Once Upon a Time …

My parents are in their seventies.  They're retired. This holiday season my mom mailed me two old photos.  The photos are in bad, bad, shape.  I've been working on one of them.  The colors were badly distorted and the picture looked extremely grainy.  I am far from a photoshop expert, but I was able to improve the photo quality tremendously with the little bit I do know.

Here it is:

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That's me in the blue dress, being held by mom.  Man, she was HAWT, wasn't she?  All my life, I've wished I got her height.  I'm guessing I was about 18 months old at the time of this photo.  My paternal grandmother is holding the dog, my paternal grandfather is next to me.  The little boy is my older brother, the girl next to him, my older sister.  My great grandmother is pictured next to her.  

I'm assuming my dad is the one who took the photo. It looks like it was taken at my grandparents home in La Canada/Flintridge.  For you non-Californians, La Canada is an upscale neighborhood not far from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

I could tell you stories upon stories about my family (and Briefcase's) and the stories would make you laugh and cry.  The problem is, my family members do NOT like their lives written about on the Internet. Imagine that!  It's really too bad because there is so much great writing material there.  (Briefcase's family doesn't even know I write and it's best left that way!)

I can tell you a little bit about the people in the picture though.  My grandfather (wasn't he handsome?) was a gangster.  He did quite well for himself too, and there is even a street named after him (in a city I won't disclose).  He didn't go around killing people (I don't think), but he did get involved with some illegal shenanigans in the gambling world.  He became quite wealthy as a result.

Should I use parentheses a few more times, or have you had enough?  () ()  I really seem to like them today!

Where did the money go?  Who knows … but it was long gone, many years ago.

Apparently, at one point my grandparents had lots of "help" in the form of servants.  By the time I came into existence they had downscaled to just the use of a housecleaner.  From the stories I've heard, they lived a country club lifestyle.  They had two children; a daughter as their firstborn, and then my father.  Their relationship with my dad was rocky for many years.  As a teen, he left home and lived with his best friend's family.  Later, when my dad was an adult, their relationship was reconciled. 

My grandfather died when I was about ten years old. My grandmother was a strong and independent woman.  His death nearly crushed her initially, but she pulled herself together and went on with her life in a manner I've always been proud of.  She did a lot of volunteer work, including spending many hours reading to the blind.  She signed herself up for tours and traveled the world all by herself.  

Traveling the world alone as an elderly woman was not common place in her day.  I've always admired her courage, spunk, and independent spirit.

How about you?  Do you have a grandparent or relative who made a strong impression in your life?

33 Responses to “Once Upon a Time …”

  1. Sarah

    My grandfather is 94 years old and still can remember how much he got paid for his first job! I can barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. We were never really close but when we see each other I just want to sit him down and make him talk so I can remember some of the stories before he forgets…

  2. Sarah

    My grandfather is 94 years old and still can remember how much he got paid for his first job! I can barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. We were never really close but when we see each other I just want to sit him down and make him talk so I can remember some of the stories before he forgets…

  3. Sarah

    My grandfather is 94 years old and still can remember how much he got paid for his first job! I can barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. We were never really close but when we see each other I just want to sit him down and make him talk so I can remember some of the stories before he forgets…

  4. thistle

    Paternal grandmother…a former flapper i’m sure. Loved to travel, and very independent. The only grandparent who wouldn’t ask me…each time i came home from a semester away at university…if i had found a husband yet. And my mother hated her…which probably explains my affinity for her 😉

  5. thistle

    Paternal grandmother…a former flapper i’m sure. Loved to travel, and very independent. The only grandparent who wouldn’t ask me…each time i came home from a semester away at university…if i had found a husband yet. And my mother hated her…which probably explains my affinity for her 😉

  6. thistle

    Paternal grandmother…a former flapper i’m sure. Loved to travel, and very independent. The only grandparent who wouldn’t ask me…each time i came home from a semester away at university…if i had found a husband yet. And my mother hated her…which probably explains my affinity for her 😉

  7. Stepping Thru

    First!
    All my grandparents had a profound influence on my life. My maternal grandmother was a school teacher and my paternal grand parents were farmers. They were all good, honest, hard working people. I miss them terribly.

