“Karen’s Noggin’ 🧠 Nuggets” #8 ~ August 29, 2022
MY HERO 💖 P.V. Sr.
The stories and experiences with my family growing up swirl through my head and I find myself remembering special moments that bring the experiences to life once again.
As I have learned more about how my ADHD brain works, I know that it functions much better if I remember that the brain is for ideas and not to hold the ideas. I perform a ‘brain dump’ in my journal for various things to process and getting these stories and experiences out of my head and into a blog is just as important and very helpful. I have so many stories, just like I’m sure many of you do; as well. It’s time to ‘brain dump’ some stories.
Let me tell you about my Grandpa Hansen from the eyes of his only granddaughter. As a little girl, I idolized him. I thought the world of him, and he was my hero. To me, he was bigger than life itself! Not because he stood 6 feet 2 inches tall but because he seemed to live, BIG and he was MY grandpa.
How do you put into words and give justice, the impact that a grandpa makes in your life? I will do my best.
My earliest recollection of FUN involved Grandpa Hansen. When at the lakes in Minnesota, we did lots of fishing, swimming, and boating. After lunch, grandpa always took a short nap before we would go swimming. It felt like a very long nap. I was always ‘chomping at the bit for him to wake up so we could get back to the fun. With so much sunshine, grandpa would use Noxzema on his sunburn. I love that smell and to this day, it always reminds me of grandpa every time I smell it. Isn’t that interesting how smells can take you back to a time and place? That’s fascinating to me. He also liked Dr. Pepper. Another very distinct smell and a yummy treat when I was with him.
One summer grandpa got a 14ft speed boat with a huge monster of a motor. 80 HP Johnson Motor. Boy was that a fun boat. He loved being in the water and we loved it too. Believe it or not, he wanted to name his boat after me! Oh boy, this is an undiagnosed inattentive ADHD little girl’s dream! He didn’t just name the boat after me, we were going to christen the boat. I was 6 years old and a bit giddy with excitement. The boat was docked at the resort grandma and grandpa were staying at on Otter Tail Lake, Minnesota. I sat on the bow of the boat and the family (all 7 of us, my grandparents, my parents, and my 2 older brothers) gathered around for this momentous event. I don’t recall all the words, but I would imagine it was profound and humorous all at the same time. A bottle of 7UP was the beverage of choice for the christening. We did not break the bottle against the boat, but rather, opened it, and then it was poured onto the side of the boat so it could run into the water. What a fun day! I was not just on the bow of the boat that day, I was on top of the world!
At the end of each fishing trip, grandpa would take us all out to eat at a nice restaurant on the last night of our vacation. This was a real treat since going to a restaurant in the mid to late 60s was not common, especially for our family. When our vacation was in Minnesota, grandpa would take us to The Otter Supper Club in Otter Tail Lake, Minnesota. No wonder I enjoy Supper Clubs, my love for them started at an early age.
On a super-hot summer day, we (7 of us) all pilled into grandpas’ new car to cool off with some ice cream. Grandpa had just purchased a 1969 Oldsmobile Delta 88 with a Rocket 455 cubic inch V 8. (Thanks to my brother who provided these extra details on the car.) We headed to Dairy Queen, and we all got large vanilla cones and we sat in the car eating them. The ice cream dripped faster than this little girl could lick her cone. Grandpa was focused on treating us and having a good time more than what a few drips of ice cream would do to his new car. With grandpa, it was all about the experiences and creating memories.
Grandma and Grandpa lived in Blair, Nebraska, and would come to visit us in Wisconsin as much as possible. I loved it when they came to see us! For Christmas one year, I remember they gave our family our first color TV. WOW! It probably was only a 9-inch screen TV but boy was I excited. My cartoons every Saturday morning came alive, and I was mesmerized. I still find it funny that my mother had a dickens of a time waking me up for school during the week but when it came to Saturday morning, look out! I was up before anyone, even the sun, to catch those cartoons. Anyhow, that’s for another blog! I remember them giving me a Lite-Brite for Christmas one year and boy did I love that. The hands-on activity with lots of colors was just what this little girl needed and enjoyed.
The gift that I remembered the most was for my birthday. They would give me a check for how old I turned. For my 6th birthday, I got a check for $6, $7 for my 7th birthday, and so on. I thought that was so cool that I used that idea for my nephews, niece, and other special kids for their birthdays at times.
When we went to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Blair, we would stay at the B-Line Motel. What fun times that was. As kids, we thought it was cool that grandma lived in a brand-new apartment and grandpa lived in an older home. The explanation I was given why they didn’t live together was that ‘grandma liked new things and grandpa liked old things. It didn’t matter to me the reason; I loved going to both places.
We would visit grandpa at his office. He was an insurance agent and a realtor in his later years in life. Before that he spent many years working at his alma mater, Dana College where his father graduated, taught, and was President. It’s also my alma mater along with my father’s. More on that in an upcoming blog.
Grandpa was very influential in the community and made an incredible impact. Going to his office is also fun! He had promotional products with his business information on them that he would use to give as gifts from his businesses.
I loved those and thought it was great that my grandpa’s name was on them. It was something fun to keep my little hands busy. To this day, I still have a number of these items. I have a nice letter opener and holder, a metal ruler, and a cool round paper clip holder with a round day slider so I can set the calendar for the month. They’re part of my desk now and I use them often. It’s a nice reminder of him.
