My Grandad

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David
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My Grandad

Postby David » Wed July 23, 2014, 4:06 pm

My grandad was always game for a walk into the woods behind their old homestead in Cowee Valley, Franklin NC. I wonder how many bushels of blackberries we made Grandmama cook into a cobbler. Grandad wasn't the stereotyped sit-around senior citizen. If he could help you he did his best. His creations in carpentry carried him through, despite his right hand's damage. He learned to use his left hand at work. He was a true Jack-of-all-trades. Railroading was one of many jobs. He also built bridges - one in Dillsboro and one in Apex, where he met Grandmama, among many bridges that he helped build. After bridge building, he had a choice of working for the TVA in Nantahala or working in Hamlet for the Seaboard during the war and the railroad won. When he was 58 a train wreck almost killed him. Instead, it caused a disease that didn't heal. His injuries didn't stop him from trying other jobs. He was forced into early retirement from the railroad after his back was messed up and he could no longer throw switches. He developed a tremor as a result of the accident in 1964. He was on the Hamlet Volunteer Rescue Squad and held the title of Captain of the Hamlet Volunteer Fire Department. He farmed at home in the beautiful Appalachian mountains and sold his own real estate. He owned the mountain his home was on and sold bits of it to people from Florida and as far away as a US Serviceman serving in The Philippines. His road by his house was once a part of a horse drawn wagon highway. The front porch housed the West Mill Post Office back in Civil War times. We spent most of our time together in discussions of dismal tales with happy endings. He told of times when he shot brown (he always said they were red) rocks with his slingshot and how he'd savor having more of those rubies with him some days. Tales of how sorry his uncle was when he watched his own dad killed in the yard over a card game. Grandad's tales were more history than books can give. Granddad brought me places that may not preserve as well as he did. What I admired most of Grandad was survival. Problems stumped him but never stopped him. The End Matt wrote this when he was 12 or 13. Every year from age 11-14 Matt was on a plane the day after school was out going to spend his summers in Franklin with his maternal grandparents, John & Evelyn Raby. They worked side by side all summer long and he came back in time for the first day of school. Dad passed away his 14th year. They truly enjoyed a bond. This was back in the time when you had maybe 3 channels on a little black and white TV with no cable and they didn't come in good because of the mountains (tin foil rabbit ears and nothing helped. Sometimes you had to walk up on the mountain and "turn" the antenna), there was no X-Box or computers. What you did have was a companion, family, a dog, big sky, awesome food, fireflies and the great outdoors. I seriously believe times were better then.

written by Matt Nelson, Jean's son


Matt wrote this when he was 12 or 13. Every year from age 11-14 Matt was on a plane the day after school was out going to spend his summers in Franklin with his maternal grandparents, John & Evelyn Raby. They worked side by side all summer long and he came back in time for the first day of school. Dad passed away his 14th year. They truly enjoyed a bond. This was back in the time when you had maybe 3 channels on a little black and white TV with no cable and they didn't come in good because of the mountains (tin foil rabbit ears and nothing helped. Sometimes you had to walk up on the mountain and "turn" the antenna), there was no X-Box or computers. What you did have was a companion, family, a dog, big sky, awesome food, fireflies and the great outdoors. I seriously believe times were better then.

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