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Learning From the Old-Timers: A Reflection On Life

Dredging up Memories

Twenty-five cents!

That’s what my grandfather would pay me after I sat on his lap and listened to his stories.

I was five at the time, this being 1953.

He was, gosh, well, he was just plain old.

He would talk about farming. He would talk about factory work after the Great Depression. He talked about World War One, the war to end all wars. He talked about his family moving from the Bowery in New York City to Iowa, about the prejudice against the Irish, and how a man makes his way in the world one step at a time, working sun up to sun down, expecting nothing from nobody but always willing to lend a helping hand.

Twenty-five cents!

Truth be told, I would have paid him for the joy and privilege.

Great Uncle Patrick

Great Uncle Patrick

Next Door Neighbors

Sam and Delores Conrad, the old couple next door to us . . . we moved into that house on North 18th Street in Tacoma when I was five. The Conrads were already firmly established, the patriarch and matriarch of that neighborhood, kinder people you will never meet.

They both came to Washington, as little children, in a wagon train over the Oregon Trail.

Let that sink in for a moment.

I spent several years living next to two people right out of the history books.

Wonderful hosts they were, inviting a little boy into their living room for milk and cookies, telling that little boy about Indians and six-shooters, about logging days in the town of Morton and horse-and-carriage rides on Sundays, ax-throwing competitions and skinning beavers.

Married seventy-five years, they were, and still held hands with each other towards the end of their journey, marvelous people who made a little boy feel like royalty.

Storytellers all!

Storytellers all!

The Wilds of Alaska

Uncle Jim Haggarty came home from World War 2, married my Aunt Lois, and found work in Alaska dredging harbors. Work three months, come home for three months, on and off for years, always returning with presents, arrowheads and antlers, and stories of grizzlies and moose roaming through the tiny towns, as much their towns as the citizens, weather so cold your skin froze, he said, and showed me pink patches of his skin to prove it, me wondering how you breathe in such cold, amazed by it all.

And those giant machines, digging out harbors, dumping the mud into waiting trucks, hauled to who knows where, the advance of civilization into a territory that could not be fully-tamed, a man with a ready smile, a hearty laugh, that was my Uncle Jim, always good for a joke or ten, always treating young Bill with respect, admiration, and love, an explorer of sorts, he was, into the wilderness for adventure and cold-hard cash, a hard man with a soft heart, me soaking up every word and wishing to be such a man.

The United Nations in Tacoma

That’s what it seemed like, at times, visiting my dad where he worked, Pioneer Sand & Gravel, a company of maybe fifty men, men with strange accents, Karl and Oly, Fritz and Sven, Tony, Pierre, and even a Wilbur, all transplants, all from distant shores, Sweden, Germany, France, and Denmark, off at Ellis Island, spread into the Midwest, try trades, work hard, fail on farms, and move west, the mantra for so many years, Go West Young Man, where riches abound and empires are born, only to end up in Tacoma, Washington, running machines, digging gravel out of hillsides, working themselves into early graves in support of families, heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, and all willing to share a cookie from their lunchboxes when young Billy paid a visit.

Lunchtimes were good times at “The Pit,” all the men sitting outside on sunny days, trading bullshit stories, Sven got kicked in the head milking a cow once, showed me the dent, laughing so hard they coughed hard, “coughing up a lung,” more truth than fiction in that statement, strong men, men chiseled from stone, hardened by life, men who realized they had hit the dead end of their journey and were now just making the best of a stagnant situation, and they ruffled my hair, asked me about school, “better do well there, Bill, or you’ll end up like us,” me thinking that’s not a bad thing, ending up like them, good men who laughed freely, but their warnings were good as gold, their intentions heartfelt.

Dad at work

Dad at work

And the Women

Belva Lockwood O’Dowd, my maternal grandmother, look up that name, a piece of history, not her but two generations further back, women’s suffrage, way ahead of her time, education is important, Bill, don’t waste it, make us proud, stand on the shoulders of your family members and rise above our legacies, it’s a proud name, always treat it with respect, it was hard-earned and it is now a part of you.

