There are four lucky days in February, and today, the 26th, isn’t one of them. They are, the 10th, the 19th, the 27th, and the 28th.
In remembrance of my dad, whose birthday would be today, I am posting a story my daughter wrote at age 11. It was a school assignment. He would be honored to know that his name survives in print, and that his memory lives on in the minds of those that loved him. Here it is.
October 22, ‘97
Likes to travel
Seeing new things,
Meeting new people
He has so much fun.
When we visit
We talk a lot
And learn new things
About his great life.
I am so glad he’s coming!!
Tracing My Grandfather’s Footsteps
Written By: Carolina Marie Bravo
Can you believe my grandfather fought in World War II? He was in Germany. He took a ship, the Queen Mary across the Atlantic Ocean on December 31, 1944. He was excited to take the big trip because he really wanted to see Europe. While he was in Europe he kept a very detailed diary that he set aside time to write in practically every day and some days he wrote more than one time.
Richard Pierre Rivard was born on February 23, 1915. He was the youngest of his siblings that include 3 brothers, Louis, John and Raymond, and his 1 sister, Louise. They grew up in a small village in Wisconsin called Turtle Lake.
Just like me my grandfather had chores. My grandfather’s parents owned a dairy farm where they had several cows. My grandfather milked his parent’s cows. My grandfather and his siblings had to milk the cow every morning before school.
Other than selling milk my great grandparents had jobs. My great grandfather, Louis Honoré Rivard, was a real estate agent and sold land, and also owned and ran a lumber mill. My great grandmother, Alma Rose DuBois, owned and ran a boarding house.
During my grandfather’s childhood he dressed very simply. When he was about 18 months old he wore a white dress, black leather shoes and tights. As he grew into a young child he dressed in bib overalls with a plaid shirt.
My grandpa says that school was very hard for him. He says that he was a slow learner. His 7thand 8thgrade teacher Mrs. Calhoon was his favorite teacher.
My grandfather played some of the same games that I play today like Hide and Seek. He also played a game that I had never heard of before called Run Sheep Run. In the winter he would skate on the mill pond (his father’s lumber mill). During the summer he would go swimming in Horse Shoe lake that was about 5 miles from Grandpa’s house. He also played baseball and basketball on the school teams.
Since there was no TV, my grandfather had to keep himself occupied. In his early years he read and listened to phonographs. Later on, when the radio was invented he also listened to the radio. When he was all grown up with kids he got his first television.
In my grandfather’s childhood things were very cheap. He could buy many things for a nickel such as an ice cream cone, a candy bar, a quart of milk or a pie. For 15 cents he could buy a gallon of gasoline or malt and milk. Popcorn was 88 cents, a loaf of bread was 9 cents, a pound of meat or chicken was a quarter, Bib overalls were about $3 along with a wooden toy train. All he really ate was meat or chicken with potatoes for dinner and pancakes for breakfast.
My grandfather celebrated holidays just like my family does today. In fact he celebrated many of the same holidays I do, but in some cases in very different ways. Christmas is the same except he would go to midnight mass where we go to earlier mass. He has the exchanging of presents with his family just like I do. On the 4thof July there were no parades nor fireworks. Memorial Day was also the same, along with Thanksgiving. When you get to Halloween it’s a bit of a different story. He definitely did not go to gather treats in costume. My grandfather would go out and tip over outhouses. Can you believe it?
My grandfather was about 15 years old during the Great Depression. He was also alive during World War I but since he was only about 4 years old he vaguely remembers it. World War II is a vivid memory for him. He was in Europe from approximately December, 1944 to October, 1945. He fought in many battles including the Battle of the Bulge*. Last year my cousin Paul kindly typed up my grandfather’s wonderful diaries and made copies for all my uncles, aunts and my mother. Today he shares this precious gift along with all the memories and stories he tells.
After the war he went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and received his law degree. Then on November 4th, 1946 he married my grandmother, Mary Geraldyne Severance. They moved to Glenwood City, Wisconsin that is about 30 miles away from Turtle Lake.
They now have seven children excluding the youngest, Thomas who died shortly after birth. (From oldest to youngest) the children’s names are Andre, Roland, Michelle, Louis, Francis, Georgianna 9my mother) and Raymond. My grandfather has 16 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Since my grandfather retired he spends his summers in Wisconsin and winters in Texas.
My grandfather had favorite things just like me. He said he loved most foods but corn on the cob was one of his all-time favorites and still is. His favorite song was “As Time Goes By.” His favorite sport has always been baseball. A couple of his best friends in his childhood were Harold Kelly and Bill O’Connor.
My grandfather would not change much were he to live his life again. He would have liked to have made more money but otherwise he believes he did all he wanted to do or could do and therefore he is happy. If he were to leave anything from his past it would be his beautiful videos about his family and trips. He would also like to leave the diaries of his travels, the war and his many adventures. He thinks his favorite memories are of his wonderful vacations with his family, particularly the trip to Mexico when my mother was in the third grade.
My grandfather has lived a very interesting life. He is a very special person to everyone. He is special to me because he makes me laugh, tells me lots of stories and he has lots of videos of when I was little. I am going to read his diaries that he has typed to learn about the war and the many trips I have heard about. This is what my grandpa says when he gets back from the war; “I am home, this is the new life, the future is before me and a measure of peace and contentment settles over me as the days of travel and danger end and I can again look to the future.”