I recall a time when we went fishing at a trout farm near Blair. This was different from what we were used to because we mainly used minnows to catch walleye, northern pike, bass, perch, bullheads, sunfish, and bluegills. The bait that grandpa was using to catch the trout was Velveeta cheese and marshmallows. What? Yep, Velveeta cheese & marshmallows, and grandpa caught the most fish that day. A total of 7. WOW! Another fun day!
When grandpa started to get sick in 1970, he couldn’t make it with us to our vacation in Minnesota that year. It wasn’t the same without him, but I knew he had to stay home to rest. Grandma would fill in for creating extra memories and as usual, she was up for that challenge.
During one of grandpa’s illnesses, he was in the hospital in Blair. Back in the early 1970’s hospitals had strict rules about kids visiting patients. My brothers are older than me, so they could walk right in the front door and get the a-okay from the one ‘in charge. It seemed to me that my brothers had to even prove how old they were. I could be wrong, but all I know was that it was strict when it came to kids going to the hospital and I did not qualify. I must have made it pretty clear to my family that I didn’t like that rule, I didn’t want to be left out and I wanted to see my grandpa. The next thing I know, I was at the back of the hospital and someone from my family opened that back door and proceeded to escort me to grandpa’s room. Mission Accomplished!
In the summer of 1971, we had another great vacation with Grandma & Grandpa Hansen. Later in August, I was scheduled for my 3rd eyelid surgery, in time so it could heal before I started school. I was excited for my eyelid to look better in hopes of the stares and the bullying to be minimized. In those days, you stayed in the hospital a couple of days before they would release you. August 25, 1971, I went under the knife with high hopes of the outcome. After the surgery mom told me that dad had to fly out to be with grandpa because he wasn’t feeling well and that once I was released from the hospital, we would make plans to get out there. As I prepared for the trip, still with my patch on my left eye, I was busy making flowers out of tissue paper and they were on a wire, so it looked like a bouquet. I always had some type of craft project going. I had made these flowers, especially for grandpa in hopes it would make him feel better. Mom, my brothers, and I set off from Wisconsin on our 500-mile trip to Nebraska. My brothers were not old enough to drive, so mom had no choice but to drive it all by herself. By this time, I could have the patch off my eye. It was healing nicely, and I was super excited to show off my latest reconstruction project to dad and my grandparents. The excitement was building as we were getting closer to Blair, and I could see the bridge over the Missouri River. That was a massive bridge to me as a little girl and I was a bit scared going over it. Somehow, I had this idea that if I would wiggle my toes when we went over the bridge, we wouldn’t fall in. Sounds like something my dad would say to put me at ease and get my mind off that fear.
We finally got to grandpa’s house. I was the first one to the door as I’m sure I shot out of the car and ran as fast as I could. Dad greeted me at the door with my brothers and mom following behind me. Before I could allow my dad to say a word, I squealed with joy, “Daddy, look, look at my eye. They fixed it, it’s all better.” I immediately knew that there was something so much more important than discussing my latest ‘good news. Dad was crying and between the sobs, he quickly informed us that grandpa had passed away. Everyone was crying now. I wasn’t crying, I was trying to figure out what was going on. That 8-year-old little girl was so confused. I did not know what “passed away” meant. That was not a term I had heard before and up to that moment in time, I’d never experienced a death of a loved one. To be honest, it never entered my mind that grandpa wouldn’t be here. Grandma noticed my confused state right away and drew me close to her and explained to me that grandpa had died in a way that this little girl could understand while comforting me. How could this be? I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that grandpa wouldn’t be here anymore. I was so devastated, crushed, and felt like my little world would never be the same. He was my hero and now my hero is gone.
I don’t remember much that night or the next day, but I do remember at some point going to the funeral home with my family as it was just 6 of us now. I brought my little bouquet of colorful tissue paper flowers I made for grandpa and a nice lady there asked, “Oh how beautiful, would you like to have us put these with your grandfather?” I was sort of hesitant because I didn’t know what she meant by that. I’ve never been to a funeral home or a funeral so all of this was new to me. I replied to her, “yes” and thought somehow grandpa would get the flowers I made for him after all.
Grandpa, Paul Vincent (P.V.) Hansen Sr. died on Sunday, August 29, 1971, and his funeral was Wednesday, September 1, 1971.
Before the funeral, our little family was able to see grandpa privately in a casket. I didn’t like seeing him there and I cried once again. The funeral was at First Lutheran Church in Blair, Nebraska. I don’t remember much of the service but what I do remember is that there were lots of people there. I’ve never seen so many people in one place. Since we were in the front, I would look back and there were people as far as my little eyes could see.
I didn’t know how great my Grandpa Hansen was to so many people until I was much older. I would hear stories and read many articles about what he did for Dana College and the Blair Community.
I just knew he was great in my eyes because of how he made me feel. He made me feel special and loved. To me, he was my hero and he ‘got’ me. It’s as if he understood me as no one else did. He left a tremendous void in my little heart when he died; however, I’m so thankful that I have the memories and I have the assurance that we will be reunited in Heaven someday. And what a glorious day that will be.
Thank you for reading my tribute to my hero, my Grandpa Hansen, Paul V. Hansen Sr. ~ 1904-1971
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