Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs fan. In 1957 I returned home from Germany and asked him if he wanted to go see a Tigers’ game.

I didn’t have to ask twice, he was ready. I sent for tickets, but I got a letter back saying they could not fill the order. Grandpa was disappointed.

The next day we drove the 135 miles to Detroit and got tickets from the scalpers. We sat eight rows behind home plate.

Grandpa never forgot that time and neither will I.

In our society today we can pick up a paper or see on the news where someone has beaten up or killed one or both of their grandparents. In my opinion they could be whipped with a horsewhip. That’s just my opinion, but they say that’s forbidden these days.

As I look back and remember Grandpa today I wish I could be half the man he was.

Wouldn’t if be wonderful if more people left such fond memories as the folks in those days did?

I’m sure you have memories of your grandparents or some special person in your life and you won’t ever forget them. Do you have such memories and aren’t they beautiful to look back on?


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