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80 Years Ago

Archives 05-16-2001

North County Lines by Bob

An Award Winning Column

For comments or questions contact Bob at bobncl@hotmail.com



Okay, I admit it's true. I'm not full-blooded Arapaho. I'm half Swedish. My grandparents on my father's side were born in Sweden.

Sweden hasn't fought in a war since 1814, not that it hasn't been given the opportunity many times.

"Come on, let's fight a war in the name of patriotism, whatever that means."

"No thank you. Killing and being killed doesn't sound like a good idea."

Sweden's stance for peace is strange, when you consider the Vikings, the most aggressive warriors of their time, inhabited the country for more than six centuries.

The Vikings invaded Russia, England, France, Germany, Italy, and many other countries too numerous to mention. The Vikings whacked open trade routes to Constantinople, Asia, and Arabia.

Five centuries before Columbus was born, Vikings were sailing to what is now North America, down past Canada along the Eastern seaboard to Florida, out to Nassau, the Bahamas, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, through the Caribbean Sea to Jamaica and Honduras, into the Gulf of Mexico and on toward Louisiana.

Unlike Columbus, the Vikings knew India was on the other side of the world and how to get there.

When I was born, Grandpa had lived in the United States almost 40 years. My grandmother, his wife, had moved back to Sweden many years earlier.

My grandfather loved the United States. You couldn't have dragged him back to Sweden. He was an American citizen and had his naturalization papers to prove it. I have those papers now, for memories sake.

After my grandfather moved from Philadelphia to live with us in the deep South, the true promised land, I would wind him up regularly by announcing what was being taught in my school: "Columbus discovered the New World."

Grandpa would pretend to spit, then he would say, "Columbus, he was no sailor. He couldn't find his face with both hands and a mirror."

Grandpa spoke English fairly well, except for certain words. Instead of "apple," he would say "awpul."

"It's apple," I would say.

"It doesn't have a W or a U."

"Awpul," he would say.

"Apple," I would say.






Sometimes, when I couldn't stand it any longer, I'd say, "Okay, you're an old man. Have it your way."

"Old!" Grandpa would say. "I'll show you old." Then he would try to catch me. I'd run just fast enough to keep out of his reach.

Our game usually ended with Mom yelling, "Take it outside, you're driving me crazy!"

Grandpa enjoyed smoking, drinking, gambling, and chasing women, which could explain why Grandma moved back to Sweden. He cussed a lot too, mostly in Swedish.

I learned those words quickly. Grandpa also taught me many Swedish folk songs, which all began: "I drink. You drink. We all drink."

While in Mexico, I learned many folk songs also. They began the same way, except in Spanish.

Was that a coincidence? Or had the Vikings landed on the eastern coast of what is now Mexico and taught the Aztecs folk songs?

Had the Aztecs taught the same songs to the Spanish six centuries later before the invaders converted the heathen natives to Christianity by cutting, jabbing, and burning them to death while stealing their gold and ravaging the women and livestock?

One night, while driving Grandpa home from a bingo game, I whipped the steering wheel left and followed a shortcut across a golf course my Uncle Jimmy had shown me.

As my Ford Falcon jumped a sand trap near the sixteenth hole, Grandpa yelled, "Yumpin yiminee!

When all four tires touched down, I smiled and said, "Far out."

Grandpa didn't tell Dad about our side trip. I was glad. I don't like snitches.

When my grandfathers were together, opposites were combined.

My mother's father was a Southern gentleman and a Southern Baptist. He didn't drink. He didn't cuss. He didn't gamble. He didn't chase women. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone.

He yelled at me only once. I was about to jump off a two-story house. I was certain the kite I had made of newspapers, glue, and chicken feathers would hold me aloft as I flew around the family farm. My grandfather was certain it wouldn't and stopped my flight.

He didn't lecture me when I climbed down. He let me shoot his 12 gauge twice. That's when I decided to stick with my .410 until I was older.

If goodness is a ticket to heaven, my mother's father is there.

My grandfathers got along well with each other. I never understood exactly why. Perhaps as grandparents they had more in common than words can express.

My father's father died at 92 of drinking, smoking, and chasing women, exactly like he'd been told he would by a doctor who died of natural causes at the age of 58.

The undertaker didn't have to put a smile on my grandfather's face. It was already there.

After he died, I pictured my grandfather's spirit being carried to Valhalla by a band of warrior-maidens, known as Valkyries in Viking mythology.

Located in a larger heaven, called Asgard, Valhalla is home to warriors who'll fight and feast until Ragnorak, the day of the final world battle, after which a new reign of peace and love will begin.

Perhaps when I die, I'll sail on invisible wings to Valhalla to be with my ancestors of Viking descent.

I'll be happy to see Dad and Grandpa. I know they'll be happy to see me.







Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486

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