It was another visit with the grand-generationals on this vacation trip, this time at the home of my paternal grandmother, and my step grampa. The day before it had been a great aunt this, or great uncle so and so, next day, second cousin twice removed, yadayadayada, for the first 4 days of this vacation.
So he we were again, watching the”look at the twins” show, for the umpteenth time… yeah, They were babies, they were twins, pretty cool.. hey, I am 7, and I got a new tooth! I am pretty cool, right? hello? Yeah, I was starting to get lost in the shuffle. But grampa Brodehl, well, he was paying attention.
Grampa, in his own minimalist comical way, sidled up to me and whispered that he needed some help out back on the porch, and told me to meet him there, that he would be there shortly. Acting secretive, and quiet, giving me the shush, but in such a way as no one else could see. He then headed for his bedroom.
So I, casually walked toward the kitchen, and slipped out the back, through the den and into the back yard, where I was playing with spike, grampa’s dog, while I waited.
Grampa arrived shortly thereafter, having gone out the front door,, then around the side yard, and to the gate to the back yard, where he shushed me again, and gestured for me to come through the gate into the front yard.
he was really playing this Sneaky Pete stuff to the hilt. grampa was pretty fun. He was still a reserved North Dakotan, but he was a really good man, who was an amazing grampa, to kids he didn’t have to be one for. he chose to love us.. Sometimes, in spite of my gramma.
So grampa gets me out to the front yard, and is looking around, to make sure no one is looking. This is made even funnier, by the fact that grampa is legally blind, has absolutely no periphersal vision. He can see just fine straight in front of him, but pripheral, nada! Soo, when he looks around , furtively to see if anyone. Is watching us, it requires him to turn ALL the way around, do a 360….
Satisfied, after his quasi pirouette that no one is looking, grampa pulls out his wallet, fishes out a crisp 20 dollar bill, hands it to me, and says “Hey, now why don’t you go on down to Don Quick’s grocery, an get you a coke? You like cokes, right? Or was it dr Pepper, wait, you are the Dr Pepper kid, huh?”
“I like em both, grampa”, I said.
“Then take it, and get one of each! ” He said. “Go on now, get goin’. I’ll tell your dad where I sent ya”.
I must have lit up, because he sure lit up, watching me take that 20 and run down the block.
I was 7, hadn’t come across too many 20 dollar bills in my time. keep in mind.. this was 1975.. I mean, minimum wage was like a 2 dollars an hour, a free 20 was big to anybody, monumental to a 7 year old.
So I skeedaddled, before he had a chance to change his mind. Now Don Quick’s was that old school, neighborhood grocery store. bigger than a Bodega, but not a real supermarket, it had been there, under the same name,at least 30 years, as it had been there when my dad was a a kid. He had a friend that worked at that very market when they were teenagers.
I really loved that store… we lived out in the country, in Alvadore Oregon, at that time, so Stockton may as well have been New York to me. It was huge, comparatively. Alvadore didn’t, and still doesn’t, have a traffic signal. Stockton, was, and is, a city, in it’s own right, a Port City to boot. So, walking down the sidewalk along El Dorado’s four lanes of traffic, with a median, I may as well have been walking along the freeway in Oregon!
“The Old Bat Won’t Get All My Money!” Muttered grampa…
“The Old Bat Won’t Get All My Money!” Muttered grampa…
It was exhilerating, to be trusted to take tis trip on my own. I cruised around the store, once I got there, more reveling in the freedom, than actually shopping, for a good 20 minutes, before I got down to the business of filling my little basket with cokes and candies. I drank one soda on the way home, actually having finished it, before I was even a block from the store. It was in a little mini mall, with beauty shops, a locksmith and a bus stop right there. I sat there a few minutes, as I finished the soda, and started gorging myself on my candy bounty.
When I got home, having been gone about 45 minutes, grampa was out in his yard, mesing around with his lawn mower. I could see him all the way from the corner. As I approached, I was putting away my candy, trying o stuff most of it into my pockets, knowing, my parents would take most of it, to ration it, if they knew I had it. I had alreadylearned that trick, don’t lie, but don’t volunteer information…
As I got to the driveway, he pulled me aside, said, “Now you go inside, and as soon as you can, you put the change from that 20 in your suitcase. Put it away, don’t touch it ’til you get home! And dont, fer Pete’s sake, don’t you dare tell your gramma! Don’t tell yer parents either, they might just take it away. But even if they find it, not a word to your gramma, got it? Ok?”
“Yeah grampa, no problem. Don’t tell anybody. Our secret.” I assured him.
“Yeah, you got it buddy, our secret… Remember, if your parents find out, it’s ok, tell them I gave it to you. But don’t you ever tell gramma!”
“Should I tell them(mom and dad) not to tell gramma, if they find it?’ I asked.
“Oh, ho, ho.. my boy, you won’t have to tell them not to tell gramma!They’ll know” he laughed, “they’ll know!”
Then, as I walked away, toward the house, I just barely heard him, mutter under his breath,” The Old bat won’t get all my money!’ She can’t have what I give to the kids”, then he just kind of laughed, shook his head, and laughed a few times more, headed around the corner into the back yard, letting out a loud “HA!” As he went through the gate..
He slipped me a fresh 20 dollar bill, everyday that week, always with the same instructions, to hide the change in my suitcase, to put it in my piggy bank at home…… and every time, the same chuckling statement, “The Old Bat won’t get all of my money!”
Yeah, grampa was pretty cool….
WWII hero too….
Theodore Robert Brodehl, you WILL be remembered, and fondly.