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Stories My Dad Told, The Granny Story

My father was a plumber and an electrical repairman as well as a general do-it-yourself repairman. He taught me many valuable lessons.

Dad supervising us

Dad supervising us

Laughter

I believe I learned that laughter and a sense of humor from my father. He was a joker in that sense of the word but he loved a good practical joke. Most people like to be around when they play a practical joke on someone to see the reaction and to get a good laugh. Not my dad. He didn’t mind setting up a good practical joke and know it would go off when he wasn’t even there. It gave him a bigger laugh somehow to know it happened without him present to enjoy the fall-out.

I have never been able to see life as anything but a vast complicated practical joke, and it's better to laugh than cry.

— Robert A. Heinlein

Dolls from Frankie's Doll House

Dolls from Frankie's Doll House

Frankie’s Doll House

My mother’s mother’s name is Francis but she preferred to be called Frankie. This got her into trouble once because she owned and operated a ceramics shop that specialized in dolls. She named her shop Frankie’s Doll House and advertised it in the phone book. Several times she would get phone calls from men “looking for a good time” and wanting to be fixed up with one of Frankie’s dolls. They thought from the name that my grandmother ran a house of ill repute. After a couple of years of this, she changed the name to Merced Ceramics and those questionable calls stopped.

Grandma on the right in her ceramics shop

Grandma on the right in her ceramics shop

The Mother-in-law

My dad and his mother-in-law didn’t always get along well, so it is no surprise that he played more than one practical joke on her. She hated with an unchristian passion to be called “granny”. For this reason, my dad loved calling her that usually not to her face. He used the term so often at home where she couldn’t hear him that it became natural. One day, I slipped and called her “granny” to her face. I must have been about 7 or 8. Immediately, I knew I was in big trouble, but she just squinted at me and said, “Don’t think for one moment that I don’t know who put you up to that!” I would have protested that my dad didn’t put me up to it but his practical joke side saved me that day, so I kept my mouth shut.

Grandma, no one's granny.

Grandma, no one's granny.

It's hard to enjoy practical jokes when your whole life feels like one.

— Rick Riordan

The Waitress

My favorite story is the one about the waitress. My dad was working as a plumber and maintenance man for a chain of restaurants. He often would be called by them for emergency fixes and would periodically show up to fix or maintain dishwashers and other electrical equipment.

He had a friendly relationship with the waitresses who would slip him some pie and coffee while he was there. He knew each one by name and would come home and imitate their voices for us with stories they told about customers.

One day, he was in the kitchen working on a coke machine when one of the waitresses came in and addressed him. “I just hurd you awe welated to Fwankie.”

“Yes,” dad said, “she is my mother-in-law.”

“I just wuve Fwankie,” the waitress divulged. “She comes in evewy Wednesday night wiff hur fwends. She is a deaw.”

“You know,” my dad sets up the bomb, “her dearest friends call her granny.”

She thanked him for telling her and promised that the next time Frankie came in, she would call her granny.

It seems to me that it would be fun to be a fly on the wall for that confrontation, but my dad was just as content waiting to hear about the fall-out later.

Trouble With Frankie

Weeks later when he was back in the restaurant, this time under a dishwasher fixing it, he told us that someone started kicking his legs and yelling, “You got me in twuble wiff Fwankie!!” Apparently, that Wednesday when my grandmother came into the restaurant, the poor unsuspecting waitress yelled from across the room, “Hi, Granny” and my dear sweet little grandmother stomped clear across the restaurant floor to punch her in the arm. Yes, that sounds like my grandmother. She HATES being called granny. I’m sure the waitress only had to mention my dad’s name to get off the hook with her though.

Dad said he couldn’t come out from under the dishwasher for quite some time, not because he was still being kicked but because he was laughing so hard.

Some of her shop dolls

Some of her shop dolls

The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.

— Will Rogers

“Boo”

I love that he taught us what humor is like. He taught us not to plan a joke that would cause injury or sickness or humiliation. The day I put salt in the sugar bowl was really an accident, but I saw that messing with a man’s meal is not funny. When my dad passed, the mortician, as they normally do, put make-up on my dad, but also a little crooked smile. It seemed like the same crooked smile he used just before one of his joke bombs went off. I remember looking at him lying there in the beautiful soft casket and thinking, he really looks like he could jump up and say, “boo.” So as much as I would have liked for him to jump up, I told him, “You better not say, “boo” or I would wet my pants right here on this spot.” Unfortunately, he didn’t say, “boo.”

