Grandpa Wendell’s Memoirs


If you’ve read this blog for the last three weeks, you know that I’ve been quite sick with the flu. I’ve slept poorly during this time, but being homebound and unable to sleep gave me plenty of opportunity to read Grandpa’s book, a gift he gave to us this past Christmas.  I’m not sure how many copies he printed, but we ended up with two of them at our house, one for Rachel and one for us.

I will indulge myself a tiny bit here in saying that I felt a little bit of satisfaction when these books arrived for Christmas.  That is because when we visited Wendell and Judy last October, one of the things we had on the agenda was to help Wendell with his computer and computer files.  Due to Gary’s eyesight, this job usually falls to me.  We vaguely knew that Grandpa Wendell had been writing his memoirs for some time, though we had never seen any of the files.  As we investigated, things got complicated when we found a too-old computer with even older Word files, lack of compatibility between systems, etc.  We really weren’t sure what to advise, but we went to work converting his files to Google Docs.

Then somehow Grandpa mentioned how he was “almost finished” and really didn’t want to re-do things with the new system.  So I asked, “Um, could we see what you mean by that?” and lo and behold, he pulled out photo-ready paper copy, including laid-out photos with captions, cartoons, chapter headings, page numbers, etc!  That was a shock!  No wonder he didn’t want to start over again.  Turns out the only thing missing was the preface or half-title or some very small part of the frontmatter!  That changed the task we had to do–so we just helped him with this last bit of work.  And then I went into a (hopefully not too rude) tirade about Hurry up and finish this and get it printed already!!  Which he did.  🙂

I found this book quite interesting and read it all carefully (except for glossing over some of the Appendixes which were the genealogical facts).  I suppose the parts that most interested me were things that touched on Gary, though those were few.  A number of things I read helped explain things I’d observed about the Simons family for 40+ years.  I found the parts about Grandpa Wendell’s very early days, his relationship with his sister, the death of his mother, and separation from his father quite interesting.  It is hard to imagine his life of being on his own by age 16 even possible in today’s world.

Grandpa must have kept good notes over the years because there was a lot of detail about certain items.  I encourage my kids to read the entire book–it reads pretty quickly.

On last thing which needs clarification:  Gary has always told me the story about his second month of life as being in the hospital due to pneumonia and a hernia.  But Grandpa’s book (p. 49) clearly says pneumonia and kidney infection.  Can anyone set the record straight?


One Response to “Grandpa Wendell’s Memoirs”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Well, if he was in the hospital for a hernia, then they would have had to surgically fix it which would leave a scar (there are different types of hernias and so scars could be in various places). A kidney infection wouldn’t leave a visible scar… so…the evidence lies on Gary’s body! I’ll leave that to you all 😉

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