Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Story by Cousin Tom

More fun found in Grandpa's geneology files. I found a copy of an article published in a magazine. Unfortunately, whoever made the copy did not include the magazine title or date in the copy. The article is a story written by my father's cousin Tom. I believe it's about his step-grandfather who married Tom's grandmother before he was born. I don't know where or when this story was first published. Tom would later profess vows with the Marionists in 1956.

My First Employer
by Thomas Oster

     Gramp, to the average person, is a normal man with gray hair and a dark complexion, but to me he isn't comparable to anyone else I have ever met. He is short now, but some pictures of the "good old days" show him to be a good two inches taller than any other patron in Pat's Bar. His face is a dark, reddish-brown, whereas the top of his head is tinted baby pink, for it has been protected from the sun by an old tattered straw hat. His hair, what's remaining, has been bleached white by sixty-five years of work.

     Grandfather is a jack of all trades and a master of many. When the weather is good, he farms and when it's bad he improves and repairs the buildings and equipment.

     He is an old timer in some respects but usually won't hesitate to purchase some useful new-fangled dudad if it cuts down his work or helps him to relax. He's got a radio, a phonograph, a telephone, a tractor, and a car, if you want to call it that. The car he has now is a 1935 Packard Limousine. He bought it from his brother-in-law who is a funeral director. The plans for today's tanks must have come from the builder of this car. Any car that Gramp drives has to be built strong. Gramp drives correctly only when he is teaching someone else how to drive. He usually owns a big car for he finds that such make good moving vans. When taking a small calf, sheep, goat or bull to market, he takes out the back seat and chauffeurs the animal away.

     City people depend considerably on other people's goods. Gramp, on the other hand, can get along pretty well by himself except for electricity and whiskey. What electricity won't supply usually the whiskey will. Gramp isn't a drunkard; he just gets working power from alcohol.

     Grandfather's education was very meager, for his parents were poor immigrants when he was born and reared on the American soil. His small list of English adjectives is supplemented when possible by a cuss word or two. He never uttered a vulgar word or curse, but used cuss words only for emphasis, description, or opinion.

     As mentioned before, he worked hard and couldn't get along with any one that didn't. When I began to spend my summer vacations on the farm, he took it upon himself to make me a good worker, no matter how much it would hurt me. The day began at six o'clock for me. Gramp would be up at five-thirty but wouldn't wake me until six. From about six-thirty in the morning until seven o'clock ay night we worked. Breakfast was at seven, dinner at twelve, and supper at six. No periods of rest or relaxation followed the meals, except on Sundays.

     Life on the farm can be very interesting; for there are only a few jobs that have to be done every day. There are seldom two days alike, for a farmer has a large variety of jobs. One day a farmer may be doing carpentry work; the next day he may be out fixing a fence.

     I got up and dressed from six to six-fifteen. I then staggered downstairs, washed up and went outside to do morning chores until Grandmother made breakfast. For breakfast, we always had eggs in some form or other. After breakfast I fed and watered the chickens, while Gramp prepared for his work that day. In the beginning, the days I worked with Gramp were few and far between. My main job was to keep the place clean, healthy and orderly.

     When I was thirteen years of age, Gramp began to show me how to farm. Up until then, it was theory; now the practice began. At the breakfast table Gramp would tell me what he wanted; then it was up to me to do it. My first jobs were small, maybe just to harrow a field. The harnesses were heavy, and the horses were very big when I began to work with them. Life was a little lonely at times, for often I was out in a large field for as long as eight hours at a stretch with no one to talk to except the horses, and they were always too busy to say anything.

     After the crops were planted the farm work lightened a little, but there was always cultivating to be done, either by machinery or by hoe. Near the top of the list of those things which I don't like to do was hoeing.

     When summer began to fade and harvesting time approached, all odd jobs were dropped. The grain bags were inspected, patched and counted. The granary was cleaned and set up. After the machinery was put in shape the available farmers were asked to come over on a specified day and thresh Gramp's crops.