Part of that legacy was service to others, that grandmother and my other, in Iowa, spending every Sunday at church, handing out meals to the poor, working at the secondhand clothing store, helping those who can’t help themselves, that’s our purpose, Bill, and you best remember it, you weren’t put on this earth to stand alone or ignore your neighbor, and there are other ways to be rich besides dollar bills.

Your name is William, pay attention now, after Saint William, Saint William of Perth, patron saint of adopted children, that’s you now Bill, you’re special because you’re adopted, don’t you ever forget it, special for the amount of love given to you, from the ashes you rose, and God has big plans for you so get that education and never forget, our wealth is measured by our acts of kindness.

And Mom nodding her head, and Aunt Lois joining in, putting an old 78 on the turntable, us all singing gospel songs in three-part harmony, me not sure of the words but damned certain of their meaning.

So It Was

Hundreds of others, there were, Sally Norlin across the street, a Svenska flicka, a Swedish woman, and Streitz across the street, German immigrants, and the Pignataros and Angelinos and Bancrofts, all with accents, all with stories to share, sometimes in story form, but most often told in their daily actions, the way they treated others, the timber of their words, the kindness spoken by their eyes.

And I can’t leave out Uncle Lester, long-haul semi-truck driver, oh the stories that man had, always told with a cigar in his mouth and a twinkle in his eye, maybe 50% b.s. but always entertaining.

They are all gone now. It seems strange to write those words. They are all gone now. Only I remain standing, Bill Holland, the survivor, the carrier of the torch, the listener of stories, the chronicler of those earlier lives, the man given the eternal flame, given the job of making damn sure those histories, and those lessons, are not forgotten. Sometimes I write about them, but most of the time I let my daily actions tell the story, a compilation of thousands of stories told in another time, in another place, all adding up to this day, this time, and this old man.

The Caregiver of the flame!

The Teller of stories!

Pull up a chair. Let me tell you a story. When I’m finished I’ll give you twenty-five cents and send you on your way, but promise me you’ll remember the stories because one day you’ll be given the job of caregiver.

It is a sacred job.

Treat it as such.

2018 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on August 23, 2018:

Thank you so much, Sha! It's my belief that we all have fascinating families, with fascinating stories, and hopefully those stories will never die.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 21, 2018:

Powerful stuff, Bill! You certainly had an interesting family. And it's up to you to keep their legacies and stories alive. Perhaps you should chronicle them so they have a permanent place in history and time.

I really enjoyed this and I love the way you wound it up.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 06, 2018:

Thanks so much, Chris! I guess the ramble has become a part of my signature voice. :)

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on March 05, 2018:

You at your best, Bill. I've never seen it better. And I love those long, rambling sentences.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 04, 2018:

Aww, thank you Genna! May your Sunday be all you hope it to be, dear friend.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on March 04, 2018:

The United Nations of Tacoma describes these experiences so well, Bill. And what stories. Priceless..."there are other ways to be rich besides dollar bills." And there is no greater gift for those who have been here and passed, and for us, who will follow, is to be remembered for who we were. Beautiful piece, Bill. Thank you for making my Sunday more meaningful.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 03, 2018:

I really appreciate that, Marion! Thank you so much. Keep that flame burning, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 03, 2018:

Thank you so much, Linda! Your kind words warm my heart on this winter's day.

Marion Drury from Sydney, Australia on March 02, 2018:

Love this peace Bill. It is truly an honour and privilege to keep the flame burning and keep telling the stories.

My grandkids love to hear the stories of our family past and present, the adventures, the humorous events, the sad bits and so on. Somehow it helps them feel secure and know a bit more who they are and how they fit in, in this world.

Love the way you write. Always so engaging.