My watercolor painting of dad in his shop

My watercolor painting of dad in his shop

Final Thoughts

Do you like practical jokes? Have you ever had one pulled on you that wasn’t funny? I’d love to read your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Chitrangada Sharan,

I think so too. The humor and laughter kept us all together and happy. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Dora Weithers,

Thank you so much for that. I thought he was pretty good looking too. He was an asset. The more I see divorced and single-parent homes, the more I appreciate growing up with a dad in my home. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Linda Lum,

He did like to pull a good prank. I love that he enjoyed laughing. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Liz Westwood,

Most grandmas are like that, accepting the nickname that the first grandchild comes up with. But not my grandmother. She was funny like that. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Rosina S Khan,

He was full of fun. I see that more not that he's gone. When I was younger, I could only see the harsh side of correction and the times I disappointed him. It's lovely now to remember the really fun times. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Peggy Woods,

How wonderful for you. It seems we miss them more when they are gone than when we had them here. It's a sad reality. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

BRENDA ARLEDGE,

After a few decades, she began to enjoy the merry war they had going on. I think she really appreciated him in the end. She outlived him and was there to comfort my Mom on that last day. I remember her holding Mom as she cried. I had never seen that side of my grandmother before. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Pamela Oglesby,

He was so much fun to listen to. I appreciate him more now than when I had him with me. Isn't that always the way? Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 20, 2021:

Bill Holland,

Thanks, Bill. It has been a fun series to write and really therapeutic to remember. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 18, 2021:

Hi Denise!

It was interesting to read your Dad and your granny' s stories. I really enjoyed it.

Family relationships are healthy, if members are free with each other, and not formal. A little bit of sense of humour is always good for relationships.

Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 18, 2021:

First, your family members are so good-looking. A humorous dad must be a real asset to the well being of his family. Thanks for sharing your positive memories.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 18, 2021:

Ann Carr,

Well dear Fannyfernaklepan,

I am keeping well, thank you. I had a few practical jokes pulled on me that weren't so funny, but dad had a way of playing a joke that was fun to participate in. I loved that he got the best of my grandma without even being near her. That'll learn her, as he used to say. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 18, 2021:

Amanda Grace,

I've had a joke or two pulled on me that I didn't think was funny but mostly I like practical jokes too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on March 18, 2021:

Abby Slutsky,

He was a hoot. Always made me laugh. I think that's what I love about my husband too. That he makes me laugh. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on March 18, 2021:

Oh my, what a joker your dad was. It's no wonder you also have such a delightful sense of humor. It shows through in your writing. Thank you for sharing these stories with us. They keep his memory alive.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 18, 2021:

It is a privilege to share in your memories. You retell the tales very well. I had a good relationship with my grandmother. Although I am slightly embarrassed now to admit that my early childlike pronunciation of her chosen name, Grandy, was Gangy, which stuck for the rest of her life. But she didn't seem to mind.

Rosina S Khan on March 17, 2021:

I love your Dad's stories. You have so many to share. Keep on going. He was such a full-of fun Dad for you with a great sense of humor. I love it and good for you. You must miss him so much. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2021:

I love the stories you relate to about your dad. It must have been so much fun growing up with him as your father. My dad could entertain folks for hours, or so it seemed, telling funny jokes. I miss him.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 17, 2021:

Great memories of your dad.

I think laughter is the best medicine as they say...but it seems your granny didn't take kindly to that one.

I'm certain she knew each time it was your dad.

Nice story.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on March 17, 2021:

The stories are always excellent, and I am amazed you remember so many details. Your story telling is entertaining to say the least. This is another good one in this series. I miss my dad too, but he was not as entertaining as your father.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 17, 2021:

I love that you so vividly remember these stories, and I love that you share them with us all. This is what storytelling is all about, the passing of history from one generation to the next. Bravo for this series!

Blessings always

bill

Ann Carr from SW England on March 17, 2021:

Another lovely story, Denise. I'm also one who doesn't like the name Granny. I had two Grandmas and I wanted to be the same and that's what I'm called, except they come with cute variations when they can't say it properly. I've been Bamma and Gaga!

I hate practical jokes, probably because I've been humiliated by them and didn't appreciate that at all. I like the Fwankie story though.

My middle name is Frances and my Granddad used to call me Fannyfernacklepan! I loved it!

All these stories are so entertaining - they deserve to be in a book. Great painting of your Dad, Denise. I hope you're keeping safe and well.

Ann

Amanda Grace from Colorado Springs, CO on March 17, 2021:

Love your article and your stories. I've had a few jokes pulled that were not so funny at the time, but later. I am always joking and laughing around.

Abby Slutsky from America on March 17, 2021:

This was a delightful story. It is nice to hear your thoughts about yor dad. I lost mine a few years ago and have fond memories too.

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