Grandparents Day is Sunday. What better time for me to remember my own. When my mother died, before I was 7, I stayed many days and nights with my Dad’s parents while he kept his early morning crop dusting routine and later charter flights to and from various locations in California and Nevada. Dad and his brother, Darrell, had moved my grandparents from Kansas to California after World War II, then later to Madera when they opened a crop dusting business in 1948.
Grandpa was of medium build and smoked a pipe, but always outside. “Don’t you light that thing in this house,” Grandma would order. I would follow him out to the porch and listen to him while he carefully stuffed his pipe. After a couple of puffs the stories would begin.
He told me (more than once) of when he was a kid in Coffeeville, Kan., on a fateful day in October of 1892 when he hid under a barroom table as the Daulton gang raided the town hoping to rob two banks. “Bullets were flying everywhere, Junior (he called me Junior or Little Leon), but we killed four of them boys,” said grandpa referring to the townsfolk’s fatal shooting of Bob and Grat Daulton, and outlaws Bill Powers and Dick Broadwell.
Grandma was a Methodist and taught Sunday school. Thanks to her demands I managed to receive a pin signifying one-year perfect attendance. Of course I was in her class...