"to love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage." lao-tzu

5.23.2012

Grandpa's Birthday

This post is supposed to be about the life of my grandfather, Harold Frederick Jahns, Sr.  It's supposed to have the census images, maybe a pic or two, and the roll call of children and towns lived in and occupations through the years, ending with a pic of his tombstone.  But, since today would have been his 95th birthday, and I am feeling a bit emotional this week (my birthday, 45th, is next Wednesday, and my oldest child is graduating high school next Saturday), I have decided just to write a few memories down for today, and do the "technical" post next week - and that will also give me time to get the info together.

So- my earliest memory? Oreo's. I was 2. We (Dad, Mom, and me) lived in Angola, Indiana where my dad was attending Tri-State University (now called Trine).  We lived in a mobile home on a lake; my dad managed canoe rentals.  Grandpa had driven down from Detroit to visit. I remember Grandpa and I going out on the lake in one of the canoes, and he had brought with him a whole package of Oreo's - and I was allowed to have as many as I wanted. I can still remember sitting in the boat and taking Oreo's out of the package.  I am sure he got into trouble with my mother for that.  43 years later, a package of Oreo's is never safe if I am around.

Grandpa had bought a house in Detroit in 1952+/-; he lived in that house till his death.  My favorite place was the attic - it was knotty-pine paneling, wall-to-wall, with built in drawers and small doors leading to storage spaces under the rafters.  There were old comic books and teen magazines belonging to my dad and his siblings still in some of those drawers, along with a stack of um, "mens magazines" that we knew we shouldn't look at, but being kids we had to. The basement's only draw for me was the pyramid of empty Pringles cans stacked against one wall from floor to ceiling; I guess my Grandpa thought that was the neatest thing, potato chips in a can.  We were not allowed to touch it.

A constant at Grandpa's house was the set of drinking mugs he kept in the freezer; they were glass and fitted into black plastic holders that had handles.  They were kept in there of course for his beer; he would grudgingly allow us kids to use them. We were fascinated by them for some reason, and had to have our soda's served in them. I also remember being mesmerized by his coffee pot - it was one of those clear glass Pyrex ones where you could watch everything happening as the water boiled and filtered through the coffee grounds.

One bit of advice that I received from my grandfather when I was getting married was that "your housing should never cost you more than one weeks salary - any more than that, and life gets too hard."  We seriously took that advice, and somehow managed to keep rent and house payments close to that one week mark; I would love to say that I can still adhere to that standard, but the apartment complexes here don't seem to understand that concept.

Grandpa died in 1990; we knew he was sick, and had driven to Detroit from Dallas to visit him during Spring Break that year.  I was 23, and was not into the genealogy thing, family keepsakes or tidbits.  Ahhh, if I had known then what I know now.  Grandpa died a week after we got back to Dallas, and I decided not to go to the funeral.  It is one thing that I regret only in that there were a few certain things that I now wish I had: that glass coffee pot, the iron, the clock on the wall, the plaque hanging in great-grandma's room that was in German, and the topless hula girl figurine that sat on the front window sill.  I do have two small wooden side tables that belonged to him; I just recently spruced them up with a nice coat of red paint, and they are now residing in my bedroom as my bedside tables.

It goes without saying that I wish I had talked to Grandpa about our family, stories he may have had, information he probably knew that I can not find today.  Live and Learn.  Happy Birthday, Grandpa.

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