Monday, December 03, 2007

A Story Written by Jim Duce, a Friend of Dad

Hi Somayya!

Thanks for the email! I'll read your web sites with interest. Great picture, by the way.

As I recall we were talking one day about family histories. Fortunately, I know something of my family, at least from the time my great great granddad emigrated in 1846 to the United States from England. Go far enough back and we are all from somewhere else.

Anyway, this is a little story about my granddad:

My granddad, Joseph Edgar, was born in Utah on the third of July in the year 1878. He entered a world so vastly different from my own that he may just as well have been hatched on another planet. The blood had hardly dried on the combatants involved in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, powered flight was still twenty-five years in the future, and horses moved the nation.

Granddad found himself in southern Alberta just before the turn of the twentieth century. By 1902 he had settled in to stay and had married my grandma, who was then just two weeks shy of her sixteenth birthday. Ed and Nettie, as they were known, had a little girl in 1904, and a little boy, my dad, in 1906. Eventually six more children would follow.

I know my granddad drove the stagecoach to and from Lethbridge for a time and that he supplemented his income from the farm through buying and selling horses. He was fearless with horses, his confidence and skill in handling even the rankest mustang allowed him to flourish in the business, yet as the family legend goes, he was terrified of mice. Should one of these fearsome rodents somehow find its way inside the house Grandma had to be summoned into the kitchen with her corn broom to shoo the critter out the door, while Grandpa stood on a chair, paralyzed with fear.

My granddad remains the Grey Man to me. I never knew him; he died in 1948, five years before I was born, but in a strange way I feel very close to him. Looking at an old picture I have of him I believe there is a close physical resemblance between us. I have more hair but we share the same facial features and I have certainly inherited his build, and most probably his temperament. Granddad was once described as being, short, stout, and happy. What can I say?

To cloud the issue even more, no one in the family has ever spoken much about him even though my own dad was very close to him. The little information about my granddad that has filtered down to me through the years has only been brief anecdotal reminisces like the mouse business, or his lack of expertise behind the wheel of a car. (Apparently he crashed into the side of the barn on the first attempt at driving, all the while bellowing, Whoa! Whoa!)

The lack of information about granddad may be because my grandma was an overpowering personality who attempted to dominate everything and everyone around her. She was one of those people who steamrolled through life, hell bent for leather, and damn the consequences.

If mother was cooking something, one of my aunts once said at a family reunion, Dad would never lift the lid of a pot to see what was inside.

That’s because he didn’t dare! another aunt added, and they both laughed.