  8. Stepping Thru

    First!
    All my grandparents had a profound influence on my life. My maternal grandmother was a school teacher and my paternal grand parents were farmers. They were all good, honest, hard working people. I miss them terribly.

  9. Stepping Thru

    First!
    All my grandparents had a profound influence on my life. My maternal grandmother was a school teacher and my paternal grand parents were farmers. They were all good, honest, hard working people. I miss them terribly.

  10. Kelly

    That picture is cool! Love old family photos. Seems like you did a great job bringing that photo back to life.

  11. Kelly

    That picture is cool! Love old family photos. Seems like you did a great job bringing that photo back to life.

  12. Kelly

    That picture is cool! Love old family photos. Seems like you did a great job bringing that photo back to life.

  13. lo

    aw! i love seeing into your twenty four yr old world. LOVE IT. i, too, had a gangster for a family member. my great uncle worked for Capone here in chicago… and we’re pretty sure he’s buried in cement. no joke. in a certain building downtown. seriously. he wasn’t a very good man.
    my family is awesome, but the person i miss the most would be my grandpa. italian thru-and-thru, rudy painted signs at o’hare airport. i never got the chance to know him. he died when iwas three. from the stories and how my mother talks of him…. he was definitely a man you’d miss. i’d like to hang out and drink a beer w/rudy if i could.

  14. lo

    aw! i love seeing into your twenty four yr old world. LOVE IT. i, too, had a gangster for a family member. my great uncle worked for Capone here in chicago… and we’re pretty sure he’s buried in cement. no joke. in a certain building downtown. seriously. he wasn’t a very good man.
    my family is awesome, but the person i miss the most would be my grandpa. italian thru-and-thru, rudy painted signs at o’hare airport. i never got the chance to know him. he died when iwas three. from the stories and how my mother talks of him…. he was definitely a man you’d miss. i’d like to hang out and drink a beer w/rudy if i could.

  15. lo

    aw! i love seeing into your twenty four yr old world. LOVE IT. i, too, had a gangster for a family member. my great uncle worked for Capone here in chicago… and we’re pretty sure he’s buried in cement. no joke. in a certain building downtown. seriously. he wasn’t a very good man.
    my family is awesome, but the person i miss the most would be my grandpa. italian thru-and-thru, rudy painted signs at o’hare airport. i never got the chance to know him. he died when iwas three. from the stories and how my mother talks of him…. he was definitely a man you’d miss. i’d like to hang out and drink a beer w/rudy if i could.

  16. Kristan

    Oh I LOVE parentheses!
    Your grandparents sound pretty cool. I’m not sure I can name one particular relative who was most influential, besides my mom, but I heard a lot of stories about her mom when I was growing up, so my maternal grandmother is a bit of a legend for me.

  17. Kristan

    Oh I LOVE parentheses!
    Your grandparents sound pretty cool. I’m not sure I can name one particular relative who was most influential, besides my mom, but I heard a lot of stories about her mom when I was growing up, so my maternal grandmother is a bit of a legend for me.

  18. Kristan

    Oh I LOVE parentheses!
    Your grandparents sound pretty cool. I’m not sure I can name one particular relative who was most influential, besides my mom, but I heard a lot of stories about her mom when I was growing up, so my maternal grandmother is a bit of a legend for me.

  19. Margaret (Nanny Goats)

    A gangster grandfather? How cool is that!
    However, he couldn’t have been too close to the top of the ladder if he allowed his picture to be taken. Aren’t godfathers always trying to go around incognito?

  20. Margaret (Nanny Goats)

    A gangster grandfather? How cool is that!
    However, he couldn’t have been too close to the top of the ladder if he allowed his picture to be taken. Aren’t godfathers always trying to go around incognito?

  21. Margaret (Nanny Goats)

    A gangster grandfather? How cool is that!
    However, he couldn’t have been too close to the top of the ladder if he allowed his picture to be taken. Aren’t godfathers always trying to go around incognito?

  22. Linda

    Nice job on the photo! I wish I still had grandparents around. it would make researching the family tree a bit easier and a whole lot more fun.
    Sarah: Sit your grandfather down with a taperecorder or better yet a video recorder.

  23. Linda

    Nice job on the photo! I wish I still had grandparents around. it would make researching the family tree a bit easier and a whole lot more fun.
    Sarah: Sit your grandfather down with a taperecorder or better yet a video recorder.

