Thursday, May 18, 2006

Watch out for trains

Saying for the Day: Drinking and walking don't mix.

My grandmother Mabel (my mother’s mother) also took in borders. One of them was a man named Thomas Sparnol. He was from England and worked in the mine. He had a large room upstairs and ate with the family.

When I was a little kid I used to visit Tom. I would go upstairs of Grandma’s and we would listen to the fights together. Tom loved the fights and the Detroit Tigers. I can still close my eyes and hear the Gillete Blue Blade commercial. Visits to Tom were always fun. He gave me a puff on his cigarette and a taste of his beer. He would tell me stories of England.

One of things that fascinated me about Tom was that he had a wooden leg. Well It wasn’t really wooden it was a boot that strapped on over his stump. He also had a very English accent.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned how he got that wooden leg. It seems that when he was a young man he liked to hit the taverns in Negaunee. On one of these junkets he got very drunk. On his way back to the boarding house he fell across the railroad track and passed out. When he came to and started to get up he realized a train was coming. He did not move fast enough and the train severed one leg just below the knee.

This would not really be a family story accept that some years after my grandfather died Gram married Tom. She said it was cheaper than trying to heat the upstairs. So Tom became my grandfather, wooden leg and all.

He is also one of the reasons I don’t drink.

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Today in Pigeon Falls:…..The Pigeon Falls Story
In the beginning Pigeon Falls was called Potato Grove , since it was the potato crop that sustained the village. It provided both food to eat and food to sell. Farmers from Finland and Sweden had settled here and after moving tons of rocks began growing potatoes. For a few years everything went well.
Then without warning a strange new bug appeared. No one knew where it came from but it attacked the potato plants with a vengeance. Pastor Helve Tillinen said it was God’s vengeance because the farmers were such bad givers and didn’t go to church much. He predicted the end of Potato Grove.
The Pastor at the Methodist Church , Justin Cooper, said God wasn’t like that but urged people to pray for divine intervention.
Just when things were at their darkest a the huge flock of pigeons swooped in and ate all the bugs, every last one of them. The crop was saved and the farmers decided that as a way of thanking the pigeons they would change the town’s name to Pigeon Falls and refrain from eating them.
They also decided to raise money for a big pigeon statue to stand at the edge of town as a constant reminder of what the pigeons had done.. And so we continue to celebrate the start of Pigeon Falls.. This is the official story as it is engraved on the Pigeon Statue on main street
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We got some more of Pigeon Falls today. This despite the fact that it was cold and the wind was blowing hard. we added two churches and a toy shop. The wind took the tower off of the firehall and so we had to glue that back.Otherwise it was an ordinary dull day. Tomorrow we will share the offical Pigeon Falls song from last summer. Possibly by this summer I will be able to sing it for you. ( No I don't think I would do that to you). Well I need a breathing treatment.
GBYA

9 Comments:

Blogger kristi said...

It is funny that you tell that story of Tom and the train. My husbands uncle worked on the railroad and had both of his legs cut off by a train, then his own son repeated his actions and had his cut off by a train years later. You think he would have learned from his fathers mistake. I like the story about Pigeon Falls. I love hearing stuff like that. Nice addition to the page.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Dr. Cissa Fireheart said...

wow, very interesting stories. I like the Pigeon Falls one.

your step-grandfather sounded like a very interesting individual. But I think it's great that you have a fond memory of him...

6:04 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Great story about your grandparents. The way he lost his leg and how they got together remind me of a movie. My maternal great grandmother was also Mabel, everyone called her Mimi and thats how I got my name. She took in borders too.

The piegeon story is great too. God does answer prayers.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Chana said...

i absolutely love the story of your Grandpa Tom...that was wonderful. I like the line of how it was better to marry him than to heat the upstairs..funny.

the story of how your city got his name is very nice. i look forward to hearing more. i will go and see if i can find a picture of the statue you speak about...

hope you are well...read you tomorrow.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Lori's Minute said...

I am surprised at how many people have survived getting their leg cut off by a train....and to think some people die if they eat a peanut.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Catch said...

I had a great aunt who also took in borders.....wow, he passed out and a train ran over his legs...yeeeow...hurts to think about it. I like the Pigeon Falls story!!!!

8:27 AM  
Anonymous TC said...

Strangely enough, my grandfather's legs were cut off by a train at a chemical works (but this was before I was even born).

The person who I knew as my Grandad was in fact my step-Grandad as my mother told me when I had grown up. 'Pop' as we called him died when I was very little.

Kind of a coincidence, hey Doc?

Two stories in one, you're spoiling us!

8:44 AM  
Blogger W. J. St. Christopher said...

Is it possible for Grandpa Tom's story to be nostalgically funny, mistily romantic, and like a gruesome horror movie, all at once?

You're a great storyteller, Dr. J!

Also, I really enjoyed the Pigeon Falls history. Looking forward to more!

2:01 PM  
Blogger butterflies said...

What a gorgeous story:)
I spose it was easier to marry him than pay for heating.She was a smart woman.
It makes me remember how disenfranshised women were in those days too...

9:29 PM  

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