Archive for June 20th, 2010

A balding white middle-aged man wearing glasses sits on a chair, bottlefeeding an infant

Pap feeding me

One of my earliest memories of you is sitting on the toe of your boot, “helping” you lace them up to go work on the railroad. I learned to color sitting on your lap, and later I learned to read in the same place.  So did my brothers.

A blond white boy and an older, balding man are reading a children's book on a porch

Andy and Pap reading

You had three spaces after you retired: the chair by the big picture window where you took your coffee and taught me to read, the recliner in the living room where you watched old movies, and the couch where you napped. We got you a new recliner when I was about five, and I kept the secret because I so desperately wanted to surprise you, even though it was hard not to tell you everything.

In the foreground in gold-colored recliner is an older white man with glasses, in the background is a brown-haired white woman and a blond-haired little girl

Pap, Mom and me (and the old recliner)

You left school after the fifth grade, and you knew it sometimes held you back. You wanted me to study and get good grades, and you were so proud when I did.

A older balding white man with glasses holds a toddler-age girl in a polka dotted dress

Pap and me

You told me once that if you had known you would have a granddaughter who loved history as much as I did, you wouldn’t have sold that Civil War musket you found in your teens in the CCC for the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

Black and white photo of a man holding a little boy in a light-colored suit

Dad and Pap

You didn’t talk much about your childhood. I know you were born to a single mother and then raised as if she was your sister. Your grandparents divorced, your half-siblings were unkind, and you ended up on your own at an early age. I’m not sure you had much joy in your life until you met Mimi. She told me she met you drinking in the polka halls while she was working at the Navy Depot. One time, just once, I saw you two dance together when an old song came on the radio. You took wonderful trips together when I was a little girl.

A middle-aged white couple, the man balding and wearing glasses and a suit and tie, the woman in a semi-formal black dress

Pap and Mimi on a cruise

You were never much of a talker, but sometimes, in the mornings, if I would get up while you were drinking your coffee and enjoying the cigarettes you never could quit, you would tell me stories. You didn’t want me to be “as stubborn” as you were, but all I saw was a man who refused to compromise his principles to toe a company line.

A white older man with glasses and receding white hair

Pap at Krazy Kamp

You came to my 8th grade play when I was the star.  If I told you it was important, you would be there, a quiet smile of pride on your face.  As much as your hips and back pained you by then, you rode for five hours to see me graduate from college, and it meant the world to me.

A white elderly woman with brown hair and a leopard print shirt, a white young woman in a black graduation cap and gown, and a white balding man with glasses in a button down blue shirt

Mimi, me and Pap

You gave me the most precious gift of all the Thanksgiving before you died. You looked at me, sitting on the couch, and told me that you had done everything you ever wanted to do in your life. Did you know you were dying and that was the last time I would sit with you and hug and kiss you?

Metal grave marker for Robert C. and Gloria R. Smith, born 1921 and 1926 respectively, a rose on each side, and then an open Bible below his name and cross below hers

My grandparents' marker - before the death year 2006 was affixed

Happy Father’s Day, Pap. You were the best grandfather in the world.

Kids on Pap

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In the mid-19th century, strange architectural designs started appearing in American cemeteries. Copying the ancient Egyptian temples and tombs, American architects created monuments and mausoleums that harkened back to those pre-Christian ideas of death and rebirth. The Egyptian revival movement spawned a plethora of monuments with images like the circle with vulture wings (sun), twin cobras (death), Sphinxes, and even hieroglyphics. Lake View Cemetery has a number of examples.

The winged circle and cobras are clearly visible on the King mausoleum just above the door. Ignoring the snow, one could easily see that entrance on an ancient Egyptian building.

King Mausoleum in Egyptian revival style

The Pollock mausoleum has the same set of symbols and column-edged entrance.

Pollock mausoleum in Egyptian style

The Towslee monument lacks the columns but still has the cobras and sun.

Towslee mausoleum in Egyptian revival style

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