I found him in his office, writing on one of his ubiquitous 3x5 index cards. This has been his habit since retirement, to write down little snippets of things to keep their memory alive. I asked what he was writing about, and he took me to the kitchen, where a freshly polished antique wooden radio sat on the table. And then he told me a short story:
I bought this radio in 1956 as a Christmas present for your grandma. Notice how it has both AM and FM? I believe FM was the new innovation at that time, so it was a big deal. It cost most of my monthly pay to buy it. I think Bev was expecting a ring, but she got a different R word instead. And anyway, she didn't have to wait too long for the ring — I ended up buying one just two weeks later!
While he was talking, I glanced at the index card, and noticed that it mentioned his exact salary at the time: $122.66 per month from the army. I asked him about it, and he laughed and said yes, that was his salary, and that was four grades above the basic pay! Then he said, "And did you know they paid us in cash?"
That's right. According to Gramps, once a month, there would be one officer with a big box full of money, and another one with a machine gun or submachine gun standing guard, and all the soldiers would line up and collect their dough. Isn't that amazing?
Gramps with Great-Grandpa Jeff, Midway Airport, circa 1956
As a bonus, Gramps laughed in delight at telling me something I didn't know. He said he's made it his mission to think up things about history that will surprise/amaze/entertain me every time I see him, and it's a triumph when he hits on something like this.
Could I adore my grandpa any more? I don't think so!