Grandpa # 3

Previously I wrote posts about my father’s stepfather and my mother’s father. To be complete I am writing this one about my father’s biological father, William Charles Krueger. Note: I have taken a bit of an hiatus in the completion of this post, I stopped to have hernia surgery. More than anyone needs or wants to know.

My grandparents were divorced when my father was a lad. I do not know when William and his wife, my grandmother, Gertrude, were married and I do not know the date of their divorce. Nor, do I know anything about the circumstance. The only reference I recall is my mother mentioning one time that Gertrude fell in love with Charlie while commuting to Seattle on a ferry. I never met William as he passed before I was born. William was born in New Ulm, Minnesota and “when reaching man’s estate ‘went west to grow up with the country'”. He wound up in Seattle, Washington, working for the trolley company.

Evidently, after his marriage failed William migrated back to Minnesota near his parents. William led, I believe, a relatively quiet life in Minnesota. He was a sales guy for a Cash Register company, then for other enterprises in the area. He lived in Comfrey, Minnesota not far from where he was born. There are fewer than 400 people in Comfrey. His obituary mentions that he was survived by his wife (No name mentioned, it must have been referring to Gertrude), his son, Walter (dad) and daughter (aunt Rheva). It is said that William liked to hunt and fish and is was of “a friendly and pleasing disposition”. He was also survived by his mother Mary Krueger. Mary died in 1953, short of her 100th birthday. Mary was one of the last survivors of the Sioux uprising of 1862 and is said to have related many stories of the event. Evidently her family was friendly with the Native Americans who warned the family of the impending troubles. Her family was then able to warn other settlers in the area.

Many years later I was on a job in Mason City, Iowa. I ran major maintenance operations at a power plant there for a number of years. One year we were doing an inspection in July. The client stopped work on the fourth of July that year so I had a free day. Having heard stories about relatives in Comfrey, MN, I decided to travel there for the day. Comfrey is 156 miles from Mason City. Entering Comfrey was like stepping into a Hallmark Movie set in 1950’s rural America. I arrived in time to see the Independence Day parade. It consisted of the town fire truck, the town police car, the high school marching band, the boy scouts and a few veterans. The main street was lined with people the full length of the parade route. I spoke with a number of people who turned out to be Kruegers. I could not determine any family connections. I did find that they pronounce our name differently; they pronounce it “Kreeeger” where I pronounce it “Kroooger”.

I have a sadness when I think of William? There must have been joy in William’s life; however, I cannot find it in the few things I have heard and read about him. After leaving Seattle I do not believe he ever saw his children again. I have no notes from my father about him nor do I recall any stories or recollections other than Dad’s mentioning that he worked for a Cash Register company. Dad once told the story that his family was from Dusseldorf, Germany but Dad was not one to let a fact get in the way of a good story. Mom and Dad did visit the area years after William’s death. I have some photos of Mom and Dad attending a party in Comfrey in 1973. William must not been of faint spirit; he heeded Horace Greeley’s advice to “Go West young man”. I hope that he found more joy in life than is reflected in the memories and “stuff” that remains of his life, a photograph, an obituary and a few distant memories.

William

Thomas Jefferson (Not That Thomas Jefferson)

In a blog that I follow there was recently a cartoon of a fish asking another fish “how’s the water”. The point was that a fish’s only perspective is water so how could it relate the experience? This brought to mind a quandary I had relative to my grandfathers. (In my previous post I wrote about my father’s step father, Charlie). The predicament I had was that other kids had a set of grandparents with whom they shared the same last name. That was strange to me. There was something going on that I did not understand, suspicious, strange, something just not right. Didn’t everyone have a Grandma Barr and a Grandma Galbreath. Because I remember being perplexed, it must have been something that I ruminated over at some length. This may have been compounded by the fact that I did not know my mother’s father, Thomas Jefferson Galbreath, who would not love to have that name? Thomas was killed in a train accident shortly after I was born.

In the previous post I wrote about a letter I found from Charlie. In the collection of memorabilia that contained the letter from Charlie, was a newspaper clipping showing the train collision that killed Thomas. The pickup truck in which Thomas was riding turned in front of a railroad locomotive on a rural road in Skagit County, Washington. Thomas was killed instantly.

I have a distant cousin, Lori, an historian who has assembled our family’s tree. Lori keeps all manor of information on Ancestry.com. I should upload the clipping, says I; not so fast bucko. I was hesitant to upload an image of the clipping as it is pretty gruesome. (There is a huge arrow pointing to Thomas pinned in the cab of the pickup). Lori thought that the clipping was “powerful”; I uploaded the picture. This exercise got me thinking about the differences in legacy between Thomas and Charlie.

