Thirty years ago, during late spring, I remember my brother Dave and me sitting on the outside porch at my maternal grandparent’s house with my grandfather, known as PapPap. The year was 1991, and he was getting ready to turn seventy. PapPap would say, “I’m getting closer to that big seven oh.” Unfortunately, he isn’t with us anymore, but it’s been thirty years since that night on the porch, so I will say it for him this time, for everyone to see, “He is getting close to the big one, double oh,” in perfect PapPap style. Below is a narrative about various events to honor PapPap on this momentous day.
PapPap was always a hard-working man. When I was very young, he still worked at Bowen-McGlaughlin in York. He turned sixty-five in 1986, the same year I turned five. It was easy to figure his age as he was sixty years older than me. His retirement party was held in a room at the basement of the Adams County Bank located outside the North Gettysburg Shopping Center. That is when I first heard about retirement. Of the actual event, I remember the large canisters of Utz potato chips and pretzels they were serving. Retirement wasn’t the end of his working though; PapPap liked to make things. He built wooden crates to sell at the Apple Harvest Festival. He also created Christmas trees, stars, and crosses out of cans. He would save the cans, and glue them together in those shapes. They were painted silver. He would put a string of Christmas lights in each creation. In the dark, they would produce an outline of what they were built to look like. He would sell these items at a booth at the Apple Harvest Festival that my grandparents had every October.
PapPap liked deer, and back when Dave and I were children he would take us to Quincy, a small town north of Waynesboro, where they had tame deer fenced in. For a handful of change, a person could buy food and feed it to the deer. They also had an ice cream stand on the site. Usually, he would take us via PA 997, though once he took us by Mont Alto Road, and twice we went by PA 233.
PapPap also enjoyed taking Dave and me on drives. Often, they contained dirt roads which I enjoyed, though others contained what was uncharted territory for me (I have always liked roads). I remember three such trips in great detail. The second trip had a few interesting tidbits worth mentioning. The wooden Guernsey train bridge was still around at that time, which carried West Guernsey Road into the small village. PapPap told us that he was going to drive us over a train! It sounded exciting. What he meant was that he was going to take us on the old wooden bridge over the railroad track while a train was running below us. On the same trip he took us on what was called, “The Old Tater Road” in Goodyear. The road was a narrow road that ran next to PA 34 from Good Year up towards Hunters Run. The thrill of the road was its large number of bumpy railroad tracks to cross over. As mentioned in a previous blog, I have always liked railroad crossings. The actual name of the road turned out to be Old State Road which happens to be the old alignment of PA 34.
The third trip was in 1993, and entirely in Franklin Township, which is where PapPap grew up. He drove us on a bunch of “tree roads”, which was my name for roads that were primarily littered with trees on both sides, generally found in forest land. Many of the roads were dirt roads, which I thought was funny, as they were bumpy. On this trip we started at Newman Road by the PA 234/Route 30 intersection, and headed back into the forest land. He made a left onto Teaberry Road, which I thought had a funny name. Another particularly funny road was Jack Road.
Another interesting tidbit about the drive involved the Scenic Valley Tour. Dave and I had discovered these signs on the way to Summer CCD (a week-long religious education program provided by our church). They also popped up in Gettysburg and on Route 234 towards Biglerville. On this trip, as we made our way back towards Cashtown, Dave discovered a Scenic Valley Tour sign we had never seen before. It was number thirteen, and had a few purple balloons attached to it. One other fact about the drives is that they were always fun, yet they were also too short!
PapPap was very creative, and good with narrating stories. Sometimes they were completely funny in themselves. One day he said, “I ran so fast, I passed myself. I was running one direction, and I saw myself running back.” Obviously, he couldn’t have run this fast which made this story funny. At one point in time, he could have been an excellent runner, though, as he was in Navy during World War II in the Pacific. Other times, pretending to be the perfect baby, he’d say, “When I was a baby, I would hop out of my crib and go to the bathroom.” I imagine if I would have asked Great Grandma (his mother) she would have told a different story. He also would ask us questions with funny answers. “I have two butterflies and a “letterfly”, what do you have to do to make it even?” The answer was obvious, but cleverly tricky. Of course, it was to add another “letterfly.” Now words may sound deceiving, as a “letterfly” was actually let-her-fly, which was when he’d let his fist go flying playfully in our direction. Some questions were more devious but also funny. PapPap knew our good upbringing and to be funny he would sometimes say naughty things. A classic question was, “I have forty beans and I add two more, how many do I have?” The answer, think forty-two, but also about the well-known effect of beans.
