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Correspondence

The Bookman

I remember Granddad as an old man, sitting in his reading chair or working in his garden, but you could still see the younger man in him, the one who had ridden the rails during the Depression, seeking work in California and Oregon with his brother-in-law Vines.  He jumped those trains and saw the West, this son of a town sheriff and railroad man who in his youth had seen Geronimo at Fort Sill and met Frank James.  He was a working man who always seemed to dress well—I remember a picture of him in a double-breasted suit and snap-brim hat, a flower in his lapel, posing with my grandmother, and even in his work clothes he seemed neat and well groomed.  He had a distinguished sounding name—Oliver Armstrong Allensworth—for a man from such a humble background.

And Granddad always had his books with him.

The books reinforced the stories he’d tell: stories of the James boys and the last Comanche war chief, Quanah Parker, and of his travels out West and the Great Depression, and there were old stories passed down in the family.  We would sit on a Sunday afternoon in the room where he kept his books in a cabinet next to his reading chair.  Sunday afternoons might mean watermelon outside, or the wonderful aroma of my grandmother frying chicken, the best I ever had, in the kitchen of the house that sat on cinder blocks at the end of a gravel road.  It had a big yard and a goldfish pond Granddad...

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