In a perfect world, I would have known him better. After all, I was a teenager when he died. There should have been lots of opportunities to get to know my Grandpa Ramsey. But it isn’t a perfect world.
I won’t get into the reasons why I rarely saw him, even though he lived only about an hour away. The reasons now aren’t all that important.
Ralph F. Ramsey was born 7 December 1907 in Perry County, Ohio. (I can always remember his birthday since the Japanese decided to celebrate it in 1941 by bombing Pearl Harbor.) The memories I have of him is that he was a quiet man and I remember him smiling.
He married my grandmother Della Starkey on 22 May 1929. Together, they lived in the sprawling metropolis of Glenford (population: less than 500 at its peak). After her untimely death, he married Wilda Leckrone.
Grandpa was a shovel operator for Central Silica. It’s funny — he’s one of my few non-farmer ancestors and even then he worked in dirt.
Back in the 1950s, Grandpa and my mom drove to Alabama to pick up Mom’s cousin who was getting out of the Navy. (I think I have that detail correct. Note to self: call Mom and find out who it was.) They stopped at a roadside rest along the way and there were people taking a survey, seeing where people were coming from and going to. Keep in mind, Grandpa lived his entire life in Glenford or just outside of it. So how did he answer the question, “Sir, where are you from?”
“I’m from Thornville, Ohio.”
Thornville? Grandpa never lived there a day in his life. Later, my mom asked him why he answered that way.
“Because I figured he’d never heard of Glenford.”
(Yet, somehow, this highway worker from Alabama might have heard of Thornville? And we wonder why there are weird answers in things like the census.)
It was because of Grandpa that I flew for the first time. Mom and I were on vacation in Florida with my oldest sister and her family. We had all gone together in their RV; Dad couldn’t join us because of work. The night before we were going to head home, we called Dad… and learned that Grandpa had died. There was no way we could drive back in time for the funeral; Mom and I flew home the next morning.
Grandpa Ramsey – a quiet man, sported a crew-cut, and always made a perfect pot of coffee without ever measuring. In a perfect world, I’d have known him better.