Sunday, October 7, 2007

Grandpa Christenson

We bought a bag of Hershey's best-selling bag of chocolate Halloween candy. We ate most of the candies and what do you think was the candy that didn't get eaten? Whoppers. Whoppers bring me back to my childhood--to be specific, to my Grandpa Christenson's house in Heyburn, Idaho. Grandpa loved two candies: pink mints and Whoppers. He always had Whoppers in the milk carton, which Kulani said he also grew up eating with his family.

A few years back, I went with my parents on a road trip to St. David, Arizona, the place my grandfather was born and raised. My grandpa was born two years before the turn of the century. Essentially, my grandpa grew up during the tail end of the old wild west. As we were visiting Tombstone, a town about 20 minutes north of St. David, my dad remembered his dad telling him that he carried a pistol around town at the tender age of 12. It was rough country where my grandpa grew up. His mother died when he was young and his father remarried a woman my grandpa was never too fond of. He ran away from home to live with an uncle in Idaho when he was 14 or 15. He went back for a year after he was first married to work in the mines in Bisbee, Arizona--a small town just north of the Mexican border and very close to St. David. Grandpa even lugged Grandma's piano with them when they moved there. They only lasted about a year, before my grandpa was involved in a mining car accident that crushed his body and put him in the hospital. Grandma was pretty home sick, so after Grandpa recovered, they decided to move back to Idaho, where my grandpa worked at many trades, including bus driver, mechanic, and farming.

My grandpa died when I was 10. The Mets won the World Series the night he died. I've always hated the Mets since then. Grandpa had a stroke in 1975 which caused his speech to be non-understandable by most people, including me. Some of the memories I have of Grandpa include his choice of candies, him sitting in his rocking chair watching Bonanza and Lawrence Welk on television, and seeing him walk to the Post Office everyday. I remember one time staying over at his house when Grandma was in the hospital, and he made us breakfast the next morning. Grandma always made a big breakfast when we stayed at her house, but Grandpa tried to do his best to offer us everything Grandma would have.

But going on that little trip to Grandpa's birthplace was life changing in a lot of ways. We took a tour of the mine my grandpa likely would have worked in, and it made me appreciate what that must have been like. When we visited St David, we found my grandpa's mother's grave site. It was an old, run-down cemetery, but finding her name made it feel more homey. We also found a street in St. David called "Christenson Street." Not very many people spell it with an "on" at the end, so we thought maybe it was named after one of our relatives. It was great being with my dad during that trip. It was his first trip there as well, and it was touching to see how much it meant to him also. I'm missing Grandpa right now, and every time I see Whoppers candies.


MarySquare said...

Thanks for sharing this Cindy. I forgot that Grandpa liked Whoppers. I remember the pink mints -- and the walks to the post office. And you forgot to mention Checkers. He would always play checkers with you -- well not with me because I think I was too little but I remember him playing checkers with everyone else.

MarySquare said...

C-ster, I just watched The Painted Veil last night and the whole time I kept thinking that young Grandma Christenson looks a lot like Edward Norton in that movie. Except that G-pa's chin was a little broader.