Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Grandfather

My grandfather, Edward Felter, was the only one of

my grandparents that I knew. My parents told me

what angels their other parents were….who were dead,

so I got stuck growing up with this intransigent alcoholic…

but he had an interesting history. He grew up in Iowa,

on the Mississippi, near where Mark Twain grew up.

He used to fish for catfish on the Mississippi. He had

an uncle that was a riverboat gambler. He moved to

New York City sometime before 1910, when My

mother was born. His family moved to Chicago, probably

sometime between 1910 and 1918, because my grandfather

told me he shook hands with Teddy Roosevelt, and Roosevelt

died in January of 1919. He worked at the La Salle Hotel,

the most posh hotel in Chicago at that time. He was a barber,

and he cut Jackie Coogan’s, (the Kid), hair.

A barber in a fancy hotel in Chicago was a good gig. He must

have had an entertaining personality…I don’t know…all I

remember growing up were some bad jokes. Grandpa

would walk the mile to the local tavern everyday and

hang out with the seedy drunks that inhabited the place.

He got an allowance for a couple of beers a day, but often his

entertaining personality would mean he’d come through

the door drunk (in his 80”s), and he still was a tough old bird

to try and wrangle. Sometimes we’d watch T.V. together in

his room…boxing or baseball. He had a stroke and went to

a nursing home in town. I didn’t see him much after that. He

visited us once more time, and he begged me to kill him. Of

course, I had to say no….I was probably seventeen. In the

winter of 1966-67, I was home from school. Grandpa had

another stroke, and my mother and I drove with him in an

ambulance to Chicago, in one of the biggest snowstorms of

a decade. Mom and I wound up snowed in at the Edgewater

Beach Hotel…another one-time famous Chicago hotel…

for a couple of days. Mom got drunk at the bar both nights.

A fast talking business man from Texas tried to pick me up…

offered me a c-note. I told my dad later and he said: “Oh

yeah, that kind of thing happens.” N.B.D. (No

Big Deal). I loved him for that.


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