Thanks once again.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on March 02, 2018:

It is a sacred job for sure my friend. Thank you for sharing the stories of the people that shaped and molded you into the the lovely man you have become. I would never ask you for 25 cents, and thank goodness you have a gift of writing so you can share your stories to hundreds of people. You are a great person to pass the torch to. God Bless for sharing this honest and inspiring story.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 01, 2018:

You are very welcome, Brian. Thank you so much for reading

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 01, 2018:

Yes, lessons of what it means to be family, to be a neighbor, to be a friend, to be a citizen are passed on generation to generation, usually by example. Thanks for the memories.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 28, 2018:

Thank you Frank! some are definitely worth the share, my friend, and no, stay away from those children in your lap. LOL

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 28, 2018:

You carry the torch and then you pass it on.. I enjoy your reflections on life.. one day when I'm well, so damn old I may have a child sit.. oh no wait... times have changed... I may get arrested for having a child on my lap.. I may tell a group of children of the reflections I heard from your memories... some are so worth the share.. brings nostalgia back to its original form.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 27, 2018:

That I completely agree with, Manatita!

manatita44 from london on February 26, 2018:

No Bill.

Harder. But the crowd seemed to be made of sterner stuff and yet did not complain. I referred to their simplicity. My grand father was of that mold.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 26, 2018:

I often wonder, Manatita, if life was simpler then. I don't know...more contemplation on that matter is necessary. :) Blessings to you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 26, 2018:

Thank you so much, Ann! It was the perfect union of storytellers and a young boy eager to hear all of theirs stories.

I hope you are well, dear friend. Have a marvelous Monday!

bill

manatita44 from london on February 26, 2018:

Nice message at the end. We are all caretaker's of sorts, I suppose.

Reminiscences a plenty, and what great stories you tell too. Yes, the 'good old days.' Life, some say, was a lot simpler then. Men and women made of tough stock but leading simple lives. Alas!

Ann Carr from SW England on February 25, 2018:

Oh yes, bill. The teller of stories is certainly important. I'm glad I have a record a few but none like yours. I'd give a million to hear some more from father, mother, grandparents....

Without the history we are nothing. It has formed and informed us and should never be forgotten.

Brilliant read! Your people were clear as day in my mind.

Ann

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2018:

Hey, Sis, thanks for walking down Memory Lane with me. You are a gem of a sister. Let's do it again many times in the next twenty years.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2018:

Thank you very much, Nell! I've led a charmed life.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 23, 2018:

It was my pleasure, Nithya! Thank you very much!

Suzie from Carson City on February 23, 2018:

Bro.....I totally relate. We're so lucky to have such warm, wonderful memories. Yes, it's sad to realize they've all passed on but there is no doubt they continue to live within.

It's up to us now, to tell the stories, pass on the legacies & insure the younger generations maintain the importance of our histories. Like you, I loved hearing the tales and now enjoy sharing them with the "kids."

A sweet walk down Memory Lane, bro. Thanks! Sis

Nell Rose from England on February 22, 2018:

Wow! what memories! and what amazing people to pass down those memories and ideas to you! Wonderful!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on February 22, 2018:

Enjoyed reading about your wonderful memories, thank you for sharing. You are a great story teller.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

Have a lovely day, sweet Maria, and thank you so much.

love,

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

Thank you very much, Meg! You are appeciated.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

And blessings to you, Shyron! Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

It does indeed, Larry, and you are part of it. Thank you sir!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

Bravo to you, Randi! Tell those stories. Your grandchildren deserve to hear them.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

I hope you do, Suhail! These stories need to live on, my friend. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

Thank you Dora! The secret is now out: yes, I wrote it for you. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

Thank you Bill! I had no doubt you would appreciate this Hub.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

Thank you Shannon! I have always considered myself to be extremely lucky. I won the adoption lottery for sure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 22, 2018:

MizB, I think a lot of our citizens in Washington have similar stories...coming here for the orchards, or settling after the war for a new opportunity. Very interesting to look back at our relatives.

