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The “C” Stands for Careful $1.25 for the weekly task. At the time, it seemed like a lot of money, but then a quarter would buy a real chocolate malted milk at the local dairy bar around the corner from my grade school, with plenty left over to buy a couple of packs of baseball cards with a big slab of stale gum in each one. The lawn was not large, even to a 10-year-old boy, but I was surprised during a recent visit to the house to see how much it had shrunk over these decades. Every Thursday after school, I would walk the few blocks to Grampa’s house, start my chores by opening the refrigerator (they still called it an icebox then), and digging out a snack from the myriad of covered dishes and waxed-paper-wrapped leftovers. A few bottles of ginger ale were always on the shelves. Grampa and I used to spend this time sitting at the porcelain-topped table in the kitchen where he would quiz me about school or talk about baseball. He was eager to hear about the latest ball games I had played in and was quick to bring up the stories about his brief school days. After about 15 minutes of idle chatter, Gramma would shoo me out the door. “Ralph, you’re too easy on that boy,” she would say. “He’s laz y enough as it is without you keeping him from his work. He’s not getting paid to sit here and talk about ball games.”

The Cooper Clan, 1947, Grampa front row with hat, Gramma Cooper, Dad holding me, Mom behind Dad. My aunts and uncles in back row. By the time I was in junior high, Grampa was starting to show the signs of the arthritis that was slowly turning his powerful body into a gnarled, pain-filled shell. He would pull himself up from his chair, using a heavy wooden cane, and ease himself down the back stairs to join me outside. A small wooden bench, covered with layers of white paint was just outside the back door, and it was there that Grampa would take up his position as a maintenance supervisor. He held that title when he retired after 40 years of service for the local power company. With his cane as a pointer, he would show me were the mower had missed a tuft of 34

July 2013 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times July 2013