My step-grandfather was a pleasant addition to our family when I was a child. We’d already moved to our ‘big house‘, as we dubbed it, when Gramma and Nick came for supper and I noticed her diamond ring. Of course I had to be the one to shout it out to everyone first! Since our house was brand new and my Mama had splendidly decorated it, the wedding was to be held in our home as we welcomed Nick to our family. Over the years, as we grew up, every once-in-awhile Nick would buy a new film cartridge and deem that the entire roll of film was gonna be used for ‘SILLY PICTURES’. What fun we had taking these photographs, usually to the dismay of my Gramma and Mama, who liked their pictures of all of us poised and smiling.
Nick’s name was Harold Nicoson but everybody called him Nick. I’m rather sure that, other than family members and bankers, most people were unaware that his actual first name was Harold. I grew up in a teeny-tiny town with approximately 40 houses and my Gramma and Nick were next-door neighbors. Gramma was widowed first when Grandpa Joe died. Nick and his wife Amy were very close friends with Gramma, so when Amy got sick she asked Gramma to watch over Nick. Our family lived a couple of houses away from Gramma so we were accustomed to seeing Nick on a regular basis. His wife was sweet and quiet even tho he seemed gruff but nice, always hollering at the neighborhood kids as we rode our bikes up-and-down the road. When Nick was widowed, Gramma and some of the other neighbors made sure that Nick had meals to eat, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have bothered. Gramma had an old-fashioned front porch. I remember sipping tea and eating cheese-curls (Mama didn’t allow it but Gramma did!) with my Gramma and she’d allow me to bring any of my friends that I wanted also. Sometimes Nick would join us but I usually found an excuse to leave because I thought he was grumpy. Over time he softened and we started including him in our holidays because he didn’t have any kinfolk (that we knew of at the time). My Mama and Gramma were always good about not wanting anyone to be alone on holidays. Sometime during those years, Gramma and Nick must’ve fallen in love. I certainly didn’t see it happening, but then I was a child so how would I? It took much longer than a year for our new house to be built. Then Gramma, and Nick too once they married, moved into our old house (next door, incidentally) and their 2 small houses were sold.
Nick never allowed us to call him Grandpa. That was okay, I had a fantastic Grandpa already. He lived a bit further down the road and also joined us for supper most evenings. So I felt blessed, as I know that Gramma did when she ‘got Nick‘. She always told everyone what a good man he was. With my Gramma he was very affectionate in a playful way, as well as amiable and kind. I don’t think she’d had this much FUN in either of her other marriages before! So she was finally getting to enjoy her older age and that made our family happy. He loved his 2 stepdaughters tremendously and quit being the grouch that I’d remembered, turning into an amusing, merry, cheerful step-grandfather that we loved having around! Then when all of us Grandkids had our own children….at last he allowed them to call him ‘Great-Grandpa’! And you know what? I do believe that he enjoyed that title! He and Gramma seemed to love being Great-Grandparents. During the 4-year period that my own 3 children and I lived in my Hoosier hometown (following divorce), it was an awesome experience for these 3 ‘Air Force brats‘ to stay in one place and to revel in the company of having a set of Great-Grandparents plus two sets of Grandparents living IN THE SAME TOWN!
One of Nick’s most cherished photo that he took of me is one that I am NOT particularly fond of, nor will I share it. Whenever I’d come home from college, my Gramma would make a dessert for me that was aptly called ‘Cherry Delight‘ and it was my all-time favorite. Nick totally caught me by surprise as I had the big pan in front of me and was just preparing to serve it with a big spoon. He snapped the picture in such a way that it looks as if I’m about to dig in and eat that entire thing by myself! (this was before the days of being able to ‘crop‘ photos, yet he still managed to get the picture without any of the dessert plates or any other people in it) Of course he wanted to show the photo to as many folks that he possibly could!
The photo above is probably my favorite of our SILLY PICTURES. We’re standing atop a big stump while Gramma took the photo. Usually when Gramma would take the photos of the 2 of us, the pictures weren’t as silly or as ‘adventurous’. When Nick and I took turns taking pictures of each other, it wasn’t until about a week later when the drugstore would have the roll of film developed, that the real fun would begin! That’s when Nick would often, and I do mean OFTEN, get hollered at….first by Gramma and then by my Mama….when the photos of me doing crazy stunts like climbing onto the roof via the antenna (we both got into trouble for that one!) or holding onto the same side of the fence that the big angry bull was on or rolling in the dirt of Gramma’s carefully-tended garden. Good memories nonetheless with my stepgrandfather. I’m sure he’s told his pals in heaven all about our SILLY PICTURES already! We we fortunate to have Nick in our family.