Last week I hit the pause button on production as our family took some time to celebrate the life of my grandfather who passed away at the age of ninety-five, the morning of March 25th.
My grandfather was a great source of strength and inspiration for many. He left high school early and began working to help his family. He held various positions and often created his own opportunity. He sold wood by the bushel, washed windows and shined shoes to name a few. He learned the sheet metal trade in Somerville, Ma and studied photography at MIT. In 1938 at the age of 17, my grandfather joined what was known as the “CCC” the civilian conservation corps in Townsend, Ma.
The civilian conservation corps was a work relief program designed as part of the structure of the “New Deal” for the United States. The “New Deal” was developed to provide an economic stimulus to the general population after the Great Depression. The “New Deal” gave birth to programs providing relief, recovery, and reform to the American population with the implementation of programs such as Social Security.
Yes, that is correct, my grandfather was alive before Social Security was invented!
Just to give you a little perspective on the times he grew up in; my grandfather received a wage of $30 a month. This is just under $600 a month in this day and age. When he was growing up the mindset instilled in him was to create his own security.
He continued to work multiple jobs after the civilian conservation corps regardless of the distance he had to travel to find it. In 1942 in the midst of World War II, my grandfather decided to enter the US Army Air Force. He served as a Staff Sergeant stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey and Tuskegee, Alabama. During his service, he was deployed to places like Japan, New Guinea, Luzon and the Philippines. He was honorably discharged having earned a host of awards including; the Bronze Star, a Victory Medal, and his favorite medal (the one all kids in the family, friends of the family, and random people at the supermarket heard multiple stories about over the years) his Sharp Shooters Medal.
My grandfather learned to play the trumpet in junior high school. He and my great-grandfather, who played piano, often held jam sessions with family friends. Inspired by his love of music, my grandfather organized a 40-piece all brass band while stationed in Tuskegee. The band eventually grew to a 72-piece band. This story, much like his sharp shooter medal, became a regular story line for all to hear! If you didn’t know he loved the trumpet, you didn’t know my granddad!
My grandparents had five children at a time when the internet and ease of life we enjoy today was just a dream. He turned the dream of easy living into a reality by putting in the work. Post his service in the Air Force, my grandfather didn’t slow down, he had a family to provide for. He held a full-time position with Raytheon and opened his own photography studio on the side. He owned various residential and rental properties throughout the city and later took a position with the Boston Public Schools. He retired as head of the OSHA division within the school department.
He worked his butt off to have the ability to enjoy his life. He didn’t just dream about it or hope that one day someone would change things for him. He thought about the life he wanted to provide for his family and the legacy he wanted to leave. He took action, at a time when the chips were stacked against him and hope was a distant memory for most in this country. Granddad was always looking for an opportunity to keep moving forward (even if his actions at the time felt like baby steps). At ninety-five he was still discussing the next property he was going to buy on the lake!
My grandfather enjoyed many years in his retirement and the life he created. He lived to witness five generations of his family blossom; five children, eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one great, great-grandchild.
My grandfather was born before television became a reality. He witnessed the development of society as it is today and lived long enough to own and enjoy his own cell phone.
Granddad even created a new trend I like to call elderly dialing!
Granddad Thank You for providing us with strength, stability, wisdom and love.
You have left behind a legacy of hard work and pure happiness!
Edmund P. Strother
1921 ~ 2017