I never got to meet my paternal grandfather. He was born 130 years ago today on january 8, 1884. A quick Google search tells me Missouri was experiencing record low temperatures in January of 1884. It was a subzero day when Odie Lee Swanegan came into the world. His parents were Killis and Martha (Warden) Swanegan. With my mind’s eyes I see his father tending a fire to keep mother and baby warm. I see his mother swaddling him tightly, holding him closely and memorizing his sweet little face. I see his two sisters and three brothers taking turns peeking into the room to see the new baby. He would be their last child.
Grandpa died on July 16, 1955, a year and a half before I was born. I’ve heard so many stories about him that I feel as if I knew him.
Daddy said, “Papa was a hard worker. There weren’t too many things he couldn’t do. He was good with his hands. He could make anything out of lumber and nails.”
Aunt Carrie (my grandmother’s sister) said, “Mama didn’t want Sister (my grandmother, Ethel) to marry Nit (Grandpa’s nickname) because he was so good-looking. She thought being married to a handsome man would bring nothing but trouble to Sister. But they were determined to marry, so they eloped. They got married in Kansas City, on the Kansas side. Mama wasn’t happy about that, but she finally came around because Nit was good to Ethel.”
Aunt Lyda (Daddy’s oldest sister) said, “Papa wasn’t a very tall man when compared to Mama’s brothers. The Millers were tall men, but Papa and his brothers weren’t very tall. Papa was less than 6 feet tall. Mama was as tall as he was.”
Grandpa was said to be a quiet man, a man of few words. He was a man who whistled while he worked, and if he happened to have had a “little smile” (a drink or two) he might be heard singing. I’m told one of his favorite tunes to sing was “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes” by Gene Autry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYoqwnDUH_g
I wish I could hear him singing. One day I will.