Sometimes these bits were stories. PapPap told the story about the boy who fell in the well. Grandma was close by, and we all knew where the story was going. She said, “Lott,” and the story stopped. He never told the inevitable part of the short story. If you know his humor and think carefully you can figure out where the boy went. Another time it was a song. There have been many renditions of Lassie on television over the years. One time he was watching it, and the corresponding song was played. There was one funny problem, he forgot to pronounce the “L” while he was singing.
In 1994, I had a pair of green shorts that were bought from Shippensburg University. The word Ship was spelt out in white lettering across the right leg. Being the joker that PapPap was, he told me that he’d cut me out a “t” to put on the shorts. The t was to replace the letter p making it spell another word. The t wasn’t made, but while I was at The Commonwealth Technical Institute at the Hiram G. Andrews Center, Dave made a “t” out of white construction paper, had it laminated and put it in a card sent to me. I did get my t for my shorts!
Dave and I played our tricks too. When we would enter their house, we would run up to PapPap and scribble his soft, white hair. He would reply, “You booger you” as well as “I just combed that”. Well, we know that he didn’t just comb his hair every time just before we would show up. Because of his famous phase, “You booger you,” he received the nickname of Booger which stuck. There was a trick played on him every year on Grandma’s birthday. She would always want an angel food cake. Dave and I would tell Booger that he’d get the piece in the center. Of course, there’s a catch. Angel food cakes are normally round, and have a hole in the center, thus the center piece consists of nothing but air.
Another trick we’d play involved a toy Mom ordered when she was a teen. Mom saw a plastic Poppin Fresh Doughboy that she wanted, and subsequently sent away for him. In 1990 the old Poppin Fresh toy was brought back out, and Dave and I walked back to Grandma and PapPap’s bedroom hiding him under Booger’s pillow. When it was time for PapPap to go to bed that night he found a lump in his pillow which turned out to be Poppin Fresh. Over the years, we'd take turns regifting Poppin Fresh at holidays and birthdays, as a joke. Twice, Dave and I had Fruity Pebbles Cereal, and each time it came with a toy. We got Barney Rubble holding a bowling ball, and a small yellow Fred Flintstone to put on the end of a pencil. We brought both of them to Grandma and PapPap’s house, and added them to the line-up of items to put under Booger’s pillow. We’d always get a response the next time we saw him after the prank. The Fred Flintstone, being small was lost early on. Sometimes Dave and I would put other things on his side of the bed including a yardstick and a ruler.
Grandma and PapPap had a Summer Rambo tree in their backyard. Dave and I would always go over, and pick the apples we could reach. We were able to take some home with us. There were always some apples left on the tree as we couldn’t reach them all. Days later when Booger was mowing his backyard, as he approached the tree, apples would sometimes fall off the tree, and hit him in the head. Others fell to the ground. Of course, we would hear about this, and one time the comment was made that the apples on the ground didn’t look very nice, as they were bruised. Booger took out his pocket knife, picked up an apple to cut it, and started to eat it. He handed Dave and I each a piece. “See,” Booger said, “the apples on the ground taste good.” He was correct. They might not win in a beauty contest, but with the bruised part cut away, they were perfectly fine apples.
In 1996, Dave and I had an opportunity to play another trick on him. PapPap was driving Dave and me to the Chambersburg Mall so we could each buy a cassette we wanted. When we arrived, Booger said to us, “Help me find a parking space under a tree.” He was planning on waiting in the car while Grandma, Dave and I went into the mall to buy our cassettes. Being the jokesters Dave and I can also be, we found parking spaces next to a narrow row of skinny trees. We told him to park there. Needless to say, we knew these weren’t the kind of trees he was picturing. He wanted a space next to a large shade tree.