*May not be true.
Once upon a time, there was a Count, who lived in the reign of Granada, in Andalucía. His name was Lucanor. Whenever Lucanor had a perplexing issue in his life, he knew he could go to Patrón, his faithful and wise councilor, for good advice. Well, it happened one early morning, in the courtyard, where sweet birds sing, and the soft warm breeze sends the fragrant aroma of orange blossoms into the air, that the Count was face to face with his Patrón, and said to him:
“Patrón, a very powerful and illustrious man, who professes to be my friend has made me a proposition.” “Yes”, said the wise council, “Tell me more.” “Very well,” replied the Count. “You see, this rich man told me in secret, a few days ago, that for certain reasons he wanted to leave this kingdom, never to return again, and because he had such trust in me, and regarded me with great affection, he wanted to sell to me a part of his land, and leave the rest in my care. Well, I was quite flattered and honored to have inspired this man, but before I made a decision, I wanted to hear your opinion, on the matter.”
The Patrón responded: “Quite an interesting story my dear friend. I believe my advice is not lacking to you, but since you wanted me to tell you what I think, I shall give you my opinion, at this very moment. In the first place I must warn you that this man, whom you believe to be your friend is testing you. There is a similar case. Something that happened to a king with his minister.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
For if you do, no one will ever believe you.
Jupiter’s day in December. Midmorning – quiet. The subtle sound of an airplane was heard overhead and the simmering of the oatmeal on the stove sounded. A blue brightness surrounded. At 27 degrees it was cold, but as the afternoon wore on it never felt too cold to walk around outside. In fact it felt great to breathe the air into my lungs on my walk. A slight breeze rustled all day through the deep green hemlock promising a star would shine in the sky. The sun rose at 7:02 and set at 4:18 tagging on a couple more minutes of light. There was a new moon. A new moon, and another day were set in motion.
Sky is Blue, breeze in the air, not too hot. Weather patterns fluctuate, reminds us of another season. Summer with Autumn is in the air!
Jesus Christ Superstar, last night. Brought me back to 1973. Revolutionary for young people. Religious education, a Catholic one. Jesus as a real man, with hopes, desires and dreams. Judas scorned Mary Magdalene, Christ defended her and said, “So what if she is different?”
Jesus was mobbed by the blind, the cripples, and the beggars, asking for a cure. Frustrated he screamed at the top of his lungs, “Heal yourselves!”
Scenes sculpted like baroque art, capture the height of emotion. Characters feel what we feel and show it in lyrics, tempo and intensity of the music. Action through dance. Transformation evolves.
Thoughts, reactions, remembering, on this halcyon day of summer, when Autumn stopped by and said, “Hello” The sad story of Jesus reminded me of the good, the bad and the ugly of every day. Christ died for our sins, a metaphor for life and death, our imperfect selves. Christ wanted better, from his fold, to have faith, hope, and be giving. Sinful existence of human beings, the dark side, of who we are.
A few childhood memories of Lake Wapogasset-Bear Lake – I always had a burning desire to go there. Little cottages, built by my grandfather, dotted the scenic shore. One was left to my grandma. We sometimes went there, but there were so many of us. My mother had to keep an eye that we didn’t misbehave, especially the little ones. A vivid memory, only of an instant, comes to mind, like deja vu. I was sitting inside the cottage, and lamenting I could not make myself at home. We would leave, soon.
My Grandpa sold the lots, on Bear Lake. My Dad thought about buying one, but it didn’t happen. Years later, home with my own kids, my mom and and I went to the lake to see Uncle John and Jeanne. They acquired Grandma’s cottage when she died. John had his garage filled with his films, and movies, and assorted projects. He was an entertainer, of sorts. Francisco was along. John proudly took us for a ride in his boat, across the lake. There are photos, somewhere, tucked away in a box.
Segesta is a magical archaeological site, located in the high hills of Northwestern Sicily. A visit in the late afternoon, when other tourists were heading out, allowed a mystical impression of a very special place.
Apparent facts escape me at this moment. Only that Segesta was occupied by various peoples, over thousands of years. The Greeks, of these parts, built the unfinished Doric Temple. The city, eventually conquered by other Greeks from Syracuse, was given another name, but was later won back, and returned to its old name of Segesta. In time, the Romans conquered Segesta, and because it was associated with Troy, they lifted the tributes most cities needed to pay, and gave it vast expansive lands. Segesta turned into the most powerful city state, in all the Mediterranean basin. In later centuries it was occupied by the Normans. There are even traces that Muslims resided this land.
Mainly, I was left with the exhilarating sensation, from climbing the high mountain to the Amphi-theater. The sun, lowering on the horizon cast a soft light on the many shades of lavender, white, red, and yellow flowers that swayed in the breeze, and lined the pathway. The arduous walk up the mountain afforded beautiful views of the surrounding valleys, and looking back, the splendid Temple, rose up to the sky.
A final walk down the hill and back up to the Temple, completed the experience. I stood in front of the golden structure, of thirty-six pillars, and walked around all four sides, with less than six other straggling tourists. The sun was even lower, and soft shadows rested against the golden colored stones. An un-explicable feeling of lost time, lingered in the air. It was then time to venture back, and leave the park.