     When the threshing machine arrived, the turmoil began. The filled wagons and trucks of grain were driven one at a time along side of the machine. The bundles of grain and straw were thrown on a conveyor belt coming out of the machine. From the opposite end hung a long, large stove-pipe affair. Out of this snorkel came the straw, chaff and plenty of dust. The grain was separated from the straw within the machine and came out by way of a worm gear, through a chute and into burlap bags. The filled bags of grain were thrown on a truck and hauled off to the granary where they were emptied. At dinner time the machines were turned off and the crew washed up in some basins setting outside before coming into the house to eat. After dinner the bustle began again and didn't stop until about five o'clock.

     The work was hard then, but as the years rolled by new machinery was developed, and the farmer could live a little easier.

     Gramp "combines" his crops now and saves himself a lot of hard work. The combine moves over the field and separates the straw from the grain. The grain collects in a bin on the side of the combine and then is transferred into bags. Gramp can thresh his crops now with just two or three men, whereas before he needed to engage maybe fifteen men.

     Gramp's crops aren't as large as they were in bygone days, for his body is worn and his movements slower. His thoughts and actions turned more towards God as the years flew by. He receives the sacraments often and even abstains from his whiskey during Lent.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Grandpa's Story

My grandfather had always been interested in geneology. I remember visits with him when I was young where he'd pull out his notes, letters and charts to show me how far back he had traced the family. At some point in the 70's, he wrote down his own story which I thought I'd share here. I decided to leave in all the typos and misspellings. I'm not sure why, it just seemed more authentic that way.

I, your grandfather Samuel Francis Owen Grattan born 10 Jan 1903 in a small house on a farm known as the Vanderstilt 1 place located a few miles southeast of Wakefield, Clay County, Kansas.

My parents (renters) moved in 1905 to a larger farm known as the Conover place located in Sherman Township, Section #11, Dickenson County, Kansas.

I grew up on the Conover place, my school days were spent at a rural one room school house known as Praire Dell, District #70 2.

After graduating from the 6th Grade in 1915 my school days were over and I worked on my parents farm, our country was engaged in World War #1.

Sam 1922
A friend and I traveled in his Model "T" Ford to New Raymer, Colorado in the fall of 1923 and worked in the Sugar Beet harvest, Shucked Corn, and other general ranch work.

During that period my oldest brother William Martin Grattan lost his life while on the Police Force of Detroit, Mich.,3 I attended his funeral in Des Moines, Iowa. I moved to Cleveland, Ohio in Mar 1924 and worked on general constructions jobs in and near Cleve. during that period I worked as a common Laborer, house Painter, automobile Mechanic, truck Driver and eventually became an Operating Engineer on Steam Shovels, Steam Cranes, and etc.

The church is on the left. It was torn down and rebuilt in 1937.

Your Grandmother Sophia Josephine Bash and I were married 9 Apr 1932 in St Adelberts Catholic Church, Berea, Ohio., and set up housekeeping at 1594 Hayden Ave., East Cleveland Ohio, in later years we lived in several different locations in Cleveland.

Their first apartment

John William Grattan was born 1933 at St Johns Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, we were living at 1441 Gridley Ave., Lakewood, Ohio.

Nancy Kay Grattan was born 1936 in St Johns Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio, we were living at [no number given] Bunts Road, (W 140 St) Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1937 we purchased and moved into our home at 14712 Westland Ave. Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1940 we sold our Westland Ave. home, purchase and moved into our home at 1253 Bell Ave., Cleveland, Ohio.

Working as an Operatind Engineer I was employed on a wide variety of Construction Projects i.e. Highway Grading, Buildings, Substructers, Steel Erection, Main Sewers, Steel Mills & Hospitals, Bridges & Power Plants, Ravenna Arsenal, and etc.

