Linenger's Letters to his Son

April 7, 1997
"
Memories of Grandpa Linenger"

Dear John:

My very earliest memory that I can put a date on is of my Grandpa (your great grandfather) Linenger. Probably around 1957, putting me at the age of two. He died shortly thereafter, so the timeframe is certain.

I’m sure that I have earlier memories, but they lack a concrete reference point in time to fix their date. In your case, recall and fixation might be easier. If you remember someone standing over their head in snow, it was in Russia, and you were less than a year and a half old.

My life was different. I was born and raised and still visit your Grandma Linenger in the same house. We traveled from Detroit to Chicago every year for vacation to visit our grandparents. Dad built a special wooden platform that covered the place where you usually place your feet in the back seat of the red Fairlane 500 with fins for us to sleep on during the trip. He would carry us out to the car, asleep, in the middle of the night, and place all five of us in our makeshift bed. And off we drove.

By the time we woke up, we were in Paw Paw Michigan with Chicago not far off. We’d blow the horn when entering Indiana, and let out a cheer when seeing the Welcome to Illinois sign. We’d play car bingo until we all gave up looking for an S-curve sign. When we saw the billboard with the Lips of the Magikist cleaners on it, we knew we’d be at Grandma and Grandpa’s in less than “one cartoon.” (Our childhood clock wasn’t made up of hours and minutes, but rather with units of how long it took to watch one Popeye cartoon.) Hires root beer and a feast would await us.

So you see, my early life was somewhat repetitive and nicely stable. The reason I remember Grandpa Linenger is because he scolded my older brother Kenny for something, kicked him out of the new addition we were building at the time, but let me stay. I felt lucky; preferential treatment. In retrospect, he probably either didn’t see me or didn’t think I could understand words yet and so just ignored me. In any case, I distinctly remember standing among the 2 x 4s in the partially framed-in kitchen, looking up at him.

If your recall turns out to be not alot better than mine, at least you’ll have these letters. Mommy’s collecting them all for you. Someday you’ll be able to pull them out, see what Daddy was up to, and know that I was thinking of you each and everyday. There is nothing more important to Mommy and me, on Earth or in space, than you, John.

Goodnight. Love and miss you.

Dad.

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