Sonya, our roving reporter has brought us some more stories of our grandfathers. It is clear they shaped and formed the next generation of grandchildren and had a good impact.
My grandfather was a coalminer in Scotland. He bred the canaries that were used in the mines for detecting poisonous gases. He and Grannie had 5 daughters and one son (my father). A committed family man, he made sure his son would not have to work in the mines, by getting him into a trade. Dad became a journeyman plasterer. My grandparents adopted the baby of their eldest daughter as Grandpa wouldn’t hear of surrendering up that baby for adoption to anyone else.
He never spoke English , only Gaelic and would travel to Brittany and to Ireland to visit his friends who spoke the same dialect of Gaelic as Grandpa.
Although he died when I was only 5 years old, my grandpa had a huge influence on my Dad and indeed on all of our families. He was a man of strong principles, setting a worthy example to the generations that were to follow. How fortunate you all were Cathy.
My grandfather and a partner started Wool Bay Lime. It was a building supplies company. My grandparents lived in a dinky-di little house, near the shore at Glenelg. It was a bunch of rooms and to get from one room to another they had to use an outside, but closed in sort of corridor. They had a meat safe out at the back of the house. In later years they replaced that with an ice box and I can remember the ice man coming around to fill it up with more ice. Those old meat safes were quite wonderful as long as you didn’t keep the meat for too long!
When our family returned from Australia to Germany after ten years I was 14 years old. My grandfather was such a friend and a comfort to me. After school hours I helped out at various farms and I also did some grape picking. My dear grandfather discovered that some farmers weren’t paying me adequately, so he got Grandma to choose only the farmers that would pay me fairly. Then after returning from my farm work each afternoon I would sit out in the garden with my grandfather and tell him about my day. He gave me good advice and re-assurance and we shared many a little secret between us. One day at a farm they gave me a drink of apple moss, the first stage of fermenting grapes or apples. I was really thirsty so I drank a lot. When I got home Grandpa could see I looked different and soon realised I was quite drunk! He sat me down beside him and told me I shouldn’t drink that stuff like water! He just talked quietly and soon I was over my intoxication. He said we didn’t need anyone to know about my misadventure.
When my Grandfather married his 19 year old wife, she had 3 or 4 siblings . Their parents had both died. Grandpa said “those children must come and live with us too.” That’s the sort of loving man he was. Then they had 8 children of their own!
Before WW2 my German grandfather worked in a design team for the construction of large vehicles. During this time he met an English man at a conference in Hannover who was doing the same design work in the UK. My Grandfather couldn’t speak English and the English man couldn’t speak German. However they both could speak French and communicated in that language. They corresponded in that way until the war came and there were no more letters.
After the war the Englishman wrote again and came to Germany to visit my Grandfather. It was then that they discovered that both of them had been seconded to work on aircraft design in their respective countries during the war years.
My grandfather was a very kind man. He used to nick food from my Grandma’s pantry and take it to the Polish POW’s working at the same factory. When he caught mice in a trap, he would show me how he took them out to the forest and set them free! Karin it’s lovely that even a war couldn’t squash your grandfather’s kindness.
My grandfather was born in 1903 and died in 1983. He was one of thirteen children although his twin sister died at 3 months of meningitis. They lived in a two roomed tied cottage in the north east of Scotland. ( A tied cottage went with a farming job. When the farm worker was paid once a year, the rent for the cottage was deducted from his wage.) When my grandfather left school he worked as a horseman. He was up at 4 am, seeing to the horses. They were all fed and brushed and stables cleaned before the horsemen went for their breakfast at the farmhouse kitchen for the single men. A harsh life for a 14 year old , Alexis
My grandfather got married in Germany and then went off to fight in the 1st World War.
He was badly injured and was sent home. The only way to get home was to walk, from France back to Germany. He died of his injuries in the last year of the war. His wife was pregnant, so her daughter (who was my mother) never saw or knew her father. What sad, hard times Peter.