Went to Camden New Jersey 31 Mar 1941 for Merrett Chapman and Scott Corp.4 to work as Master Mechanic on thier New York Shipbuilding Yard expansion project.
Merritt-Chapman & Scott ad 1938

When the Camden job neared completion Merritt Chapman & Scott Corp. persuaded me to come to New York and Supervise operation of their Service and Storage Yard, located at Pier 22, Rosebank, Staten Island, N.Y.

We moved out household furnishings from Bell Ave. Cleveland, Ohio in early Dec 1941 to Staten Island, N.Y. After settling all furniture in proper place I connected up our only cabinet type Radio (power and ariel) and tuned it in, the broadcast was President Rosevelt announcing the Pearl Harbor Debacle, 7 Dec 1941.

My job also included inspections of all equipment damaged on active M.C. & S. Const. Projects while in progress and necessitated traveling and spending time at many other places e.g. Argentia  Newfoundland, Kingston & Toronto Canada and many other sites scattered over much of the United States.

In 1945 my position advanced to that of Equipment Manager of all of the Corp's Const. Equipment where ever located, thus my department husbanded the Corp's immense amount of heavy Construction Equipment (4.000 pieces), this necessitated mountains of detail and much traveling on my part.

Your Grandmother Sophia Josephine (nee Bash) Grattan died 15 Dec 1955, interned in St. Peter's Cemetary, Staten Island, N.Y.

Your aunt Florence Beatrice Bash and I were married 9 Jan 1957 in Our Lady of Good Coucil  Catholic church, Staten Island, N.Y.

Much of my time was spent calling on projects e.g. Gorge High Dam in Washington, Priest Rapids Dam in Washington, Cougar Dam in Oregan, Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona, Robt. Moses Hydro-Elect. in New York, Mackinac Bridge in Michigan, Chesapeake Bay Patapsco Tunnel in Maryland, Bridge & Tunnel was the Corp's last major construction Project on which I spent nearly three years full time.

Merritt Chapman & Scott Corp. disbanded their Construction Department in 1964, I transfered into the Corp's Derrick and Heavy Hoisting Department and supervised the remodeling of heavy hoisting equipment, construction of Coffer Dams used on Marine Salvage, and some Heavy Hoisting Operations.

Raymond International, Inc. Two Penn Plaza, New York, N.Y. purchased in 1966 the Derrick and Heavy Hoisting Division of M.C. & S. Corp. in it's entirety including all Personel and operation base.
Soon thereafter I became General Equipment Manager of Raymond's Construction Equipment where ever located, Many of Raymond's Construction Projects were located in Foreign Countrys requiring my travels to England, Italy, Malta, Libya, Senagal, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Greece and Venesuala S.A., Peru S.A., Port O Spain Carib., Paradise Island Bahamas, and many areas of the United States.

During the years following 1958 I hunted and fished and took big game in such areas as; Deer in Nova Scotia, Moose in NewFoundland, Cariboo in Quebec, Deer Elk Antelope in Wyoming, Elk in Washington, Elk in Colorado, Deer in Maine, Deer in New York fished for large Striped Bass in the surf at Montauk Point N.Y. and Sandy Hook N.J. and large Muskelunge in Lake of the Woods & Eagle Lake, Canada

Florence and I spent a month in 1973 visiting-sight-seeing-taking pictures in Zambia and Malawi, Africa.

I retired 10 Jan 1970, sold our home on Staten Island and moved 28 Feb 1970 to Dean Road, Mendham, N.J.

I hope that you will preserve and add your part to this family Biography in the years to come.

1. the name is actually spelt Van Der Stelt
2. Prairie Dell school opened 1874 and closed 1954 (http://www.kansasheritage.org/orsh/byco/orshcodk.html)
3. William died 15 Dec 1923, just shy of his one year anniversary to Anna Cavender http://www.odmp.org/officer/reflections/5661-police-officer-william-m-gratton)
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merritt-Chapman_%26_Scott
photo credit: "MerrittChapman 1938 ad" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:MerrittChapman_1938_ad.jpg#/media/File:MerrittChapman_1938_ad.jpg