Mueslix is trash and no one would look in there.
March 19, 2018 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Mine used to build houses by himself and dig the basements by hand with a shovel. That's not really weird though, it's just kinda hardcore.

The other one used to buy into every get rich quick scheme and believed in psychics and fortune tellers. That's a bit weird.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:36 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My sister and I spent like an hour making sushi for the family. My grandpa had never tried it before. He took a bite, then got up and microwaved his plate for 30 seconds "to make the chill off." Afterwards he informed us that sushi was not his favorite.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:36 AM on March 19, 2018 [11 favorites]

One of mine tracked every single winning lottery number for decades and was determined that he would someday figure out 'the pattern'. Years after he died and the house had been cleaned out, I had a few hours of intense anxiety that maybe I should have kept those endless stacks of paper and continued his 'work' because.. what if he was close to figuring out the pattern? The things is, I'm not even sure that he actually ever played the lottery.
posted by VioletU at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2018 [15 favorites]

Oh! Psychic grandpa hated anything and everything Japanese (he was at the Battle of Okinawa, which isn't an excuse but explains it a bit) but he really liked sushi and other Japanese food.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:41 AM on March 19, 2018

(that should be "to take the chill off," whoops)
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:42 AM on March 19, 2018

For a while, my granddad was obsessed with the low prices at Aldi. He'd serve these off-brand Fig Newtons or Cheetos or whatever and demand that we guess the price. When he proudly revealed the answer, he'd then break it down on price per cookie and compare it to what he was paying per cookie for Fig Newtons before, whether he remembered that number of just guessed, I never asked.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:43 AM on March 19, 2018 [14 favorites]

My grandpa very nearly talked me into letting him rid me of a loose tooth via the old string-tied-to-slamming-door method.

He lived in a railroad town and worked on the railroad, so he got to know the hobos, and would take the most desperate home for a shower, a meal, give them some clean old clothes and whatever cash he could spare...much to my grandma's displeasure. He'd just tell her to keep the kids upstairs till the guy left.

My husband's grandpa started to lose his sense of taste for spices as he aged, so that he could eventually just pop a whole pepper in his mouth and chow down.
posted by emjaybee at 9:00 AM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

My grandfather has my grandmother's ashes at the house because he doesn't want to pay for burial twice. His plan was to have both sets of ashes buried at the same time after he dies because it will be cheaper. However, he has since remarried, so not sure what the plan is now.
posted by COD at 9:02 AM on March 19, 2018 [14 favorites]

My Grampa would butter the bread for sandwiches. PBJ? Yup. Ham & cheese? Yup. Contents of sandwich were immaterial - the bread had to be buttered.

Is this really so unusual?

My grandfather died just after I turned three, and I have only a single memory of him: sitting at the kitchen table, teaching me how to load caps into a white-handled, six-shooter-shaped cap gun. I had that cap gun until I was well into my teens. No idea what happened to it.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:04 AM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

My grandfather has my grandmother's ashes at the house because he doesn't want to pay for burial twice.

Okay, I think this is rather sensible. I was going to have my dad's ashes buried at the foot of his mother's grave and the cemetery was going to charge me something along the lines of $1,000 to do so. So 17 years later I'm still dragging around a box of ashes...I've decided if I'm going to spend money, I'm taking him to Vietnam and scattering him there.

Is this really so unusual?

Not necessarily, but I saw my mom do it with an egg salad sandwich the other day and that one seemed a bit strange.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:10 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My wife's grandmother remarried late in life, and when eating at a restaurant the new step-grandpa would always ask the waitress, when dessert was offered: "is your cheesecake cheesy?" Wifey never knew if he preferred cheesecake that garnered a "yes" or a "no", she doesn't remember him ever actually getting cheesecake at a restaurant.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:16 AM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

My sister and I were served asparagus. My grandfather could see the puzzled look our faces and said "Let me show you how to eat this. You grab it at the end and hold it way up high, then tilt your head way back and lower it slowly into your mouth." My sister and I dutifully followed his instructions, then my grandmother ran in yelling "What are you teaching those kids now?!"

My other grandfather was upset when my sister and I wouldn't eat his eggs cooked in heavy grease which he had every morning. "What's wrong with these kids? What are you teaching them?" He'd yell to my mom. Many years later he informed me that he decided that since he was older, he was going to eat more healthily. He poured out a bowl of cereal then proceeded to pour heavy cream over it. I laughed to myself, but didn't say anything because he was 90 and in good shape. What the heck could I tell him about eating healthy?
posted by eye of newt at 9:22 AM on March 19, 2018 [12 favorites]

Content warning: a story about a grandfather's last words.

Also, it's not about either of my own my grandfathers, but about my brother-in-law, Tom's granddad. It is a rather short story.

There they all were at Grandpa's house, having a nice, normal visit, when a terrible thing happened---grandpa took a spill down the stairs. Everyone was in that shock that freezes you for a moment before you regain your wits and spring into action. Because of that brief moment of silence, they were all able to hear him, very clearly, enunciate A Mortal Cuss: "Fuckknuckle."

I don't recall whether he passed away on the spot, or if he died a little later, in the ambulance, in the hospital. But that gnomic utterance was the last word that they heard from him, and the family has been baffled ever since. Grandpa had never said that peculiar combination of words, or anything like it. A cuss out of the blue, as it were.

As Tom told it to me, "We couldn't figure it out! I even searched the attic to see if there was a sled with the name 'Fuckknuckle' painted on it or something. Nothing. No clue what that was about." Sadly, they were not able to get that chiseled into the grave stone. Second saddest part of the tale, in my opinion.

I think I speak for us all when I hope my last words are as memorable as that man's. Thank you, Tom's grandpa. I never met you, but I will never forget you.
posted by wires at 9:28 AM on March 19, 2018 [94 favorites]

Mine would set up sandbags on the ledge of his basement window and used it to stabilize his .22 as he shot blue jays for waking him up too early or bullying the other song birds at the feeders he set out (he claims blue jays are jerks so he doesn't feel particularly bad about this).

He also modified a push lawn mower and gave it new, larger blades so it would mow thick brush, resulting in a whirling engine-powered machete machine that would cut down anything shy of a fence post. "Just stay away from the front part there," he'd tell my dad when loaning it out, because he'd cut away the front casing to accommodate the larger blades.

My other grandpa owned a small engine repair shop and if he was suitably stumped by a broken engine, he'd eventually bury it under the driveway, reimburse the owner for parts, and just tell them "Engine's shot."
posted by castlebravo at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2018 [14 favorites]

My grandpa did the whole not giving a fuck and walking around in an undershirt and tighty whiteys. Except sometimes he also ran errands or went for a relaxing Sunday drive. Black socks, leather loafers, tighty whiteys. Just picking up from the cleaners, who needs pants?

Every Christmas my grandpa would put something unusual in our stockings. One year it was a small jar of salt. Two years after that it was an enormous banana slug. One time it was a sample of heavy crude oil. Another it was a copy of Mao's Little Red Book except most of the pages were replaced with various pictures of Ronald Reagan.

