Tuesday, May 12, 2009

About My Grandfather

When I was just a little stinker, I spent a lot of time in my grandparents house in Tinton Falls, NJ. My grandfather was a sailor mouthed Italian man with a terrific sense of humor who spent his days humming old big band tunes and oil painting, re-creating the masters. My whole life I watched him paint Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" (which is a more popular name of Rembrandt's Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch in the Rijksmuseum). It was not finished when he passed away. I am trying to get my family to give it to me when it's time to find a new home for it, because I spent my whole life watching it get painted and I feel like it belongs to me, in a way.

My grandfather was the Salutatorian of his class, my grandmother was the Valedictorian of hers. They met in Ybor City, near Tampa, Florida during his Navy break, where all the soldiers are free to drink and chase skirts. According to the family legend, he fell in love immediately with my grandmother and didn't want to leave her after his break was over. He even actually literally "missed the boat" because he was spending time with my grandmother. The boat he was supposed to be on was attacked and everyone on board was killed. My great grandmother (who was well known in the family for her ribald personality and always telling dirty jokes) was actually notified by the Navy and told that my grandfather was lost at sea. But he was alive and well, frolicking with my grandmother on the boardwalk.

I have a beautiful photo of him in his sailor uniform, it is worn and faded and it's like he's marching off eternally. I liked my sailor mouthed, salty grandpa more than anyone else in the world.

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