Of course I have no memory of Thomas, I was not yet two when he was killed. However, there are some interesting stories that I have heard. When guests would leave, Thomas might say “come again when you can’t stay so damned long.” I can only dream of getting away with that. My favorite is his relationship with indoor plumbing. The original farm house that Thomas shared with my grandmother, Emma, and their seven kids burned to the ground. The replacement had indoor plumbing, a new high tech feature at that time, especially in rural Washington State. This new fangled convenience was likely installed at the behest of Emma. Emma was a school teacher: educated, forward thinking and tremendously strong willed. Thomas’s observation was that “it is a dirty bird that craps in it’s own nest.” Thomas’ life story is for others to tell. Teaser, he was kidnapped as a child from the family farm in Indiana in the late 1800’s, he was brought to Washington to work on a farm. I consider myself honored to share the memory of Thomas.

Other than the clipping, I do not have much else from Thomas: some 8mm film of infant Bill and beaming grandpa Thomas, some photos. And, his watch chain. Mom gave me the chain many years ago. No watch, just the chain. Originally it had, I understand, an Elk’s tooth attached. The Elk’s tooth was also missing. Years later my father gave me a pocket watch, I added the watch to the chain. That left the little bit of dangly chain where the Elk’s tooth had been. I added a gold nugget. In the 1980’s I attended a church in Pittsburgh, PA. I was an usher. The ushers at this church wore cutaway morning coats, stripped trousers and a black vests. I considered myself quite “dapper” in that outfit especially when I added the watch and chain. Although, I was completely outclassed by fellow usher, Rob. Rob could have been mistaken for “The Great Gatsby”.

Charlie

Like many others, I am filling my time at home during the CORONA 19 sequestering and doing projects around the house. One project is selling “stuff” on eBay. “Stuff” is a euphemism for unwanted or never used items that Tina and I want to be rid of. EBay is great; stuff gets to someone who wants it and, it is kept out of the landfill. Often “stuff” is shipped back to China where it originally came from. “Stuff” also includes items inherited from our parents. Although it seems we have lots of “stuff”, I take comfort in the fact that we actually have space for our cars in the garage. One of our goals is to not leave a burden of “stuff” for our children.

In my meandering in the attic in search of eBay inventory, I came across a bundle of miscellaneous documents. These had been the contents of “the brown box”. “The brown box” was where my parents stashed items that were “important”; things like diplomas, certificates, marriage and death announcements occupied the “brown box”. After my mother passed I became custodian of “the brown box”. I had completely forgotten about it until now. It was interesting to go through the stack. In the bundle of paraphernalia included WW2 ration stamp booklets and union dues receipts from 1942. Unfortunately nothing was worthy of being placed on eBay. But, I also found one letter. A letter from Charlie to my father.

Charlie was my father’s step father. On the rare occasions I mention him in conversation, I describe Charlie as being a hard individual. And, I understand that he was very hard on Dad in Dad’s childhood. Dad left home to live on his own at fourteen. A sawyer by trade, Charlie had been in the Klondike during the gold rush. In the Klondike, Charlie was a teamster, not a prospector so no lost goldmines. Perhaps looking at the back end of horses all day can put a dent in your personality. Charlie operated sawmills in Washington State when I knew him. These sawmills were small operations consisting of a couple guys operating a sawmill in the open air. The thing that impressed me at the time was that the giant saw blade was missing many of it’s teeth, I was in preschool then. Looking back, there were no safety precautions at all. Men working around a giant toothless spinning blade out in the rain. Dad was always good to Charlie. When my mother would express her bewilderment at Dad’s kindness to Charlie, Dad would say “well, he was always kind to Mom”. One of my recollections of Charlie was that he played checkers with me once. It was not a pleasant experience; I haven’t played checkers since.

Back to the letter. As I read the letter I realized that this, other than his tombstone, was likely the last remaining artifact from Charlie’s long life. As I recall Charlie passed in his late 80’s. Charlie had no children of his own. The letter is essentially a rant about the purchase of property that somehow went awry. Unkind things are written. Charlie writes that he believes Dad should send him money because Dad somehow was involved. My admonition and the point of this entire post is to be be circumspect about what you write. It may turn out to be your only legacy.