He was obsessed with strange flavors of salt water taffy, and would trick us with them. It started with licorice and anise and progressed to things like wormwood, fish sauce and durian. I don't want to know where he found hákarl flavored salt water taffy.

He knew slight of hand tricks and would pretend to endlessly pull quarters and half dollars out of our ears and noses, often in public. Which he would then pointedly not give to us and then spend them on shots or flasks of whisky while glowering and muttering at us. It could take upwards of several minutes to fish enough change out of the heads of various grandchildren.

He had a collection of hot pickles and peppers that had it's own refrigerator in his study. They were sorted, cataloged and indexed in a matrix. Heat went from mild to spicy from top to bottom, and pickle type went from normal to weird left to right. The left hand columns contained the usual gherkins and banana peppers. The right hand columns contained things like hot pickled apricots, chicken livers and shrimp. The bottom right rows? Squid and cuttlefish.

He would rent, borrow or steal livestock and even exotic animals and sneak them into the house when grandma was out of the house, and then leave. She's come home to a house full of baying sheep or honking Canadian geese. One time it was an enormous and very timid porcupine. Once it was a llama. Another time it was a springbok. He has threatened that he can obtain elephants.

After he started going bald he took to wearing slices of bologna over the bald patch like a yarmulke because it felt "comfortable". After a few hours he would eat the lukewarm slice of bologna and put on another one, still ice cold from the fridge.

And his favorite food was hamburger.
posted by loquacious at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2018 [105 favorites]

My granddad loved wrapping Christmas presents. He'd wrap a scarf like it was a rowing machine, or a saddle like it was a car. He spent ages doing this, and no-one ever saw him at it. He often seemed very grumpy when he was planning jokes, which is probably why we never suspected him.
Actually he was always up to something, and he still owes me a bottle of champagne because he lost a bet but wouldn't admit it. I guess I'll have to give it to myself.
My dad became more like the grandpas in the article, and I agree it is the onset of dementia.
posted by mumimor at 9:49 AM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

My other grandpa owned a small engine repair shop and if he was suitably stumped by a broken engine, he'd eventually bury it under the driveway, reimburse the owner for parts, and just tell them "Engine's shot."

Did he ever explain *why* he buried them? The rest all seems normal, but that's a lot of effort to go to!
posted by tavella at 9:54 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Grandpa would show us the trick where he wrapped a cloth around his hand and hammered nails into a board. He would throw his folding pocket knife into the trees in front of our house, like some kind of assassin. In front of strangers passing by. He hated the squirrels that ate his tomato plants. So he built a home made slingshot and fired ball bearings and marbles at them.
posted by Splunge at 10:02 AM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Visiting Fort Worth in advance of my grandfather's transfer there in the early 70s, he left my grandmother at a coffee shop for an hour while he ran an errand. He came back having purchased a house, which had been left knee-deep in garbage, and rented a dumpster that would be in the driveway the day that came back so she could clean it out. This is the house they lived in for the rest of their lives.

My grandmother, mother, and aunt did not tell me this story until after he died because they were afraid I'd either a) think that was okay b) feel differently about him. Ding ding, the winner is B.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:02 AM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

> I saw my mom do it with an egg salad sandwich the other day and that one seemed a bit strange.

Translation: you don't use enough mayo in your egg salad.
posted by davelog at 10:04 AM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

She made it herself?
posted by elsietheeel at 10:08 AM on March 19, 2018

As I and my friends hit the downside of our forties, we occasionally celebrate one of the great pleasures of middle-age: no longer caring what other people think about us. I read these stories and realize this is the first step to losing our minds.
posted by ga$money at 10:12 AM on March 19, 2018 [13 favorites]

A thin layer of butter on white bread creates a barrier that keeps the bread from getting soggy from other sandwich ingredients. At least that’s what Martha Stewart told me.
posted by valkane at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2018 [15 favorites]

Mine used to build houses by himself and dig the basements by hand with a shovel. That's not really weird though, it's just kinda hardcore..

True story: my grandpa, who immigrated from Poland around 1900, would build houses and dig the basements with a shovel. He fell off a roof one day and broke his leg, which became infected and then was amputated. He continued building houses and digging out basements with a shovel for years, including his own house built for my grandma, who was 25 years younger than he.
posted by waving at 10:17 AM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

My grandfather was a raging alcoholic who died in 1947!
posted by briank at 10:22 AM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

My own "grandpa move" stories are actually kind of positive; my grandparents weren't this kind of 'weird grandpas", they were more lively.

* Paternal grandpa - at the age of 83, he got appendicitis. The hospital wanted to keep him for observation for a few days after the surgery because that's a pretty major surgery for someone of 83. And that's how they detected a heart arrhytmia a couple days later, and had to open him up again to give him a pacemaker. So this is now two major surgeries on an 83-year-old man in the space of only 4 days or so. The hospital was like "that's it, we're keeping you in here another week to be safe."

Dad said the first time he went to visit after the second surgery, he walked in and his heart dropped - because Grandpa was hooked up to about ten monitors with tubes and wired and probes sticking out of him every which way. But Grandpa saw him come in, perked up and waved him over - "good to see you, sit down". He seemed fine, and they got to talking.

Then after a few mintues of small talk, Grandpa got an evil gleam in his eye. "Hey, watch this." He started sitting up, very slowly - Dad went to help him, but Grandpa waved him off. He then slowly lifted his arms off the bed. Then gave my father a grin, and started waving his arms around. All the monitors went off with alarms and klaxons and beeps, and three nurses came running into the room. They took one look at my grandfather, who sat there smiling at them and waving, and then muttered "oh God, not again" and walked out.

* Maternal grandfather - he was a metalurgist, and kept up with some of the science out of curiosity's sake after retirement. I remember him fashioning a homemade rock tumbler out of an old engine and a coffee can, and he also would sometimes show off a single crystal of nickel he'd managed to grow once.

And he had a favorite joke, that even when he was getting into his early 90s and his brain was slowing down, he still remembered perfectly, and performed complete with Dick Van Dyke-level Cockney accents where necessary:
So there was an Englishman who was visiting New York City for business. He was staying in the Hotel Statler, and was up early every morning because of jet lag and would wander down to the lobby, not sure what to do with himself. After a couple nights, the night clerk called over. "I've seen you down here the past couple nights, is everything okay?"

"Oh, nothing's wrong, chap, it's just that I'm visiting from London and having a jolly hard time getting to sleep."

"Well, then," said the clerk, "How about I give you a riddle to take your mind off it?"

"That's a splendid idea!"

"Okay, here goes: 'It's not my brother, and it's not my sister, but it's the offspring of my mother and father. Who is it'?" The Englishman puzzled over this for a while, before finally giving up. "It's me!" the hotel clerk answered.

"Why that's a jolly good riddle!" said the Englishman, delighted.

He concluded his trip and went home. The next day he went by his regular club and met a friend of his. "I say, old chap, how was your visit to America?"

"Oh, delightful! I heard a fine riddle from someone at hotel where I was staying, would you like to hear it?"

"I would indeed!"

"Okay," said the Englishman: "'It's not my brother, and it's not my sister, but it's the offspring of my mother and father. Who is it'?"

The friend puzzled over it as well. "That's a stumper, old chap. Who is it?"

