…… Here is an actual photo of the cuff-link Grandma gave me plus other trinkets and keepsakes in my lacquered box.
Back in about 1973 I used to go over to this little trailer park off of 27th Ave. and Osborn in Phx, AZ. There was a medium-sized trailer parked in there on one of the little trailer park streets. I was in my early 20s then and I’d go and visit my Grandmother Smith… a lot of the times we would go up to a grocery store she liked called “Food-a-rama” on the corner of Bethany Home Rd. and 27th Ave about a mile and a half down the road from her trailer.
Actually my mom and dad used to visit her and take her places… and they’d asked if I could help out one time. So I did. And I enjoyed it… so I just started dropping by to see how she was. And we ended up going grocery shopping. Her pharmacy was in that store also. Grandma was about 75 or 76 at this time, if my figuring is right. She had a pet dog, a wiener or Dashhound type named Doxie or Dutchess…
Anyway she was very close to her little dog and used to have conversations with her…. right in front of you. One time after we’d gotten back from shopping we were sitting at her kitchen table just talking and she picked up a pair of cuff-links out of the top part of a salt and pepper holder, one that sat in the middle of her table. The salt and pepper shaker stand had a little bowl on top and she kept jewelry and stuff in it. Taking the cuff-link out of the bowl, she said “These were your grand fathers… would you like to have them?” I said, “Yes. I’d love to have them.” She gave me another pair of cuff-links and a tie clasp also… but it was the first pair that I liked the best.
This trailer reminds me of my Grandma’s….
I remembered them being in that little bowl over the years… and they just looked like something my grandpa Smith would like. They were made of silver with a glass oval on top. Inside the oval was a beautiful desert sunset scene with a large Saguaro Cactus in the foreground. The sky was turquoise blue and the desert and mountain were a lovely orange-ish color. I took them home and put them in a small box in my top dresser drawer… over the years I would look at them and reminisce…
Grandma was moved to Tuscon, AZ with her oldest son and then to a rest home where she passed away in 1985. I think she was about 88 when she died… I believe she was born in 1897. Her little trailer house was sold when she moved to Tuscon and I never saw her again until her funeral. She was laid to rest next to Grandpa Smith in the old cemetery on Van Buren and Black Canyon Hwy in Phoenix AZ… over the years of moving to different houses and changing dresser drawers and the events of life… I lost one of the oval cuff-links but I still posses one of the two…
The old cemetery where Grandpa and Grandma are buried.
I have it attached to the chain of a pocket watch my children gave me for Christmas many years back (I think their mother really bought it and put their names on the present). I keep it in a Lacquered wooden box the watch came in along with some other cherished Trinkets… I’m so thankful that Grandma gave them to me back then.
We were talking about grandpa that day… sitting at her little table. I was telling her how I remembered Grandpa sitting in the same chair I was in and bouncing us boys around on his strong knees… and all the stories he entertained us with. Right there where we were sitting… I guess something touched her heart and she figured I might want something that belonged to him. Little did she know how her kind little gesture would effect me over my years……
You see, I don’t think I’ve ever really told anyone… well maybe the kids have heard me talk about it… but my grandpa smith was a wonderful heroic figure in my life. He was my connection to a time and era in history that had disappeared and the only way to touch it was in books, magazines and such. My grandpa was a strong stocky fellow with big strong hands… later in my construction days we’d call a guy like him a “tree trunk” meaning he was one solid dude. I remember seeing the look on my mother’s face whenever she was around him. Kind of an in-awe, dreamy-like look… I just knew she really loved him and it was special. As a little boy I picked up on this and as I got a little older and would talk and be around him.
Well I felt the same way when I was young. I remember asking my mom what nationality or ancestory was grandpa Smith… she would reply Scandinavian… the next time it would be… English… and sometimes Irish… I guess that was close enough for them. Anyway, I know his family were farmers and had homesteaded in the Iowa Territory back in the 1800s.
My grandmother and him both grew up on farms in the same area and he used to pick her up in a horse and buggy when they were dating… My first recollections of him were in the same trailer that my grandma gave me the cuff-links… only it sat in a different location, somewhere around 16th or 17th Ave. and south of Bethany Home Rd. just on the other side of Montebello I think.
