John Wayne and Hank Williams, Jr. share their birthday, 28th April, with “Shelly‘s” grandfather, an old style American who hunted his own meat when JFK and Lyndon Johnson were changing his world.
In contemplating who her grandpa was, Shelly, of modern San Diego, finds hope now.
That’s true conservatism – seeing what is and what has been to find what works and hold on to what is good.
“My grandfather was born in 1899. That means he was my age when the Great Depression hit. He became a Hollywood extra because it paid better than a lot of jobs in those days. He also hunted his own meat, a hobby he kept up well into his 70’s. What would he have thought of the shutdown? Given that he was a small business owner himself he probably wouldn’t have liked it. Unions were a lot stronger in his day and he had few enough employees that a strike would completely break him so he made his employees a deal. He would pay them higher wages than what the union was negotiating for on the condition that they sign a contract promising not to unionize. He didn’t like unions but he was smart enough to see that low wages just fed the communists’ propaganda about the working man being exploited.
My grandfather loved Archie Bunker. My mom could remember him yelling at the TV “You tell ’em Archie! Show those commie pinkos what’s what!”. I have no doubt that if my grandfather were alive today he would be labelled a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a transphobe, a Marxophobe, and God knows what else. Like Archie Bunker my grandpa was painfully politically incorrect by today’s standards. Unlike Archie Bunker he wasn’t trying to be funny. For instance, he went to his grave believing Liberace to be straight. His “logic” was that he liked Liberace’s music and he could never like music written by a “degenerate homosexual” therefore Liberace must be straight, all evidence to the contrary, and the sequins were just one big publicity stunt. He thought the episode where Archie thinks his dance moves will improve after getting a blood transfusion from a black man made perfect sense. He was trolling people before the term “trolling” was invented. He would say stuff like “I remember what this country was like before women got the vote and it was all downhill from there.” But I don’t think he actually supported repealing the 19th Amendment because after my grandma started yelling at him he would just shrug and say, “Throw out the bait and the fish rise every time”. On the occasions when he didn’t want to listen to my grandma he would just switch off his hearing aid, without which he was as deaf as a post. I can’t say theirs was a marriage made in Heaven but divorce was unthinkable back then and my grandma was far from the meek and downtrodden “little woman”, having served as a Women’s Air Service Pilot in WWII. If he were alive today I’m pretty sure my grandpa would have voted for Trump although he would probably have disapproved of Trump’s womanizing.
In fact the only Republican politician my grandfather would NOT have liked would have been former VP Dick Cheney not because of his policies but because of the incident where he shot his friend in the face while quail hunting. There were rumors that he’d been drinking and my grandpa couldn’t stand hunters who drank while carrying a loaded weapon. He felt they gave the rest of the hunting community a bad name. He himself was a heavy drinker yet always abstained during the hunt. My grandpa also bred hunting dogs for a living. He had no college degree yet he knew his pedigrees. Back then dog breeders took pride in producing a healthy animal. My grandpa fed his dogs before he fed himself because a good hunting dog was very valuable. He would have been appalled to see the “puppy mills” of today churn out inbred dogs with hip dysplasia and other deformities. And if 2 polar opposites like my grandpa and modern progressives could find common ground maybe we need to start looking beyond our differences and finding what we do agree on. Maybe there is hope for America after all. ”
27th May, 2020