"Why, it's the night clerk at the Hotel Statler!"
My aunt told this joke as part of her remarks at his funeral, saying that "Daddy always told me that if you have to do public speaking, end with a joke."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:22 AM on March 19, 2018 [31 favorites]

My granddad started life as a farmboy in east-central Illinois, by somewhere around midlife had earned a PhD and served as dean of the College of Education of a Midwestern university, but during the time I knew him was retired and reverted to many of his farmboy ways--which included drinking a pint of buttermilk for breakfast each morning and also eating whole onions like apples.
posted by drlith at 10:25 AM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

My grandpa took an empty pickle jar, filled it with plums, and topped it off with Jack Daniels. Then he set it in the sun. In April.
Come Christmas, he had us all drink a shot.

posted by notsnot at 10:36 AM on March 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

My grandpa took an empty pickle jar, filled it with plums, and topped it off with Jack Daniels.

Pretty similar to rumtopf.
posted by ga$money at 11:13 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My grandfather build a small addition to his house out of 2x4s cut and stacked like bricks, with long nails hammered into each run to hold them in place. The factory he worked at in the 50's shipped parts in 2x4 containers which were summarily tossed in a fire pit until the day he decided to start rescuing them and bringing them home for his project.
posted by Chrischris at 11:13 AM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Grandpa Infinite preferred dry-as-dust wordplay, and finished all the word games in the newspaper every day with his Cross pen. That was as weird as he got (he passed from a fast-moving pancreatic cancer before dementia set in). He didn't laugh much at his own puns, and his manner rather discouraged making jokes in his presence.

But once I turned on Weekend at Bernie's as background noise during homework, and he laughed until he cried.

Grandpa Window just chewed tobacco and watched TV. Trying to avoid that as I age.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:19 AM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

My parents were super young when I was born, and their parents were young when they were born. So I had great grandparents until I was 40.

Great Grandpa [Lastname] - Father died in swine flu epidemic, he was kicked out of the house to make his own way at 10 years old. Became a carpenter for the railroad. Kept $12,000 in cash in a coffee can in his house. Kept *EVERY* watch given to him by his children and grandchildren in a bedside drawer. When he died, they found them, 35 of them. All junky kid gift watches, still in original cases.

Great Grandpa [Dad's mom's last name] - Drove a truck for Sears. Retired when his son-in-law died to be a 'dad' to his youngest grandson, my youngest uncle. Loved baseball, took me to my first game. Kept a Betamax VCR until well after they stopped being sold at normal stores. For years people would track down blank betamax tapes to give him for christmas, so he could add to his programs.

Dad's Dad - Briefly a professional golfer. Later a thoroughbred racehorse trainer, trained 2 horses than ran in the KY Derby (Dead last, and next to last, I told him if he ran 17 more times he could make some real money).

I don't have kids, and will never get to pass on quirky BS to direct lineage, but my nephews are gonna have some stories, dammit.
posted by DigDoug at 11:28 AM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

My grandfather took his own life when my mom was 16. many many years later, when i was probably in my 20's my grandma gave my mom a box of his random stuff. His Army of Occupation Medal, a card acknowledging the 26 years he spent at a paper mill. In his wallet was a faded picture of himself at a young age smiling happy in the embrace of another, unknown to anyone in the family, happy young man.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:35 AM on March 19, 2018 [48 favorites]

Paternal grandfather was a carpenter, and once when our class at Catholic grade school wanted to make a nativity scene, I volunteered to get the wood, and told my grandpa about it. He brought a number of 6' two-by-fours to my school, where the nuns kindly explained to both of us that the manger was not going to be life-sized. (I may have been unclear about that to Grandpa.) Found out after he died that he was an illegitimate child and that his mother had come to America from Gdansk (née Danzig) pregnant with him, so my family name is an adopted one.

Maternal grandfather was a farmer his entire life, and would sometimes coax his sons out of bed to do morning chores by jumping into bed with them, fully clothed and with a lit cigar in his mouth, saying that sleeping in was a grand idea and he thought he might join them.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:37 AM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

Grandpa, a seemingly calm and perpetually sweet-natured fellow, lived for golf and garden, and was an epic repairer of things. Tools were cleaned and put away in order after every use. Leave a tool out or misuse one, and you'd find out why his older friends would comment on “Archie's famous temper”. Only experienced it once; that was enough. Might explain why his son upped and moved abroad at the earliest opportunity.

ms scruss' grandpa, though, met all the criteria above. Seemed to live off bacon grease and expired Little Debbie snack cakes. Hemmed his pants with a glue gun. Repaired the zipper on his wife's party frock … also with a glue gun. Labelled his music tape boxes NG and VG in thick permanent marker. Bought his wife a Lincoln to annoy her southern relatives. Puttered with his many Harleys in the "pavillion" at the bottom of the yard. Knew Truman when they were both part of the KC Democrat Machine.
posted by scruss at 11:38 AM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

This thread puts me in the mind of the family stories of my own grandpa who (Gott sei Dank) I never met.

When my father was about 5 years old he was out in the garden one Saturday and thought he would pick some flowers for his father. So he did, and he brought them up to his father in his study, and his father patted him on his little head and said "those are very nice flowers you have brought me, Ha (which was a nickname they called my father, not a laugh, because as you will soon discover, my grandfather was incapable of laughter), but you picked them on the Sabbath so now you must go to bed without any supper."

Ha ha ha ha! What a charming family tale of my grandfather the lovable old coot tyrannical asshole.
posted by The Bellman at 11:46 AM on March 19, 2018 [13 favorites]

My dad's dad machined a functioning, rideable 1/8-scale steam locomotive from raw metal stock.

My dad bought a bunch of exotic hardwood and built himself a mandolin and a couple of five-string banjos.

I can change a tire, and can almost rewire a light switch without fear of burning the house down.
posted by ook at 11:47 AM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

I never met either of my grandfathers. Reading that someone's grandfather ate a cold liver and onions on wonder bread sandwich is making me rethink my life choices right now, though.
posted by Chuffy at 12:14 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I never met my paternal grandfather, who died in his forties, and so I am never sure what to think of him. He was a hard man, violent but also loyal, sentimental, and kind when he wished to be. He was also, apparently, very funny, assuming that you were not the butt of the joke. One of his expressions was, "Don't shit me, I've got a turd in every pocket." It makes no sense, but when deployed on a small child, it causes the child to laugh too hard to continue to insist on a lie, as I can attest.

Once he stopped in the night somewhere in BFE, Mississippi, looking desperately for a bathroom. Gas stations back then weren't required to be open or nice or clean, and there were a lot fewer of them. He managed to find somewhere to go, but the proprietor was nasty to him. There was, as it happened, no toilet paper in the bathroom, but there were curtains. The bathroom window, as bathroom windows often are, was a small one near the ceiling with a short ruffled curtain. He climbed on the toilet tank in order to get to that window and wipe his ass on that curtain, whereupon he promptly departed.