As for the weather, it is cold. That's all I have to say about it. Brrrr!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on February 22, 2018:

Those were the days, dear Bill.

Thank you for the smiles and a warm start to this morning.

Have a great day. Love, Maria

RoadMonkey on February 21, 2018:

Amazing, a storyteller about storytellers. You have practised your craft well. Enjoyed that.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on February 21, 2018:

How dull life would be without the tales of yesteryear

Especially the unwritten one

Tales to get us from there to here

Without our facing dangers or fears

Blessings always

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on February 21, 2018:

The storytelling heritage goes back to the beginning of time.

Great read!

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on February 21, 2018:

What an awesome responsibility you have and how good you are at it! I recently bought a book that gives you prompts to write a letter to your grandchildren. I bought one for my sister, too. Selfishly, I don't want to leave before they all know all the stories!

Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on February 21, 2018:

Hi Bill,

What a beautiful piece of writing! The ending had shivers running down my spine, really.

Encouraged by this article, I promise to myself that I will carry on the torch given to me by people who left a mark on my life when I was young.

Regards,

Suhail

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 21, 2018:

Bill, no matter what you say, I know that you wrote this article especially for me. Good model of a story that brings actual history to life. Striving to do it as well as you do. Thanks!

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on February 21, 2018:

Thanks for sharing these stories and reminding each of us that we are the connection to a great line of story tellers and story keepers. You also remind us that we are a product of those around us and those with whom we interacted through out our long lives, not just our bloodlines. Important lessons. Thanks, again, and keep those stories coming!!!

Shannon Henry from Texas on February 21, 2018:

You were a very lucky little boy if you appreciated those stories for what they were back then. Seems to me, most people do not appreciate the things of that nature until they are much older and have regrets of not asking more questions.

How fascinating to have known people who traveled the Oregon Trail. I think I would have been full of questions, or would be as an adult, anyway.

And, you, you've got quite a few interesting stories of your own. Lucky for us.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on February 21, 2018:

You got paid 25 cents? You were rich! Not to mention the wealth of the beautiful verbal tapestries woven by your elders. You must be so proud of family and friends, not to mention sad because they are all gone.

I read Grapes of Wrath when I was young and naive, and it shocked me to the point that I didn't like it. Guess I need to read it over again now that I'm old and jaded.

Some of my family migrated to the Wenatchee apple orchards right after WWII and used to come home bragging about how much money they made. "Y'all are stupid to stay in Arkansas for $1 an hour," they would rub in it. But I noticed that everytime someone got sick or died, Aunt Ollie would write home to her stupid family to send them money to help with the medical bills and funeral expenses. I never did know what they did with all that money they made.

I notice you said it was 18 degrees and more snow coming there. Yesterday it was 77 and cloudy, but last night the rain came down hard and the temperature is is the low 40s. Wish Mother Nature weren't such a fickle B****. Keep warm, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

I know, Mike, right? That seems like ancient history and yet our parents lived it.

Thank you my friend. Keep the traditions alive.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Well then I succeeded, Kari! I aim for emotions. :) Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Thank you for pinning, Glen! It is amazing, isn't it? They were both in their 90's when I met them but sharp as tacks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

I sure think it is, Linda! Thank you very much.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

I am blessed, Pop! Thank you for the kind words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

We owe each other, Eric, and yet we don't. That's a great description and definition of friendship.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

I have read it, Mr. Happy, and it is a great reference on your part. Indeed!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Thank you Janine! 18 degrees this morning and more snow on the way. I think it's beautiful but the chickens are tired of it. Having said that, you have the opportunity to pass on stories to your daughters and how cool is that?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Mr. Happy, sorry I'm late. You wrote such a nice comment and I didn't want to rush a response.

