George Washington Carver, Pierre de Coubertin, and Paul Revere were all born on January 1st. Carver was a prolific inventor, notable for finding many ways to use the humble peanut. de Coubertin is recognized as the founder of the modern Olympic Games. And Paul Revere was a coppersmith lionized in a famous poem by Longfellow for a Revolutionary War event.
All these, and more, are notable people. But January 1st is personal for me. At the very near end of the 19th century in South Dakota, my Grandma King was born. She moved to Oregon and met a young man named Benjamin who had moved there from Illinois. They got married in 1915, lost their first child – Ben – and then my grandma gave birth to my dad -Royal – while my grandpa was serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in France during what they called the”Great War”. Some naively called it “the war to end all wars”, but we just call it World War I.
Grandpa Ben went on to serve in WWII and Korea, plus stateside in the Coast Artillery moving up and down the Oregon coast. I remember grandpa and grandma living in a couple of different houses in the little village of Netarts from where we could walk to the beach. Grandpa died in 1964 when I was just 8 so I don’t remember much about him. Grandma lived until 1967 so I have more memories of her.
I remember watching Lawrence Welk with her, so I could watch Star Trek, which was on right after. I remember her coming to our house in Lake Oswego for Thanksgiving. And I remember her at my sister Barb’s wedding, at one point bracketed by two brothers of Bernie – little granny at just over 5 ft tall and the brothers who were 6’4 or 6’5 each. What a sight.
One odd fact about Grandma was that even while she loved the old-fashioned Lawrence Welk, she also loved watching Portland Wrestling – quite the contrast. I wish I had known her more, but at least I had her for a while. My mom’s folks I didn’t get to know at all. Her dad died before I was born and her mom died when I was just two.
Happy Birthday, Grandma!