In closing I would like to say something further about Dad. I do not believe Charlie was close to properly characterizing Dad as an ingrate (not my word but the impression left in the letter). At the end of Charlie’s life Dad took Charlie in after Charlie was thrown out by Dad’s sister. (There is another story here for some other time). Charlie was living in a lean-to on ten acres that Dad owned in Whatcom County, Washington. Dad brought Charlie to our home in Seattle (I was at University at that time), had a small house built on the ten acres, and let Charlie live out his years there at no cost to Charlie. I do not think Dad was the ungrateful SOB Charlie described in the letter.

The Future Looks Bright

There appears to be a great deal of pessimism in the media. This view is reinforced by the peculiarities of the CORONA 19 epidemic. I do not want to minimize the current situation. People are ill, some are passing, in some places the healthcare industry is being challenged, the economy is sputtering. Everyone is acutely aware of all this. Literally, everyone on earth is aware of the epidemic. The media seems to paint a pretty dark picture of the situation and the prospects for the future. One reason I have been avoiding news broadcasts. Factoid – Bad News Sells. Wednesday, Tina and I participated in a weekly market review that our financial gut, Greg, has been putting on during the sequester. One statistic Greg presented is that neutral news has a neutral response from listeners, positive news a negative response and negative news a positive response. So, to sell ad time make it as negative as possible.

Last evening our son, Jim, had a gathering of his buddies from Suffield Academy. All had gone off to college and most were graduating. They came from all over; Bentley, Penn State, Hartford, Skidmore, and Puget Sound. They cooked and ate, had a bonfire and camped in tents. Yes, they did practice social distancing – well, for the most part. what a remarkable and capable group of men. Would I say that they have it all figured out, no. But these guys will definitely figure it out.

All Those That Serve

I was recently impressed by an article that suggested that individuals that work in grocery stores should be considered “First Responders”. I truly believe that these people who go to work every day stocking shelves, registering our purchases and doing the hundred other things associated with our food chain should be recognized. However, it should not stop there. The postman, the refuse collector, the pharmacist, the pizza maker and all the hundreds of others that are making our existence bearable in these peculiar times.

And, I am in favor of our government going beyond recognition and arranging for financial support of small business. However, I am totally disgusted by the news that large hedge funds are going after the money. Not by the small few individual hedge funds that eke out an existence but the big guys with lots of resources. I am also disheartened by those small “Mom and Pop” outfits that do not have the wherewithal to maneuver the quagmire of government minutia to get access the the resources available.

What called this to mind is a speech made by General George Patton during World War II. Not the sanitized version made by the actor George Scott at the beginning of the movie “Patton” but, the actual one. In it Patton made a point of recognizing the truck drivers who went well beyond the normal call of duty, the telegraph repairman making repairs under fire and others. Having recently read a transcript of the speech, I would not recommend it to those of a sensitive demeanor, Patton could be a bit crass. He once said that if you have something to say, say it loud and dirty, that way it will be remembered. (This manner should not be tried at home)

I should point out why I am drawn to Patton. The superintendent of my High School was General Hobart Gay. General Gay had been an aide to Patton during World War II and was in the staff car when Patton was killed. Gay always carried a riding crop that was given to him by Patton.

So, all of those that have a role to play should be recognized. And, all of us should do our parts.

Not many pictures to add. Just one of two desperados who look like they are on their way to hold up a convenience store.

Forget the cash, hand over the toilet paper!

The Land of Steady Habits

As I wait out the COVUD-19 virus I gave thought to the many names that the State of Connecticut is known by. Among others the state is known as “The Constitution State”, “The Nutmeg State” and “The Land of Steady Habits”. These thoughts saved me from titling this blog something as insipid as “The Corona Chronicle”. My favorite is “The Nutmeg State”. Nutmegs are tropical and I know of no cultivation of them in the state. The origin comes from Connecticut traders in colonial times who became famous for carving wooden nutmegs and selling them as the real thing. Nutmeg was rare and pricey at the time. “The Constitution State” (as on our license plates) comes from the original charter of the State of Connecticut which was the first constitution in the British colonies.

Steady Habits, however, describes me during the long sequester. I am usually very schedule driven. With the gym closed, shops closed, friends sequestered and car projects limited, I have become a clockwork. I would describe my day but, anyone reading it would likely rather jump from the roof rather that finish the blog. I cannot describe future trips that have been planned. They have been canceled. I cannot attach interesting photos. It is always the same scene out my window. So I will expound on the virtues of Steady Habits.

Actually I am inspired by something Kelly Ripa wrote about things that are OK to do. Among other OK things to do, she mentioned that it is OK to serve the same meal to your family repeatedly and then serve them the leftovers. I cannot imagine the response in this family (I would be the absolute worst) but it is interesting to contemplate. Even dog Sheba doesn’t tolerate the same meal in this household.