I've been to many a pow wow....relatives are Mandan Sioux in North Dakota. Such rich narratives...such rich traditions...making sure the young hear of the old days....I hope that is never lost, for the tribes or for us.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on February 21, 2018:

Hello Bill - What a treat to read this today. You outline, so well, the importance of the family stories, the traditions and the strength that built the foundations of our lives. A sacred trust has been given to us to protect and maintain for the next generation.

I saw 'The Grapes of Wrath' the other day. It occurred to me that it happened only 80 years ago, and that 80 years does not seem to be that long ago.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on February 21, 2018:

This is such a beautiful piece! It makes me feel sad and happy and nostalgic all at the same time. It makes me miss my grandmothers and fathers.

Glen Rix from UK on February 21, 2018:

Wonderful character sketches and so engagingly written. It’s amazing to me that you knew colonists who travelled by waggon train. Pinning this article, Bill.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 21, 2018:

This is a lovely article, Bill. Remembering kind family members from the past and their influence on our lives is very important.

breakfastpop on February 21, 2018:

It is no wonder you are such a fabulous writer, you have so many wonderful memories.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 21, 2018:

Isn't it cool to be over 60 with so much work to do. It is our job to write it down and who cares. I owe it to you.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on February 21, 2018:

I kept thinking of your comment about: "move west, the mantra for so many years, Go West Young Man, where riches abound and empires are born, only to end up in Tacoma, Washington, running machines, digging gravel out of hillsides, working themselves into early graves"

Have You ever read "The Jungle", by Upton Sinclaire?

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on February 21, 2018:

Sorry I am a bit late to the party today, but my kids are off this whole week for winter break. Yet, today is in the 60s here and feels nothing like winter in all honesty. But no complaints about the warmer than normal temps. That said very much enjoyed the look back and agree it is up to us to keep those stories from our past alive and well to pass on to the next generation. So very much appreciate you sharing and the reminder, too. Happy Wednesday now, Bill :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Aww, thank you Peggy! It was my pleasure.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Becky, that journal would have been gold. I'm mad at your uncle for burning them and I didn't even know him. LOL Thanks for sharing your memories.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Thank you very much, Threekeys! I'm so happy you enjoyed this.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Linda, that thought was almost included in the story, but at the last minute I decided not to make it a commentary...but your point is valid.

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on February 21, 2018:

"That’s what my grandfather would pay me after I sat on his lap and listened to his stories." - You got paid?! Wow ... See, that's the difference between being brought-up in a democracy versus being brought-up in a dictatorship. I just had to sit and listen: no bribes lol jk

"They both came to Washington, as little children, in a wagon train over the Oregon Trail.

Let that sink in for a moment." - I let that sink in a little and I'm thinking: how many Natives did they "bump" out of their way on their way there? No need for answers to questions like this. Just wandering thoughts.

"move west, the mantra for so many years, Go West Young Man, where riches abound and empires are born, only to end up in Tacoma, Washington, running machines, digging gravel out of hillsides, working themselves into early graves" - So, that propaganda still runs strong. Or, it did when we came to Canada, almost twenty five years ago. Moving to North America was supposed to be the panacea for all our political problems. Then, we came here and saw all the crooks, corruption, etc. My father is still quite disillusioned.

"They are all gone now. It seems strange to write those words. They are all gone now." - It certainly does feel strange thinking about the past. For me, when I think of it, it's like I already lived a few different lives. Ohh well, I'm not gonna drown in the bucket of melancholy now.

"Pull up a chair. Let me tell you a story." - You know, I go to Pow-wows every year, for the last nine years now and that's one of the things I love most about Pow-wows: You can sit around the Sacred Fire and listen to Elders tell stories. It's just priceless.

I tell people often that when I go to Pow-wows, I do go for the festivities and the ceremonies but I also go for the stories. Elder story-tellers are amazing to listen to and they're always around that Sacred Fire, telling old tales, lessons to learn and memories to laugh at. Again, just priceless.

Great article! Thank You for sharing. Cheers! : )

P.S. Hey, just curious but what's with your last name? Did some of your past family members come from the Netherlands?

