Monday, November 12, 2012

The Beginning of The Carny: Grandpa Harry

When my great grandfather was in his 90s we used to go visit him on Sundays. He lived in a little brick house with rose bushes out front that he grew himself. Inside the house smelled like mothballs and cigars so strongly that I still can't smell either of those things without instantly thinking of that living room. Yes there were doilies and knitted things on the tops of the arm chairs; yes there was a huge TV that probably weighed as much as the delivery truck that hauled it to his house; yes there was a bowl of peppermints, unwrapped and stuck to each other. But there was also an odd framed landscape with a stream that lit up and "moved", there was a super glide chair lift that we'd pile on and ride up and down the stairs until someone yelled that we would break it (kind of a miracle that we didn't) and then, in Gramps smelly bedroom, there was a dresser covered with toys and dolls and puzzles that we were allowed to look at, but not touch, until he came upstairs and gave us a proper demonstration. He loved those toys so much and used to be so proud of himself after he wound them up and they actually began to move, as though winding up a toy was a new invention that no one else knew about or could possibly master as he had. "You wind it up... see? And then look at that", he'd chuckle, "Oh boy!" Then he'd get to the newer ones and he'd have to "hunt" for a "battry" to get it to work. He had a whole  monkey series of toys that did creepy things like blow bubbles or flip burgers. I hated/loved/was obsessed with those weird monkeys and their crusty fur. They had knees! Elbows! We used to sit on the unmade bed in our Sunday clothes and watch the whole show.

Here are some other facts about Grandpa Harry:
He lived until he was 104
He drank 4 Roses whiskey and smoked cigars
He wrote a book about the importance of having a positive attitude
When he entered a room he'd say Cheer Him Up! or Hip hip hooray! and clasp his hands over his head like a champ.
He was tall and skinny and wore round James Joyce glasses and a fedora
He couldn't walk past a clover patch without "hunting" for a 4 leaf clover (he always found one!)
He played the harmonica and could do the old soft shoe

This was his jam:


  1. Thank you.This is a truly wonderful post. Am sharing it on my Facebook.