One of my moms older sisters Aunt Juanita and uncle Byron had land there… you turned down a gravel driveway on the side of their property under a long row of mature shade trees past their house, a very large back yard and patio area… and sitting under a shade tree with smaller Plum and Apricot Trees sat grandma & grandpa’s trailer. Behind the trailer was another 4 or 5 acres of land with some very old and enormous Cottonwood Trees. At the back-end irrigation ditches ran across the back of the property with barbed wire fencing… I’m sure this was all farm land at one time… before my time.
In my youth growing up this is where we would go to visit grandma & grandpa Smith… also many great family gatherings took place there. Bar-b-ques, picnics, pot-luck gatherings where each family brought a dish or several for the meal. There were Volleyball games, Football, Bad-Mitten… all played in this beautiful shady green area in front of grandma’s trailer… and in this setting in that trailer is where I would sit mesmerized by my grandpa Clyde Smith’s stories from his childhood…
Ya see my great interest in history all started and was fueled by him… they used to babysit us now and then for an afternoon or evening. It was on one of these times that a milestone in my life was erected. Being the curious little guy I was, I asked grandpa if he ever saw any wild Indians or gunslingers.
Here is a famous painting of Buffalo Bill scouting for Indians.
He just looked at me for a moment, then rubbing his chin he said “… well… I saw Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show when I was a boy… and I met Pawnee Bill…
The famous Mountain Man and Indian fighter…” He said he also saw Frank James… Jessie James’ older brother… in an open train car with manacles and chains and armed deputies guarding him as the train passed through their farmtown.
Here is a real-life photo of Pawnee Bill (on the left) and the wildly famous Buffalo Bill Cody (right).
I remember telling this story to my neighborhood chums… and them saying their dad’s never heard of no Pawnee Bill… Well years & years later in my private love of history pursuit, I came across a beautifully published book by the decedents of Col. William F. Cody (Buffalo Bill Cody) in our local public library… This book was full of excellent pictures… and wouldn’t ya know it… there in front of me I held in my hands full blown pictures of Pawnee Bill with Wild Bill Hickock, Chief-Sitting Bull and a bunch of other famous old frontier guys…
Here’s an actual video of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, first filmed by Thomas Edison! As the show was arriving to town.
There was actually a whole article on Pawnee Bill… as I sat there and looked and read that day, I was transported back to that trailer house sitting at my grandpa’s knee while he told of a young farm boy excitedly going to the outskirts of town to see Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show & Extravaganza… with wagon trains, Indian attacks re-enacted (with REAL Indians).
Some of whom fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn of Custer-fame… there were Mountain Men and World Champion Rifle Shots like Annie Oakley; there was Cowboys and Cavalry Charges… all in an arena shipped across America by rail! (Here is a fascinating website that goes into tons of detail and tells the whole history, with pictures, of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show!)
Here’s an amazing, actual banner ad from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show from the 1880s!
In the future, Circuses & Rodeos would copy this great American Innovator named “Buffalo Bill”. When grandpa would talk of those old memories of his… they became mine too! Etched there for me to visit and ponder through my years. It’s always fascinated me that I knew and talked to someone who actually saw, literally talked to and met some of those heroes of the American west…
To me, my grandpa was a hero. As you have probably have surmised, Grandpa ended up marrying that young beauty he would pick up from her Daddy’s farm in a horse and buggy and he and Hazel Davis would create 8 children together. My mom, being the 5th girl in front of three brothers. During the Great Depression (starting with the crash of the stock market in 1929) and the ensuing Great Dust Bowl of the Midwest Farm Lands, well my grandma was suffering from the effects of tuberculosis.
Back then one of the cures was to get to a dry warm climate… well grandpa must have been feeling that frontier spirit of his forefathers, cause he built a travel trailer for grandma to lay in. He gathered up his 5 girls and with a car I’m sure was from the 1920s… with grandma safe with one of the older girls in the trailer (which by the way he built himself, he was a talented Carpenter and Cabinet Maker), he set off for a new life!
This is a trailer that is somewhat similar to what Grandpa Smith built to head out West to Phx, AZ.
