Thursday, August 06, 2009

Slice of Lime-A Man of Letters

Since I shared the books of my childhood that meant the most to me I thought I'd share this picture this week. That's Pop-pop reading to me when I was about 3. Yesterday I touched on how my parents encouraged a love of reading. My grandparents did too in their own way. truth be told Pop-pop was the most avid reader of my 4 grandparents. The irony is that he is the only one who did not complete high school. He was driven from school to work during the Depression. He carried a tremendous shame over that for the rest of his life. He shouldn't have.

First of all he was one of the hardest working men I knew, but not at the cost of people. He wasn't a workaholic, just formed in the mold of a typical Pennsylvania German who felt idleness was an evil and that you should earn your pay with your most honorable effort. Additionally, he is among the smartest men I ever knew. He could fix anything. He could grow anything. He was a fine cook. He could sew by machine or do hand needlework to rival any woman's.

All those are noble traits but as I mentioned he was an avid reader. I don't know if it began as a way to compensate for his lack of formal education or if he always loved books, but by the time I came along I knew he just plain liked books. He was a great fan of James Michener because of his time spent in the South Pacific. He felt Michener captured that part of the world well in his writing and so he devoured the author's other books. he enjoyed the travels vicariously. If he didn't know how to do something he'd pick up a book and teach himself.

He also had the most impish love of wordplay. He'd wrap his mouth around the most incredible tongue twisters in 3 different languages, mind you, and rattle them off effortlessly. He enjoyed limericks and Ogden Nash/Dorothy Parker type quips and poems. He LIVED for a good pun or riddle. Of my four grandparents he was the most likely to read a story to my brother and me if we asked.

So if any of you rather enjoy some of my silly ways with a meme or think every now and then I turn a phrase particularly well, you owe some thanks to Pop-pop, just as I do.

19 comments:

Desmond Jones said...

Sweet post, Lime; thanks for this.

And thanks, too, to your Pop-pop, for his role in forming you. He sounds like an amazing man. . .

I too, am a big fan of Michener; at one point, Molly referred to him as my 'other woman'. . . (But I'm getting ahead of myself; eventually, I'll put up my own 'book post'; maye even a couple of 'em. . .)

Jazz said...

Thanks Pop-pop!

Maddy said...

Thank you. That is quite delightful [and you were heck of a cute!]
Cheers

Kat said...

Some of the smartest people I know (two of my grandparents and some great uncles) never finished high school. It seems they all had a thirst for knowledge. So many of us take education for granted I think.

Beautiful post!

Craver Vii said...

Not schooled perhaps, but educated none the less.

Ananda girl said...

There are lots of types of education I think. But the best kind has to be the one that is sought willingly. It sounds like your pop-pop was a seeker.

A beautiful memory, lime. Thanks for sharing it.

for a different kind of girl said...

What a great story! I, too, had a grandfather who never completed school, yet he always seemed to be the wisest, brightest person around, and he wrote fabulous poetry to boot.

I credit my maternal grandmother for boosting my love of reading. Every birthday and holiday, she'd gift me with books, which I loved more than anything (many of which I also still have), and I hope I can do the same for grandkids I'll hopefully have one day.

BTExpress said...

My father didn't graduate high school either for the same reason. His father sent him to work in the coal mines in PA.

Suldog said...

Love that photo! Not only is it sweet, it contains so many elements that identify the time period - the lamp, the wallpaper, the style of chair, the rug. I could look at photos like that one all day and never become bored.

S said...

My mom quit school after 7th grade because someone had to stay home and take care of the little brothers and sisters while thier mom got a job.

She's not so smart, but she's pretty darn cool, and taught herself to do bookkeeping and all sorts of stuff that students learn in high school.

Plus, my mom is pretty much deaf so she had her own challenges...
Ok youre making me think about my parents which I dont like to do.....

:P

San said...

Michele, as I was reading this lovely tribute to your pop-pop, I was thinking, 'Michele, she got her pop-pop's word DNA.'

A generous legacy. For all of us.

secret agent woman said...

I had a grandfather who used to read to us and was a lover of language also. I especially rememebr listeing to him read "Thousand and One Nights" to us.

crazy4coens said...

many thanks to your Pop pop.

here's to reading to children!

~Dragonfly~* said...

It was a whole different world back then... I admire them for all they lived through and envy all that they have seen and experienced... what a transition from their childhood to now.

And I thank your Pop-pop for giving you the gift with words.... your statement... "He wasn't a workaholic, just formed in the mold of a typical Pennsylvania German who felt idleness was an evil and that you should earn your pay with your most honorable effort."... has made much in my life, much more clear. Sure helps to explain a lot!

DF

Palm Springs Savant said...

hey now that was one of the nicest posts I've read in a long time. I love reading about family influences like that, so much to be thankful for!

Jocelyn said...

Oh, I'm huggin' on Pop-pop right now. He left a strong legacy!

Malicious Intent said...

I called my grandfather Pop Pop also. Yours did the Pacific, mine did North Africa and later Sicily. He didn't finish past 8th grade, but he had a wealth of knowledge that only experience of btdt could bring.
School can only teach you so much, the rest is up to the individual. You can learn much from every experience and everywhere you go in life. Sounds like we had pop pops who did just that. Great memories. :)

Pouty Lips said...

I enjoy your word plays so thanks Pop-Pop.

Mariana Soffer said...

The first thing I want to know about a person I just met is how was his childhood, how was he raised, how where his parents, how did he do on school, did he liked it, was he social, did he read, did he do sports, was he a loner, had he got pimples, and tons and tons and tons of questions that I would make unless they smak me in the face
Lovely post dears