|Posted on June 10, 2017 at 4:30 PM|
This is one I've been wanting to write about for some time. My maternal grandfather came through the Great Depression and worked in a textile mill. By the end of his life he had worked his way up to being an Overseer over a department. As I related in a post, he worked, went to church and spent time with his family, especially his grandchildren. He loved taking each set of grandkids to the mountains in North Carolina and family reunions were always a treat for the cousins to get together and play.
Grandpa stood about six feet, had jet black hair, dark skin, piercing brown eyes and always had a slight smile at the corner of his mouth. By the time WWII came along, Grandpa had six children and being in a critical industry, textiles, he was exempted from the draft. However, his brother Harold went into the Merchant Marines. I've seen one picture of Harold, a handsome young man, in a type of button down naval uniform from that era. Harold was killed at Normandy Beach bringing troops in for the invasion.
Grandpa very rarely talked about his brother, but he did have an M1 Carbine that had belonged to him. Where did Harold get it - I do not know, but I do know some veterans of that war brought home their rifles and 1911 pistols as souvenirs, as well as many Japanese and German armaments. I know that my stepdad's father had a Japanese rifle and a Nambu pistol from when he served in the Pacific. I've known other veterans from that era who also brought back armaments from that war.
So let's talk about that M1 Carbine. It was the only tie my grandfather had to his brother. It sat in the back of his closet and was always loaded. You also have to remember this was a different time in America. Hunting was more of a pasttime, and in rural areas it was very common to see pickup trucks with shotguns and rifles racked in the back and going down the road. I know my Dad kept a rack on the wall with his sem-'automatic shotgun and his hunting rifle. So did my paternal grandfather. Yet, as children, we might have played army and cowboys and indians all day, but we would never have touched a real firearm without an adult's supervision. It was how we were raised back then.
As an adult I served as a police officer for many years. After I became a school teacher, I put away my firearms and didn't see them as a need. An event last year, changed my mind, got me back into gun ownership and caused me to become a staunch proponent of the 2nd Amendment. Since then I have thought many a time about that M1 Carbine and why my Grandfather kept it there in the closet. Was it to remind him of his brother? Was it for home protection? Was it a combination of both? Had he ever even shot it? I wish I could ask him now.
I do know this though. My mother got in trouble at school as a teenager because she wore bobby sox to school instead of hose. She was enrolled in a private Christian high school affiliated with a Christian college. The president of the college, the Dean of students and her teacher (all men) came to speak with my grandfather about her smart alecky behavior and not conforming to the dress code. My grandfather let them in, listened to what they had to say, and then said this, "My brother died at Normandy to save this country from fascism and dictators. This is fascism, and you are not going to tell me how to raise my daughter. So you leave my house." And they did.
According to my mom, she was hiding behind the door watching, thinking "That's My Daddy." That is until they left and my grandfather called her into the room with a stern "JUDY Come Here." He then proceeded to give her the switching of her life. My mom still laughs about it today, albeit I am sure it wasn't so funny then.
Granpa's M1 Carbine - where is it at today? Physically, my Uncle Wayne has it and I have not seen it in decades, but the memory of that rifle sitting in a corner still lingers in the back alleys of my mind.