How My Great-Grandfather, Irving I. Turner, Taught Me A Valuable Lesson In U.S. History.

IMG_5936Every summer, it was a family tradition to visit Grandpa Turner before our Oregon departure.  He lived in a modest apartment on Vantage Street in North Hollywood, California.  When you entered, your nose was assaulted by cigar smoke, which seemed to permeate every piece of furniture in the living room.  His saltine crackers were in their usual plastic container.  Sculpted dogs of various breeds and sizes greeted you from a shelf.  The TV was the essential component, for grandpa was almost always watching some program when we visited.  He especially liked “the fights” and Perry Mason.

Grandpa lived to be 100, surviving a car accident and metastatic cancer of the stomach, which he was told was an ulcer.  The cancer in the stomach was removed and never grew back again.  That was about fifteen years before he died.  He never had a heart attack and maintained excellent health for most of his life.  He liked simple foods, an excellent Havana cigar and good conversation.  He was a real estate broker for many years and was honored by the business community in an article that Grandpa was very proud of.  When I visited him in a rest home, I told him he should be lucky to have a family that cares about him.  He replied with scorn:  “Family!  That’s my family!”, pointing to a picture of himself on the wall.  At that time, when he was 99, his mind began to fail him.  He kept repeating that Grandma Lillian was a “rich widow, kicking up her heels, referring to Grandpa Johnny’s death the previous year.  All in all, he was a character.  However, I enjoyed speaking with him as the following dialogue shows:

“Grandpa.  You’ve been around a long time and have seen many Presidents come and go.  Who was your favorite?  Who made the best impression?”

“They were all a bunch of bastards!”

I now draw a curtain of silence over the whole scene.

About Robert M. Weiss
From an early age, I've taken great pleasure in reading. Also, I learned to play my 78 player when I was quite young, and enjoyed listening to musicals and classical music. I remember sitting on the floor, and following the text and pictures of record readers, which were popular in the 1940s and 50s. My favorites were the Bozo and Disney albums. I also enjoyed watching the slow spinning of 16s as they spun out tales of adventure. I have always been attracted by rivers, and I love to sit on a boulder with my feet in the water, gazing into the mysteries of swirling currents. I especially like inner tubing on the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. Since my early youth, I've been interested in collecting minerals, which have taught me about the wonderful possibilities in colors and forms. Sometimes I try to imagine what the ancient Greeks must have felt when they began to discover physical laws in nature. I also remember that I had a special passion for numbers, and used to construct them out of stones. After teaching Russian for several years, I became a writer, interviewer, editor, and translator. I continue to delight in form, and am a problem solver at heart.

10 Responses to How My Great-Grandfather, Irving I. Turner, Taught Me A Valuable Lesson In U.S. History.

  1. What a wonderful memory! What a wonderful grandfather! I take so much pleasure in hearing a story about a man who lived to be 100 and appears to have lived life so well! He sounds like he must have been quite a character. 🙂


  2. berlioz1935 says:

    This little conversation must have taken all hope and illusions, in regard to politics, out of you.


  3. auntyuta says:

    One of Peter’s grandfathers died in 1916 as a soldier in France during WW I. Peter’s father was at the time only 16. The other grandfather died in 1940, aged 70. Peter was five years at the time and can remember him and seeing his body. Just today Peter looked up a picture of his 70 year old grandfather which was taken two months before he died. He printed the picture out on some good paper and framed the picture. He is now wondering whether anyone in the family is going to notice this picture hanging on the wall. Will anyone be asking who this is?


    • I have a feeling someone will. There are always those who treasure family history. WWI had such an impact on the way we see ourselves. One of my wishes is to speak with someone that lived before and after WWI. Alas, I am relegated to history books and literature.


  4. auntyuta says:

    I just thought I might add a bit about my paternal grandfather who had been a senator in Poland during the 1920s. I remember as a child when we were visiting the grandparents, grandfather would always discuss a lot of politics with the family. This was the 1940s and grandfather had long given up being a politician. Still, politics was discussed all the time. He died in 1947, aged 77.


  5. Such a discussion would have been of great interest to me. Poland was an occupied country for about 150 years, and the Poles have had a deep distrust in the strength, and efficacy of government.


  6. Sun says:

    your grandpa sounds like quite a character. he answered your question quite well. *smile* a lovely memory shared. simply wonderful, Robert.


  7. Thanks, Sun! Grandpa would have been pleased at all the attention he’s getting!


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