Arise from bed, walk dog, make coffee, take a cup to Tina, make breakfast, check crap I listed on eBay, etc. etc. ad nauseam. But, this too shall pass. The virus will abate, people will go back to work, the gym will open. In all of this we will, I believe, have learned a lesson. Steady habits are a good thing. They bring order to life, they get you through the day. You know what you are going to do when you get out of bed. That thought in itself gets me out of bed.

Well, one photo is OK.

Greetings to all

I am going to do some maintenance on this site in the next few weeks. I plan to to delete some of the old stuff and freshen up the site a bit. I am using the excuse convenient excuse of COVID-19 to stay close to home and get caught up with some stuff.

I want to acknowledge to everyone that I am truly humbled by the number of people who follow this from all over the world, thank you.

“The best layed schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley”

I feel a closeness to Robert Burns, something I find hard to explain. I feel drawn to the unsophisticated wisdom and the beauty of the Scottish dialect. I find few that share this kinship outside of a few native Scotts.

These lines from “To a Mouse” could refer to all members of the Krueger clan this week.

Jim was all set to go to Vietnam as part of a Penn State journalism project. Trip was planned, tickets and visas arranged, project researched. He had arranged to meet Emma in Hi Chi Minh City during the visit. Emma’s travel was arranged and purchased. Then Coronavirus happened. Trip was cancelled two days before travel. I can understand Penn State but the cancellation is disappointing to all.

But things work out. Jim changed his plans and is visiting his friend, Will, who is going to Puget Sound University in Washington State. They plan to go to some of our old haunts in Skagit valley and visit other friends there.

Vietnam is pretty much on lockdown. Schools have been cancelled and are likely to stay closed through March. Emma is stuck with little to do and little cash flow. Plans are in limbo: will schools extend the year into summer or employ some other scheme?

Emma is traveling around Vietnam experiencing more of the country.

Tina and I are in Greenville, SC. We were in Greenville last year and thought it would be a great place to spend some time. The weather has been lousy, the Airbnb is not as expected (small, and a funky kitchen). Feeling a bit trapped in the Airbnb.

But today is beautiful, we have reservations to tour the BMW Factory in Spartanburg and we will be looking at some properties with the great agent we found here, Zane.

At the end of the Burns poem he laments that, being human, he is aware of the past and is aware of his inability to see the future. The mouse he feels is fortunate to live only in the present.

I believe somewhat different. The Krueger’s may have been thrown some curve balls but we are making the best of the situation. We are all counting our blessings.

Well, the cloud lingers – just heard that your realtor, Zane, has the flu. Probably not Coronavirus.

No free samples

Hiked the Swamp Rabbit Trail with friends who had moved to the area.

Kim and Tina

Bluffton SC

After Penn State Tina and I traveled to the small town of Bluffton, SC. Tina had heard about Bluffton while on our trip to Texas.

What a delightful community. We first visited Palmetto Bluff, a very high end community. Beautiful but it would be like living in a bubble. Movie types like John Travolta have a place here. This is where Justin Bieber was recently married. Not a bit snooty but residents are used to being pampered.

Old town Bluffton is really a delightful community, fun shops and great restaurants. A number of great chefs left the grand Palmetto Bluff to open local places. We met a couple chefs while eating in Bluffton, they had a common story; they wanted to start their own place but didn’t want to leave Bluffton.

We spent a day in Savannah. A lot of history, a very progressive atmosphere, an active young population and fun places and night life. Savannah is 20 minutes from Bluffton.

Today we then went to Hilton Head to try out the beach. Wow, delightful broad and white sand. Sheba had the best time, running and playing with other dogs.

At PSU

Tina and I are on our way to the Carolinas. Our plan is to spend a little time there to determine our appetite for a move to the South.

On the way we spent a couple days with Jim in State College, PA. Early in our relationship with Penn State, I learned that it is a custom to climb Mt Nittany. I have been promoting this excursion to Jim since he matriculated. On Sunday Jim and I and Tina did the trek.

I had set the expectations too high. I was expecting a panoramic view of the campus and the rest of Happy Valley. The experience did not meet the picture in my mind. The trail is well marked but not very well maintained. We were fortunate that it is winter and there are no leaves on the trees. That made it possible to see some of the campus. Quite a few people were also doing the hike. And, lots of dogs. This delighted Sheba, who also joined us. She could snarl at the other dogs and be a complete pest, much to her delight. She had more fun than anyone else.

But, we did complete the hike.