What Grandpa Said

What Grandpa Said September 2020  

My maternal grandfather was a very wise man. He got his wake up call early, with a heart attack at the age of 49. He immediately retired from being a real estate developer to become a successful, one-pole fisherman in a small boat.

The first lesson that I remember him telling me was at the age of eight. We got into his car and drove the sixty miles from his home in Rockport, Texas to Beeville.   It seemed like two hours to me as neither of us said a word. He stopped in front of an abandoned building. We got out of the car, and he said, “Bobby, what do you see?“  I told him I saw nothing; no people, no houses and no cars. He said, “Here’s the thing about investing. This man inherited money and land in Beeville. He had always wanted to have a grocery store, so he built the store right there. You’re looking at his land, his money, and his grocery store. This is what’s left of his inheritance crumbling into the dirt. He should’ve taken the money somewhere more promising and bought land where there are people. You can see his grocery store failed because there were no customers.” We got back in the car and drove home to Rockport.

A guy in a green Mercury once passed us going “like a bat out of hell” as Grandpa put it. I said, “What’s his hurry?” He said, “Don’t worry; we’ll catch up to him at the next light.” We did.   I asked, “Grandpa, if he was speeding so fast and breaking the law, why did he stop at the light when he could see no one was coming?” Grandpa said, “People are hard to figure out, aren’t they?”  

Another time, I think I was maybe 10, we got in his car and again drove some distance.   We pulled up where several men, sweating in the hot sun, were digging a ditch.  Grandpa said, “Bobby, do you know the difference between those men and your father‘s friends?“ I had no answer. Grandpa said, “Just one thing, these men do not have an education.“ We got back in the car and drove home.  

When he told me about his Navy days, some of the stories were yarns and some were true. He told me tankers filled with soup were sailed to the Mediterranean to heat it up.   They used jets to scorch the deck of aircraft carriers so the mess stewards could cook pancakes on it to feed the hungry crew. He said out in the ocean there are waves taller than a skyscraper; so high that a whole ship can be submerged when one breaks over it. Then I joined the Navy. I saw a super tanker disappear under a wave on the edge of a hurricane.  Although the mast of that tanker was about 80 feet above the waterline, it was completely under water for a moment but came through OK. It was true.  

Walking down the street Grandpa would see a bolt, a nail, or a nut and pick it up. He told me that 20% of the time doing projects was spent gathering, ordering or paying for materials. So picking up a nail, even though it seemed like a small thing, might be the difference between having to make an extra trip to the hardware store or putting that nail into wood with a good hammer. He had all these little glass jelly jars full of nails, screws, nuts and bolts.   In a small way it was the start of my training to appreciate and care for God’s provisions in my life.  

More important than all that, he took me to church every Sunday and encouraged me to listen to what the pastor had to say. I can still see his face in rapt attention, dwelling on the words of the good news flowing from the preacher’s lips. He was a godly man that helped others and shared whatever he had. It is an honor to carry his first name as my middle name. It has been handed down through the generations of our family since our arrival in Boston in 1635. Rest in Peace – I will meet you again – Newell Elsworth Boughton

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