Saturday, August 28, 2010

4 Years Ago

Originally uploaded by Noladishu
Four years ago today, my grandfather died at the age of 99. He was my only living grandfather.

He grew up in Mississippi. His father died when he was only 6, so he grew up poor. He always had to work. He remembers delivering the papers that ended WWI. He dreamed of being an architect or an engineer. He used to win architectural drawing contests in the county fair. The Great Depression killed those hopes. He came to New Orleans and started working for a bank. He started sweeping the floors of the bank, but many years later, after marrying my grandmother, and going to night school, he became the president of the bank (Federal Farm Credit Bank, if memory serves).

He always had a passion for tinkering. At first, he didn't feel that he had anyone to pass it along to, since he had three daughters and times were different then. Years later, I come along as the first male grandchild and I'd say we had a special bond. We had lots of trips to the Butterfly. He used to keep a trunk full of slingshots and other assorted contraband for me and my little brother to play with, when out of sight of my mother.

He gave me subscriptions to Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, and whatever else I requested. He taught me the basics of shop.

He rode out Katrina at Lambeth House, since the new management could get their act together before the storm, but NOFD helped them evacuate after. He ended up for a couple of months in Lutcher, LA.

He came back to New Orleans when I did to finish my last semester for Tulane Engineering. We had debates on whether or not it was appropriate, given the state of the city, but he wanted to come back. He dearly loved New Orleans.

I graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tulane and he was there when I walked and got my degree. Despite being wheelchair-bound and not in the best of shape, he made it to McAllister Auditorium. He died three months later. He was pretty sick towards the end, but he had his mind to the end, which is about as much as anyone could ask for.

The photo is the two of us from August 2005. I was interning at an engineering firm on Magazine Street doing mostly drafting work while I prepared for my senior year at Tulane. The drawing is a rail-based launch system so a topsides unit could be rolled onto a barge and then towed offshore to be placed on a platform.

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