He was an ornery old cuss that Bill Wayson was. I think everyone would agree with that. And the older he got, the meaner he got. His eyes were bad. He had a hard time getting around. I guess as active as he was, and as much as he did when he was younger, it was hard not being able to do much anymore.
Alcohol didn’t help much either. Be he was Granddad. And I loved him. He would hold all four of us granddaughters on his lap at the same time and bristle our young cheeks with his beard stubble. He would take us for rides on the tractor. We would go with him on his “rounds” around Hannen Lake. We would go with him to the dumps in his old green Chevy pickup.
He really liked working in his shop. He especially loved the look and feel of walnut and he enjoyed working with it. He liked making clocks in particular. I remember when he and “Grammer” would come to visit us after we moved to California. They were always bringing us something he had made crammed into the back of their station wagon.
He loved nature and the outdoors. He was always pointing out to me the different varieties of trees at Hannen Park and also showing me the ones he had planted. I’m sure that I can go back three today and tell you which ones he planted. He had read Rachel Carson’s A Silent Spring and was extolling the virtues of organic farming and gardening many, many years before environmentalism became a household word.
He knew many of the habits of the birds and animals in the area. I remember vividly the day that he stopped the Chevy truck (while on the way to the dumps, I’m sure) to point out to us a hare that was sitting by the side of the road. We sat there for a very long time watching him and he us. That was the only hare I have seen to this day.
He loved to hunt ducks, pheasant and especially Canadian geese. He would bring home his bounty and “Grammer” would fix us a Christmas dinner of wild game. Some years we would have venison, too. “Grammer” even had a hat made from some of the pheasant feathers.
Spending summers at Hannen Lake was like heaven for a kid. We fished, we boated, and we swam, and could have whatever we wanted from the Concession Stand. We went on the rounds at night with Granddad and counted how many campers there were. Granddad wore his deputy sheriff badge and had a Billy club stashed under the seat of the car in case there was trouble. There never was.
I remember vividly of going to auctions with both Granddad and “Grammer”. That’s why, I’m sure, that I still like doing garage sales. I remember one sale that he found an old painted cupboard and was so excited. He told me as he showed it to me, “I’m sure it’s walnut.” He made sure before he made the winning bid. He refinished the cupboard and it hung for many years over their kitchen table.
I remember sleeping in the “queen’s bed” when we stayed there. We would giggle at granddad’s loud snoring and we’d wake up smelling the coffee and the toast. Granddad would always have grapefruit with breakfast, it seemed. He liked the Texas Ruby kind cut around the edge with each section separated from the membrane. I still cut grapefruit like that (is there any other way?). “Grammer” would make sun tea out by the front door and we would have that with lunch and dinner, too. That is, if we didn’t already drink too much Orange or Strawberry Crush. Granddad always put sugar in his tea. As a kid, I thought that was strange as I always had mine plain. He also put salt on his watermelon. I once asked him why he was wrecking his melon by making it bitter. He told me not to criticize unless I tried it myself. His comment since has made me think twice or three times about things before I’ve opened my mouth.
My kids ask me why I put salt on my watermelon. Watermelon with salt on it tastes extra sweet.