My other grandfather is a gentle, kindly, and very put-together man directly from the fifties, so thankfully there are no stories about him for this thread.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:24 PM on March 19, 2018

Weird things my actual grandpa actually did:

Kept an old glass screw top milk bottle in the door of the fridge full of water, which no one else was allowed to touch or drink from. Which is fine, because he drank directly from the bottle. In fact, I'm not sure if I ever saw him drink water from a glass unless we were sitting down to dinner.

He would actually eat a lot of crazy hot food, including pickles and peppers. He also loved very spicy Chinese food and mustards. He used to insist he could make steam come out of his ears. My first experience with really spicy food was some insanely hot Chinese mustard he dared me to try. I ate too much and I'm pretty sure steam did come out of my ears.

Conversely he was also crazy racist about Japanese people and Asians in general. I don't think we ever went out to eat Japanese food at all. Like a lot of our grandparents he was in WW2 in both the Pacific and European theaters.

He was always, always in a hurry and really impatient. He would get grumpy and pretty much straight up emotionally abusive by threatening to leave wife/grandma and kids and grandkids wherever by driving off. Which is funny because once we got to wherever we were going he didn't want to be there either. I think he was only not impatient when sitting in his actual branded La-Z-Boy in front of the TV and asleep.

Paradoxically he hated being rushed in restaurants. He especially hated uptempo music with a beat in a restaurant and railed that it was a psychological manipulation to make you eat faster.

Come to think of it, he hated pretty much any music at all anywhere unless it was the dankest, darkest classical or maybe some mellow big band or Sinatra something. I was playing Depeche Mode on my boombox (not very loud) while visiting one Christmas and he proclaimed that drum machines were (paraphrasing) "jungle music for idiots and simpletons".

I still spend too much time thinking about music using "drum machines" I'd like to play him to prove him wrong. I'd also love to sit him down in front of the Supernova 2 synth my dad just sent me from a garage sale score that I finally set up and strap some nice headphones to his head and go "Look... Almost all of the sounds. Endless flexibility. An entire orchestra. And you have to be a genius to make it all go."

He could do the whole "found a quarter in your ear thing" but I don't remember him actually giving us any of the coins. He would give us sticks of gum, though, but I think that's mainly because it'd make us shut up for five minutes and stop asking for cookies.

He also loved driving and long road trips in the same way a masochist enjoys a forced deathmarch. He exclusively bought giant, overpowered Oldsmobile boats. I remember many 16+ hour 1200+ mile drives where we'd essentially only stop for fuel, maybe with a lunch break. Whatever those "Johnny can" car trip pisspots were called? Those were definitely a thing. So was just pulling over and whizzing wherever on the side of the road.

Did I mention he was airforce, a pilot and spent a lot of time in the air in bombers? Did I need to?

Sometimes the "Sunday drive" involved taking one of those boat-sized Olds up on Mulholland Drive and Angeles Crest Highway. Poor grandma would make up a cooler and picnic full of sandwiches and grapes, and then that cooler would rattle around the inside of the sedan or wagon like a loose dog in a pickup truck bed. I have a lot of memories of bouncing around on the seats without a seatbealt trying to keep from getting crushed by the cooler and/or siblings.

He'd whip that thing around turns at breakneck, tire-squeeling speeds, the soft as hell suspension extended and toe-d over so far he'd get tire rub in the wheelwells. My memories of looking out of the front window during turns is of the sightline of the hood keeled over at some improbable angle and pointed at either bits of sky or whirling walls of rock. In hindsight he must have enjoyed scaring the crap out of Hell's Angels and other motorcycle club riders, because I remember he used to pass them. And I found it all really alarming.

Heck, one of my memories was of running an errand in town near his house, and it was this 40-50 MPH Bullitt-style dash through hilly, cramped back alleys because "it was faster". As far as I know he wasn't ever in any accidents nor did he ever hit anyone, but it was still really alarming, both the driving style and the choice of car he preferred to drive.

Those car rides are one of the only times I've actually had bad motion sickness and had to throw up, and my idea of a good time at that age was rolling down a hill in an old barrel or spinning myself on a swing or something until I couldn't stand up. I still have queasy flashbacks any time I'm in a car on Mulhollond, and try to avoid the area in general and will opt out of any planned road trip through there if I have the choice.
posted by loquacious at 12:51 PM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

My grandpa was weirdly superstitious. You couldn't bring the mail in on Fridays, as that was bad luck. When my mom was growing up, he thought Jimmy Dean (of sausage fame) was bad luck, and he would say so and leave the room whenever Jimmy Dean came on TV. And then I was growing up, he decided John Stamos was bad luck. Whenever we'd watch Full House he'd shout "Turn off that Greek, he's bad luck" and then leave the room.

Also, according to my grandpa, if you ate a matzah cracker before bed it would cure your acne.
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 12:51 PM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

Both of my parents' fathers died young -- one at 42 and one at 51. The man I knew as my Grandpa was Pop, my mom's stepdad. He married my Grandma when my mom was a teenager.

Every meal Grandpa ever ate was the BEST meal ever. Sitting down to any meal with Grandpa was a joyous occasion because he just loved food so, so much, and he'd spend the entire meal reviewing his food in glowing terms. The normal dinnertime conversation would be rolling along, and Grandpa would interrupt someone mid-sentence to say "This is the best damn squash I ever ate. Juicy." He'd then try to force a forkful of squash on someone else at the table. "Here, try this. This is the best damn squash. It's juicy." The subject of his offer would politely decline, either because they didn't care for squash or because they already had a pile of squash on their own plate.

But as generous as Grandpa was with his food, he also demonstrated a kind of mealtime greed. Again, everyone at the table would be making small talk, and Grandpa would interrupt with "I love this chicken. This is the best damn chicken. Juicy." And he'd turn to the person next to him. "Yours? Yours juicy?" He wouldn't wait for an answer. He'd just take a piece of chicken off of his neighbor's plate. When I took friends with me to visit my grandparents, I always made them sit next to him.

In the summer, he'd buy a huge watermelon and would put it on ice in the backyard. My 11 cousins and I would hang out back there, under the clothesline, eating wedges of ice-cold watermelon with juice dripping off of our elbows. Grandpa insisted that the best way to dispose of the watermelon rinds was to toss them over your shoulder so that they'd land back there in the grass. "Keeps the flies away," was his reasoning, and you have to admit he had a point.

My grandparents lived in Indiana. Their part of Indiana treats sweet corn season like an extended national holiday, so we'd cook up, like, 8 ears of corn, per person, for every night's dinner. Grandpa wasn't exactly the neatest eater. Plus, dentures. But oh man, he loved his corn. Someone would be telling a story, and Grandpa would interrupt, mouth full of corn, to announce "This is the best corn I ever ate. Sweet. Juicy too. Even better than last night." Then he'd wipe his face with a crumpled up napkin, but by that point he'd already tried to wipe so much chewed-up corn off of his cheeks that the napkin would be laden with corn, and while he while his intentions were good, the napkin was basically just a really effective means of corn distribution. I swear, by the end of dinner he'd have corn in his ears. He'd lean back in his chair, put his hands on his belly, and just beam at everyone. "That was some good dinner," he'd say. "I ain't never had corn like that. Sweet. Juicy."

