Friday, November 21, 2008

NaBloPoMo21 - Friday Family - Grandpa Pharaoh

(c) 2008 Ms. Huis Herself at

Happy Birthday, Dad!!!

Yup, it's Grandpa Pharaoh's birthday today, so here are a few of my memories about him growing up.

We did most of our growing up on a farm. First at a place we rented from my uncle, and then the farm my dad's dad owned before him. I remember "helping" Dad outside from an early age - fetching hammers or pliers or whatnot, especially when he was fixing the combine or a tractor. I remember him driving around the yard with tractors and wagons and pickups. We spent hours picking rocks or riding the bean bar, shooting weeds between the soybean plants with herbicide, or doing whatever he told us we needed to do.

I always LOVED getting to go to town with him. It might involve a trip to the elevator or the bank or the co-op, but it pretty much ALWAYS included a stop in the cafe for coffee. There we'd join the table of other guys there for coffee and shake dice to see who paid. I thought growing up that Dad knew EVERYBODY... and it's pretty much true.

He taught us all how to drive tractor and cars and stick-shift. When I was older, he had me drive the grain truck to the elevator in town during the harvest sometimes. Dad told me the guys at the elevator told him they knew immediately which one of us was driving depending on whether the truck cautiously approached the scale or just barreled right onto it.

Mom worked some while we were growing up - less when we were young & more as we grew older. When she was working, of course Dad had to do the cooking until we were old enough to help with that. His specialties were cheeseburger Hamburger Helper with peas stirred in (had to have a veg, you know), ring bologna served with mac & cheese, and pancake shapes. We'd come up with the craziest thing to have him make out of pancake batter and he'd manage to get something created for us. He also taught me that grilled cheese sandwiches make a good breakfast.

The church we attended growing up was rather... conservative? Strict? "Just so," certainly. There were high expectations for behavior during services - for all ages. None of this sending the kids to Sunday School partway though the service there! Dad was the holder of the mints that got doled out, one to each of us, during the sermon when we kids started to get wiggly. He also always had a pen in his pocket that was used to doodle on the edges of the church bulletin for that week.

Dad can strike up a conversation with ANYBODY. Bring him someplace and he'll find somebody to talk to. I remember waiting in a line at Disney on a family vacation, and he struck up a conversation with another guy in a seed corn cap, and it turned out they either knew each other somehow or knew somebody in common. Also, if there's popcorn available, he'll find it, and if there's a baby to be held, he'll be doing the holding! Babies love him.

Dad sings a lot around the house. "Peaches and pears and apricots - those are all the fruits we gots!" was the chorus when choosing canned fruit for dessert. I remember him singing other songs, occasionally hymns, and a favorite for us kids was when he'd sing "Lettuce Break Bread Together on Our Knees!"

My parents both valued education, read to us, and encouraged us in school. Dad was on the school board for years and years and years! I know I mentioned earlier this month that he gave me my high school diploma at graduation. The school board was yet another way that he was involved in the community... and knew everybody.

Obviously, I've got tons of more memories I could share, but the girls will soon be up from naptime, so I should finish this out and get it posted. Life certainly changes over time, but sure as death & taxes is Dad's nightcap of lemonade (heated up in the winter) and brandy. So let's all raise a glass and say "Cheers!" to the birthday boy! Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you!

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