Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 25, 2006 / 27 Iyar, 5766

Taking a new look at grandpa

By Garrison Keillor


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | My mother told me the other day that there's a lot she'd like to know but there's nobody left to ask. Mother is 91 and her mind is sharp and she feels her losses. Of her 12 siblings, only one remains. All of the others whose reminiscences she used to enjoy have gone on to their rewards. The door to the past is closed.

And now my cousins and I gather around her and she identifies people in old photographs for us. People on Minneapolis boulevards in the '20s and '30s, somber men and giddy children, three young blades and a Model A Ford, a girl in a pinafore seated on the photographer's pony. Soo Line employees, jackets off, the long sleeves of their white shirts rolled up, at a company picnic. A boy in knickers, and a small serious dog.

There is a picture of Grandpa, grinning, hoeing a row of cabbages in a garden near Hastings in 1932. I don't remember seeing Grandpa grin. I remember him as a fretful old man. It's Annabel Wright's garden. Grandpa's wife Marian died a few years before and here he is courting this attractive widow who lives on a farm. I imagine that he goes out for the day, leaving his children back on Longfellow Avenue in Minneapolis, and he is happy on his day off, but mainly he is grinning at the lady holding the camera, Annabel, the lady he is aiming to marry. That is romance on Grandpa's face. A man who fathers 13 children is a man of serious energy. The picture is a revelation. The ancestor was a whole person, not a cartoon.

There's a lot I'd like to know about my ancestors — what was on their minds? — but they left no record of that. Memoirs are a luxury of the upper middle class. People who've been working on the railroad tend not to sit down in the evening and write elaborate thoughts in their journals. They're too tired. And in our family, personal identity was considered self-indulgence. A good disciple of the Lord should be conformed to His Will, expressing what's on His Mind, not your own, which works against the memoiristic impulse.

Sometimes I take myself back to 1953, the year Grandpa died, when I was 11. The overwhelming boredom of that summer, relieved by library books and radio shows. And then in August my dad taking me with him to New York on an errand for a family friend. Her husband was stationed with the U.S. Army in Germany and she wanted his brand-new Pontiac shipped over, so Dad drove it to Brooklyn to be loaded aboard a freighter. He had been stationed in New York during the war and had friends there whom he wanted to see. I begged to go and my mother made him take me along. Perhaps she felt that the father of six children should not go waltzing off to Manhattan scot-free. Perhaps she thought it'd be good for me.

It was the trip of all trips. The busy two-lane highway through Indiana and Ohio, the country inn in Pennsylvania with the high poster bed, Valley Forge, the whine of traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel, the towers of Manhattan silvery in the afternoon sun, streets jammed with pushcart peddlers shouting in strange languages, and a hot night in Brooklyn — too hot to sleep, so Dad and I took a walk to a candy store and bought cream sodas and perched on the curb and drank them.

Donate to JWR


Across the street was a park in which I could see hundreds of people sleeping on blankets spread out on the grass, families, little kids nestled against their mothers, and on the benches around the perimeter men sat smoking and talking in the dark. An encampment of city people. We walked back to Dad's friends' apartment, and he spread a mattress on the fire escape and we slept there, five stories in the air, headlights passing below us, the elevated train clattering a block away.

I came back to Benson School as the only boy in the sixth grade to have seen New York City. Enormous status. Royalty, almost. A girl asked me if it was true that trains ran underground and went fast, and I said, yes, it was true and I had ridden them. It was the first time I had original experience to offer to an audience. That's how a writer is born. You went, you saw, and now you tell the others.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Garrison Keillorís "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country. Comment by clicking here.

Archives

© 2006 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, INC.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles