Advice to my grandson

Yesterday my fifteen year old grandson asked my wife and I for help on a school project. He is assigned to write stories as to his family history. I thought you might enjoy my response to him.

Dear Scott,

Here are two short ideas which I can help you elaborate on if you want.

My grandfather, Grandpa Samuel James, was a very special man and most important in my life because he had the greatest influence on me. He taught me about hunting, fishing, being an honest and good person, pursuing a higher education and to think big. This was exceptional considering Grandpa James never finished high school but instead had to work as a farmer to help support his mom, dad and siblings. He married at a very young age and had to raise two daughters (my mom and my aunt). They were the first members of my family to be educated – both my mother and aunt becoming registered nurses.

He spent the majority of his life working for the Rock Island Railroad in Illinois. He worked his way up the ladder until he had the top job – he drove a steam engine – the big “iron horse” as it is called in the history books. Some of my fondest memories are just riding up front with him as he coupled and uncoupled cars, moving cargo of cement and paper from one location to another. It was hard work that required total concentration but, for me, it was magical. So magical in fact, that I started to dream about becoming an engineer myself and feeling the power and control of driving this massive piece of steaming and noisy metal. The day I expressed that to my grandfather he said, “Oh no Jim. You don’t want to do this. I want something much better for you. You need to get educated and everything will come your way.”

Love you,

Grandpa

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