The house by the side of the road:

January 7, 2008

The story goes that whenever my Grandpa Leo caught hell from Grandma for spending all day tinkering with someone’s broke down riding mower and neglecting something he was supposed to do around the house, he would quote from the Foss Poem:

“Ah Mag,” he’d say, “Let me live in my house by the side of the road, and be a friend to man.”

Thanks to Uncle Merle, by the way, for recounting that story at the funeral (and reading the Foss poem, which really captures Grandpa’s role in his community.) And thanks to Sissy for taking lots of great pics of his old place, like this one:


I only heard of him turning down a request once, when some of the Deacons of his church came by to ask a favor. They had just fired the pastor (who was a reformed Catholic and was rumored to drink beer) for being a member of a bowling league that bowled on Sundays. (This pastor always maintained he did not himself roll on the sabbath.)

The deacons wanted Grandpa to build a sign, something visible from the highway, that would explain why the church had dismissed this popular figure.

Grandpa, ever the friend to man, declined.


  1. He was also a “friend to cow.” I have several “fond” memories of when I was teeny-tiny…and him riding us grandkids out in the middle of the cow pasture on a trailer full of hay….I’ll never forget those HUGE cows sprinting towards us, breathing on us…eating us up along with the hay! He didn’t think anything of it. I’m going to miss Grandpa. He was one in a million!

  2. “…caught hell from Grandma for spending all day tinkering with someone’s broke down riding mower…”

    Love it. Love that he did that sort of thing, and love that he turned down the building of the sign. (Kind of hilarious that someone thought to create such a sign in the first place, PS.) My thoughts are with you and your family, man.

  3. Duck, I think it’s admirable you let the old school poet capture Grandpa for you. And I feel I got a good enough dose of the man to raise my glass to him properly now. But don’t think you’re getting out of your own eulogy/essay (or it can just be part of the coming memoir).


  4. I love that you could tell one story and say so much about him. Sympathies to you and your family.

  5. No matter what creed or color… I might add. No terms, and no reading between the lines. He was what he was.

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