Things I never knew about my grandparents still fascinate me.
Grandpa Burt, who I thought was one of the scariest men alive when I knew him, had to cultivate that. He was a principal of an elementary school, so I can see why it may be necessary. But he did love children and had a lot of patience with us. He liked to stick his dentures out at me. He also walked with a cane and I worried about the weapon, since he would threaten us with it.
He was a trash picker of extraordinary proportions. He could not pass a pile by the side of the road without thinking about how whatever it was he spotted could go wherever. I have my packrat urges from him. But I think anyone who went through the Depression has these urges. My other grandparents also belived in free-cycling, and but they preferred the carrion calling of estate sales and garage sales to outright curb trash.
But the side of him I really wish I knew was the young man with a motorcycle (one of the first Harley Davidsons!) and a fiddle who would travel the bars of the Adirondack Mountains, fiddling for his drinks, sharing songs and swapping stories. This is how he spent his summers while a student at Hamilton College, which he could afford to attend thanks to the GI bill. You see, he was a soldier of the Great War, that War to End All Wars, and they believed it would never happen again. He signed up as 101-day doughboy, off to a ship to take him to fight the Krauts, met by a ship from Spain that carried the influenza. He never made it to Europe as a young man, because he came down with the flu. He was sent off to a sanitorium in the Adirondacks to recover, where they sent tuberculosis patients. So naturally he next caught tuberculosis, and it's a wonder he could breathe. He ended up asthmatic but very full of fun.
I don't remember him as tall, but he was imposing. He met Meme while she was a teacher in a nearby school. They would go out drinking when drinking was illegal. And he was known for his impatience. Once, she was coat shopping. She waffled between two coats- the one she wanted and the one she could afford. He grumbled, "if you want that coat so much, I'll buy it for you." She demurred. Such an expensive gift would only be proper if they were engaged. "Fine then," he grumbled. "We're engaged. Let me buy the damn coat."