My brother is 9 years older than I am. He has done many things in his life, traveled the world from South america to Africa to Southeast Asia. He worked for many years for the government helping people in poor countries. When he retired he began writing poetry and has been at it for many years. He sends out a ‘poem of the week.”

Last year I posted one of his poems about our old dog Samantha. The below he sent out last week. My grandfather died when he was in his early 60s and had been a smoker and drinker but as my brother’s poem captured, he was a gentleman. I still have his belt buckle with his initials WRR and recently I came across the information on his gravesite which I plan to visit. I’m sad to say that it is unlikely anyone has visited in many years. He was from Columbus Ohio and spent most of his life in the Midwest. There are some secrets that have been lost. I think he was adopted although I’m not sure and he was divorced from my grandmother who moved to California in the 1930s.

May 20-27, 2012

Grampa Bill

My grandfather was one of nature’s gentlemen.
If you’d met him or seen a photo
you’d have thought banker perhaps,
but his career was tending bar.
The earliest picture I have of him
is at the ‘34 World’s Fair
celebrating Chicago’s “Century of Progress”,
fresh out of prohibition,
standing with me on his shoulders
in front of the tavern
where he worked.
Earlier he worked in speakeasies
and one of my last memories of him
was behind a bar in the Bowery
presiding over the premises
in his dignified, still easy speaking way.
I don’t know that he ever did any other kind of work
except for a short stint in a liquor store
when his health was failing.
I remember my parents
talking sotto voce
about what to do for Bill.
My last memory of him is in an oxygen tent
coughing with dignity.

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