Thursday, July 4, 2002

Happy Independence Day!

(Happy Fourth of July to those of you who aren't part of the non-contiguous 50.)

My Grandpa Larry was 100 when he died in 1997. He was easily one of the most patriotic human beings I have ever known -- the real kind of patriotism, too. Oh, he was a flag-waver (no doubt about that!) but he also put his money where his mouth was by fighting in three wars (World Wars I and II and Korea) and serving for 20 years as a mounted policeman with the NYPD. He grew up poor and alone on the Kansas plains at the turn of the last century and somehow found himself living what has to be one of the most fascinating lives I've ever encountered. He sailed across those plains in a prairie schooner, shook hands with Teddy Roosevelt, and was featured on the front page of the New York Daily News on the day Lindbergh received his ticker tape parade. He was half Chippewa, half Scots-Irish, and to quote him, "100% American," and I only wish I had been smart enough to capture all of his stories before he died. (I also wish my family hadn't been so damned secretive but that's a whole other issue.)

He was also an amateur artist who dabbled in watercolors, oils, sculpting, and managed to turn the practical business of sailor's knots into works of art I treasure. He created this banner for the Bicentennial in 1976. (He was 79 at that time -- a man in his prime!) This photo doesn't do it justice. I must remember to take a new one and post it.


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