Only a few days after my high school graduation, in early June, 1960, my Grandpa T. lost his battle with cancer and passed away. I was heart broken, I loved my Grandpa T. and he had been a major influence in my young life.
He had been born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1863, the fourth of five children. His father had been a plumber and a professional violinist, who came to Missouri from Massachusetts and married a young Missouri girl. When my grandfather was still very young, his father passed away and his mother remarried. My grandfather had an intense dislike for his new stepfather, and ran away from home when he was only thirteen years old. He had gone to school only through the third grade.
My Grandpa somehow ended up in the southwest, living as an American Indian on the reservation. He stayed on the reservation for several years and then joined the Marine Corps. Unfortunately, he was underage, and when the Marine Corps. learned of this, they discharged him.
It is said that he was a mercenary for a short time, and that he went down to Mexico and fought for Pancho Villa. He had grown up with guns and had a love for them, and was a sharp shooter.
During World War I, he went north to Canada and joined the Royal Canadian Regiment. He was sent to France to fight the Great War. He was shot in the thigh, and sent to a hospital in Liverpool, England to recover. It was there he met my grandmother, a young English girl working as a nurses aide. They would marry and he would bring her back, first to Canada and then to the United States.
Initially they went to St. Louis and stayed with his mother. While they were there, my Uncle Tim was born. Both my Grandmother and Grandpa had friends and relatives in Los Angeles, and so they headed west. My Mother and another daughter were both born in Los Angeles.
During the depression my Grandmother became ill. A goiter was getting larger and larger on my Grandmother's neck. There was no money for medical care. My Grandfather's mother was quite wealthy, but she refused to lend my Grandfather the money for the medical care my Grandmother required. When my Grandmother finally received medical care, it was too late. The poison from the goiter had spread throughout her body, and she died from heart failure. My Grandfather was broken hearted. My Mother, who was eleven at the time, and her siblings went to live with relatives until my Grandfather could conquer his grief.
Eventually, the family was together again. My Grandfather married again and seemed happy. Then, right after her high school graduation, my Mother's younger sister was killed in a street drag race. She was thrown from the car and hit a telephone pole, killing her instantly. The story is that my Grandfather's hair turned white overnight.
The remainder of my Grandfather's life was as a father, grandfather and husband. He loved horse racing and spent many hours at the track, especially Santa Anita. He searched for gold throughout his life, and would travel throughout the southwest in search of precious metals. The Lost Dutchman's Mine was his dream discovery. He had a walk-in closet full of guns, many of them antiques, that he had collected over the years.
He was a remarkable man, and I adored him.
After he died, my Grandmother (his second wife), was so broken hearted that she allowed the neighbors to just come into her home and take his possessions, especially his gun collection. They also took his rock collection, many of them valuable minerals. Everything was gone. We were in Tennessee and there was nothing my Mother could do. Fortunately, we had our memories.