Grandpa didn't have the easiest life. He was one of 13 children, and they were very poor. After a short stint teaching at a one-room schoolhouse in French Lick, Indiana, he got work at US Steel. His first wife died fairly young. He worked hard -- really hard -- to support his daughters after she died. He met my Grandma not long after her husband died of a stroke at 42; Grandpa had known him, my mom's dad, from the mill. When Grandma and Grandpa got married he gained three more daughters. He was good to them, his stepdaughters, and he was a very good grandfather. Like a lot of people from his generation, the ones who struggled to make it during the Depression, he never took a meal for granted. But even beyond that, he was determined to find joy in every single meal he ate, and with every single meal he ate he managed to surpass the joy he got from the previous meal.

I caught on to this even at a young age. One summer, when I was six or seven, I spent a few weeks with them. I wanted to make breakfast for Grandpa. What greater gift can you give someone who loves food so much? A meal is the best thing you can give him! So I made him a bowl of Corn Flakes. Got the cereal down from the cabinet and poured the milk by myself and everything. Only, Grandpa was a late sleeper that summer, and he didn't get up and didn't get up. So I put his bowl of Corn Flakes in the fridge, so it'd be waiting for him after he shaved.

It was pure mush by the time he got up, but he ate that bowl of cereal. And he praised that bowl of cereal. And he thanked me for making him a bowl of cereal. And then he took me to Johnson's farm to pick strawberries. Half the berries he picked never made it into the basket. And, as it turned out, they were the best damn strawberries he ever ate.

Sweet. Juicy.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:11 PM on March 19, 2018 [70 favorites]

And then I was growing up, he decided John Stamos was bad luck. Whenever we'd watch Full House he'd shout "Turn off that Greek, he's bad luck" and then leave the room.

I don’t know why this is the funniest thing I ever heard
posted by Countess Elena at 1:17 PM on March 19, 2018 [19 favorites]

My grandfather often took me out on errands (usually involving the acquisition of lumber or firewood) in his pickup. Summers I'd ride in the bed (along with the dog); winters I'd ride in the passenger seat. He'd ripped out the seatbelts (on the principle that no one was going to tell him what to do), but to alleviate my mom's protests, he used a rope looped around my waist to keep me in the seat. I was probably about nine. It was great.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 1:28 PM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Oh, and spouse's grandpa used to go bounty hunting for mountain lions when he wasn't working in the mines. He'd head up into the hills most weekends armed with his rifle, three dogs, a single blanket used for a lean-to, and a few cans of beans.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

The longest extended interaction with my mom's dad I can remember was sometime in my late teens. After he had his colostomy, he spent most of his time exhausted on the couch in his living room, his hand over his eyes, the TV on to wrestling or some other garbage, which sucked, because they had one of those new-fangled mini-dishes and my family didn't have cable. So I'd sit in the living room with a book waiting until I was sure he was asleep so I could watch Cracker on Showcase. Unfortunately, Jerry Springer was on, and my grandpa was very interested in the guest, a woman with no arms and legs who was married to a guy with arms and legs. I don't even think there was any infidelity, it was just no arms and legs married to arms and legs, and he was riveted. He kept telling me to go get my mom and grandma from the kitchen so they could see this. Finally, I felt bad because he was pooping in a bag now (Though really, my grandma was the one who had to wash the things) and said okay, and went into the kitchen and sat around there for a while, expecting that he'd either fall asleep or forget about it. Eventually I went back to the living room, and he instantly started to ask if I had told them, if they were coming, etc., and I said I had, but I'm sure he knew I was lying, and so he laid there, quietly and exhaustedly pissed off.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:48 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I grew up in the country, with bad ass Grandpas. My grandpa was once on the roof, cutting limbs away from the house. The saw he had broke off in his hand, so he said "bring me the damn circular saw." So I did, and he got almost to the end of the job, when the saw slipped and literally almost cut his hand in half from thumb to pinkie. He said "son, take off your shirt for me," and I did, and then he had me tie his damn hand together with my dirty t shirt so he could finish the job on the roof before coming down and letting us take him to the hospital.

Whenever we would visit, he would give me a silver dollar and say "put it in your pocket. A boy needs spending money." I have a jar full of silver dollars to this day, all from him.
posted by bradth27 at 1:48 PM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

Oh, psychic grandpa also wouldn't wear seatbelts or lock his car doors because he was afraid of getting trapped in the car after an accident and burning to death.

...Grandma had him cremated.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:49 PM on March 19, 2018 [9 favorites]

My grandpa gambled at what I'd call a semi-professional level and he developed a system for betting on horses that actually works pretty well. My brother and I have both used it successfully on quite a few occasions.

Also never play poker or any card game with my mom or her siblings. When they say it sounds fun but you'll have to remind them of the rules because they've only played once or twice? they are lying hustlers who lie. They're also colluding and communicating in code, you can count on it.
posted by fshgrl at 1:49 PM on March 19, 2018 [12 favorites]

My grandfather had both legs amputated above the knee because of poor circulation. He kept his two fake legs in the "toy closet" so if I wanted to play with LEGO or cars I had to open the door, confront the legs and try not to touch them. He would also eat dog biscuits.

He'd been an armorer for Canadian pathfinders 635 squadron during WW2 and slammed the piano closed on my mother's fingers when she started playing Deutschlandlied. So, kinda a dick.
posted by Molesome at 1:51 PM on March 19, 2018

My grandfather was an American man who played bagpipes and because of that was hired to play bagpipes in full Scottish regalia in a Dutch themed amusement park in Japan for 6 months in the 90s.
posted by Ferreous at 1:51 PM on March 19, 2018 [19 favorites]

Every Christmas my grandpa would put something unusual in our stockings. One year it was a small jar of salt. Two years after that it was an enormous banana slug. One time it was a sample of heavy crude oil. Another it was a copy of Mao's Little Red Book except most of the pages were replaced with various pictures of Ronald Reagan.

After he started going bald he took to wearing slices of bologna over the bald patch like a yarmulke because it felt "comfortable". After a few hours he would eat the lukewarm slice of bologna and put on another one, still ice cold from the fridge.

Holy turd balls, that sounds like my kind of guy. I so wish i could have met this grandpa.
posted by bradth27 at 1:57 PM on March 19, 2018 [5 favorites]

"My sister and I dutifully followed his instructions, then my grandmother ran in yelling "What are you teaching those kids now?!""

This made me laugh so hard I cried, which confounded the toddler, who wasn't sure which emotion I was having.

One of my grandfathers had dentures, and he used to put them in a puppet raccoon or puppet bear, and make the puppet have teeth. All his grandchildren thought this was hilarious and it drove my grandmother absolutely crazy.

My other grandfather had been a civil engineer, and on his desk, under the glass, was a map of his house and yard, with the yard divided into 7 parts labeled A through G, and next to it, every year, would be a fresh chart with dates listed and each date had 1-3 letters next to it. I asked my mom what it was and she said, "Oh, that's his mowing schedule." It was a really small yard! Each letter was like maybe 3 minutes of mowing. SUPER ELABORATE CHART with different frequencies for different sections. And the yard had a billion trees that inhibited grass growth either through shade or through what they dropped, so it wasn't like a golf course lawn. So I remain puzzled to this day by this hyper-elaborate mowing schedule that had him doing 6 minutes of work 3 times a week instead of just mowing the whole damn yard in 30 minutes now and then!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:13 PM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

My paternal grandfather (Navy doctor attached to the Marines during WWII, landed on Iwo Jima, later was Public Health Officer for a county in CA) insisted that fresh air while sleeping was crucial to good health. A bedroom window was always open at night, even in winter.

