‘Old Man’

Handwritten page of a diary dated May 19, 1974

… in the backyard playing his banjo and my brother keeps saying “I wish he’d just stop playing.” He goes to his room and I follow him.

I say “You used to like it when Grandpa played the banjo. What happened?”

He says “It’s such a dopey instrument.”

I say “Oh really?”

And he says “Yeah, really.”

So I walk over to his record shelf and I pull out the “Harvest” album, and I put in on his stereo and play the song “Old Man” and he says, “Yeah, so what?”

And I know this will kill him because he loves Neil Young more than he loves me, that’s for sure — so when it gets to the part in the middle with banjo in it, I can tell he never noticed that before but he’s trying not to change the expression on his face. He just starts shoving me out of the room and I hear the needle come off the record.

Later I play the song for Grandpa and ask him if he could learn it. He says yeah he could learn that song but he’s never played the banjo that slow and he doesn’t want to start now.

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Published in: on September 30, 2017 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  

‘A Room of our Own’

grandpa's basement (2)

Handwritten page of a diary dated May 12, 1984

…  all those old things Grandma had rejected down to the basement for all those years they were married and he sorted out what he could use to make himself an apartment down there. What he really liked was the fake leather couch, which Grandma had only liked for two years in the ’80s and then stopped liking. He was happy to be able to use that thing again, and I think the only thing he bought brand new was three leopard skin pillows. He said that couch with those pillows “jazz the place up.” I sat down there with him and watched TV for an hour before I finally got the guts to ask him if he moved down here because he didn’t love Grandma any more. He said “Whaddaya talkin’ about? She’s the only girl for me. I moved downstairs, ya know, I didn’t move to Reno.”

Then I went upstairs and Grandma asked me to reach something on a tall shelf or her and I said “Grandma are you OK with Grandpa making himself a place in the basement?” and she said “Oh at first I thought it was a lot of folderol, but he still comes up to eat and do his chores and watch TV at night and sleep. So yes. I’m happy as a lark.” I guess she didn’t think I looked too convinced. She said “You know I don’t like very much of the popular music. But remember a few years ago I heard a Billy Joel song I liked and I asked whether you had the album so I could listen a few times?” I thought a minute and said “Oh yeah, ‘We all need a room of our own.'” And she just smiled and said, “Don’t ever forget it.”

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Published in: on January 23, 2016 at 3:49 pm  Comments (1)  

VW bus

Volkswagen van

Handwritten page of a diary dated June 15, 1966

…  since Grandpa’s house smells like old people ever since Great Grandma moved in with him. But then I asked him if I could park my van behind his garage for the summer (because it is his very own daughter who is driving me out of our house by saying that if she hears my radio playing the Beaker Street show on that Little Rock station ONE MORE NIGHT she will make me move in the basement with Uncle Dwayne) (the chainsmoker) (and she will turn my bedroom into a sewing room).

So Grandpa not only said yes I could live back there beside his old truck, but he got some old circus tent out of his garage and draped it around a porta-potty. He calls it my “privy.” I thanked him about a hundred billion times and he said some day when I’m “rollin’ in clover” I can pay him back by giving him a little cottage on the grounds of my estate. So I said “Deal.”

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Published in: on January 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm  Comments (2)