Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reminded Of Grandpop

This is the ship my grandpop served on during WWII.
I never got to know my grandpop. He passed away only a few years after I was born so everything that I know about him is second hand. Over the past few years I have been uncovering pieces here and there about his life. From what I have been told he was, putting it nicely, a bit of a complex man but, in the end, knowing my father and my uncle he must have done something right.

The complexities began the day he was born. As I have been told by both my great aunt and others in the family, his name was the first unique thing about him. The day that my grandpop was born my great grandfather decided that the best place for him to be was at the bar. I guess in Appalachia you have to earn the nickname “White Lightening”. This did not sit well with my great grandmother so she took revenge by naming her son after a former boyfriend and the doctor who delivered the baby. That is how the name Percy Davis (first and middle names) got its start in my family.

Later in life, with no work to be found in Western Virginia, my grandpop was the one who moved the entire family to Pennsylvania. Not long after that he enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served on the USS Cole crossing the equator several times during his service. I was reminded of both of these aspects of his life as I was recording the brief life history written by my great aunt.

After the war, with his family already started, he worked with my great grandfather at the Autocar factory in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. A facility that was less than a block away from my lodge. It is that connection which prompted this post. As I was calling the long standing members of the lodge, I dialed a particular number and spoke to a brother in his early 80’s. While I only knew him as a brother he recognized my last name.

At first I thought he was talking about my uncle but after he offered a few more details it was clear that he was talking about my grandpop. He remembered him from his days (decades actually) as a member of the Narberth Volunteer Fire Company. As a Captain, I guess people remember you even decades later. Heck, I have met a brother or two that remember my dad and my uncle as volunteers with the ambulance corps.

It isn’t much but at least I am able to learn a little about him. And as is often the case, it only takes a few details to begin a story and that is exactly what I plan on doing. Maybe if I can add some more details and connect, in a more concise manner, all of the events in his life I might be able to get to know my grandpop a little better.