My grandmother (DAR, DAC, etc etc) was big into genealogy, and found out all sorts of interesting things about her ancestors. Grandpa tried to follow suit, but in the end was only able to find regimental records for a couple forebears, along with a Waterloo medal that turned out to be fake. I suppose the PRO in Dublin having burned in 1922 contributed to his genealogical failure. My strongest memories of him are of being subjected to endless lectures about European history -- particularly around the Wars of Religion -- and our family's prominent role in it. All nonsense, of course, and seemingly a product of his desire for some sort of familial pride such as came from my grandmother's side.

In recent years when my father turned over to me my grandfather's genealogical notes, he included a note of his own mentioning that they could have been an early sign of dementia. Come to think of it, I wonder now how much of my father's life has been spent debunking his father's.
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 2:15 PM on March 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

Grandpa decided to do some renovations to the basement. Lacking a proper vice grip he called for my grandma to come and hold the board he was sawing with a hand saw. Moments later he cut off one of her fingers. They went to the hospital and it was successfully reattached.

Five or so years later grandpa decided to make some upgrades to the renovations to the basement. Lacking a proper vice grip he called for my grandma to come and hold the board he was sawing with a power saw. Moments later he cut off two of her fingers on the same hand as before. They went to the hospital and they were both successfully reattached.

That was 30+ years ago and to this day I am still astounded that grandma went back that second time.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 2:23 PM on March 19, 2018 [40 favorites]

My Granddaddy was a disabled vet - in WWII, right by the French/German border, the bridge was there when he was driving an officer to a meeting. It wasn't there when he was driving back. Someone had done the same thing on the other side so the rescue crew got to see his Jeep fly off the end of the bridge and land on the opposite bank.

Due to this, he was transported home in a full body cast and though he was able-bodied during my mother's childhood, into his old age he needed a wheelchair. He could, however, now rotate one of his feet 360 degrees and would show it off if he was feeling spry enough.


On his hobby farm he had a small orchard and a few beehives. He was also infamous for kinda half-assing things if he could get away with it, including waiting long enough for the bees to settle after smoking the hive and before reaching his hand in. After one such occurrence he proudly showed me how his thumb had been stung so many times that the swelling made the nail pop right off. As a kid, that was just gross. But looking back now, it was clear that pain from his war wounds was such a constant companion that he could just shrug off losing a nail due to bee stings.
posted by thecjm at 2:25 PM on March 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

When I was eight or nine years old, a pair of brothers down the street and I tried to catch crawdads in the creek without much luck. Their grandpa asked us what we were using. I think we were just using a net or something because we didn't have anything else. Their grandpa shook his head and told the boys to go in the kitchen and ask their mom for some chicken or bacon fat. He grabbed a lawn chair and told us to follow him to the creek. When we got there, he set the lawn chair in the shallow water right on the bank so it kinda sank down into the mud a bit. He pulled off his socks and shoes and sat down in the chair. He then proceeded to smear the fat on his toes and put his feet in the water. He held them still for about 30 seconds before pulling them out. I'll be damned if there weren't two or three crawdads on each foot. He didn't even flinch.

Our mouths fell open.

"Ya'll wanna try?"

posted by chillmost at 2:27 PM on March 19, 2018 [23 favorites]

Heh, I hide cookies and chocolate in empty kashi go lean boxes.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:43 PM on March 19, 2018 [4 favorites]

Grandpa on one side loved dogs. No, I mean loved dogs. No, I mean LOVED his dogs. When they died, they were buried in the backyard. I don't mean he dug a hole and tossed them in. I mean they got a headstone or monument or something. He even put a little bench in the dog cemetery so he could go hang out back there and talk to all the dead dogs. Once my grandparents died and we had to sell the house, that left the family trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of headstones all engraved with dog names. Apparently people don't want to buy a house with a pet cemetery under the master bedroom window.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:16 PM on March 19, 2018 [8 favorites]

My grandpa went from Jewish to Baptist midway through his life.

Jewish to Baptist.

The end.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:55 PM on March 19, 2018 [9 favorites]

Both my grandpas were in "The Big One," WW II, which they pronounced "Double You Double You Eye Eye." One's favorite Navy story was about a seasick officer who would barf if he heard the world "barnacles." The other's tale was about getting to be an anti-aircraft gunner in the Army because he couldn't hit anything with smaller guns. Apparently the NCOs figured "let him try with something big that just fired ahead of planes."

Both of them were proud of their military service, but didn't talk too much about it, and had sets of ribbons with little stars all over them that I didn't appreciate until much later. They both watched MASH religiously as the best representation of military life on the TV. No kidding.

The former's advice to me upon joining the Army myself has always stuck with me, "Just keep your eyes and ears open--and your mouth shut."
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:00 PM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

My grandpa went from Jewish to Baptist midway through his life.

Jewish to Baptist.

The end.

Yeah, but did Jesus? They must have loved him in the congregation.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:01 PM on March 19, 2018 [15 favorites]

damn it Abe, why you gotta be like that
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:27 PM on March 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

The granddad I grew up with had flown Marine ground-attack aircraft in the "Korean conflict", subsequently did a variety of things for the US Gov't including running some of the giant Heidelberg printing presses, which in hindsight probably means he was some sort of spook. He had been a volunteer firefighter; loved cordial cherries, fishing, and Manhattans— I learned to drive at 12 or 13 so I could DD family members home (the next neighborhood over) from family holidays. When my sister was a baby he'd set her atop his big round granddad belly and they'd both fall asleep in a big chair.

He was strong as a horse until the Kools he smoked since the fifties finally caught up with him, and until his last few months really sucked the marrow out of life. One hell of a sonofabitch and I still miss him.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My paternal grandfather’s feet smelled so bad my cousins and I used to dare each other to sneak in to his bedroom and sniff his socks. My grandparents had one of those houses with a butler chute thing for your lanundry (the coolest!) and when my uncle wanted us to clear out of the bottom floor he’d open that chute because it let to my grandfather’s laundry. And the smell would stink up the entire ground floor. We’d all flee to the backyard laughing and retching. My cousins and I used to sometimes steal one of his socks and sneak it into the others bed. It never worked because you could smell it from the hallway.

Like I’m not trying to be over the top, but grandad clearly had a fucking hex put on his feet because that shit was godawful. He never seemed to notice anything though.
posted by supercrayon at 5:34 PM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

My grandpapa had a copy of Mein Kampf that he had annotated. I read it and the footnotes when I was about 13. Gramps was a nazi-sympathizer!
posted by srboisvert at 6:07 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

My dad's dad died when I was about 6 months old, and my grandpa on my mom's side passed away when I was 12, so I don't have a lot of stories about him. However, I do remember that he used to greatly enjoy drinking buttermilk, which seems like a classic grandpa move.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:29 PM on March 19, 2018

my maternal grandfather taught me the codified nuisances of packaged liquor during the holidays.
posted by clavdivs at 6:56 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

A stray dog bit my mother next to her eye when she was little. My grandfather heard the news, got his gun, and shot all the stray dogs he could find.

