Our Grandpa

Our sweet, wonderful Grandpa Pete died on Saturday. He was 93. Born in 1915 in Lincoln, Nebraska to German Russian immigrant parents, he raised rabbits on the family farm as a child and gandy danced for Burlington Northern during his summers as a teen, a job that kept him away from the war, busy until retirement and full of great train stories, like Woody or Dylan.  He met my grandma Vi (that dame above) at a dance, but neither one was that thrilled.  "I'm not dating that farmer," she told her friends. "I'm not dating that made up clown," he told his.  Somehow, they both got over it.  They met again a couple years later and started to date.  Then broke up - until her sister and her boyfriend set her up on a "blind date." Was Vinona Mae furious when they pulled into his driveway.  She got over that, too...

Grandpa was a guy who loved his daughters, cheap beer (straight from the can, but sometimes red (with tomato juice, a Nebraska thing), too) and Cornhusker football.  He grew the world's best tomatoes and made his own pickles.  He taught us how to fish and always cut a rug when Boxcar Willie or Hank Williams records would play.

Porter and I head back to Lincoln tomorrow to say our goodbyes. He'll be buried right next to Grandma Vi.

We'll love you and miss you forever, Grandpa Pete.


  1. Hollister - he was quite a guy. Safe trip.

  2. Anonymous says:

    sorry to hear about your grandpa. he sounded like a cool guy.

  3. Courtney says:

    What a long and full life it sounds like Pete had! I am so sorry to hear of your family's loss, but I bet he's pleased as punch to be with his "made up clown" again! Wishing you a safe trip and thanks for sharing such a wonderful post with us.

  4. jezebel says:

    I loved hearing the early, thwarted tales of love amongst my elders. Mostly because it always involved the best language, like dame, doll, and broad, and the ending was always happy. My sympathies are with you two.

  5. Hollister, a wonderful tribute for your grandfather, xv.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss - have a safe trip and thank you for sharing his story with all of us.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a lovely man - how blessed you all have been. with sympathy, Christy

  8. Anonymous says:

    I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was quite a fellow!

  9. So sorry to hear about your loss, he sounds like a fantastic grandpa :-(
    I lived in Nebraska myself for a few years, Lincoln is a nice little town (we lived in Schuyler, about an hour north).

  10. Anonymous says:

    i only hope i'll leave behind such a legacy of interesting stories. sympathies.

  11. Thanks so much, everyone. Really means a lot!

  12. Unknown says:

    Your insights are always so keen and colorful – I can imagine Grandpa smirking now (with the can of beer in toe of course). Thoughts and strength to you, Porter and all affected.
    Sincere Sympathies,

  13. Anonymous says:

    This was such a nice remembrance of you grandfather. My husband is from Nebraska and his mom is still in Lincoln...92 in February and from German stock by way of Russia. I enjoyed reading this and will be thinking of your family.

  14. Sorry to hear about Grandpa - on your mom's side, no? I have heard of the beer/tomato juice thing before. It's a breakfast drink out in Olympia, WA, for the loggers. (Lived there once)

  15. Hollister, I'm so sorry for your loss. Grandparents are special. Golly, Mr. Peacock just posted that his grandmother died.
    Sad time.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I lost my Dad about 10 years ago to cancer... He was the best Dad and I was always so very proud of him. My friends were always saying how cool he was. He was a gentle giant; 6 feet 3 inches of German sweetness. But tough too, a hard working machinist for Burlington Northern - in Burlington Iowa.
    Maybe your Grandpa and my Dad are swapping train stories now! My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.

  17. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like you have some very wonderful stories and memories as well as photos that I hope will give you comfort. On a lighter note, I can see where you and Porter get your height!

  18. I'm sorry for your loss...
    Coincidentally, my Grandmother Vi, passed away on Sunday. She was 98 and lived in Lincoln, Nebraska during the 1950's....I wonder if they knew each other's family, stange huh?

  19. mamacita says:

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost two of my grandfathers in recent years, and I can tell you that you never really forget them. I still think about them all the time.

  20. what a beautiful post about your grandfather and grandmother. He seamed to have had a wonderful life full of fabulous memories!

    have a safe trip.

  21. i'm so sorry to hear about your grandfather. he sounds amazing. i hope you and porter have a nice trip home. funerals can be surprisingly warm and funny and comforting and wonderful. i'm thinking of you two. love, joanna

  22. It's a beautiful tribute that you know so many wonderful details about his life.

    Here's to him.

  23. Leciawp says:

    This is a lovely tribute. My heart goes out to you and your family. xo

  24. Giuseppe says:

    Your grandfather is my new hero

  25. a grand gandy dancer...how proud he must have been of all of his remarkable girls! a marvelous man, clearly; you've paid him wonderful tribute. safe travels to Lincoln...

  26. Anonymous says:

    freedom. lucky him
    sorry for your loss

  27. nikole says:

    your words are lovely. he (and your grandmother) sound as though they were delightful.

    safe trip.

  28. Lark says:

    I'm very sorry about your loss. The story about your grandfather and grandmother was wonderful. The photograph is also really beautiful. What a handsome looking couple your grandparents were. We all leave apart to meet again...

  29. JP says:

    I am sincerely sorry for your loss. Sounds like he certainly had a rich and wonderful life.


  30. ro says:

    Wonderful, sweet and heartfelt post.
    We should all be so lucky to have such a special tribute.
    Thank you for putting the world to rights this morning.
    Deepest condolences.

  31. So sorry to hear about your grandpa. What nice memories you have.

    Safe travels.

  32. Pitboss12 says:

    I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. Please accept my condolences.

  33. So very sorry for your loss. The tribute to your grandfather was precious. The picture of your grandparents is adorable.

    My grandmother was born in 1915 as well. We miss her dearly.

    Hope you see many loved ones and hear charming stories about him while you are in Nebraska.

  34. Hollister,
    sorry for your loss.
    safe journey, savor the time and bring back more great memories,

  35. What a beautiful remembrance of a wonderful man. And what an incredible-looking couple they were in that photo you posted. So sorry for your loss.

  36. Bradford says:

    Great writing. I actually read it all, for a change. Well said. I miss him and we never met. You're now officially in charge of writing/speaking about me when I go. This week hasn't been the same w/o the Hoveys. I await your return....

  37. What wonderful stories you have of your grandfather. I lost my Grandpa Pete a few years ago, and I share your sorrow. It is so hard to lose grandparents who've had such an impact on our lives. My sympathies to you and your family. Safe travels.

  38. Kim says:

    I'm so sorry about your grandfather.

    Red beers--my 92 year old grandma still drinks one everyday. Maybe that's how they made it through all those brutal Nebraska winters.

    DOTR and I always say that Nebraska is a great place to be from....and we mean it.

  39. Anonymous says:

    So sorry. All the best from Germany! He will be remembered the best way.

  40. Thank you all so much for your kind, kind words. It means so much to Porter and me.

  41. Thank you for sharing about your Grandfather. It sounds like he was a truly amazing man.

  42. i'm so sorry to hear about your grandfather. he sounds like a very sweet and wonderful man. thinking good thoughts for y'all...

  43. I've just gotten to your post here and am deeply sorry for your loss. Thanks for passing along some of the knowledge that he gave you.

    In sympathy,