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My Grandpa and the Train (standard:other, 813 words)
Author: timsterAdded: Jan 27 2003Views/Reads: 2661/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
We came a long way together.

My Grandpa and the Train 

The first memories I recall of my Grandpa was in an airport in Los
Angeles.  He and Grandmother  had been living in Springfield, Illinois. 
 She came out of the ramp in a wheelchair with him pushing it.  They 
looked so old to a young child like me.  I remember buying them an 
abalone ashtray at the gift shop there.  They seemed so pleased that I 
would do such a thing. 

They moved to Chula Vista, California and I saw very little of them. 
They would send me money for my birthday, with  which I promptly bought 
baseball cards or a new 45 record.  We would go to visit them every 
Christmas and Easter.  It seemed so unfair to me at the time to have to 
leave home and drive all the way down there on those holidays. 

I spent a weekend with them once.  It was kind of awkward for me because
I really didn't know them.  My Grandma was a very kind woman, as I 
began to learn.  Grandpa seemed a little gruff with that deep voice and 
the whiskers on his face.  I began to know my grandparents that 

A year or so later they moved to a small town called Alpine.  It was
farther away from me than the last place they had lived.  My aunt lived 
in the same area so she could keep an eye on them.  It was a smaller 
house but did seemed big enough for them.  They didn't end up living 
there too long. 

Then I began to hear the stories about my Grandpa.  He had been an Army
boxing champion in the Middleweight Division during World War II.  
Grandpa didn't have to go fight in the war because of that.  I also 
learned that there was a reason that he didn't drive.  It seems he had 
too many drunken driving convictions.  I didn't understand at the time 
but as I grew older, I began to understand. 

They then moved to North Park to a house that my Dad had bought for
them.  North Park was in an old part of San Diego.  It was rundown and 
everything seemed so old there.  It did have two bedrooms, though, and 
had a small backyard and a garage. It seemed the house fit them just 
fine and everything was within walking distance . 

Another story popped up about Grandpa.  It seemed he was arrested for
drunken bicycle riding   I found that kind of humorous at the time and 
began to picture it in my mind.  It did paint a very strange picture, 

My family moved to a town in San Diego County soon after.  The drive to
visit them wasn't as long now so we visited more often.  Most of the 
time, Grandpa would be planted in his chair.  The stories that I had 
heard about him didn't seem to fit, though.  As I grew to know him 
better, I realized what a kind man he was.  Grandpa never had anything 
bad to say and always paid attention to me when I spoke.  I also found 
out that we had the same middle name.  I was his oldest grandchild, so 
maybe that had something to do with it. 

One Christmas, I gave him a train set.  It was a starter kit in the HO
scale.  He seemed kind of stunned and said he would figure out a place 
to put it.  For the first time, he hugged me as we left that day.  I 
will never forget that day. 

Yet another story emerged about him that coming year.  He had taken
their small dog to the local bar with him.  Well, while they were 
there, a man kicked the dog.  A quick right hand from my grandpa and 
the man laid on the floor after that.  I'm sure the dog was never 
kicked again.  Actually, I was kind of proud of my Grandpa for sticking 
up for the dog. 

I saw my Grandpa soon after and to my surprise, the train was now set up
in the garage on a piece of plywood.  He had to rush me out there to 
show me what he had done.  Now with every visit to his house, we went 
through the same ritual.  A few more buildings were added each time.  
One time, he showed me the streetlights that he had just done. 

The scene grew every time I went over there.  New trees, box cars,
people and tracks.  He had created a small city .  There were no more 
stories about him after that.  The train seemed to be his focal point.  
My parents were completely shocked by the transformation in him. 

In that moment in each of our lives, we had become the same age. 
Grandpa had become an innocent child again.  I will never forget the 
great John Riley Gorman.


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