Monday, February 19, 2007

Grandfathers

I have been “tagged” by Angel from Angel’s Cloud to do a “5 Things About Me” meme. I have to admit that I am rather boring; I’m not claustrophobic, I’m not afraid of much, except maybe heights… but I got over that being a builder.

So I thought, instead of boring you with benign facts about your’s truly, I would explain a little bit about where I came from. More specifically, my relationship with my fathers’ and their fathers’ and what shaped me into the Dad I am today.

A little while back, I said, “Men learn how to be men from other men…We learn how to be gentlemen from watching true gentle men. Father’s are not easily impressed by their sons, but they’re always proud of them. As men, we’re remembered by the character of the men we raise.” For better or worse, we’re shaped by the men who have come before us. We raise our sons based on the influences in our lives. As we get older, we learn to extract the good and discard the bad. But all our experiences are there to draw on as we mold the next generation of men.

With that in mind, and being the fact that this is, after all, Long Island Dad, I’m going to start with a segment on my grandfathers. In order to truly "know" things about a person you must know where they came from; what influences they had in their lives and who were/are their role models. I’ll include some interesting facts about me to keep your interest… I promise.

My Middle Name - “Bryan

As I told you a little while back, the Helper is not a junior because we don’t share a middle name. My middle name is “Bryan.” Not odd at all, except for the “y” spelling. It’s actually a family surname; my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. I am a direct descendant of William Jennings Bryan (please click the link to learn more about him). While I don’t share a lot of his religious beliefs or political views, I am, in fact, intrigued and active in both politics and religion.


My “Grandpa” (Maternal Grandfather)

In a previous post I described the relationship between me and my maternal grandfather; a great man who I still use as a role model to this day.

If you haven’t done so already, please read Pens and Pocket Knives, for an understanding of my relationship with him.



My “Poppa Sam” (Paternal Grandfather)

My paternal grandfather was a stoic man of finance. He was a banker. He attended the Wharton School of Finance (the same school as Donald Trump), and rose through the ranks, finally achieving the position of Vice Chairman of Commercial Loans for The First National City Bank of New York, now known as Citibank or Citigroup. (Right Photo: My Grandfather at his retirement party in 1965, before Long Island Dad was born.)

In his time, he was the man large national companies went to for money. They included AT&T, General Motors, DuPont Chemical, and many others. He was a money man. He taught me the value of a dollar, as well as, what to do with that dollar… to bad I haven’t listened so far.

Interesting tidbits; the Baby shares his middle name with my grandfather; my grandparents waited until my grandfather’s retirement in 1965 to take a honeymoon (after having been married for over 40 years), they sailed to Europe on the original Queen Mary in 1966 and spent many months touring Europe. (Left Photo: My Grandparents toasting their Bon Voyage aboard the RMS Queen Mary I, New York Harbor, October 1966)

Upon their return, my grandparents sold their house here on Long Island and retired to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They became the ultimate “snow birds,” spending summers on the Cape and winters in Naples, Florida.

My grandfather had worked hard all his life and rewarded himself with a great retirement. Unfortunately, he only enjoyed it for eight years. He died in May of 1973; I was 8 years old. This was my first encounter with death; I remember his funeral like it was yesterday. My grandmother (being of 100% Irish decent) lived another 23 years after his death, until she finally passed in 1996.

The thing I remember most about my grandfather, who we called “Poppa Sam,” (to this day I still don’t know why), was the time he and I would spend together on Cape Cod. As a boy I would go up to the Cape every summer… yeah, I know, such a spoiled brat… after having his breakfast, my grandfather would take me for a ride in the car. We would stop for the morning newspapers and then it was off to the beach. He would sit on the bench and read the papers while I ran, jumped and frolicked like little boys do. In the afternoon, after his beloved Red Sox (I know… hurts me to this day!) lost and before cocktail hour, he would play a board game or he would color with me. (Right Photo: A much younger Long Island Dad coloring with Poppa Sam, Naples, FL 1971)

He was not a man of many words or outward signs of affection but I know he loved me. He wasn’t the grandpa who hugged or kissed you or tucked you into bed. He wasn’t the man who took you fishing or taught you how to use tools. He didn’t have a workshop – he hired “that” stuff out. But, in spite of this, and probably because of this, the time he and I spent together, alone, are some of my greatest memories from childhood.

(Left Photo: My Grandparents on their back porch, Cape Cod, Summer 1975, a year before my grandfather passed away. This is the last picture they took together.)



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