A Tale of Two Grandpas

My grandparents visited Minnesota every summer, without fail. Their visits were so arranged that it was rare to have both sets of grandparents in the house at the same time.

That summer of 1976, Dad’s folks, Paul Sr. and Hazel, dropped in first. On Tuesday, June 22, I wrote in the diary: “I was being shaken. Tossed around. Someone was trying to pull me from sleep. I was so tired … it was Grandpa Maupin!”

I can still imagine it: me groggy, the strong-sweet odor of his Pall Malls, his deep-raspy Hoosier slur, “Hey, hey, hey, sport … What’re ya doin’? Sleepin’?!

A couple days later Grandpa drove me to the Club in their station wagon, which always reminded me of our car rides when I was much younger. He’d say: “You remember the time we went into that tavern? What you said to me? ‘Grandpa, I don’t like this place. Let’s get outta here.’” He’d chuckle and snicker. “You were always asking, ‘What’s that sign say, Grandpa?’” Being that I was 16, his walks down memory lane weren’t as amusing to me, but, still, it was our history together.

Grandpa Maupin was the nurturer, the independent, laid-back grandfather. Grandma was the reader, gentle and pleasant, and I never once heard her raise her voice. “That would be fine,” she’d say. She loved her paperback mysteries, especially anything by Agatha Christie. Grandpa liked to just “sit a spell” and smoke, or join Dad for an afternoon fishing. (The photo at right is of him with my cousin Joshua.)

Long after Grandma died, I had a chance to talk to him about their early life together, how as fourth from youngest in a family of 12, he’d left home as a teenager. When the stock market crashed in 1929, he was 18. While the details are vague, he roamed the Midwest, eventually becoming an interstate trucker, and took part in the union brawls of 1934–35.

One thing for sure: he kept a framed portrait of FDR on the wall. Always.

***

You couldn’t have picked a more polar opposite of Paul Maupin, Sr. than David Raymond Adams, Mom’s father.

Grandma Adams, Mamie, called her husband “Raymond,” Dad called him “Ray,” Mom called him “Daddy,” and Brian and I just called him “Grandpa.” Born in October 1900, his family was smaller than Grandpa Maupin’s by nearly a dozen—he had one sister, Edith, a couple years younger.

Ray Adams wanted to do it all, even from an early age.

He was fascinated by all gadgets, machinery, cars, tools, and his lifelong love—cameras. As the shutterbug of the family, he snapped pictures of everything—the just-set family dining table, nature, historic landmarks. He always bought the latest invention and absorbed himself in learning about it, to the exclusion of all else (pictured at left with a Tonka Toys gift on my 14th birthday in 1974). He was restless, always on the move, even down to rocking in his chair and forever clearing his throat. A member of the Greensburg, Indiana, Lions Club, he never smoked, rarely drank (outside of the odd beer with Dad), and was a staunch Republican.

So, mere weeks after Grandpa and Grandma Maupin left for Indiana, Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mamie arrived in their camper, where they stayed during their 13-day visit. On Monday, July 12, 1976, they packed up, hitched the camper to their car and headed home. In a little over a week I’d be whisked off to summer camp, this time at Lake Shamineau, north of the Twin Cities, just outside of Motley, Minnesota.

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~ by completelyinthedark on October 9, 2011.

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