Interviewing Grandpa

Eldest Son had an assignment: interview someone in his family at least two generations removed from him. (This is not as difficult as it sounds when you consider that in his class, 20 years makes a generation. He could practically have interviewed me.)

Keeping in mind that ES didn’t mention this assignment to me until zero-fricking-hour (due tomorrow, of course), so I was last-minute help, this is what he came up with:

Conducted by: Eldest Son

I interviewed my grandfather, W—- C—— S—–, born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1945. He is 62years old, and currently lives in Potomac, Maryland.

Grandpa is an electrical engineer and a Master of Business Administration, and used to work for the President of the United States. One of the many cool things he’s done is help develop a database (the Permit Compliance System) for President James Carter and the Environmental Protection Agency, that helped monitor pollution in our rivers and streams.

Now Grandpa works for ***, as a scientific consultant. He has always worked to better the environment.

ES: Where were you raised? What was it like?
Grandpa: I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. I thought it was a good place to grow up. There were lots of things to do like playing baseball, basketball, and football.

ES: What was the most important thing to you as a 12 year old?
Grandpa: I liked doing well in school. I liked to make friends and play sports.

ES: What kind of movies did you like?
Grandpa: I liked western movies. It made me feel at home because those movies were mostly made in places like Utah.

ES: What was going on in the world that you paid attention to when you were in the sixth grade?
Grandpa: I remember when the polio vaccine was distributed to all the people in America.

ES: Tell me about transportation when you were a kid. How did you get around?
Grandpa: I rode my bicycle to go see friends. I rode the bus every once in a while to go downtown. We had a car, and sometimes my Mom would drive me places.

ES: What was your favorite music? Why?
Grandpa: I liked Broadway shows, show tunes, and albums. I liked it because it was entertaining.

ES: What kind of family activities did you do?
Grandpa: We went to many of my mother’s family gatherings for holidays. The family went to Yellowstone almost every year.

ES: What was school like?
Grandpa: School was broken into two classes. I stayed in the same room all day, and the teachers would come to our classroom.

ES: What did you think of computers?
Grandpa: There were no computers when I was twelve.

ES: What did you like to do in your spare time?
Grandpa: I played sports, read books, and played with friends in the neighborhood.

ES: What kind of clothing did people wear?
Grandpa: I wore jeans and shirts – but shirts with collars, not T-shirts. Not too different from what kids wear today.

I suggested that ES elaborate a bit on the answers, as I was listening on the extension (of course) for some of the responses, and my father is much more eloquent than my eleven-year-old makes him sound. My father has had one of the more fascinating lives I’ve ever heard of – and I read a lot. Dad was raised Mormon, to a (mostly) single mother in SLC. He is Horatio Alger’s fantasy. An MBA, an accomplished executive, a successful family man, a well-travelled and extremely tolerant and kind individual, and the only person who has carte blanche in disciplining my children (that means a lot). All this, even with those unfortunate mutton chops he sported through much of my childhood. *smirk*


My father is my hero, and other than Hubby – who has many of my father’s best qualities (again, of course) – I have never met his equal.

My father puts me in mind of Joseph – Jesus’s father. (I’m not making any comparisons between myself and Jesus here – that would just be stupid. I’m thinking only of the best men I know.)

Not his kid. Not his responsibility. Not his problem.

The reason my father is my hero is that things that are important become his problem. He is good, way down deep. A good man, every day. He makes mistakes, but even so… a good man. What a rarity. What a fabulous measuring stick I have had my whole life. What a life I have had because he decided he wanted me in it.

I am sad because my son might never know what an enormous influence his grandfather has had on him, on his parents, on the world he inhabits. I could try to tell him, but ES would pretend to listen, and eventually, his eyes will roll. I know this is true, as I am his mom, after all. If ES follows my map, evetually he will see it. I hope I am raising the kind of people who can, as my father did.

So, Dad, thanks for saving my son’s bacon tonight, and letting your dinner get cold while you listened to my son stutter through an ill-conceived interview. It is one of the many things you have done to enrich all our lives. Thanks for giving me the life I have, the knowledge I would never have had without you, and the measuring stick to make them all make sense. 

Thanks for giving me a map, and teaching me how to read it.

And, gifted with the children I am currently raising, I have to thank you for something that may be a little odd, but if you lived in my house, it would make sense:

Thanks, Dad, for teaching me Math.


2 responses to “Interviewing Grandpa

  1. That was great! Thanks for sharing.

  2. How sweet. Hope ES catches the importance of transmitting the family stories and had fun.

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