  24. Linda

    Nice job on the photo! I wish I still had grandparents around. it would make researching the family tree a bit easier and a whole lot more fun.
    Sarah: Sit your grandfather down with a taperecorder or better yet a video recorder.

  25. Kate

    My grandparents are 89 and 92. My grandfather (92) goes out to the rec center to swim laps every day. Grandma just takes walks becasue the locker room is too cold for her to go swimming. I remeber my grandfather teaching me to ride a bike when I was four. He would then take me riding all over town. My sister who was 2 rode on the bar of the bicycle that had a towel wrapped around it. I can also remember him taking care of us during summer months. He had this little old toyota corolla and he would leave the windows down and the keys under the seat when we went to Dairy Queen or McDonalds for lunch.
    The funniest thing is that about 10 years ago my Grandmother started to put there name on one of the local assisted living lists to get into one of the house. There name has come up severla times and yet my grandfather refuses to even consider moving to one of “those places”. A few years ago he bought a riding mower so he could continue to mow the lawn. My father went over to help trim trees and found him up in a ladder. I love my grandparents and I am so glad that my daughter is able to get to know them too.

  26. Kate

    My grandparents are 89 and 92. My grandfather (92) goes out to the rec center to swim laps every day. Grandma just takes walks becasue the locker room is too cold for her to go swimming. I remeber my grandfather teaching me to ride a bike when I was four. He would then take me riding all over town. My sister who was 2 rode on the bar of the bicycle that had a towel wrapped around it. I can also remember him taking care of us during summer months. He had this little old toyota corolla and he would leave the windows down and the keys under the seat when we went to Dairy Queen or McDonalds for lunch.
    The funniest thing is that about 10 years ago my Grandmother started to put there name on one of the local assisted living lists to get into one of the house. There name has come up severla times and yet my grandfather refuses to even consider moving to one of “those places”. A few years ago he bought a riding mower so he could continue to mow the lawn. My father went over to help trim trees and found him up in a ladder. I love my grandparents and I am so glad that my daughter is able to get to know them too.

  27. Kate

    My grandparents are 89 and 92. My grandfather (92) goes out to the rec center to swim laps every day. Grandma just takes walks becasue the locker room is too cold for her to go swimming. I remeber my grandfather teaching me to ride a bike when I was four. He would then take me riding all over town. My sister who was 2 rode on the bar of the bicycle that had a towel wrapped around it. I can also remember him taking care of us during summer months. He had this little old toyota corolla and he would leave the windows down and the keys under the seat when we went to Dairy Queen or McDonalds for lunch.
    The funniest thing is that about 10 years ago my Grandmother started to put there name on one of the local assisted living lists to get into one of the house. There name has come up severla times and yet my grandfather refuses to even consider moving to one of “those places”. A few years ago he bought a riding mower so he could continue to mow the lawn. My father went over to help trim trees and found him up in a ladder. I love my grandparents and I am so glad that my daughter is able to get to know them too.

  28. Joanne

    I had a Great Uncle, Uncle Edwin, who is long past now. When his kids grew up and left home, he sold his house and bought an RV and drove all over the country. He said he did it so they could not move back home. When his sister(my Grandmother) threw himan 80th birthday, his cake was shaped in the numbers “80” he quickly cut two pieces and ate them before the party. When the famly arrived, the cake said “30” . . What a guy!

  29. Joanne

    I had a Great Uncle, Uncle Edwin, who is long past now. When his kids grew up and left home, he sold his house and bought an RV and drove all over the country. He said he did it so they could not move back home. When his sister(my Grandmother) threw himan 80th birthday, his cake was shaped in the numbers “80” he quickly cut two pieces and ate them before the party. When the famly arrived, the cake said “30” . . What a guy!

  30. Joanne

    I had a Great Uncle, Uncle Edwin, who is long past now. When his kids grew up and left home, he sold his house and bought an RV and drove all over the country. He said he did it so they could not move back home. When his sister(my Grandmother) threw himan 80th birthday, his cake was shaped in the numbers “80” he quickly cut two pieces and ate them before the party. When the famly arrived, the cake said “30” . . What a guy!

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