Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Geneology Homework

My son Pierce was just in the hospital for a week and recovered on pain meds for another week. Now he's catching up on homework. For one assignment, he needed to interview a family member about a great grandparent. Since Pierce interviewed me, I figured I would publish the interview in my blog.

Albert was my great grandfather. He was born in East Hanover Township, 1/11/1902 on his family’s farm in Pennsylvania. His family, descended from a Philadelphia cabinet maker from the Rhine Valley in Germany, still spoke Pennsylvania Dutch. He attended Findlay Divinity College in Ohio on a work-study program and shoveled coal to keep the school heated. He was ordained in the Church of God (before the split over tongues) and found his calling “repairing churches.” Whenever there was a problem, they would call him in. He could talk to anyone and always had a joke about any subject. His family moved a lot.
He was married to a younger Vera Valentine Eshlemann and had six children: Marlin, David, Stan, Eloise, Shirley, and Ken (my grandfather). She was good at baking pies, and after every meal she would hold up her hands and say, “I never owned a dishwasher my whole life, these were my dishwashers.”
By the time my grandfather was born, Albert’s oldest children were in the military. My grandfather joined too, because they were too poor to go to college without the GI Bill. When asked about President Eisenhower, Albert complained, “Ike promised our children would never again fight in foreign wars, and now my boys are in Korea.” He preferred reading the comics in the newspaper. He told his grandchildren jokes like
“Who was the shortest man in the Bible? Nehemiah (pronounced Knee-high-miah) or Bart the shoe-height.”
“Where is baseball mentioned in the Bible? In the big inning.”
“Where are there cars in the Bible? The apostles gathered together and were in one Accord. Before that they only had motorcycles, the Triumph of Gideon was heard throughout the land.”
His last official church was in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where he married my Great Aunt Shirley and Great Uncle Larry. This is the place he lived the longest. After he retired, he bought a row house there a block from the church, where he could hear the clock bells. He maintained a long, narrow flower garden with snapdragons, Peruvian daffodils, and roses, which he gave clippings of to my grandparents. My grandfather gave children of the same daffodils to my parents. Even retired, Albert drove a 20 year old Dodge Dart to preach at two small local churches. He only stopped after a stroke ruined his night vision because he didn’t want to hurt anyone.
Albert and Vera visited one summer when Grandpa Ken was stationed in Alaska. Ken took him salmon fishing that weekend when he had off work. On Sunday, in the stream, Albert reeled in a prize on steel leader, a salmon so big it took five people to help wrestle into the net. His response was, “This is God’s joke on me. It’s the biggest fish I’ll ever catch in my life, and I can’t tell anyone because I caught it on the Lord’s day.”

When he died in late May 1984, the funeral was huge. The line to view the casket stretched around the block. The oddest person there was a mentally challenged woman in a raccoon-skin coat (in summer). Nobody recognized her. When asked, she said she met him at the bus stop. He was the only one who would talk to her, and he would be missed.

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