Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October Featured Relative of the Month, No. 1

: What do prisoners use to call each other?

This is the only riddle I ever heard Dad tell:
Riddle #2: What lies on the bottom of the ocean and twitches?

Note: Pictures 2, 3, 4, and 5 are not family photos, but from the internet.

George Gilbert Nickerson was always called Gilbert or Gib by his family, George when he moved to southern Maine, and Nick by his co-workers through the years and everyone in Scarborough, where he worked for 32 years. He was born Oct 17, 1920 on a potato farm in the small town of Fort Fairfield, Aroostook, Maine, on the Canadian border. With a population in 2000 of 3,579, and an area of 75 square miles, there are still only 47 people per sq. mile. He was the 5th child of 6 (the 4th died as an infant) and second son.
Photo: Dad and Laddie in his front yard, 1930.

He grew up with a dog, a horse, and plenty of farm chores. He proudly told us that by age 9 he drove the tractor (and sometimes the horse team) in the potato fields. He was too small to lift potato barrels, so his driving freed a man to do the heavy work. He learned to plow, harrow and spray the fields driving in a straight line down the furrows, and this skill got him promoted to Corporal in the Army. He said he could strike off and march in a straight line all day, unlike the rest of the troops, so he was made their leader.

After potatoes, the second most plentiful crop in his
hometown was snow. He said that he could ice skate on his birthday each year. Last winter (2007-08) set a new record for total snowfall in the town, 198 inches!

Dad's winter school bus looked like this. They each had a tiny wood stove inside.
In good weather they drove their pony and cart to school.

In 1920: The National Prohibition Act against alcohol (18th Amendment) went into effect January 16, 1920.
Women's suffrage, (the 19th Amendment) allowing women to vote, was ratified.
The first Agatha Christie mystery was published in October. (For extra points, what was the title? First correct answer wins)
Formal radio broadcasting began on Nov 2, when station KDKA in Pittsburgh announced the Harding-Cox presidential election returns.

When he was married in 1941, and for the duration of World War II, he worked in the South Portland, ME shipyard. This photo was taken the day I was born.

His grandaughter L wrote this eulogy on 6 Aug 2004:

(Photo: 1969) My Grampy

Duty, Honor, Loyalty -- these are words to live by for a man who was born 83 years ago. George Gilbert Nickerson was born October 17, 1920, the 2nd youngest of 6 children to Herbert Nickerson and Floss McDougall. He was raised on a potato farm in Fort Fairfield, Aroostook County, Maine.
He was large in stature, and large in spirit. In second grade he was as tall as his teacher, so he said. No stranger to hard work, he labored on the family farm.
His life changed as the world changed during World War II. He joined the service, and the young man from the cold north was sent to tropical Panama. He became ill and was sent to San Francisco to recuperate.
He made friends with Al Trout. He met and married Dorothy Trout, settled down in Oak Hill, Scarborough, Maine, and had two children.
He was a man of his time, known by many names. Called Gilbert by his sisters and brother, Nick by his fellow police officers and close friends and George by all others. I knew he was really Jolly Old St. Nick.

At the age of 40, he became my Grampy. From my earliest memory, I knew that Grampy was Santa Claus. For many years he was the town Santa, visiting schools and riding in the Christmas Parade. I was the luckiest kid on the planet. His secret was safe with me.
Photo: 1962
He loved the outdoors, and enjoyed gardening and hunting. Using nicknames from the outdoors, he called me "Punkin" and my sister R was "Skeeter."
I have fond memories of listening to the police-band radio, waiting for his voice to say, "Code 11" as he pulled in the dooryard. Then I could explore a real police car and hear stories of protecting the citizens of Scarborough and Prout's Neck.
He had a sharp sense of humor. We often enjoyed a battle of wits across the holiday dinner table. His demeanor mellowed with time, and the rough edges of younger days became smoother. He found it easier to share tender feelings in later years. In rare moments, he told me some of his hopes and dreams.Those are very precious memories.
He became the Great-Grampy of 6. My children S and R and my sister's 4 - B, C, L, and A. Although he was a man of few words, we mostly visited on the phone. When I called he'd say, "How's the weather? It's your nickel, do you want to talk with Grammy?"
He dedicated his retirement years to caring for Grammy. After her passing last Sept., he told me although he wished she had been able to travel in retirement, he said, "I never minded taking care of her."
August 23, 2004 marks 63 years since they were married. They have only been separated a short time, and will be together again this anniversary.
I know that we will see them again, free from physical pain and the cares of this world. Duty, Honor and Loyalty are the legacy of George Gilbert Nickerson. I love my Grampy.

Riddle Answer: Cell phones
Riddle #2 Answer: A nervous wreck


Anonymous said...

Agatha Cristie's murder mystery published in 1920 was The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a Hercule Poirot novel.
Do I get extra credit because I've read it?

Anonymous said...

I wish when we were young we knew what questions to ask. He did not realize how facinationg his stories would be to a young person.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful to him for many things: feeding a hungry boy, teaching me to shoot, letting me drive a police cruiser, snowmobiling, camping, and being outstanding in his field

Anonymous said...

I wish I had been able to spend more time with him. I was really young when I saw him the most. I remember his sense of humor, and I remember him teaching me how to play croquet in the front yard with uncle Steve. He always let me have the red ball.