One time when we were a little older, Mom found a packet of freshener to make feet smell better which provided us with the idea of a stinky feet contest; the loser winning the prize of the freshener. Mom, Dave, Booger, and I all participated, with PapPap being the predetermined winner.
At Grandma and PapPap’s house, PapPap was always the character, and we never knew what to expect from him. A classic example is when he would tell us that he got up at five o’clock every morning. I thought, “Wow!” I couldn’t believe how Grandma and he could get up so early every day. Later I found out, that what actually happened was that Booger would get up at five to go to the bathroom and then go back to bed. He simply omitted that part of the story. Now back when he was working, he did have to get up early as he had to drive to York.
At their house, Grandma knew where the food was, as well as the entertainment supplies for us as kids. In the basement of their house apparently Grandma had a large roll of blank paper. She would tear off two large pieces for Dave and me to draw on using some old Crayola crayons she had. Dave and I would usually draw video games and sometimes games on these sheets of paper. One time, PapPap was babysitting us by himself. When Dave and I asked about the crayons and paper, he couldn’t find them. Try he did! He found us a small piece of paper to share, about the size of a notepad you’d get at a hotel, as well as a pencil, and a fat green crayon. Though it wasn’t what Dave and I were planning on using, we made it work. Later when Grandma returned, she realized that she forgot to tell PapPap where the paper and crayons were.
Sometime in the early 1990s, Grandma and PapPap were able to get cable television. Instead of having the standard channels of the time, they had access to unique channels like The Nashville Network and the Discovery Channel. Channel twenty-nine was the Discovery Channel, and Booger would watch shows containing predators chasing after prey. They would then catch it and eat it. With blood being shown from the capture, Grandma wasn’t impressed. Channel seven was the Nashville Network. In 1993 PapPap enjoyed watching the Statler Brothers’ program. A year later while there, PapPap was watching Suzy Boggus singing “Hey Cinderella,” which is how I figured out that the music I was listening to on the bus in 1994 was Country.
PapPap had a garden. Actually, he had two gardens. He had a main garden behind the house which increased in size over the years, as well as one on a plot of land across the road from my childhood home on Shippensburg Road. Though I don’t have specific recollections from that garden, I do remember going to it. Then one day he sold his land, and he stopped having that garden. As for the garden at their house, Booger grew a variety of vegetables, though he is most known in my house for growing sweet potatoes. The South Mountain Fair had a contest for sweet potatoes. Booger would pick two of them, one for Grandma and one for himself, and register them in the contest. Every time, Grandma’s sweet potato would win a higher-ranking prize than his. It almost seemed like PapPap registered the potatoes that way on purpose since it was consistent.
Booger also liked to hunt deer. Every deer season he would go hunting. I remember on numerous occasions when after shooting a deer he would drive up to our house with the deer in the bed of his pickup truck to show it off.
One peculiarity was his pronunciation of certain words. There were some PapPap couldn’t get right. He called spaghetti, “buhsketti,” and the asthma drug prednisone, “preda-zon.”
Booger was hard to buy Christmas gifts for. My parents had a lot of trouble. Dave and I seemed to have good luck getting him gifts. One Christmas in the early nineties, I created him a needlepoint rainbow coaster for him for Christmas. I used red yarn for edging, and glued a felt back on. PapPap used this coaster. In the Christmas of 1999, Dave and I bought him one of the best gifts I believe he ever received. Booger always liked George Jones. That year, Dave and I bought PapPap a video of George Jones. Booger loved that video, and watched it every day.
So, for readers below I will present the final item to celebrate Booger’s 100th birthday. Starting in seventh grade, my high school showed a news program, Channel One, during homeroom every morning. It had stories on it from real world events simplified, and also stories on issues that teens face. Anyway, the school stopped subscribing to it when I was in eleventh grade. My homeroom teacher decided to turn on channel eight, to provide us with the current news during homeroom. During the time the TV was on, Willard Scott, a by then semi-retired weatherman, would announce people’s 100th birthdays during the “Today Show,” and honor them by putting their pictures on jelly jars. For all who are interested, I have saved a jelly jar for this occasion, and will put a picture of PapPap on it for his 100th birthday. Happy 100th birthday PapPap!
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