My Father’s Father, Part II

When they moved into town around 1939, my grandfather worked a series of jobs and then got a job with the public school system as a janitor. He worked until 1966, when he was 82. My grandmother died that year, and my father pressured him to finally retire. I remember visiting them, but I was a young child and I can’t say I got to know him until he moved to leave near us.

I have no way of knowing what he thought of things, from my point of view, he seemed old ancient. He lived in town in an apartment over a store, and walked to our house for supper every night. My dad would take him home in the car. On some weekends I would ride my bike down there and he and I would walk uptown.

He had quit smoking at 75 on the advice of a doctor, and took up chewing tobacco. Day’s Work. When we went walking our destination was a tobacco and newspaper shop on Main Street. It was an old store, with a high tin ceiling, counters full of cigars, tobacco tins, and cigarettes and racks of newspapers, magazines and comic books. He would buy his chew, and sometimes a newspaper, and give me a dime to pick out a comic book. I probably read more while I was making a selection then I ever bought, but finally I would pick one and we would walk back home.

One Saturday, on the way back to his place, I told him I wanted to try his tobacco. It smelled sweet and he obviously liked it. He cut me off a little piece and I popped it in my cheek just like I saw him do it. It was the spitting part I had missed. So I swallowed the juice. Probably didn’t take long, because before we got home, I was sick. Throwing up sick. Trying to turn inside out and throw up my toenails sick. When I was done, he patted me on the back and we walked on. I think he did it on purpose. If so, thanks Grandpa, except for one cigarette on a dare, I never did tobacco again.

Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.
–Art Buchwald


One thought on “My Father’s Father, Part II

  1. My first employer chewed a mix of Day's Work and Red Man. He never gave me a chew, but he told me that if I tried it, I would probably swallow some and get sick. Then he said,”Just go ahead and throw up until you taste (something bad), and then start swallowing, because that was your (hind end).” Good advice.

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