Okay, I admit my mind works in crazy ways, but I often think of time as a big striding giant, where one shoe of the giant is the grandparent and the other shoe is the grandchild and a huge generational gap is leapt over with each step.
These gaps contain vast historical and sociological changes that multiply with each passing decade. I know, because when I was on the “grandchild” shoe, the grandparent I was striding away from was very different than me.
A while back, I asked my dad if he would do some journaling about his father, since I had never met the man. My dad’s dad died in November of 1932, thirteen years before I was born. His name was Henry, but everyone knew him as Hank. Hank was a tall man, slender and wiry. He was an Iowa farmer who raised purebred Poland-China hogs and pigs. Hank had little spare time but occasionally enjoyed playing rummy and pitch, and he was an avid reader of the Des Moines Register.
My dad said Hank had a good voice for singing, and loved the radio, particularly listening to band music and marches. Hank also taught his children to be well-behaved, only speak when spoken to, obey parents and teachers, study hard for good grades, learn religion and act morally.
Hank served on a three-person board that ran the school located adjacent to his house. One year, the enrollment swelled to twelve students. Hank thought that the schoolteacher should be selected based on moral principles, not educational background or instructional talent. In the Spring of ‘25, when an airplane flew over the schoolhouse, the teacher, Miss Yegge, told students to run out and see the passing fancy, and remember how the Bible said only birds were meant to fly. Hank considered this proof that Miss Yegge was the right person for the job.
My dad recalled a time when his mother was ill, so Hank had to go to town to buy bread—a rare occasion. At three loaves for a quarter, Hank was nonplussed and observed that a family who had to buy bread, rather than bake it, would surely end up in the poor house. Another time, shortly after the Ogden Fairgrounds were converted to a golf course for “rich folks,” Hank remarked to my dad, “Son, I hope you always have more to do than chase a little white ball around the pasture.”
Today I fly, play golf and regularly buy bread. All of these stories about Hank were gifts my father gave to me, and I realize our world is so different than that of my grandfather’s. Hank would be astounded.
Then, I imagine the lives my five grandsons will lead, and how astounding their world will be as the huge giant of time takes another stride forward.