Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandpa!

January 8, 1925 is my grandfather, Lefty's birthday. His names was actually James but because he was left-handed, he got the nickname "Lefty".

I don't know as much as would like to know about my grandfather, he passed away almost 27 years ago. He was 57 years old and both my grandparents were in a car accident coming home from seeing the play South Pacific. Lefty spent 6 months in the hospital, mostly in ICU.

I was his first grandchild and the only other person in our family who is also a southpaw. We had a very special bond. He taught me to write as well as many other things.

I know that after quite a few years, memories tend to fade. It has become a running joke in the family that we have raised Lefty's memory to sainthood. "Saint Lefty" But I don't have one memory where he was ever unkind or even angry. I'm sure his children, my mother and uncle, can probably tell you some, but not me. Here's what I can tell you.

He was a carpenter and built the house that I grew up in which was right next store to his house. (Later, Kendra, my mother's best friend, bought the house from us. So now, I still get to spend holidays there) He was also foreman when they built the Elementary School that I went to.

He always wore a button down shirt with a pocket protector and his glasses case.

He always smelled of Vitalis and my favorite place in the whole world was on his lap.

He was once Exalted Ruler of our local Elk Club and his picture hangs on the wall when you walk in. We go there a lot for dinner or parties and I say hello every time. Even my girls say hello now.

When my grandmother was alive, she used to tell me that I married someone who reminded her of Lefty so much that she was amazed. Matt never got to meet him, which is truly unfortunate.

Here are just a few pictures that I have of Lefty. I don't know really anything about these pictures, like when they were taken or how old he was at the time.

I know these are a little small, but I can't get them any bigger.

This one was taken by Life Magazine. There was a Marine Raider reunion at a hotel downtown Chicago back in the 1950's. Lefty is the one right up front.
He lied about his age and joined the Marines when he was 17. I know that he served as a Raider in the South Pacific, but he never discussed the war, EVER. So, that's all I know about his military career. I do know that Marine Raiders were Bad-Asses! (I must have inherited that as well as the left-handedness) They were first ones in, last ones out.
Even though he died almost 27 years ago, I still think of him everyday.
I love you Grandpa and I miss you so much! Happy Birthday to you and Elvis.
Thank you, and I'm sorry for bringing the room down.


Tori_z said...

January 8th is my Nan's birthday too... She's 81 this year.

Anonymous said...

The Life Magazine photo is awesome! Happy Birthday Lefty! Wherever you are....

The Blue Ridge Gal

Queenie Jeannie said...

Oh honey, that wasn't a downer!! Your Grandpa sounds like a truly wonderful man and I'm glad I had the opportunity to hear about him. Tributes are wonderful!!!

Happy Birthday Lefty!!

Heather said...

I have goosebumps after reading this. What a great tribute to your grandpa.

And this is why I scrapbook; so my kids and my grandkids will know my story, and just how much I loved them.

Nice post, Southpaw. (My oldest is one, too. How on earth do I teach him how to cut up his own meat? Can you tell me that?)

Intense Guy said...

Salutes "Lefty" and says "Happy Birthday, wish you were here to celebrate it with some special people you lfet behind."

Sounds like a man I would have enjoyed meeting - thanks for the snapshot - its things like this that help us remember not everyone is like the guy shooting people at the mall in the news. There are GOOD guys too.

Call Me Cate said...

Beautiful post and happy birthday to your grandpa. It's important to remember and I don't think you brought the room down at all.

Anonymous said...

THis post made me very sad. I recently lost my grandfather, he was 85 though.

Anonymous said...

What a great post. The Life mag picture was awesome. Lefty is your guardian angel i'm sure. It seems sometimes death does not break a bond.

R Susanna said...

Happy birthday to Lefty! This was so not a downer. I love stories like that and its so nice that you are keeping his memory alive. I never knew either of my Grandfather's as one died way before I was born and the other died when I was a small child. Oh and happy birthday to the King :).

ChicagoLady said...

You SO did NOT bring the room down! What wonderful memories you have of "Lefty"! Keep those memories alive for your kids, so they don't end up with a bunch of pictures of strange people and no names to go along with them. Happy Birthday, Lefty!

heathersister said...

Becky, that was great. My Papa just had a birthday January 1st and I thought about posting about him but I didn't.

He was in the Army's 8th Airforce in WWII stationed in England. He received several medals for air combat against the Germans.

Clark Gable was in the service stationed at the same base and my Papa appeared in a documentary film he did while there.

Pretty cool stuff. I love hearing people talk about their grandparents from the war.

So happy happy birthday to your grandpa, Lefty.

LadyStyx said...

What a beautiful tribute! Happy Birthday Lefty.

ChicagoLady said...

So you're tired of this snow crap, eh????? Winter's JUST STARTING!!!! Bwahahahahahahahaha

rebel said...

This is a wonderful tribute to your Grandfather. I'm glad you provided me with the link.