Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jeep stories

Recently, my brother wrote some short stories about our childhood and our memories about Jeeps.  And he challenged us to do the same.  So here is my offering... Jeep story one.

I read Jim’s Jeep story, and he is right.  Everyone has their own memories and they begin and end in different places.  This is my 1st jeep story, through the eyes and memories of a little girl… 8 years old.

Though his hair was completely white and he sported a grizzled white stubble by the end of the day, I never thought of this WWI veteran as old.  This grandfather of mine was the family patriarch in the truest sense of the word.  His decisions were final, his word absolute, and he would have risked his life to protect someonen in the family.  Even if he didn’t like you.   I always thought of him as capable, wise, funny, and very strong (even though he only stood 5’ 2”).  And I never wanted anything more in life than his acceptance.
A true “man’s man,” you would think that he would have no use for girls, but for some reason Grandpa and I formed a bond.  For starters, he would give me money to tell jokes to his friends.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized why these jokes were so funny… and inappropriate for a child.  But I didn’t know, and if I had, I wouldn’t have cared… Grandpa was always generous with the money in front of his friends.
But even beyond that, we “got along.”   And I was thrilled when he would pick me up to ride alongside him in the Jeep.  My little stubby legs would bounce (feet didn’t touch the floor), but he never reached out to make sure I didn’t fall out when we hit a bump.  “If ya fall out… it’s yer own damn fault.”  (Even if you are 7 or 8.)  Unlike Jim, he didn’t call me Sissy for reaching for the Sissy bar… I couldn’t even reach it most of the time.  Besides, he called me Sissy ALL the time.  I suppose he knew my name, but it never rolled off his lips. 
We had a great deal in common.  He liked dogs and I liked dogs.  He taught me how to talk on the CB Radio “AKO 1010… mobile to base.  Come in base”  We would tell Grandma where we were so she knew when to have lunch ready.  He taught me how to smoke Swisher Sweets and to this day I see his face when I smell cigar smoke.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll light one in his honor someday.  He let me have a slurp or two of his beer if I was thirsty, and, just like the boys, he expected me to help with whatever project he was working on.  Now I’m not going to say I was a lot of help, but he certainly kept me busy.  And no matter how tired I got or how heavy the work, I would never, EVER have whined.  Not to Grandpa anyway.  Whining would have been unforgivable.
Of the “chores” I helped him with, one of my favorites was minnow trapping.  There was never an end to the number of people fishing at the lake and an endless need for “shiners” to use as bait.   The minnow traps would be in the back of the jeep and I’d jump in.  Down the very steep hill to the narrow wooden bridge over mill creek to set the traps with some saltine crackers.  Jim talks about the Jeep smelling like cigars and beer,  but I will always remember a little bit of fish aroma on top of it all.  From the minnow traps, fishing poles, pieces of rope, there was always a tinge of fishy smell.  After the traps were set, we’d run an errand or two before we went back to get them.  I remember riding through “roads” so rough that I would completely bounce into the air, but always landed back in my seat.  I do remember him saying, more than once, “lean this way so we don’t roll” if we were going perpendicular to a steep hill.  That was probably his way of making sure I didn’t fall out… but he sure as hell wasn’t going to treat me like a baby.
When we got back to “run” the traps, we always needed a bucket of creek water to put the minnows in (the trap had holes, so all of the water would drain out on the way up).  So Grandpa would lay down on the bridge and hold on to my legs, while I hung upside down and dipped a bucket of water.  Then I would dangle some more and retrieve the minnow traps.  Despite the fact that I would have fallen headfirst into shallow water and rock, I never, not for even ONE SECOND became afraid that he would drop me.  Looking back I suppose we could have trapped minnows someplace easier, but I never thought to ask.  Then we’d ride back to the house…slower and not so bumpy this time so we didn’t lose any minnows.  Now that I think about it, he was much more careful with the minnow than he ever was with us!
Jim’s Jeep story ended on the June day that Grandpa died in that jeep,  and it did change a lot.  But for me, the fond Jeep memories continued on in all new ways.  In fact, some of my fondest memories are in the green jeep… taking trash to the dump.  But those are stories that will have to wait for another day.

No comments:

Post a Comment