A Message From My Grandfather’s Ghost

22 06 2008

There are times that I find out things that I didn’t know. It’s an oddity rather when you have perceptions about things and then you find out stuff like this.

Dear Newscoma’s cousin from Memphis,

When my Dad was in the Marines in WWII and stationed at the Marine Barracks in Washington and guarded the Tomb, the requirements were different then because he certainly wasn’t 5’10”.  When we went to Washington on vacation after I graduated from college, we saw the changing of the guards.  I saw the precise drill and how sharp all the guards were and asked him if he did all of that.  I thought guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Solder was just standing out there making sure no one bothered anything.  He replied to my question, “Yep we did all that”.  Once again I was impressed with my fathers humility and deeds.  He also was a guard for President Roosevelt whenever he made a public appearance.  He would be in plain clothes and carry a pistol.  He recieved a medal for that duty.  He and mother were married after he was stationed there.  She moved to Washington and worked in the cosmetics counter of the department store Woodward & Lothrop.  Mom was pregnant with Jackie when Dad was shipped out the Pacific after about a year and a half in Washington.  Jackie was almost 2 yrs old when she first saw her father.

Newscoma’s Uncle

My uncle sent this email to a member of my family about my grandfather. I am constantly reminded that my grandfather did things that I didn’t know about. We all have our secret lives and I’m constantly, as my uncle said, amazed by his humility.

Jackie was my mom.

My grandfather probably only stood about 5’7″ but I can remember that, until he became ill, that he had the biggest muscles ever. He was little but he was tough. My sister and I would ask to swing from his muscles, his guns if you will, because they were huge from working on his farm, where he let us name all of his cows after the characters on Gilligan’s Island.

He wouldn’t talk to us about the Battle of Saipan where he was one of the first Marines to hit the beach. He would tell us that they would catch sharks off the beach because they were plentiful to eat because there never was enough food.

I asked him if he had ever killed anyone when I was a about 6. He leaned down and gave me a hug yet said nothing. I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was asking.

It was in that moment that I realized that adults were a bit more complex than I had initially considered. I remember that clearly.

Adults had secrets.

I knew my grandfather as a postman and the guy that bought me Chocolate Soldiers and peanuts. He had a mixed-Chocolate Lab named Roscoe. He loved Freddy Fender. He drank Budweiser, but never to excess. He died 28 years ago. I don’t think any of us have ever gotten over his passing.

I realized much later he was so much more that what I knew of him.

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2 responses

22 06 2008
LeBlanc

You sure make it difficult to NOT choose your posts at the end of the month when I pick some of my favorites. Something about this one that I really enjoyed. I guess because I am a history & genealogy nut these stories hit me. Thanks.

22 06 2008
newscoma

Thank you for the kind words, LeBlanc. You are wonderful.

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