Saturday, August 6, 2011


Grandpa Claude looking very cute
in his baby dress
If Mom's dad, my Grandpa Claude, was still alive, he would be exactly 100 years old today!  But I'm sad to say that he died in 1992, so he cannot celebrate his birthday by eating a banana split or a patty melt, which are both things that he used to like to eat.  I asked Mom if we could get a nice, liver-flavored birthday cake and eat it in honor of Grandpa Claude's birthday, and Mom said maybe she would think about it.  Which I'm pretty sure means "no."

But anyway, today I am going to show you some pictures and tell you a little bit about Grandpa Claude.  He was born in a small town called Decatur, Arkansas, which is way up in the northwest corner of the state, like almost in Oklahoma.  The population of Decatur in 2000 was 1,314, but I don't know what it was back in 1911, when Grandpa Claude was born.

A 1940 picture of the house
where Grandpa Claude grew up

My Great-Aunt Winnie was Grandpa Claude's little sister.  They lived with their mom and dad on a farm, and they tried to grow stuff, but it was hard because the ground was very poor and rocky.  Also the family had chickens, and they might have had a few cows, just for milk and a little meat.

This school was already not being used in 1940
Grandpa Claude and Great-Aunt Winnie went to school in a one-room schoolhouse called Mt. Zion.  Nobody uses this school anymore, and maybe it even got torn down.  Grandpa Claude went all the way through the 10th grade, and then about that time, the family moved to Clay County, Missouri, which is just north of the Missouri River and Jackson County, where Kansas City is located.  Grandpa Claude stopped going to school, and he started working instead.  But Great-Aunt Winnie went to North Kansas City High School, and she graduated.  Then not too long after that, she got married and moved to California.

Grandpa Claude with his Plymouth
Meanwhile, Grandpa Claude started out to become a plumber, but he had to dig a bunch of ditches for pipes to go in, and he did not like doing this.  So he went to work with one of his cousins, who was a painter.  And that's what he did the rest of his life until he retired, he painted the insides and outsides of houses, and he also stuck wallpaper to the walls.

Grandpa Claude met Grandma Helen in 1940, and after a few months, they got married.  But Mom didn't get born until 12 years after that.  The reasons why Mom didn't get born for such a long time were (1) Grandpa Claude and Grandma Helen were living in a tiny, 2-bedroom house with Grandpa Claude's mom and dad, and (2) Grandpa Claude didn't think he wanted to have kids.

Mom goes for a ride

But then a sort of "oops" happened, and Grandma Helen got pregnant.  And even though Grandpa Claude didn't think he wanted to be a daddy, he turned out to be one of the best daddies ever.  At least that's what Mom says.  Grandpa Claude used to take Mom for bike rides and play badminton with her and tickle her and buy her fun stuff and take her to fun places (like the zoo).  Also he was the kind of dad who could fix anything that broke, and he could make all kinds of stuff out of wood, such as barn blocks and bookcases.

Grandpa Claude enjoyed doing stuff like going fishing and working in the garden.  He also liked to make all kinds of things.  After he retired in 1976, he learned how to do woodcarving, and he also learned how to make things out of stained glass.  He liked to watch funny sitcoms on TV and read magazines about health and nutrition.

One of Grandpa Claude's
Sadly, Grandpa Claude got Parkinson's Disease, which is not a fun thing to have because it makes your hands all shaky.  Also you might have trouble walking and eating and swallowing.  Your handwriting gets really small, and your voice gets really weak, and you can't smile anymore because the muscles in your face don't  hardly move the way they used to.

It can take many years for Parkinson's to get really, really bad, but it always does, in the end.  Unless you die from something else first.  So finally, Grandpa Claude had to go live in a nursing home because Grandma Helen wasn't strong enough to keep taking care of him.  Then, after six months of living in the nursing home, Grandpa Claude died of pneumonia, but he probably wouldn't have got the pneumonia if he hadn't had the Parkinson's.  Mom was sad when he died, but she was also glad he wasn't suffering anymore.  Mom likes to remember Grandpa Claude when he was young and strong and could make things and fix things and play softball with her.  Maybe, if Grandpa Claude had not had Parkinson's, he would be alive today to celebrate his 100th birthday.  But probably not, since very few people live to be 100.

Oh, and while I'm at it, Mom said I should mention that today is also Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.  But we figured lots of other people would be writing stuff about her, and I'm the only one who would be writing about Grandpa Claude!


  1. Piper, Your Grandpa Claude was a great guy--thanks for reminding me of him. I remember him as a gentle man with a great sense of humor. He liked bananas, and he took me camping with your Mom and Grandma Helen. I hung out at your Mom's house a lot when we were kids, and he really was a great Dad. Thanks for sharing the photos, too. I really like them.

  2. That's a wonderful tribute to your Grandpa Claude. Mom says her grandfather, Pappa Ike, also had that nasty disease called Parkinson's. Pappa Ike also loved woodworking, but mostly did furniture. Mom is lucky enough to have several pieces that Pappa Ike made and she said they would be the first thing after us dogs she'd save if the house were burning down.

    Your friend,
    Zest, superstar in training

  3. Dear Aunt Sharon,
    I'm glad you remember so many nice things about my Grandpa Claude. My mom said thanks for reminding her about the bananas! Grandpa Claude also liked to eat apples, but he always peeled them first because he didn't want to eat any pesticides, and also because he wore dentures and couldn't bite apple skins very well. When Grandpa Claude peeled an apple, he peeled in a spiral and tried to get the whole peel off in one piece. Sometimes he even managed to do this! Hahaha!

    I wish I had known Grandpa Claude, but Mom says he would probably have pulled my tail. At least that's what he used to do to her cats!

    Love, Piper

  4. Dear Zest,
    I am sorry to hear that your mom's Pappa Ike had Parkinson's. I hope dogs don't get that disease because it does not sound like any fun! It's nice that your mom has some of the furniture that Pappa Ike made. Have you ever thought about chewing on this furniture?

    Your friend, Piper

  5. Oh no Piper! That would be very naughty, even for me. Momma says she'd beat the curl out of my tail if I did something like that. I do, however, chew on firewood that is inside the house. Mom says that's only a little naughty, but I think I'd like to take up woodworking and since I don't have thumbs, I have to use my teeth.

    superstar in training
    (I don't *really* think mom would beat the curl out of my tail, but if I chewed on the Poppa Ike furniture, she might be sorely tempted)

  6. Dear me! I hope you don't get the curl beaten out of your tail. That would be truly awful. You'd better stick to chewing firewood and not furniture, just in case!


  7. sometimes we're at agility shows and mom will point out dogs that were so bad they had the tails beat clean off! I wonder what they did.

    superstar in training with a curly tail

  8. I think those dogs are mostly boxers and rottweilers, and they probably chewed up something important or else they drooled all over somebody who didn't like drool very much. I guess as long as we don't do either of those things, we are probably safe!