Sunday, November 01, 2015

1 November 1969

Today is the 46th anniversary of the passing of my grandfather, James William Davis.

My grandfather was born in 1896 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to James W. Davies and Dinah Webb Davies.  He was one of twelve children born to the couple and the second born in the United States.  James Sr. and Dinah immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1889 or 90 (sources vary) with three children in tow, at least three left buried in Wales and then went on to have several more here.

Their name was "Davies" but when starting school, the "sister school" as he called it (the neighborhood Catholic school, probably St. Ann's), his name was inadvertently spelled  "Davis" and he remained a "Davis" for evermore.

He was not a large man.  He stood 5'4" in his prime and he still wore a boys size shoe at his death.  His height shouldn't have been a surprise to anybody as his mother could stand upright under his outstretched arm.  Of his own four children, the tallest grew to be 5'6". 

What he lacked in stature he made up for in spirit -- as did all of his children.  A feisty bunch they were.  Many people said my grandfather was mean and I have to admit that I can see where he would come across that way but he was never mean to me.  However, if you slammed the back screen door too many times he would get annoyed and let you know not to do it again but mean?  No.

In fact, I adored him.  I always felt very secure with him.  There were many times when I was hurt or sick that he was the one to haul me to the doctor's office.  There were times when I needed something for school and he was the one that would make it.  I remember one time we were in the yard picking up pecans  -- well, he was picking them up and I was toddling behind him pushing pecans back into the ground -- those little trees were still coming up when he passed away. 

One of my favorite things to do with him was eat.  They had a small kitchen with a little drop-leaf table and we would eat together.  My mom and I went to their house almost daily -- they just lived on the next street (you could see their house from our backyard) and we would eat pork and beans, or fried potatoes but the best thing was the Welsh rarebit.  He didn't put beer in it but he had a little tiny pan that he would melt that cheese in and spread it on toast and it was delightful! And tea and toast.  Always tea and toast.

I wish that I had talked more to my grandfather about his childhood, his life in Pennsylvania, his life in the mines at age 11.  I wish I had known more about his parents and relationships with his siblings.  I got snippits, of course, and can visualize a bit but I wish I had been more aggressive in my questions.  But, I am thankful for what I know, thankful he was my grandfather and such a big part of my life and thankful for the things I learned from him.  I miss him to this day.

Oh, by the way, I still have the little drop leaf table.

I miss you PaPa.