Working his way across the country doing any odd job he could find on the road to the “Sunshine State” of Arizona… They settled on a small farm just across the Salt River off Central Ave. and Roser Rd. in Phoenix AZ. Over the years they had milk cows… chickens… and Orchards of Pears, Peaches, Apricots, Plums and Pecan Trees. Grandpa built a lovely Ranch House on the property with a red Spanish tile roof, flagstone walkways and patios, large fireplaces of fine stonework. I’ve seen pictures of this house and it really did look lovely…
This is the farm that my mother and her brothers used to ride their horses down to the river from. It is also where my dad used to pick my mom up for dates back in the 1940s… my mother was just a toddler when they set out on their journey. She grew up in this Farm House her Daddy built…
Well.. like I said earlier, the first time I remember grandma & grandpa Smith was in the Trailer House on Aunt Juanita’s and uncle Byron’s land… there was a fire and the Ranch House was destroyed… I’m not positive but I think it happened during the 4 years mom & dad were in California… where I and 2 of my younger brothers were born.
My dad worked for Sears Department store back then and was sent to open a sporting goods section… when they got back to Phoenix Grandpa Smith took mom & dad down to the bank and introduced them to the manager. I’m not sure if Grandpa co-signed for them or not.
My Dad had saved up a little profit sharing for a down payment and we moved into a new house out in the sticks amongst the Farmer Fields… it was in this house that I remember Grandpa Smith Re-modeling our dining room & kitchen. This was in 1962 or ’63. I remember because I came home from school early because President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas, Texas and my teacher was so effected and disturbed by this that our class was sent home…
This is an actual newspaper of the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
I walked in the back door and there was my Grandpa Smith in his overalls with a pencil behind his ear nailing some wood on the ceiling where he had torn out a wall to expand the living & dinning areas. He looked at me from his scaffolding and said “Hey youngster! What are you doing home so early?”. I said, “Grandpa someone shot the President today in Texas! …and killed him…”
I went and turned on the T.V. it was on every station (all 3 of them). Grandpa never stopped working… he just got a sad look on his face and kinda wagging his head now and then he’d say, “Landsakes… what’s this world coming too….”
Here’s a color photo taken seconds before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
When I was in the 7th or 8th grade… I think it was 1964 or 65 anyway… it was October, Grandpa went in to the hospital for some tests on his esophagus and some upper respiratory problems. He was supposed to be in and out in a few hours. However something went wrong and he died that day in the hospital. I remember there wasn’t any dinner and mom & dad weren’t there… a neighbor lady was watching us. The folks pulled up, my Dad went around and got Mom out of the front seat. All us kids and a few neighbors were around the car… my Mom’s face was all red… she’d been crying.
Us kids still didn’t know anything… finally Mom just said, “Grandpa’s gone… he passed away.” We all burst into tears… I couldn’t believe it…
The funeral was held downtown at one of the old funeral parlors. Seeing Grandpa in that casket was very dramatic for me… I remember some of my older cousins watching me and my younger brothers with a concerned look on their faces. My heart was torn… I couldn’t stop sobbing.
Grandpa was buried in the old cemetery off Van Buren… with all its beautiful old trees and lovely lawns. The gravestone… a large slab of marble with Grandpa’s info on one side and on the other was Grandma’s name and date of birth…
I remember our family picking Grandma up after church and taking her out to the cemetery… There’s a picture around here somewhere of all us kids and Mom standing in a line in front of the car right in front of Grandpa’s grave. Dad must of taken it. Grandma would go over to the grave and sit on the grass that had grown. I remember her crying… saying, “… Oh Clyde… Oh Clyde… I miss you so much.” My mom would squat down and put her arm around her and comfort her, saying, “Don’t cry momma… Daddy wouldn’t want you crying…”
I think we took her out there a few more times… the years passed… Aunt Juanita and uncle Byron ended up selling their property and moved up to the cool Pines of Northern Arizona. And grandma’s trailer home was moved to the little trailer park off 27th Ave. and Osborn.
And that’s where I would visit her and where she gave me Grandpa’s cuff-links. Grandma was laid to rest next to her beloved Clyde in the beautiful cemetery with the old shade trees. My Dad passed away last summer and the extra flowers left over after his service were taken by two of my younger brothers and myself along with some of our kids and laid on Clyde and Hazel’s grave.
