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What Grandpa Taught Me: A Musical Memorial

Posted by on December 15, 2014


Grandma and Gramps met in the 1940s at a friend’s party. They both loved to dance.

Her nickname was “Snake Hips” and everyone called him Fritz. He went off in World War II and came back a changed man.

My gramps was not transformed the way many men were by the war. He came back determined to have a good time.


In our travels together, I watched my grandfather enjoy everything and everyone.

Grocery shopping was a pleasure for him and going to church too. He wasn’t the best singer but he was the most impassioned.

He and Gram ran a food bank in a poor part of town and treated everyone there like part of the family.

My dad, uncle, older brother, gramps (holding baby) and grandma in 1965.
I wasn’t blood-related to my Pup. My mom was adopted.
Still, he treated me like I belonged to him.
When someone loves you, you know it. There is no doubt.
My grandfather lit up every time I came in the room. He couldn’t wait to show me his garden and new projects in the garage.
Growing up, my childhood home was rough and chaotic. Pup was someone I could count on.
He took time with me. Taught me not only to be kind and compassionate, but that our actions make a huge difference to those around us.
When I was nine Grandpa took me on his postman route in downtown Pittsburgh. He knew the name of every building and every person working in those buildings. Pup knew little facts about everyone.

 He said you should always treat the janitor the same way as the president.

That our real work in this life is how we are with other people.

He taught me that everyone deserves respect.
“Besides,” he said with that grandpa twinkle. “That janitor might be the president someday. You never know!”

Pittsburgh in 1974. From WikiCommons.
Pittsburgh in 1974. From WikiCommons.

In my teen years Gram and Pup drove way across town early Sundays to take me to a morning service. They probably suspected that I was more into the community aspect of their church than the words of the bible. They were just happy I was there.

They both conducted themselves so graciously. I was proud of them. A lot of people talk about religion, but my gram and pup were actually kind and inclusive to everyone.

When you love someone they become part of you.
Though I live in Seattle now my Pup is with me. When I garden or sing a song. In the grocery store…
At this point I think he’d want me to mention how handsome he was. Fred Bach was dashing!
He also had great taste in music. Here’s the Andrew Sisters with “Rum and Coca Cola.”
At his funeral I asked the room how many had felt my grandfather’s love.
Most everyone in the crowd raised their hands.
Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. As a Party DJ Michele has performed at Seattle Space Needle  on New Year’s Eve, Doe Bay Festival, Seattle Art Museum and Bumbershoot. She’s written scripts, lesson plans & features for The SmithsonianExperience Music Projectthe University of Washington & NPR.

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