I would like to take a few minutes to introduce you all to someone very special in my life. This guy pictured below is Harold. Harold is my grandfather. He'll be 89 years old this year. His father was a farmer in Northeast Ohio, and he worked his entire life at the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Factory in Canton, Ohio, which has now closed its doors and moved to Mexico.
Harold was a young man when the markets crashed in 1929. As a result, he was sent off to work in Montana to build a national park with the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), which was one of Roosevelt's Alphabet Programs under the New Deal. He still proudly displays his photo working shirtless in the hot Montana sun shoveling gravel into a ditch somewhere in Montana. The government gave him enough money to buy cigarettes, reading materials and some beer--the rest was sent home to his family. (If you want to read more about the CCC, you can read this book by Neil Maher, Nature's New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.)) He used to enjoy getting together with all of his friends at the annual reunions, but they are almost all gone now. He is among the last.
The smiling, ordinary man you see pictured here lived through the worst of it. When he came back from his work in Montana, he got married to Virginia a woman with whom he has lived now for 60 years. He built her a house out of pieces of scrap lumber he found in the city dump and made it into a solid home; a home where he raised 5 children and where he and my grandmother still reside today. This man's entire life was affected by the Depression. He wastes nothing and always eats everything on his plate. He cannot pass by a phone booth without sticking his finger in the slot to see if there is a quarter in it. And, he wears his britches until they fall apart.
He has has seen many a President come and go. My grandfather calls Bush "worse than Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon combined." This man is not a liberal. While he loves to eat Chinese food, he knows few people of different ethnicities, especially not of African-American heritage. But, I've never heard him speak a racist word in his life. For him, good people were people who were honest and who worked hard. Harold is a Roosevelt Democrat.
He knows very well the voice that inspired his generation to turn their backs to fear. The voice that brought them together as a nation to overcome the century's most challenging crises. He told me that the same voice comes out of Barack Obama. For him, Barack Obama is nothing less than "F.D.R. with a suntan."
My grandfather is big on "thank you's" so I must share the important parts of his letter with you. I would scan it, but the writing is a bit scratchy, so I'll transcribe it for you.
P.S. My grandfather loves to receive postcards from different places. If anyone would like to send him one let me know and I'll provide you his address.
Uh-oh...this just made the Rec' list...something tells me Grandpa is gonna need a new mailbox.
Here is his address:
Since Harold's Kos grandchildren are worried about his safety, I've taken down the address. But, if you want to send him a card, let me know and I'll see that he gets it.
I'm simply overwhelmed by your response. Please...if you send a letter to my grandfather, don't refer to "David" that's not my real name.
He'll know what it's about.
Update - After reading these responses, I've composed this letter to my grandfather: