January 3, 2018 at 7:09 pm #346686
Hi. I am Adam.
I graduated from Pine Island High School in 1909, and then from Winona State in 1913 with a major in Arithmetic and a minor in Animal Husbandry. After a stint as a cook in the War to End all Wars, I became a stylish 1920’s something, hobnobbing it with Fitzgerald (or as we called him, Franny) and other literary types, Hemingway, Frost, Sinclair Lewis, and the like. I couldn’t get Williams to drop the dumb wheelbarrow idea, telling him, nothing has ever depended that much on a wheelbarrow – he didn’t listen, what do I know?
When the market crashed and I lost everything, I rode the rails getting my trousers dusty until I met up with a young fella with whom I became fast friends. He encouraged me to join up with him in the second big war of the century. By happenstance it turned out that he was my grandpa – we had the same last name but I ain’t the brightest bulb and didn’t put 2 and 2 together right away. In World War II, I had the honor of fighting along my Grandpa George as we invaded the Southern boot of Italy taking out the bad guys that wore odd squiggly symbols on their arms. During a lull in action at a beachhead in Salerno, hiding in a foxhole, wondering if the Bailey bridges would arrive, we both surmised at the same time: “Why did this certain country keep choosing, as its enemy, the world?” Years later I heard a great comedy bit done by Norm MacDonald. If you are familiar with Norm MacDonald, try to do his voice in your head; it makes it a lot funnier. Norm opined, “There is one country that worries me — not Iraq, not Iran, not North Korea. The only country that really worries me is the country of Germany. I don’t know if you guys are history buffs or not, but in the early part of the previous century, Germans decided to go to war. And who did they go to war with? The world! That’d never been tried before. So you figure that would take about five seconds for the world to win, but no, it was actually close. Then about 30 years passed, and Germany decides again to go to war, and again, it chooses as its enemy, the world! You’d think at that point the world would go, hey, listen here Germany, here’s the deal, you don’t get to be a country no more, on account of you keep attacking the world.” So true.
After the war Gramps and I went separate ways, he to Rushford to marry Velma (my future grandma) and I to a small farm owned by Kilgore Trout, outside of Pine Island, to put my Animal Husbandry degree finally to work. Turned out that inseminating animals can be quite profitable.
In 1961, I went back to see ol’ George, to swap war stories and such, who by this time was busy building a business with his brothers, Himlie Construction, and it turns out that he had a son, Randy (who was about twelve or thirteen at the time; he’d eventually become my dad) and a daughter, Gale (who was probably nine or ten; she’d eventually become my aunt). Randy had just gotten back from canoeing with his best pal Jerry, and I didn’t want to screw things up too much, so I shook hands with him like I was passing through. As I snapped open another pop top Schlitz with George, I wanted to tell the kid all about the neat life he was going to have, but Gramps gave me the, “you better not” look.
My life in the sixties and seventies was a tumultuous time. I feared for my dad when he got drafted for the war in Vietnam, and cheered for my mom, Martha, when she graduated from Winona Tech. My mom went on to build a thriving business by styling and coloring people’s hair. When they eventually got married, I was like, finally, I’ll soon exist. I talked to George over the phone in June of 1968; I told him everything would be fine with the Army. That comforted him a bit, but then there was a notable silence. I asked him what he was thinking about.
Grandpa George replied, “Hey, remember when we were in the foxhole in Salerno?” Immediately my mind zoomed to the beachhead. “Clark was no Mickey Mouse, and he was doing the best he could with the rugged geography, but we were getting pounded. And then do you remember there was a halt in the shelling, an aching silence?” I nodded over the phone engrossed in the memory. Gramps went on. “There was a point right then and there that I wished for death, just to get it over with. Adam, that’s what I was thinking, that sometimes the thought, the fear of death is worse than getting a hole through the organs. That fear, the aftermath of such stays with you. I know Randy’s going to be OK, he’ll live, you told me so, but this Vietnam thing is a different kind of war for young men.”
We both thought in silence for a bit. Gramps was right. My dad ended up leaving for Fort Hood, Texas, with much fear and trepidation, along with a whole bunch of other draftees from Southeastern, Minnesota. By a mistake, or an act of God, or perhaps someone was at the right place at the right time, some paper work got all mixed up and my dad was ordered to stay in country, the only one in his unit. I remember watching him from the window pleading with his C.O. to go with the fellas that he had bonded with during boot camp, but the officer never relented. Turned out that being a Clerk Typist in a desert in Texas was way better than getting a hole through his organs.
In 1972, I was born, and I didn’t know it yet because I was a crying, pooping infant, but I was going to grow up in the single greatest decade to ever exist, the 1980s. I was getting bored of my Animal Husbandry career (there are only so many times one can dispatch semen into a cow or sheep and think it is another miracle of life) so I devoted the rest of my life to watching my alive life all over again, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I watched as I met my best friend in first grade, Sean (we still talk regularly) when I traded him a Twinkie for a Ho-Ho at lunch. I watched my school days, my triumphs and failures all over again, my first dance, my first kiss, the first time I awkwardly made love (steeling moves I had seen from Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell), viewing until I graduated from Pine Island in 1990. I went to Winona State, and watched myself meet my wife there, now of twenty-two years, Tricia, who is the love of my life. We also have two kids who are into cross country, video games, and teenage stuff. And we have three mutts, two of them are Setters, and one is a Pyrenees/Labradoodle. In 1995, I started teaching. I’ve taught in a private school, a charter school, and two public districts, and despite the impression from previous generations, kids don’t change, have never changed, and never will change.
But I found that in observing my life over for a second time, there were a couple moments I had to look away. I refused to watch that day again on the golf course. And I refused to watch Gary Anderson miss that field goal again. Some memories need to have a special compartment marked, Satan’s jokes on Minnesota.
I got a call from my grandpa last week; it was on the speaker phone. My dad was with him; the two of them had just gotten back from a quick 18 at Ferndale. They were laughing about a joke my dad had told him. Man, it was good to hear their voices again; it’d been so long. And they sounded so far away, voices muffled like speaking into rusted soup cans.
Wanna hear his joke?
A married couple, both sixty years old, were celebrating their wedding anniversary. During their party, a wizard appeared out of nowhere to congratulate the happy couple and grant them each one wish. The ecstatic wife beamed with joy, for they had lived meagerly all their lives and had never once spent extravagantly. So the wife, clapping her hands and hugging her husband, giddily wished for an all-expense paid vacation to travel around the world by plane, ship, bus, and hike. The wizard flicked his wand and chanted, “Zim-ka-bim!” And poof, tickets from Sun Country Airline appeared; the date of their dream trip was to begin three days from today, their first stop was Hamburg, Germany – everything paid for, food, booze, and romantic accommodations. The wizard turned to the man and asked what he wanted. The old man rubbed his chin, inspected his wife and mused thoughtfully. “So I can have anything I want?” The wizened wizard smiled, and exclaimed, “Of course. Anything you want, you just name it. But only one wish.” The old man pinched the bridge of his nose and continued to look at his wife, slowly, languidly, from her Propet shoes to the combs holding back her graying hair, and finally said, “Well, here it goes. I wish my wife was thirty years younger than me.” “Zam-ka-Bam!” Poof. In an instant, the husband was ninety years old.
And in an instant, the husband was ninety years old.
January 3, 2018 at 9:43 pm #655234
Are you looking to become a member?
January 5, 2018 at 1:28 pm #655235
Yes. Thank you
January 5, 2018 at 4:48 pm #655236
Welcome to the forums. You can now post anywhere.
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