My maternal grandfather died when I was seven years old. He died slowly and my mom moved my brother and I up to Ohio so she could help nurse him. I don’t really remember him at all. I don’t remember sitting in his lap or playing ball. He was a loving man, but I understand from my mom that he wasn’t a very demonstrative man. Not a lot of hugs and kisses like I remember with my paternal grandfather. But then, Grandpa Jones didn’t die until I was 18.
But one thing that ALWAYS reminded me of Grandpa Kramer was the taste of watermelon. For years, I never really thought about how strange that was until one Thanksgiving dinner when my family (all adults by then) were talking about missing family. When I mentioned the watermelon, my mom started crying. It seems that the February before my grandfather died, when his appetite was so poor, he had expressed a desire for watermelon.
Nowyou have to understand, in the winter of 1951, finding watermelon in Cleveland, Ohio was next to impossible. It took my uncles a long time and when they did, it cost about $10 for a quarter of a melon…a fortune in those days to people who grew up in the Depression. But they bought it.
When they brought some into him, my brother and I were there for our weekly visit. (We were living with my other grandparents so we could go to school.) Of course, being kids, we immediately wanted some watermelon…a summer treat we loved.
My mother says she tried to shut us up but my grandfather refused to eat any until we had some also. When I heard that, it made me sadder that I couldn’t remember him better. From the family stories, he had a wry sense of humor and a strict sense of honor. He was a preacher andhad one leg was shorter than the other so he had a special shoe. He insisted on dressing up like for church for dinner and once bought a truck load of castor oil, poured out the oil, and sold the bottles as antiques. I’m assuming the last was before he was a preacher and because he had a family to feed during the Depression.
Now, whenever I eat watermelon, I’m glad I remember why it’s so special for me. It makes me feel closer to the grandfather who I never got to know.