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Old 01-24-2008, 07:34 AM   #16
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Great stories by everyone Family histories are precious and should be preserved.

My maternal grandfather fought for the Canadian army in WWI when he was 15.

He lived in a small New Brunswick village (can't recall the name) with no prospects for much of a future. His mother brought him to the local priest asking for advice (this was 1915). The priest told him to enlist in the army since he'd be able to go overseas and "see the world". Since he was underage, the priest took him to the enlistment office and swore to the recruiter that he was 17. I actually have his enlistment papers that have his birth year as 1898 instead of 1900 and also has the priest's signature vouching the information. I also have his discharge papers.

Within months, he was shipped out to France and found himself in the trenches. We don't know any specifics after that. The only thing we know is that most others were also teenagers. To lessen their fear, the commanders would pass around the alcohol before they jumped out of the trenches. That was the beginning of life long drinking problems.

When the war was over, he was discharged and moved to the States. He met my grandmother (who had come down from Nova Scotia), married and they tried to start a family. For various reasons, my mother was the only child of nine that survived past 2 years old (she was #8).

All the trauma of this and PTSD from the war resulted in my grandfather having extreme alcohol problems. He became known as the drunk of the Canadian section of town. He became homeless after my grandmother left him in the 50's (she lived with us for most of the remainder of her life). He was regurlarly taken into protective custody. Nearly died several times. He eventually dried up in his later years after he had a massive heart attack in my kitchen (kind of traumatic for me since I witnessed it at 8 years old). He lived to be 80 years old. Even though my grandmother never went back to him (they never divorced), she would visit him on a regular basis in the rest home.

One of my most prized possessions is an original photograph of my grandfather, at 15, in his dress uniform. At that age, I was virtually an identical twin to him. It's creepy and kewl at the same time.

Now, if you ask my kids this same question, they'll have excellent stories of my dad (a Marine medic at Okinawa) and my father-in-law (a Finnish ski trooper during the Soviet-Finland Winter War).
Wow! Warriors galore.

Only knew one Grandfather. Railroad man...along with his three sons. Generational thang. My Dad told me I would never work for the RR.

I don't.
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:11 AM   #17
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This is some real history here. Great stuff guys thanks for sharing...
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:15 AM   #18
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My grandfather (paternal) served in 4 branches of the armed services, all during WW2, was an engineer, and worked on the Manhattan Project, in a small role.

My other grandfather was a Marine in WW 2, purple heart, and unfortunately died of cardiac arrest in his late 50's.
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:17 AM   #19
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Paternal grandparents were farmers, first in Wisconsin before moving down to IL. Both were first generation Germans. Grandfather served in the Navy in the Pacific during WWII. Had 8 kids. My grandfather died in 85 or 86. Didn’t really know him. He had Parkinson’s and by the time I was old enough to remember him he was in pretty bad shape. Grandmother had a heart attack back in Nov of 06 but she’s still kicking at 88.

Maternal grandfather was first generation Irish. Served in the Army Air Corp during WWII, stationed in Manchester where he met my Grandmother, who was working in a dance hall. They got married, lived in England for a year then moved back to Chicago, had 9 kids, the first, which was born in England, died when he was 3 days old. Grandfather worked in a paint factory and was a cab driver. Died of cancer in 69, a few years before I was born. Grandmother waitressed, mostly. Her and her second husband moved down to N.C. about 10 years ago so now I really only see her on Christmas and Easter. Just turned 80 a couple years ago and for her birthday went sky diving.


I’m pretty much a newbie here in America. No side of my family has been here a 100 years yet.




And all this mention of gramps in WWI & WWII….. You realize that there are people on this board who are young enough to have had a grandfather who served in Vietnam?????
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:24 AM   #20
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Paternal grandfather (father's father) came to this country from Germany in 1929 (he was a member of a political party that was in opposition to the Nazis), did the whole Ellis Island thing.

He served in the German navy during WWI, lived to be 98 years old.
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:32 AM   #21
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Both Grandfathers served in WWII; maternal was a Navigator in the Army Air Corps (what the Air Force was called before it was the Air Force) and was shot down over Belgium. He put himself through school as a bookkeeper for a local bank, and after nearly forty years at the same bank he was the Senior Vice President that ran the place. He just passed away last June. Paternal was a Seabee that fought with the Marines at Iwo Jima. Mostly spent time as a police officer in a few small towns in western PA. He turns 90 in May.

Last edited by tehmackdaddy; 01-24-2008 at 08:36 AM..
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:38 AM   #22
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My maternal grandpa was known as a fun-loving (read: drunken) Irish rogue (Sullivan) who married into a Maine Yankee family with (to my great-grandparents horror) and ended up in Boston to raise a family.

He went to work for the Commonwealth in the prison system and although I cannot confirm it 100% (My mother absolutely refused to discuss it) family rumors from several sources indicated that it was he who was ordered to pull the switch on Old Sparky to fry italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti in a controversial case where many questions were raised over their guilt and whether their trial was legit. Probably one of the more famous executions in US history.