Same grandfather designed his own house. Walked onto the empty plot, told one of the workers to stand right there and hold his hat. Walked a few steps and told another worker to stand right there and give him a hug. Walked a little bit more and told another one to hold a bucket right there, and another one to get on all fours a bit to the left. Finally he walked to the shade and laid down on the dirt.

That was where the hat stand, kitchen, sink, dining room and bedroom were built. The rest of his life he would walk in, remove hat, walk to kitchen, hug wife, wash hands and face at sink, sit down to eat, and have a nap.

My other grandfather kept a human skull in the living room. It had a hole in it and he would keep pens in there. I inherited the skull in junior high. I would bring to school for Halloween and for altares de día de muertos. Only my friends knew it was real.

I keep it in a box, waiting for the day I have grandchildren to put it back on display.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 6:56 PM on March 19, 2018 [16 favorites]

My paternal grandmother was a state-level politician, starting in the late 1950s. Her long and fruitful career spanned more than forty years. My grandfather was, unusually for the time, a househusband and in charge of their two small children, beginning when she was first elected.

Now, in those days that state legislature paid a mere pittance; it was assumed that anyone elected would be of independent means, or, failing that, would at least be a lawyer with a successful practice. (Granny was a kindergarten teacher, and then a county councilman, and then a senator.) No one anticipated that somebody would be trying to support a family entirely on a state senator's salary, which was ridiculously inadequate for the purpose.

As a result, my grandparents wound up in a two-room apartment with a shared bathroom down the hall, and my grandmother proposed legislation tying senator's salaries to an estimated reasonable cost of living in the state capitol (which eventually passed). The newspapers got interested in their living situation, because so much about it was so strange for the day and age, and also it was kind of scandalous that an elected official was living in poverty; a lot of the papers wanted to talk to my grandfather, most of them to tell him he should go back to work (which he did, eventually, when the kids were in school).

But some of them actually asked questions. I don't know what happened to the specific article I'm talking about after my grandparents' deaths, but it used to be stored neatly in a file folder in my grandmother's home office, to be hauled out and shown gloatingly to friends:

"What percentage of this living space would you say is taken up by each of your children?" asked the curious reporter.

My grandfather heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Each baby," he said, "takes up the entire apartment."
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 10:12 PM on March 19, 2018 [20 favorites]

I only knew my dad’s father. We were not close but there was a mutual fondness across the miles. He looked like Carroll O’Connor with multiple extra doses of eyebrow hair.

When I was four years old, we were swimming in his and Nana’s backyard pool together when I peeked under an upended flowerpot at the edge of the shallow end. Underneath it was a bar of Irish Spring.

“(Unique Family Grandpa Nickname), why is there soap by the pool?”


“That’s (Nickname)’s soap.” Third-person and everything. Wide eyes and firm jaw.

“But why is it here?”


“That’s (Nickname)’s soap.”

It’s a surprisingly effective squelching tactic. I should use it more often myself.
posted by armeowda at 11:29 PM on March 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love this whole thread.

My maternal grandfather died before I was born, but my mother said he was a hoot. He had had polio as a child and one of his legs was much shorter than the other, and he used to swing it around like a club and catch people behind the knees, knocking them down. I wish I had met him.

My paternal grandfather was a barber in a tiny town in Kentucky his whole life, and although he was successful enough, he didn't trust banks, and had all his savings buried in pickle jars in the garden (or stuck between quilts in the laundry room, or in a bag under the spare tire in his car). After my grandmother died my dad and his brother strong-armed Grandpa into telling them where the pickle jars were, but I still wonder if they got all of them. The house now belongs to another family- can you imagine going to plant potatoes and coming up with $40,000 instead?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 5:25 AM on March 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

My paternal grandfather once cut his birthday cake with a bayonet. When I was 18 or 19, I hit the wrong button when entering the alarm code to my house, and I couldn't remember the override code. The alarm company called the police, who did a drive by, but it was my mom's cousin, and he saw my car so he called my mom, who had this point had already called me, so she knew why the alarm had gone off. But the alarm company had also called Pa, so 15 minutes after I had gotten home, the doorbell rang. I answered it, and there he was, full of fire and fury, asking if I was ok. I replied that I was, and he opened his coat to reveal two gun holsters. "Good, because if you weren't, I came prepared." Or some stupid bullshit like that. I very clearly remember taking a huge step back, thanking Pa for coming, and gently encouraging him to GTFO with those things.

Before my husband met Pa for the first time, I gave three warnings. "If he's wearing his war helmet, don't say anything. If he starts talking about guns, and he will talk about guns, don't say anything. And if he tells you how many Nazis he killed, just say thank you."

I was right on two counts.
posted by Ruki at 9:27 AM on March 20, 2018

My grandfather could recount watching Houdini doing an escape over downtown Pittsburgh as a promo for a show, and watching Civil War soldiers march in a parade.

What I remember him for most, sadly, is that he had a deprecatory name for every single ethnic group on the planet, including his own. He was a steel mill foreman, a bitter man who felt wronged by fate, and a dyed-in-the-wool racist, and there was no group that escaped his scorn. I often wish I’d written some of the names down, there were some doozies.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:44 AM on March 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

My grandfather passed the bar but never practiced law. I don't think he went to law school, either. He ran his own business that had nothing to do with law.

He had business cards that said in their entirety:

Firstname Lastname
posted by Emmy Rae at 10:23 AM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

They both watched MASH religiously as the best representation of military life on the TV. No kidding.

My grandpa watched the heck out of MASH, too. Some of my earliest memories of being at my grandparent's house was of them watching MASH on their color TV. (We still had a BW one at home.)

Come to think of it this might actually be my first real exposure to the concept of war as a child, as well as the first dramatized fiction of any kind about war I'd ever seen/experienced.

It was definitely formative and informative, and helped shape my views about how much of a utter failure and waste of humanity it always is.
posted by loquacious at 10:55 AM on March 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

I wonder what the equivalent Grandma stories are like. My grandpas were ostentatiously weird, but my grandmas had subtler tricks up their sleeves.

My city grandma had a dozen kids. One cousin had kids of her own and asked Grandma how she could stand it having so many kids to worry about and keep safe. Grandma said "I always stood with my back to the swing set." And that was pretty much her thing. She knew her kids were partying or fighting or whatever, but she ignored it as long as they weren't violating the tenets of the Catholic church.

My country grandma was very quiet and sweet but she also never tried to make the past seem better than it was. When my very mean uncle was a young man, he was engaged to a nice woman. My grandma advised her not to marry my uncle, saying she deserved better than him. I don't know that I've ever met someone quite like my grandma, who is very sweet and not a negative person, but so honest that she tells the truth anyway.
posted by Emmy Rae at 11:14 AM on March 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

Some of these are very funny and most of these make me think "How their poor wives must have rejoiced when that squirrely sonofabitch finally died."
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 11:40 AM on March 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've mentioned around here before my grandfather's traditional way of placing birthday candles. I can't remember if I've mentioned that he and Stan Ulam once wrote a memo together that got a fair bit of attention in their professional community at the time.