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2018:

I knew that this would be good reading just from your title. As the caretaker of stories you are doing a brilliant job! Thanks for sharing some of the special people in your life with us.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on February 21, 2018:

I remember sitting with my grandmother, a teacher in a one room school, raised up to be the Principal of a 3 room school. She used to tell stories about the first car her father got and how he would be driving down the road and watching something and the car followed the path of his eyes. They would suddenly be flying through someone's fields, bouncing around, because the car did not have the sense of the horse to follow the road.

She also told of the covered wagon move from the old family ranch in Stockton, CA to the Susanville, CA area. She was the oldest of 6, and had a long life. They were wonderful people and when I went out to stay with her for a couple of weeks every summer, they would all gather together at her house every Sunday after church. The great-uncles were ranchers on the new family ranch, and my great-aunt was a surgical nurse. I would spend my Sundays, on a great-uncles lap, listening to the stories they told and loved every minute of it.

She would write a journal on the calendars with the big squares on them. I wish I had snagged those journals when she died, but my uncle threw them into the burn barrel before I got a chance. I would love to have them to type into a book now. Just a small look at every day, but so much information that is lost to us now. Sometimes it was just local comments, but many times it was her thoughts on world news.

threekeys on February 21, 2018:

Billybuc such warmth and what a destiny. "Caregiver of Stories".How beautiful! Lovely story.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on February 21, 2018:

Bill you are speaking of something that I fear is missing in our society. You had a respect for your elders. That you were willing to listen to, were even entertained by their tales, does that speak more about them, or about you?

Does that respect, that admiration still exist today? Is today's generation of youth too "engaged" with technology to listen and care, or are we not doing our part as the caregiver of the flame?

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Thank you so much, McKenna. I think so too.

McKenna Meyers on February 21, 2018:

This is a beautiful tribute to our nation of immigrants, Bill What an important story for these times. Thanks.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

It probably was inevitable, wasn't it, Heidi? Thank you my friend!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Jackie, there is so much I have forgotten or simply did not know...I regret that now, but at least I remembered this much. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Thank you so much, Harish! It was a pleasure writing this, and I'm so happy others enjoyed it. Blessings to you always.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

As long as I can draw a breath, Eric, I'll be telling me stories. Stop that whimpering now! LOL Thanks buddy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Thank you so much, Sally. I've been trying to get this written for weeks and weeks. I'm so glad others enjoyed it.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on February 21, 2018:

With those kinds of people in your world, it's no wonder you became a novel writer! So much inspiration.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 21, 2018:

Loved this Bill and wow it was something you knew people who traveled by wagon train. I always heard that my paternal grandparents did also but then I heard they were from France and that always confused me. Yet I am sure now both could be true. I so wish I had taken notes of all the things I was told back then!

Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on February 21, 2018:

Wow ! Bill, this is the kind of stuff which ignites the love for our ancestors , and for the marvellous people we chanced to meet in this journey of life. While reading the article , my mind was wandering in the thoughts of my own ancestors and the great guys whom I met. You have paid a great tribute to those loving souls. I love going through this very affable hub ; you have written it with so much love. Thanks for sharing this article.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 21, 2018:

Too much whimpering with bleeding eyes here friend. Grandpa never told a "yarn". He told it like he saw it. His "Watchman's cup" and hammock told the story of a WWI veteran sailor.

Bill I beg of thee to never stop the story telling of our history. I will try harder.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on February 21, 2018:

Wonderful! I love listening to or reading stories just like this one. You made my day and you are so right, you have a responsibility to carry the stories forward and you are doing a great job of doing so, thank you for sharing Billy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on February 21, 2018:

Thank you so much, Nikki, and may God bless you always.

Nikki Khan from London on February 21, 2018:

How pleasant are those old memories,, loved the line : It’s a sacred job; treat it as such.Just amazing Bill :)

God Bless you.