I can't tell you how blown away I was to hear that I was the grandson of an executioner, which didn't happen until I was in my late 20's. I had no idea. I never met him-- he died before I was born but his photos bear a startling resemblance to one of my brothers.

A few years later when I started dating my wife we would often visit her Grandparents who both emigrated to the US from Italy. He was an interesting dude that loved to shoot the breeze with me over Italian coffee and one day he asks me: "Did you ever hear the story about Sacco and Vanzetti?"

I didn't have the balls to tell him the deal. The guy had thumbnails the size of a silver dollar.

Since there are a few stories in this thread about the hardscrabble existence of our forebears, I will also mention that during one tough year when my Mother was very young they had no money to buy food for Thanksgiving and Grandma packed her kids up and took them to Boston City Hall where they guilted the pols on duty into passing the hat so they could have something to eat, an episode that haunted her for her entire life.

And I bitch that gas is 3 bucks a gallon.
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:59 AM   #23
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My Paternal Grandfather was Quebec French Canadian and my Maternal Grandfather was Irish whose family emigrated from The Olde Sod to The Maritimes

PG immigrated to the USA by working the large woolen mills of New Hampshire settling to raise his family in a tiny mill town in the Southwestern part of the state before finally moving to the Lowell-Lawrence area

MG immigrated from Nova Scotia to the USA settling in Boston where he started his family working in various fields including establishing one of the few working independent dairies within the City Limits

PG sired 12 children and was a raging alcoholic

MG sired 1 child and was a tee-totaler

some could say that between my French-Canadian PG working the bottle, the mills and working out the Mrs. PG and my Irish MG not getting much besides handling of cow's udders would go a long way to understanding how the RG has developed a taste for the booze and the women but must settle for the RealDolls

[edit: changed FG (Fraternal) to corrected PG (Paternal).....PG while accurate is actually more funny considering the RG is far from a PG rating himself]

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Old 01-24-2008, 09:11 AM   #24
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Great stories here...

Annihilus's paternal grandparents were farmers in Iowa, who relocated to Montana at a young age (well, gramps was the farmer and grams raised the 9 kids). After moving to MT, gramps had a junkyard (heaven to a kid growing up) and spent his time cutting cars and trucks in half and then welding them together in different configurations. He wanted an El Camino, so he made one because he couldn't afford to buy one. He invented some machines that were pretty damn useful, the best one was an hydraulic wood splitter (their house was 100% wood heated).

The maternals hailed from Connecticut where gramps was a roofer and grandma worked with the Salvation army (in addition to raising 8 kids). Not sure why they moved to MT.

Both grandma's outlived their husbands, one by 26 years and the other by 13 years. Annihilus doesn't hold out much hope of outliving Ms. Annihilus.

None of the grandparents were in any wars, but Crazy Uncle Norman was in the trenches in WWI and experienced shell shock, which he kind of recovered from, but never entirely. Grandma threw him out of the house several times because of his foul mouth. His hearing aid would often feedback and sounded like an air raid siren when she was bitching him out for using 'the language'.
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:36 AM   #25
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My paternal grandfather served in World War I and was an engineer. (my father served in WWII)

My maternal grandfather was a butcher and died from alcoholism before I was born.
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:42 AM   #26
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On mother's side, he was a drunk and got killed walking across the street in Boston. Actually he was a coal miner or so I hear since I never knew him. He was of Penn Dutch descent. I have no knowledge of prior military service.

On father's side, he was a merchant....of pasta. Yes, he owned a pasta factory in NY at one time. Sold it and then owned a groceria. He was a Sicilian immigrant. I have no knowledge of military service and doubt he did but maybe he served under Mussolini?:p
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:42 AM   #27
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Paternal Grandfather worked for the railroad and served in WWI Dad also worked for the railroad and served in WWII

Maternal Grandfather was a farmer in Quebec
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:43 AM   #28
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My Grandfather was an intelligence guy during the Vietnam war in the Army....

My great grandfather was involved in the now famous "Battle of the Bulge" in WWII (he survived but took a piece of shrapnel to the side)

My grandmother worked for the post office and lived in Germany for a while, where she met my grandfather....her father was in the military
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:44 AM   #29
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Maternal grandparents came from Lebanon in about 1914 and settled in Johnstown PA but I don't know what they did for a living since I had no contact with them growing up. When I was re-introduced to my birth Mom years later I was STUNNED to see this fully Lebanese woman with blue blue eyes.

My paternal grandparents came to the US around the same time from Kiev. They too had their consonant heavy last name "Ellis Islandized" and settled in Baltimore where they ran a store. I also didn't see them much growing up but I loved when I asked my grandma about her trip over to come here. I had pictured a harrowing boat ride across the Atlantic but she said it was a great trip where the stopped in Paris and such.

It sure would be nice to be able to go to Lebanon someday to see where they came from. I don't think it will be safe in my lifteim though.
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:45 AM   #30
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Believe it or not, my grandfather was a utility player on the Boston Red Sox. He played with Ted Williams and stayed friends with him until my grandfather died in 1989.
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