I never got to meet my other grandfather; he was actively anti-Nazi in Hamburg (and connected to British spies) and got arrested in 1942. He spent a few years in a camp and managed to survive the sinking of the Thielbek, but the time in prison ruined his health and he died when my mom was 11.

That meant that my two grandfathers never got to meet, which I think is too bad. I like to think they would have liked each other. I think the three of us have a similar sense of humor (and the German one and I have the same forehead).
posted by nickmark at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2018

My grandpa always had a dachshund and used to love giving them beer in a frisbee, along with bathing them in kerosene to kill their fleas. Yikes.
posted by complaina at 1:13 PM on March 20, 2018

This is such a great thread. Reading some of the other responses, I remembered that my granddad was actually quite eccentric, but I guess we were all used to him that way.
He was in Japanese prison before WWII, and thats a long story, but after that he refused to eat rice or any form of cabbage. Except when I made it. I love Asian food, but for him I made American style rice and heavily buttered broccoli or Brussels sprouts. He was a huge fan of the US.
He was a parachuter during the war, and didn't stop doing amphetamines till the sixties. So he was sometimes very aggressive when I was a kid, and I was a bit scared of him. But he also spoke very good English, which was good because my Danish wasn't the best when I was small. Like loquacious' granddad, he really enjoyed driving very fast. I remember lying in the back of his MG while he raced everywhere. When I broke my arm at 12, it was during a Christmas lunch, and he suggested I could take some schnapps to temper the pain. When I'd had seven of them, he realized something was really wrong, and we had to go to the hospital, 20 miles away. He explained to me that if I held a white handkerchief out the window, it was like if we were an ambulance, and he also brought a side of smoked salmon and a bottle of whiskey with us to bribe the surgeon with, he didn't want me to stay at the hospital. At that time, he had changed to a Saab, to accommodate his dog, and he loved the Turbo function that made it feel like you were flying.
I've mentioned before here on the blue that his family was Jewish but he was brought up atheist, and for my entire life he'd feel the need to explain to us, every single time we had pork or shellfish, that it was OK because we weren't living in Israel, and it was safe to cook treyf food in the North. I didn't even get what he was talking about till recently because you know, he was atheist. And though he raised all of us as atheists and tried to intervene anytime someone showed signs of religion, he lectured me in the Torah all the time and tried to get me to read his grandmothers books on religion and philosophy which were in German and French and printed with strange letters. I still have them, and I still haven't read them. They are for when I'm old and ready to pester my own grandchildren. He also took me out to dinner once a month alone, like his granddad had done with him.
When my grandparents had their golden wedding anniversary, they danced on the tables until they fell over, mainly because my granddad tried to demonstrate that he could still dance that Russian dance and my grandma tried to save him from himself. Luckily they weren't injured, but that was how they were. They very often danced at home after dinner.
He was not a faithful man, and I struggled with that, because I loved my grandma and hated to see her hurt. But once I was in a foreign country in a very difficult situation, and as it turned out, the ambassador there was completely infatuated with him. She sent an aide to get me out of the situation immediately, and I had no further problems.
My other granddad died in prison during WWII, and all three surviving grandparents had severe PTSD, which has made my entire family a bit of a mess. But I miss them.
posted by mumimor at 1:19 PM on March 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

For the Grandma side of the house, I only really knew one. She had spent some time in the mountain area where our country cousins lived. The soil was so stony that the local cemetery in their town blasted graves with dynamite. For the entire time I knew her, whenever she heard a loud bang she'd shout out "dead 'un!"
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:21 AM on March 21, 2018 [6 favorites]

I knew most of my great-grandparents and all of my grandparents. My family seems to be getting more eccentric with each passing generation, so my kids have way more crazy grandpa stories than me, and I'm sure if I have grandkids their stories will surpass those....

One set of my maternal great-grandparents were the most devoted and loving couple I knew. They were inseparable, and great-grandpa didn't survive long after great-grandma died. However, they each had their own bedroom. Years later I found out that it was because he ran off with another women back in the 30's and came back a while later cap in hand asking great-grandma to take him back. She agreed to that, but on the condition that they have separate bedrooms, and that was that until they died over 40 years later.

My paternal grandpa was a character. Took to long, shirtless walks around the neighbourhood every day. Drank hot water instead of coffee or tea because he figured caffeine was bad for his heart. Still died of heart failure though. Made all sorts of experimental wines out of anything that could be fermented. I do not recommend orange wine or tomato wine. Had a carefully curated collection of small paper-mache clown figurines that he kept on top of the fridge. That one I never figured out. My grandma gave them all away to the grandkids right after he died. I keep the one I got in my study. It's hideous.

My maternal grandpa was a rocket scientist. He was also rock hound, and his hobbies were lapidary work, jewelry-making and growing rare and exotic orchids. He used to send me all sorts of fantastic minerals and rocks. My maternal grandma was given shock-therapy in the 50's for depression, and the "cure" had terrible effects on her. From what I was told she was never the same person afterwards, and ended up much worse than she started off. Before the therapy she was outgoing, quick-witted, and social. Afterwards she was withdrawn, often incoherent, and became an alcoholic. Grandpa had to take care of her and their three kids as she couldn't. She didn't survive very long after he died. They always lived far from us, so I never got to know him as well as I had wanted to.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:59 AM on March 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

While the "wacky" grandpa stories were great, imagine the grandma stories and all the bullshit they had to deal with.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:18 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Grandad, my Dad's dad, was firmly of the Mad Men Don Draper variety, and when I was 12 or 13 he realized that no one had yet taught me how to mix drinks. He was appalled.
Lesson 1 went as follows:

"This is a martini glass. Look at it, and think, "VERMOUTH." OK now fill it with gin. Perfect."
posted by JuliaIglesias at 12:54 PM on March 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

My maternal grandpa was a complicated man. He was abusive, stubborn, and anti-Semitic. He recently passed away after 4 years basically as a vegetable. So, I have complicated feelings about him. But I do remember one time he put blackstrap molasses on the table for our pancakes instead of maple syrup, and I made the mistake of dousing my pancakes in it. It was awful, and my dad had to eat the pancakes really quickly while Grandpa's back was turned so that he wouldn't be offended.

He also lived in south Texas and would take us over the border to Mexico. We would always go to the same restaurant and the same souvenir shop, and then we would go back home. This irritated my mother to no end.

Oh! And he played the bagpipes, including when he was stationed in Japan, so the photo of his bagpipe group for that time in his life is really wild.

My paternal grandfather died when my dad was 17, but I have heard stories about him. He ate onions like apples, and also turnips. He used to say "bumble" instead of "butt", and he would say "blasted!" instead of swearing (he was a United Methodist minister). This led to my father once calling his sister a "bumble blasted bumble", because clearly those were the worst words you could ever say to anyone.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:01 PM on March 21, 2018

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