ANDY THOMAS: Tell Us About Your Favorite Grandpa
Check out Thomas' Blog
Recently I received an e-mail entitled "Grandpa." It was a touching note about someone's grandpa which ended, shockingly, as an off-color joke. But it reminded me about grandparents and what an important factor they are in lives of their offspring.
Last Sept. 10 was National Grandparents Day, but it slipped by without me, or anyone else in our family, noticing. With all the gramps in this area, you'd think there would be a little more publicity. Next year, I will do a column about it and send it to my children. Alas, most likely I'll end up empty-handed again next year.
I first remember my granddad, C.C. Morris, when I was a 5-year-old in Colorado. Everyone called him "C.C," or "Clem," because his real name was Clemuel Claude, a dubious pair of monikers. He would pick my cousins and me up every Saturday afternoon in his 1938 Nash Ambassador and go over to Manitou Springs, a distance of about eight miles.
Granddad was a very slow driver -- slow enough that I remember cars zooming past us in disgust and frustration. (His first car was a Model T Ford, which he bought for $450).
These Saturday trips to Manitou included a stop at the actual springs where mineral water came out of a huge Indian's pottery container. The water tasted like very flat club soda, but it was supposed to be very healthy for you. I believe you can get a drink at the same location to this day, although the Indian has disappeared.
Then we went to Patsy's popcorn stand and were treated to a bag of chocolate or caramel popcorn followed by a trip to a small park, where there were swings and a metal barrel you could roll on. The landmark at the park was a real engine of the Pike's Peak Cog Railway, retired and on display.
Later in life, I was able to accompany him, alone, to the State Fair in Pueblo or the Denver Livestock show in January.
I was taught always to be on my best behavior around Granddad. While he was generous and we enjoyed his company, he was not a jovial person but kind, gentle and honest -- and rather strict, as well.
A devout Methodist, he was the oldest of eight boys. His father was a judge in Colorado Springs who moved his family there for health reasons about 10 years after the Civil War. Granddad got a job as a teller in the Exchange National Bank and rose to be president.
He was thin and bald and had a bad stomach from ulcers. His ulcers vanished after he retired. The bank gave him a courtesy desk, and with his wife gone, he enjoyed walking from his apartment to the office, a round-trip distance of about four miles, every bank day. I occasionally went in to visit him and remember his desk drawers being filled with Life, Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and other magazines.
He never smoked, drank alcohol or swore and was very religious and humble. Ranchers from eastern Colorado, to whom he had made loans, would bring him bottles of whiskey as favors, which he promptly flushed down the toilet after they left.
He was a frugal person and would buy his suits from J.C. Penney. He kept guns in the trunk of his car, and I remember the first time on a country road he let me fire his 12-guage shotgun. It about knocked me down, just the way it did with my mom when he made her shoot it.
He lived to be 91, a very well-liked soul who taught Sunday school until his last days, and was a Beaver Scout and 32nd-degree Mason.
In 1959, at age 78, he was honored as the city of Colorado Springs' "Most Outstanding Citizen" at a surprise dinner, attended by 150 civic leaders, dignitaries and friends. He was presented with a plaque from 18 civic organizations he worked with.
A very modest person, he spoke briefly, saying, "I don't deserve one-10th of one part of the kind things said tonight. I am just an ordinary citizen and have tried to do the right thing. I don't expect credit for anything I've done. I don't do community work for credit."
Among the many organizations for which he did service were the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, an AA farm team for the Chicago White Sox. He was treasurer. I remember that the very first opening day and the planned ceremony in early April was snowed out. I still have the Life magazine with pictures covering this story.
When he came every other Sunday for lunch, my brothers and I enjoyed his tales of his boyhood. Later in life, my wife and I would excuse ourselves and head upstairs for a smoke and a shot of bourbon.
I never knew my paternal grandfather, as he died before I was born. I am grateful for my grandfather, his memory and the messages he sent to me directly or indirectly. I am just disappointed that my own grandchildren do not have the same outstanding example to set for them.
I would love to hear any feedback from people with inspirational grandparents.
Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at email@example.com
More like this story