“Think back to your childhood and remember the oldest person you knew. Write about this person.”
The hardest part about this particular assignment is in the very first sentence. “think back to your childhood….” Honestly, I don’t have many memories of my childhood. I know, that is sad, but it is true. I don’t know why I don’t, maybe it was due to that time I tried to do a head stand and fell backwards and blacked out….or maybe it is due to all the times my brother and I would crawl at top speed from different corners of the living room and bang heads…..or maybe I just didn’t pay attention. I didn’t know I was going to be tested on it later in life. So, when I am asked to remember and talk about the oldest person I knew as a child….I draw a blank. I guess the easy, not very exciting answer is my grandparents. I don’t know that I thought of them as old really, they were just grandparents. They were the ones we visited on major holidays and the ones that either let us eat candy and soda and sugar cookies whenever we came over…if they were my dads parents, or they didn’t let us eat anything and made us feel like we were a bit on the outside….if they were my mother’s parents.
Both of my grandfather’s were caboose engineers for the railroad that ran through Winslow, Arizona. I never remember seeing them at work, but we always waved at the caboose whenever it passed…just in case they were on it. What I do remember was the fact that they had very odd work hours and were constantly on call. I remember feeling like they were just as important as doctors. They could get ‘called in to work’ at any time.
I also remember some of the stories they would tell from their travels. They would both spend nights away, now and then, when their train would travel and stay the night. One story in particular is from my mother’s father. He would regularly tell us about the times he stayed in Gallup, NM. That was a frequent over night stay for him. I think he might have even had an apartment there for a while. While I don’t remember the exact stories he told, I do remember that Gallup seemed like quite a happening place. It had a bit of a surreal shine to it in my mind.
One day…while on the way to some destination with my family, we actually drove through Gallup. I was so excited! I pressed my nose to the window to see this exciting, legendary town. I was so very disappointed to see that it looked quite a bit like Winslow…only a bit more dusty and small. My fantasized image was crushed and blew away with all that dust. From that time forth, the new saying in our family was “liars go to Gallup” because… obviously, grandpa had made it all up.