I hadn’t been there in many, many, years… we took a picture of us, arms around each other’s shoulders in the same spot where… years before… as young boys we cried over losing grandpa….
We look like older men and grandpa’s ourselves in that picture…. Ive learned over the years that I didn’t loose grandpa… for he lives on in my memory and every time I take out my Christmas pocket watch and hold the cuff-link attached to the chain; And gaze into the glass oval and its unique landscape scene… I can hear my Grandpa talking about Pawnee Bill…. And how he would pick up beautiful Hazel Davis in a horse drawn buggy from her Daddy’s farm back in Iowa…..
My Grandpa wasn’t famous… he wasn’t rich (far from it), but he showed love and compassion to a young boy that has lasted a life time….
We never know in this life how important the person next to us might be to someone else… perhaps that nobody is somebody’s hero and maybe that little cheap trinket they keep is a “Priceless Treasure” to them…
Well my friends… I’ve rambled on long enough for one afternoon…..
So until next time…….. Godspeed and Fare-thee-well.
Here’s a little piece I wrote. I thought you guys might enjoy it.
Many of my little trinkets, bringing back memories….
Old rings and watches
Gold and silver chains
Knives for the pocket
Keep sakes and things
In a reddish lacquered ..felt lined box
Sit treasures …that unlock
From gifts…and little trinkets
Ordinary heirlooms..inexpensive pieces
That are…precious to me
Shinny harmonica… that I sometimes play
Choker necklace…of Hawaiian coral and clay
The Ring from the state fair…back in 83
Made of stuff…that turns… your finger green
Carved with a heart..saying.. S loves L
Little trinkets…ah..what stories..you tell
Swiss army pocket knife.. from an old friend
Green cleary..lucky marble shooter..I used as a kid
A black polished flat rubbing rock..I rub now and then
Gold plated money clip..shaped like an Indian head
Cuff links and tie clips..from gran-dads….long dead
A favorite Christmas pocket watch…with bauble and chain
Engraved with hunter and hound dogs….beautifully made
Attached to the end through a big round link
A rectangle lead medallion..
with a cross… and words that read
With God all things are possible…if you believe
An old silver cuff link..that my gran-ma gave me
Inset with an oval glass… tinted desert scene
Something worn by old gran-dad Smith
Just an ordinary trinket
Yet precious..you see
And there’s the gold.. wedding band
bought in a K-mart ..jewelry stand
For a wedding held.. in a living room
In our Levi ‘s…we made a lovely.. bride and groom
And now it lays together
In a lacquered box….with other treasures
But the biggest locket
Held deep in my heart
To big for my pockets
Not a piece of art
Just a simple promise
God made … to you and me
We will forever…see past loved ones
If in him…we believe
For His Love is bigger..than any treasure chest
More than heirloom trinkets…and memories
And all the earths riches..all of man kinds best
Are less than dust…to heavens… Eternity
I thank God for Jesus…every day
And because.. of what He did for me
My heart smiles..as I say
In a reddish lacquered…felt lined box
Sit treasures …that unlock
From gifts..and little trinkets
Ordinary heirlooms…inexpensive pieces
That are …precious …to me
We all have our little trinkets
You may keep yours… in a different place
Nothing wrong… with little trinkets
Just don’t make… the sad mistake
Of letting …your little trinkets
Be all your heart …can hold
So…make some room
For God and trinkets
You’ll be much happier….I know
Old Rings and watches
Gold and silver chains
Knives for the pocket
Keep sakes and things
Copyright mar. 2012
Unlocked Treasures Studio
S. E. R.
All Rights Reserved
Other articles by my dad:
5. — The one you’re reading. –
4. Bullfrogs, Bullies and The Troggs (May 5, 2012)
3. Classical Music (Beethoven), Spencer Tracy (Roger’s Rangers) And Computers… TV, Movies and Memories of Days Gone By (April 25th, 2012)
2. Old Guys & Youtube (April 13th, 2012)
1. MyDad: The Phoenix I Knew. Arizona’s Hometown From the Eyes of a 1950s-born Phoenician (April 5th, 2012)