I never knew my maternal grandfather Ted. He died long before I was born. There’s only one material connection between him and me; a copy of Tom Sawyer stories by Mark Twain. The book was a Christmas gift from his sister Frieda in about 1901. That single connection lends credence to Esther’s comment that he liked to read.
How much time did Ted have to read when they lived on the farm in Kidder County? There would have been plenty to do without taking the time out to read stories by Mark Twain. Tom Sawyer’s experiences would have resonated better with Grandpa Ted than they do with me, and my grandson would have little idea what Mark Twain was talking about in some of those stories. Even reading changed dramatically in the last 100 years since Ted received this book for Christmas.
Did Frieda travel to town to get the book? If so, was it a big store, or maybe there were only one or two books on the shelf? Or, did she order it from the Sears & Roebuck catalog? Once it was time for Ted to read the book, things would have been different, too. The farm didn’t have electricity in the first several years. I remember my grandmother telling me about kerosene lanterns. Have you ever tried to read a book (or anything!) by the light of a lantern or candle? It takes some effort. I think that our nightlight offers more light than a candle. Better yet, the iPad has its own illumination.
There’s one other interesting connection. My Grandpa Ted and I share the same middle name, and it’s the same middle name as my youngest grandson.
I hope the baby likes to read as much as his grandpa and great-great grandpa.
Memories of my father are of a very quiet and handsome man, whom I adored. In summer when farming activities were at their height, he often was gone from the house before I woke up, and did not get home until after I was asleep, and I missed him as though he were on a long trip. I remember him in overalls and dressed in his best. We did not often go places for entertainment, but when some traveling show or entertainment came to a nearby town, we would go if possible. A traveling circus was one of these occasions. A few times someone showed a silent movie at the lumber shed in Lake Williams and we sat on benches made of planks laid on nail kegs.
I believe Papa only went through the third grade. He told of driving a horse and guiding a hand-controlled plow when he was only eight or nine years old; but whether the need to help with farm work was the reason for quitting school, I do not know. He did like to read and I remember him reading the “Sunday” paper which we received by subscription, through the mail. When he read in the 30’s about the United States sending scrap metal to Japan, he worried that the Japanese would use it as shrapnel in a war against us. How right he was!
I remember many winter evenings when Papa would play cards with Henry, Melvin, and me. We usually played 500 Rummy, but we also learned to play Whist which was the usual social card game for adults in the community. I did not like to join in the progressive whist games because some players were not very tolerant of kids who did not pay enough attention to the game and caused their partners to lose.
Since there was seven years difference in Ted’s and Fanny’s ages, he was active socially for several years before she was. I did not hear it from him, but Mama was well aware, and told me that Ted had a girlfriend for some time before he dated her. Her name was Eva Jessup and I have pictures of her among the photos that have come into my possession. The story goes that she was a city girl and was not interested in marrying a man who wanted to farm in North Dakota, so they broke up.