Friday, February 13, 2009
My Favorite Grandpa
This is my favorite of my two Grandpas. Admittedly, he was the only grandfather that I knew since my dad's dad died when my dad was 17. Death seems like a paltry excuse now doesn't it? I mean really!!
Anyhoo, my grandfather McNail was a wonderful and interesting man. He was born in 1898 on a farm in southern Missouri. He was the oldest of 12 children (10 survived).
After he graduated from high school he attended Southwestern Missouri State College (now it's called Southwestern State University). He was the first graduate from Centerville, MO to be offered a scholarship to the college. This was much to his father's consternation. His father couldn't understand why he needed to attend high school not to mention college. Kids those days! Grandpa was 16 years old when he started at SMS.
After college he joined the Marines. It was during in WWI. He was sent to Haiti. During this time he cut sugar cane. Leave it to the military to send a bunch of guys to Haiti during a war in Europe. Anyway, these guys were from all over the U.S. Most of them had never seen a farm much less wielded a machete to cut cane. Fortunately for my grandfather he was raised on a farm and had cut sorghum. Otherwise his fate may have taken a rather serious turn.
It seems that the natives were a bit pissed at the way some of the soldiers were cutting the cane. The cane needs to be cut a certain way or it will not cut back up the next year. Those that didn't cut it correctly lost their heads, literally. Grandpa used to tell stories about going to relive the sentry only to find that his head was severed from his body but still sitting on his shoulders. Grandpa was totally impressed by the natives machete skills. And, gave thanks to his upbringing.
After he got out of the military he did some modeling. These photographs are from that time. He modeled uniforms while in the military and just sorta floated into afterward. Then he became a businessman.
I remember him sitting on his back porch drinking coffee and smoking his hand rolled cigarettes. When I was a kid I would sit out there with him learning to roll cigarettes with pencil shavings. When I got really good at it he let me roll his cigarettes with real tobacco. This particular skill made me the one of the most popular girls in junior high and high school. If you wanted a joint rolled I was your gal. But, I never inhaled. Ha-Ha.