When I was a kid, my grandfather scared the tar out of me. Let's be clear; I loved him very much then, and do today. At 95, he still keeps a respectable amount of his wits about him, and the more I learn about his life, the more I realize my fear over the years has given way to awe and respect. Mostly I think I was scared because he was so very disciplined and formal, and I was a really scattered kid (who has morphed into a flaky adult). This led to a great deal of conflict, meaning, I screwed up a lot, he got mad a lot, I got punished a lot, and I assumed he did not like me very much.
The fact is, he was very much a product of his culture, raised youngest of three boys in northern Germany from 1910 until the mid 1930's, when he and my grandmother came to New York. They were high school sweethearts and were married for over 60 years before my grandmother's death.
The reason I chose to write about him today is my parents just came for a visit, and spent some time at my grandfather's apartment. My father returned to my house with boxes full of ephemera, years of the accumulated paper flotsam and jetsam that collects in the homes of those who have lived long and well documented lives. My grandfather saved virtually EVERYTHING. For several hours my father sifted through old passports, photographs, financial statements, menus and letters. A portion of some of these marvels he gifted to me, and I wanted to share my grandfather's extraordinary artistic talent with my friends. Papa was an artist, a graphic designer, a calligrapher, a technical illustrator. His work was precise and detailed and beyond the scope of anything I could ever hope to master. In my collection I now have portfolios of the amazing illustrations and designs he generated for Ingersoll-Rand in the mid 40's. I also have a handful of random sketches from ruled notebooks, and some scratch card art. So here, in honor of his talent, are some items I found particularly impressive.