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A Christmas Gift from Grandpa 1961

My grandfather died when I was only nine. He was fifty-nine. My memories of him are all pleasant. He was a kind man and I remember fondly sitting on his lap with my younger sister. We’d ask him for ice cream because our step-grandmother was a bit mean in our eyes and grandpa was the soft touch. He’s say, “go and ask your grandma” knowing full well  she would have heard the exchange and thus give in to what he wanted for his grand-children.

The over all family situation was strained and so we didn’t see them as often as we probably should have. But when we did I just loved hanging out with my dad and grandpa as they talked fishing stories. Grandpa would always say to me, “I’m going to take you fishing this year” (the year he died).

Grandpa had a work shop in his basement. He was handy like my dad and was a pretty good carpenter. He had a cottage industry going each Christmas. This was back in the 50’s when everyone remembered WW2 and it was the baby-boom years. Grandpa would manufacture Army vehicles in his basement. My dad said he was doing it back in the 40’s and remembers helping him on their home-made assembly line.

The Christmas before my grandpa died my dad and I were down in grandpa’s basement. He took us over to this enormous card board box (it was enormous to a nine-year-old). In it were dozens of his army vehicles. He asked me if I’d like some. I could barely contain myself when I saw what he made.

Each vehicle was modeled on a US Army vehicle from the forties. He had three basic truck designs. One served as a canvas topped 2 1/2 Dodge, another was similar but open-topped and the third was closed up and served as an ambulance. The little doors on the back of the ambulance actually worked!

Canvas topped US Army truck. The canvas is stamped in white letters USA.

Canvas topped US Army truck. The canvas is stamped in white letters USA.

Open topped truck. Grandpa had USA stamped on all his vehicles.

Open topped truck. Grandpa had USA stamped on all his vehicles.

The ambulance

The ambulance

Willy's famous jeep!

Willy’s famous jeep!

Larger version of the Jeep. Might be a 3/4 ton truck used for stretchers.

Larger version of the Jeep. Might be a 3/4 ton truck used for stretchers.

M4 Sherman

M4 Sherman

The next two vehicles were Jeeps, with one larger than the other. I think the larger one may be a 3/4 ton truck but am unsure.

And last but not least was my favorite-a tank! A tank that looks very much like the famous M4 Sherman!

My son and I fished my childhood vehicles out of the attic this Christmas. As you can see they are battered and chipped from hours of play. It’s time for me to put them where they can be seen-in the same curio cabinet as my military miniatures.

Some day my son will get them and some day he’ll pass them on to my grandson as a memento from his great-great grandfather.

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