Thursday, February 12, 2009
Memories of the Past
I'm going to try to post one memory per week. This was one of the reasons for this blog so that one day my daughter will have my memories here and won't have to rely on what my brain can still recall.
This picture is of my paternal grandfather, Clyde Lincoln Chidester. He would have been 86 today. His middle name was in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, since he was born on Lincolns' birthday. My mother very graciously let me scan it and when I took the picture out of the frame, I discovered on the back that this picture was taken on September 19, 1945 in Brussels, Belgium after the end of World War II. It states "To my Darling Wife and Baby". That would have made him twenty-two when the photo was taken.
I always called him Granddaddy Clyde. When I was about three years old, my parents and I lived with him and my grandmother while my parents were building their house in Dillwyn, Va. I remember following him into the bathroom in the mornings while he shaved. I would stand on the toilet and he would put shaving cream on my face so that I could "shave". He would give me a razor with no blade in it so I could be just like him. I would also sit at the kitchen table in the mornings while he drank his coffee and I would be allowed to get a cup of coffee and would imitate him as he would always pour a little into the saucer below the cup so that it would cool quicker. I would do the same, although I know now that my coffee was more milk than the real thing. Maybe that is why I have such a love of coffee to this day.
Every afternoon I would stand in their front yard, waiting for that red Ford truck to come around the bend. He would usually have something in his black, metal lunch box for me. He worked construction and was very good at it. My grandmother would fuss at him in the afternoons because he would be dirty or have concrete on his pants or such. When he went to work though, he was always pressed and starched. He always had ink pens in his shirt pocket and they were usually from some construction company. I liked them because in the end where you clicked the pen was a clear area with a little truck in it that would float back and forth. Sometimes he would put me in his truck and off we would go to the Tastee-Freeze at Sprouses Corner. I would always get a cheeseburger with only mayonnaise, french fries and usually a Coke or sometimes I would get a Coke float.
I never remember him getting impatient with me or fussing or yelling. My brother, Scott and I were his only grandchildren and he certainly doted on both of us. I remember more about him, as Scott is eight years younger than I am, so unfortunately Scott does not have the memories that I do. He had several tattoos on his arms and he would let me sit in his chair with him and color them in. I also remember when I was very little how he would ask me to say yellow. I couldn't pronounce my y's very well and would say "lellow". The same with refrigerator, I would say "bigerator" and he would get a big kick out of hearing me say those words back to him.
My nickname then was "Baby Bear". I had this idea that my Dad, Mom and I were really the Three Bears and that we had came out of the forest and turned into people. I know, I was a strange little kid with a VERY active imagination. Anyways, my grandfather would call me Baby Bear as well. It's funny because years later when my brother came along, he was called Baby Duck. I don't remember where that one came from if we were the bear family, but who knows?
When I was about twelve we were riding around in his truck one day (he always had red or red and white Ford trucks) and he let me drive. I got us stuck in the red clay on the side of the road. He just laughed and said someone would come along and get us out and sure enough they did. That's how patient he was with me. If I wanted it, I think he would have moved heaven and earth to see that I got what I wanted.
During the sixties he would always watch Hogans Heroes. That was one of his favorite shows. Now I find that kind of confusing, since he was stationed in Europe during World War II and he fought in France and Germany and I know that he saw a lot of devastation and suffering. He was in Berlin when the Allies took back over and I remember him talking about the Allies blowing up the city and how a bank blew up and German money was flying everywhere. He also collected stamps while he was there and I have his stamp book with his collection. My mother says that he told her a story about how he was patrolling an area and he ran into a young German soldier. He said he wasn't sure who was more frightened, him or the other soldier. Apparently the other soldier asked him for a cigarette (as the Germans were out of everything at that point) and he shared one with him. After finishing, the other soldier turned around and walked away. They were both just two young kids fighting on opposite sides.
The last time that I saw my grandfather alive was in February of 1990. My daughter, Jessica was only two weeks old. I wanted him to see Jessica, but he had been ill and was in McGuire Veterans Hospital in Richmond, Va and babies and small children were not allowed in, even as visitors. My husband and I snuck Jessica into his room so that he could see her. A nurse caught us but when we explained the situation she simply smiled and left the room. Luckily, we had just bought a video camera and caught the moment on film. A month later he died and I lost my last living grandparent.
I wish Jessica had had the honor of knowing him. He would have been so proud of her. I know that with all of my heart. Happy Birthday Granddaddy! I miss you, but I still have you here in my memories and the memories that I share.