The other day was my grandpa George’s 82nd birthday. After work I went over to my grandparent’s house for dinner and to visit.
My grandma was busy playing cards all day, like she does every Wednesday, so she left my grandpa in charge of dinner. Whenever he is in charge of dinner, we always know what he is going to make: hot dogs, fried potatoes and creamed corn. That is always his “gourmet” meal that we anticipate.
After dinner I went with my grandpa to pick out a new computer – he is still using a computer that runs Windows XP. He asked me the other day if I thought it was time for an upgrade… I told him that was an understatement.
As we were driving in the car he began to tell me about his first car – a 1937 Chevrolet.
He saved up all his money working for his father, Ellis Clark Ivory, all summer in 1950. His Chevrolet was black and he was telling me how he and his buddies installed custom rear tail lights they called “blue dots.” I found a video showing the tail lights like the ones he installed on his car.
Shortly after he bought the car, he and his buddies took a road trip to Los Angeles. I remember him telling me this story before, but this time I got extra details. He said by the time they got to Mona, Utah, they were running out of gas, so they pulled off the highway. They had a 5-gallon gas can with them, but no money to buy gas. So, what did a group of 16-year-old boys do? From the words of my grandfather’s mouth, “We found a nice garden hose in a local yard and cut a decent piece out of the middle of it.” I knew exactly what he was going to say next and I began laughing so hard. He next said, “I shouldn’t be telling you this!” I replied, “Oh yes, you should! These stories need to be recorded for all posterity to hear!” He continued the story and told me they siphoned gasoline out of another person’s car in order to make it all the way to Los Angeles.
It is stories like these that I love to hear and I try to record so people can hear or read them in the future. I am very fortunate to still have two of my four grandparents still alive to be able to ask questions, hear stories and learn more about their lives. It is stories like those that if not told and recorded, they will disappear and never be heard again.
Yesterday I went to my grandparents' house for an early Sunday dinner. Somehow as we were talking during dinner I started asking them about all the places they have lived since they go married. They have been married since 1952 - that's 63 years of marriage!
It was fun to hear them reminisce and list of each place they have lived over those 63 years. As I expected, they had their moments of disagreeing with each other over which house they lived in first and for how long. Parts of it were pretty hysterical because grandpa can be so stubborn and grandma rolling her eyes at what he says. Even through the debating they still laughed in the end.
During a few of the more-contentious moments of them debating which house was which, I pulled up some city directories online and found out that neither of them were right! There was even one where my grandma said, "That's right!! I forgot about that house!"
After spending probably a good 30-40 minutes trying to figure each and every place, I suggested we go for their "Sunday drive" and see the houses, at least the ones that are in Salt Lake County. They didn't know if they were all standing, so we took a drive. I wanted to see first-hand the places they lived and get photographs, if possible. Although we found just about every single one of them still standing, they told me many of them looked quite a bit different because of paint color, fences, yards and other things had changed so much. Well, it doesn't surprise me that many of them have changed over the last 63 years. Ironically, one of the first houses they lived in actually looks just like it did in 1953. This house is located at 233 South 400 East in Salt Lake City, Utah. I told them it was interesting they lived right there because a couple of years ago I lived not too far around the corner from that house and I'm sure I have walked past it a dozen times without ever knowing or realizing my grandparents lived there so many years ago. That is actually how I felt about a couple of the places they showed me. I have driven past the neighborhoods many times throughout my life without knowing my family had a "connection" to that street or neighborhood.
We had a lot of fun that afternoon, going from place-to-place. Not only did I get to see the places they lived, but also the stories of each house. I learned about the cockroaches in one apartment, my aunt falling down the stairs in another and my grandma rushing next door to ask for help, the unfinished plumbing in another that made it so my grandma had to use the garden hose in order to have "indoor plumbing," and my favorite, which I have heard many times, the "house" (which was really a warehouse) where my grandmother had an interesting encounter with someone falling through the roof while she was taking a bath. Of course I was on my computer the whole time typing these stories out while my grandpa drove. Now I need to take those stories and photos and put a little book together for them of all the places they have lived. I'm sure I'll also post more in the future about our little adventure we had yesterday!
A.C. Ivory is a professional genealogist, blogger, computer geek, and traveler.