A Short Film of Grandpa
My Dad’s Mom was an early adopter of technology, in her case
moving picture cameras. Gram got her first, a Bell and Howell, just after WW2.
We have as a family, a moving picture history of their farm, the machinery, the
weather and of ourselves. Movies of family holidays, picnics, weddings, she
filmed events big and small, filming from the car during vacations, shooting
kids on the beach. Gram was experienced behind the camera, but even after years
of shooting, she never developed much style with her camera. Her holiday films
were usually static posed shots and only occasionally did she strike cinematic
gold. You can imagine my surprise when going through the old films I discovered
a wonderful sequence of my Grandpa John walking in one of his wheat fields.
Grandpa John was a tall, quiet, somewhat shy man. He was the
oldest of 11 kids and shortly after his 14th birthday he was sent to
North Dakota to farm land his Iowa banker-farmer-developer-businessman father
had purchased. He arrived with a suit case, a box car full of implements and a
box car of animals, horses and cows. He was a knowledgeable, experienced kid
and over the next 10 years he made himself into, by all accounts, one of the
best farmers in the Red River Valley.
As I was going through the film, I found about 25 seconds of
my Grandfather walking in a wheat field. He was dressed in his gray khaki work
clothes, big brimmed straw hat and sun glasses. The wheat came almost to his
waist, the heavy heads of grain were swaying in the wind, the field looked like
an ocean, he was walking slowly with his arms extended towards the wheat and he
was running his hands gently over the heads of grain. I knew exactly what he
was doing. Grandpa was checking the moisture content, checking to see if the
harvesting could begin. I’d seen him do that many, many times.
It was the perfect picture of my Grandfather.