My grandpa died on Tuesday. Park the pity party outside, he lived a good-long life and I have nothing but fond memories of him. He was an awesome man and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. Though he was my grandfather on my mom’s side it was what my father said to me about him that stuck in my head.“He always worked hard,” my dad said.
My dad is right; my grandfather did work hard his whole life. That’s a quality I looked up to in my father as well and realize it was a quality my grandfather also espoused. I’m not sure I ever lived up to either of their standards but I try*.
But both of them are role models to me in that regard.
My earliest memory of my Grandpa Hurlbut is him feeding me ‘doublemint gum’ while I rode on the fender of his tractor as he, in his words,’ farmed it’. Sometimes, and I don’t think I was allowed to tell mom this, I was allowed to steer the tractor.
I wish I could tell you an awesome story about how I drove it into town and bought beer but I was like five, it’ was all about just holding the steering wheel and giggling cause driving a tractor is cool at five and at 43.
When I first joined the Army I bought a used Mazda RX7 because I was an idiot. Still though I drove the piece of crap up from lower New York to Upstate New York the visit my grandma and grandpa as soon as I some leave.
The car had a thing, what the hell do you call it, on the outside door, a long strip of plastic rubberized material that prevented other car doors from making dings in my ding-ridden RX7. Anyway my plastic rubberized thing was lose and I thought, ‘hell Grandpa is handy, he can fix this shit easy!’
He surveyed the problem, extracted a heavyweight drill from a well-organized garage and aimed an auto appropriate screw at the issue. The drill slipped and he fucked my door harder than any porn you’ve ever seen. Literally there was a 5 inch torn open wound in the metal when he was done.
The car lasted another three weeks, I think it actually broke down on the way home from that trip and I had a useful lesson in what rotary engines meant. So no loss. I just remember him turning to me and saying, ‘oops.’
Grandpa, damnit picking up chicks in a beat up RX7 is hard enough! Doing it with a 5 inch drill gash on the door is … I was 21, never mind.
I should have asked my dad for advice really, he’d have been like, “son get yourself some type double category seven adhesive and a level 9 bonding agent, apply it liberally with poodle hair and you’re done.”
Dad knows cars, Grandpa built shit.
Key my mom. We lived in Phoenix Arizona because they ran out of gas money there on the way to LA or something and one year my Grandpa and Grandma came to visit in a truck with a camper which is way cool really.
Travels with Charlie anyone? No? Screw you it’s a great book.
Again my dad could outfit any variety of Dodge vehicles with a jet engine given enough time and thought, but building furniture not so much. I didn’t fall far from the tree there, I built a beeramid last month but it didn’t survive Dagmar101 and I’m still in fucking trouble.
Anyway Mom wanted a desk like thing built in the living room and a bookshelf built in one of the bedrooms.
As a kid, like 12 or 13, I remember being fascinated by the process of building these things. As an adult I now think, “holy fuck, aliens that discover our planet after we are all dead will study these two items.” Seriously they, I’m sure of this, are still in that house today and are impervious to fire, flood, earthquake or hell.
Future generations will use them as examples of ‘American workmanship’.
Solid doesn’t do that furniture justice.
At my brother’s wedding Dagmar pulled Grandpa out on to the dance floor (you
were rocking that little-black dress honey, looking damn hot by the way) for a spin. There are few photos I have of him but he seemed to love it. Looking at the photo still makes me smile.
Third party story told to me by my Uncle Georgie, fuck you I have an Uncle Georgie and he’s pretty cool … even if he makes fun of me for being a city slicker.
Maple trees make maple syrup, it seems. Who knew? Apparently you do some kind of weird magic, sap comes out, you cook it and then pancake goodness flows forth. I dunno the details, there was cooking involved though.
Grandma and Grandpa were cooking the maple syrup and an argument developed, he thought it needed to cook longer. She disagreed but he left the room to attend to something (cows!) and she followed his direction.
In the morning she slid him a block of solid maple overcooked uselessness that should have been syrup and decried, “here’s your maple syrup!” Fuck I don’t even get that story, sorry. Don’t overcook maple syrup which comes from trees or something. I am a retard city slicker it seems.
Grandpa and Grandma were farmers, as I’ve pointed out. I can remember him squeezing the cow’s teats and spraying the milk on a gaggle of kittens and cats and watching them lose their shit. Even to a disinterested 15 year old it was so cute you had to laugh. Milk was hitting them and they were ‘paws up’, catching it.
Mom used to tell a story about the family all coming home from something (church?) in the winter and seeing a family of bears near the barn. Grandpa, she explained, went to the barn and tossed out food them. Why bears were out of their hibernation caves in winter never was defined. Grandpa was good with animals I think was the point. And he was.
Danny Hurlbut, you had a chair at the old farm house on star hill when you were like three. You broke it. You broke it because you were three (it might have been already broken, I don’t remember) and I remember grandpa taking that to the garage and ‘industrial-level’ unscrewing that chair. It was awesome. He took your little kid chair outside and ‘manned it up’. I was like 15 or something. Then you sat in it, for like 30 seconds.
Rest in peace Grandpa …. I’m gonna pop in a Cowboy movie and call it a night.
* And by try I mean I swill a lot of beer and make an ass of myself here, so there are levels of trying.