Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Grandpa Ray

Flannery was cleaning out closets this evening and found an old photo of my Grandma Jean and Grandpa Ray. The glass was broken and the picture was scratched from just one too many moves, but with one look, I was seven again and spending a week of the summer with them. To my knowledge, Grandpa Ray was the only one who drank in the family.

My oldest brother would sneak a few cold ones with his buddies, but of course, I wasn’t privileged to this information any more than my parents were. My dad always kept a bottle of Jack Daniels in the house, well hidden behind the flour and sugar canisters. (We all knew where it was.) He would have some, for medicinal purposes only, if his back was bothering him. He had taken a bad fall from a roof as a young man and had trouble with his back for the rest of his life. He would pour a thimble full in a highball glass with two ice cubes and top it off with 7-Up. He would sip at it as he read the evening paper while waiting for the dinner, and always fell asleep before he finished the front section.

Grandpa Ray was the only beer drinker that I knew growing up. He was a Budweiser man, and to my knowledge, never drank anything else. My Grandmother had a very, very low opinion of drinking. From my mother I learned that, at one time, Grandma liked to live the wild life. She drank, smoked, partied, and chased wild men, until her abrupt conversion to a strict Christian lifestyle. Then, much like the reformed Whore, she did an about-face on everything that she had pursued before, drinking included. And a wiser man than I once said that there is no zealot like the reformed Whore. But Grandpa Ray would have a beer now and then. Usually after coming home from a long night of delivering pizzas for Dominoes. He would sit down to a large bowl of cookies-n-cream ice cream, and when he had finished, he washed it all down with a cold Bud in a can. Grandma would complain loudly when he would bring beer home, but she would grudgingly give it room in the fridge.

At some point in Ray’s life, he saved enough coupons to trade in for a Bud Man cookie jar. It was the most whimsical thing in their house. It stood out from all the other knick-knacks that were crammed onto every level space of their house. Most were porcelain kitties or porcelain children doing something cute, or anything with a bible verse on it. It was probably the only thing in the house that Ray had that got to sit out, mind you it was in the back bedroom where no one could see it, but I think he made his point.

So here’s to you Grandpa Ray. I buy Budweiser when I can afford it, and I think it is from him that I get my brand loyalty. I think of him whenever I crack a cold one and I can still hear Grandma holler “Raaaay!” whenever I hear that familiar “fssst, crack-snap” of a can of beer being opened.


P.S. The cookie jar never had any cookies in it. I know. I checked.


  1. that is really neat. I can just picture it all: the wild woman turned Madonna; the house full of misc. crap including, no doubt, a plaster set of praying hands with the Lords Prayer on the base. And hidden amongst the junk, waaay in the back, a ceramic BudMan cookie jar. HEHEHEHEHE!! God bless 'em both...

  2. I don't know what became of the cookie jar, I would have liked to have had it, but I think it was probably pitched when Grandma died. My sister helped clean out her house and she didn't remember seeing it.



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