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.