From the Fortress of Solitude
It was a Happy Birthday Celebration at the Fortress tonight for one of Pleasant Grove's most distinguished citizens. Charles Williamson, a transplant from South Dakota, turned 74 today. He was born on June 11, 1936 at 7:30 P.M. at St. Joseph's Hospital in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Let's Start with a Happy Birthday Video to Grandpa Charlie on behalf of all of his grand and great grand children.
Now wasn't that sweet, and disturbing, at the same time.......?
To celebrate the event I decided to post a series of pictures of Dad's early childhood. Dad got home from work around 7:30 P.M. I waited with pictures and computer in hand. I asked him if he remembered anything about that day.
"1936 had the hottest summer on record," he said as he stood in the kitchen in his red bath robe. He'd just returned from a full day spent suffering '"fools and their offspring" at our local WalMart where he works in the Garden Center. He was preparing his first course of the evening, consisting of an assortment of lunch meat, and to wash it down, a half gallon of green tea. Luella sat in her easy chair restating the questions I was directing toward Dad thinking Dad wasn't understanding them.
"Are you going to sit down so Victor can ask you about these pictures?" she asked for the fourth time.
"I won't if you ask that question one more time," he said to his wife of over fifty years. I sat on the green leather sofa near the picture window and waited. I had two things to accomplish and it was getting late (which is after 9:00 P.M. for me). First, get dad to talk about his birthday and secondly, have a nice helping of strawberry short cake (a favorite of dad's - just for his birthday. Mom spared no expense).
Dad finally sat down and began working on the lunch meat. Mother got up to prepare his second course. Something you don't see too often. You see, Mother doesn't cook anymore. I think she stopped when the microwave oven was invented. For birthdays she'll make exceptions. For tonight's birthday dinner she prepared Dad's favorite, a microwaved meat loaf and mashed potatoes TV dinner served with a spoon.
"How am I suppose to eat this with a spoon?" he questioned.
"The meat loaf was a bit runny," she replied. Her response seemed logical yet gross at the same time.
"You're suppose to eat meat with a fork," dad reminded her of another basic fact of life she'd obviously forgotten. Again, I sat on the sofa waiting for his recollections and my helping of shortcake.
"Are you ready to answer his questions?" she shot back.
"Not if you ask me that one more time," he responded. I sighed.
To ease dad into a conversation I thought of saying something about Walmart. He loves to talk about Walmart. It is his one true weakness.
"I stopped at the new WinCo in Orem to check out their grocery prices," I said. The room grew quiet.
"Cheap?" mother asked.
"Cheaper than WalMart," I replied. Mother seemed fascinated. I could tell WinCo would become another one of her daily stops in her attempt to fill her days with mini field trips. Mother has a routine she sticks to religiously. Its up, complete a word puzzle or two, watch CPAN (God only knows why) and then its off to WalMart for a stroll and some shopping for the evening's microwaved delights. Winco would be added as another stop on her grand tour of the shops in her never ending quest for a penny off here and a nickel off there.
"Where is it?" she asked. I explained. She got confused. Dad explained, which made the confusion worse. I jumped in and gave her its exact position in relation to the two Walmarts and the one Target we have nearby, thus creating a triangle - necessary for geographical locations.
"Are you only going to shop there from now on?" she asked after getting its location firmly planted in her memory.
"Walmart does price matching so if I can get Walmart to price match then maybe not. Winco's one drawback is they won't take credit cards."
From that point the discussion turned to the stupidity of WalMart for not asking for proof of competitor's pricing at the check out when seeking a price match.
"All you have to do is tell the cashier that the item in your cart sells for this price at another store. You don't have to prove anything! Yesterday one woman got $300 worth of groceries for $80 bucks!" Dad stated while folding another slice of lunch meat. "Today a woman told me she could buy our $200 swing set for $39 dollars elsewhere. I told her bologna and wouldn't match the price," he said shaking his head at how ridiculous it had become.
Mom saw me yawning. "Talk to him about those pictures. He needs to get to bed."
At that point, our discussion about the pictures began.
"So, what do we say about your birthday?" I asked again.
"Let's just say he was born," mother answered for him. "They went on a lot of picnics," mom remembered. Once again, something very random, but I'm used to that.
Dad was raised near his Williamson and Vercellino relatives. They had spontaneous picnics in the afternoons when the men would come home from work. Dad's dad and his brothers would come home from work and announce it was a picnic day and everyone was to bring whatever was quick and available to eat. These afternoon picnics consisted of Walt and Francis, Morris and Josie, Charlie and Elda and their children.
I typed as I enjoyed my anxiously awaited strawberry shortcake. We finally got to the photographs. Here they are so enjoy and please appreciated the time and effort it took to get them captioned...... :)
Grandpa Charles holding Charles. The picture was taken in their front yard.
Charles is 22 months old in this picture. That wasn't their car in the background. They didn't own a car until dad was six years old. The car belonged to Uncle Ed (Elda's brother). It was his Model A.
Charles is 20 months in this picture. The Texaco Station in the background. The steps in the background lead up to a house. Everyone walked in those days, not many had cars. It was the Great Depression. In those days Highway 85 (the road in front of Dad's house) was the longest highway in the United States. It stretched from Canada to Mexico.
Charles is 18 months old in this picture. He remembers his dad got mad at Grandma for sticking her hand out to keep him from falling. What a memory!
Grandpa Charles holding his first born son, Charles is 24 months old. Grandpa Charles was 30 years old when the picture was taken. He was on his way to work. In those days everyone went home for lunch. All stores closed at noon for lunch. The Homestake Mine blew the whistle and the mine stopped for lunch. Another whistle blew at 3:30 P.M. to call the end of the first shift. If two whistles blew there was a baseball game. If the whistle blew any other time there was an accident.
Charles is standing at a pump. It was the water pump the Pascoe's got their water from before they had plumbing in Lead. Charles is 16 months old.
Charles again at 16 months old.
Charles is 16 months old in this picture. The Texaco Gas Station and Lead Auto Body is behind him. The owners of the station lived behind the station. Dad lived next to the station. Dad is wearing a painter's cap from the Hearst Mercantile, it was the first WalMart, so to speak. It sold just about everything - a general Dept. Store. Grandpa Charles was a sales clerk for the Mercantile.
Charles is 15 months old in this picture sitting on his front porch.
Charles is 15 months old in this picture.
Charles standing in his Grandmother Marie Vercellino's front yard (Elda's mother). Dad is 16 months old. Great Grandmother Marie died of stroke three weeks after this picture was taken while sweeping her front porch.
Charles is sitting on Jessie lap. Jessie was a friend of Elda's. They lived in Hot Springs and came visiting from time to time. They owned the Coast to Coast Hardware Store.
Charles standing in the Pascoe's front yard (didn't have much of a yard). The Round House is the large brick building in the background. It is a nice restaurant in Lead today. There is a Arco Grocery Store today where Charles is standing.
Charles at 1 years old standing outside his home in Lead.
In this picture Charles is standing with his mother Elda and Uncle Ed. Uncle Ed didn't visit that often.