Special thanks to Douglas (aka "Chuck") for sharing his hero story with the Gracie & Lacy fans. Chuck is fondly referred to as the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy as his neighbors have come to expect his patriotic renditions of Taps and Reveille which can regularly be heard along with his cannon salute across the marshes of Charleston.
Listen to more from Chuck on the Veterans History Project: http://www.memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.80436/
My grandfather was born here in the United States in 1885 of German immigrants. He worked in the textile industry in New York as a young man until he left his job after punching a foreman who had grabbed a six year old girl by the hair and hung her out of a three story window for falling asleep at the job. Child labor laws were not in effect back then. He later became a tool and die maker in the aircraft industry involved in the tooling of the legendary P-47 of World War Two fame and later the F-105 that I flew in Vietnam.
My grandfather’s greatest passion was in the land, he always had a truck garden, and mowed his own lawn well into his 90’s. I was fortunate enough to be present at his 105th birthday party at the Neighborly Senior Service Center where an MC introduced him and asked him to share, with those present, what he had learned about life during his 105 years here on earth that he could pass along. My grandfather did not hesitate, he simply said, “treat everyone fairly”. He then handed the microphone back to the MC and shuffled off. The MC somewhat bewildered asked my grandfather, “Jake, is that all”, whereupon my grandfather replied, “that is enough”, and continued to shuffle back to his seat. Those who did not know my grandfather thought that he had no more to say but those who knew him, like I did, knew that he had distilled what was most important for all of us to learn.
My grandfather lived to be 108. He never took a cane or used a walker. He would rise from his seat if you entered the room and greet you with a hand shake. He was the hardest working man I ever knew without a hateful bone in his body. He survived the depression by working far from home while still raising my mother, aunt, and uncle. I cannot say that he showed love by hugging me a lot but I knew that he loved me, and cared for me, as he spent time with me teaching me how to work with my hands, which is something I will always thank him for. In my mind he represents what America stands for, always has, and hopefully always will.
Douglas de Vlaming
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