While cleaning out my book case recently, I came across my grandpa’s “Unfinished Memoirs”, written for family to read one day if they were ever so inclined. I had no clue that I had this book and hadn’t looked at it since briefly in college. (He was a manufacturer and philanthropist. He had no connection professionally with the arts in any way.)
Early on, he tells of his proclivity for music and his sense for the theatrical. Evidently when he was 2 years old (in St. Louis, Mo 1895) he snuck out of the house and was found singing “Daisy! Daisy! On a Bicycle Built for Two” for a small gathering at the local store. He goes on to say it became a regular thing for him to sing or recite “all 5 stanzas of LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE”, which he went on to do with his grandchildren. (He taught it to me when I was 5. I still remember part of it.)
So what? Right? What strikes me is, when I was 2 years old I was found by the police at 5 am on a snowy winter morning, at the dime store. No one ever knew how or why I got out of the house at the age of 2 on a January morning, in diapers, and made my way across North Ave (a busy street), to the candy store.
What’s also worth noting is (probably only to me) my son’s first musical was playing Daddy Warbucks in Annie. (Little Orphan Annie)
And finally, it was while singing “Daisy, Daisy…” at a home for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, that I “woke up” 2 ladies from a 4 year “slumber” of being catatonic, to attempt to sing along. (One of them was also dancing in her seat. )
I never knew those things about grandpa. It makes me curious to learn what else I didn’t know. (I did learn before my mom died, that his best man at his wedding was his boyhood friend, Father Bowden, the priest who is the inspiration for the book, THE EXORCIST. One night when she was in her early 20’s, he told the story of what occurred, but she was sworn to secrecy and too scared to tell anyone anyway. She told me after dad died, when I came across pics of Father Bowdern and grandpa together. )
As I begin to read his memoirs, I am delighted to think that perhaps we had more in common than I ever knew. It’s also very comforting.
One of my college professors recently died and the outpouring of love for him was amazing. Not to mention the courage, love and devotion of his considerably younger wife, Linda.
I really only came to know him through his WWII memoirs, which he posted online occasionally. While in college, he treated me like crap, decades later I became fond of him through his writing. I look forward to reading his memoirs, which I’m told, his wife Linda will complete.
Point being, tell your story. One day someone may find comfort in it. (Ironically, doc was a big Buffalo Bill Cody fan. He’s written extensively about him. Bill Cody’s wife Louisa Federici, was my grandpa’s aunt. That’s pretty weird…right?)