Erin Bried. She asked if I would read her new book, How to Build a Fire and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew. I cannot tell you how excited I was. I skipped. I hopped. I jumped. Well maybe not physically but mentally I was turning cartwheels. You see about a year ago I read her book How to Sew a Button and Other Things Your Grandmother Knew and I loved it. She interviewed a bunch of grandma’s, wait is it a bunch? Would it be a brood of grandma’s? Perhaps it’s a coven of grandma’s, oh wait that is only if they are witches. Aren’t all grandmas witches of some kind? I digress.
Grandpa’s, we were speaking of grandfathers. You know those old guys that told you stories about the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, which if you asked me didn’t sound great at all. It sounded more depressing than great. Well Erin has done it again with Grandfathers. She grabbed up a gaggle of old guys who all are heroes in their own right, and asked them how to do things we all should know how to do. The interviews are interesting and the information is wonderful.
Mr. Rodriguez teaches us the correct way to plant a tree and Mr. Holloman shows us how to build a fire. Mr. Spooner gets us hooked into fishing and Mr. Walter advises us how to cope with bad news. Mr. Kelly makes us a friendly wager and Mr. Sulka gives us some mechanic lingo. Each man teaches us just as if we were there own children and grandchildren the essentials of getting through life. They do so with finesse and humor.
Now had my own grandfather still been with us he could have given us all a lesson in how to drive a tank. You see in the Second World War he marched down to the induction office and told them “I’m here to serve.” The Sergeant in charge looked at him and said “Mr. McGuilicutty don’t you think you’re a little long in the tooth to be signing up?” My grandfather shook his head and replied “No sir, my teeth are just fine and you boys are gonna need some of us older fellers to get you through, so I’m here to help. Now send me over there to Germany so I can kick Hitler’s rear-end.” The Sergeant shook his head, inducted my grandfather at the young age of 42 into the Army and promptly sent him too Ft. Hood to teach tank driving to new recruits. Now my grandfather had never driven a tank but he didn’t think it could be too difficult, after all he had driven tractors, wagons and model T’s; heck he even drove a Hostess Cupcake Truck during the Great Depression. He was a bit disappointed in not going over to Germany and personally kicking the Furor’s tail but he figured he would teach these kids how to just roll right on through France and take back Europe.
My grandfather was an interesting guy who I didn’t get to know until I was in my twenties. He was always busy working on this or building that. He had an incredible work ethic and worked right up until the day he died. He was a carpenter by trade and a businessman by instinct. I guess the thing he taught me that stuck with me more than anything was to always build on a strong foundation. I didn’t always adhere to his advice and learned the hard way that a foundation on shaky ground will never stand.
My dad, Trooper Bob, is a grandfather and he has taught his grandkids plenty. He taught them how to spit watermelon seeds, measure twice and cut once, how to do a cannon ball into the pool and how to keep your sense of humor through the bad stuff. My brother is now a grandfather and he too is teaching his grandson all the lessons of life; lessons such as how to catch a ball and how to plant a tree. Kahuna is doing his grandfatherly duty too, by teaching his grandkids the art of blowing bubbles in the pool and paddling out in just the right spot. So you see we continue to pass down the knowledge we gain from life and hope that our grandkids don’t think we are just a bunch of stupid old farts. They may not know how to program their cell phones but they can pop corn without a microwave and can make a telephone from two cans and string.
I guess the point to my whole rambling here is go out and buy How to Build a Fire by Erin Bried right now and put it in your kids stockings. Heck put it in your husband’s stocking and keep a copy for yourself. You could even put it in your dad’s stocking; he will get a kick out of it. While you’re at it pick up a couple of copies of How to Sew a Button too.