My grandfather, Art McKenzie, died this week at the age of 93. I was heartbroken when I heard of his passing and will miss him immensely, but 93 years is one helluva life. He got his time (more than his man, the late Buck Owens, anyway) and was a tough bugger to the end.
Born five months after the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, he grew up on the family homestead in the mountains of Central Idaho before pushing a Ford Model-T over the Blue Mountains of Oregon with his family and settling in the Willamette Valley. Over the years, he worked as a logger, a trapper, a cowboy, and a soldier fighting in the Philippines under ol' Doug MacArthur during World War II. He was a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a storyteller, and a husband: he was married three times (consecutively, not concurrently) - and to his final wife, my grandmother, for a month shy of sixty years.
My grandfather watched the world shuffle into modern times. He remembered the first time he saw a car, told of his cousin pissing himself upon riding in the first airplane they ever saw, and as far as I know never laid hands on a computer. He was born during the presidency of William Howard Taft, back when William Randolph Hearst ran the news business, and here I am memorializing him on a blog.
In his memory, I offer this excerpt from The Wisdom of A.E. McKenzie, his only published work.
First, nouns from The Dictionary:
Skid Grease - n . - butter.From Aphorisms:
Canned Cow - n. - evaporated milk.
Dashboards - n. - overalls.
The Sunday School Lesson - n. - the Sunday comics.
Curtains for Your Sitting Room - n. - underwear.
"How'd you sleep, Grandpa?" I asked one morning.
"With my eyes closed," he replied.
"Why do you get up so early, Art?"
"So I have longer to loaf."
"I know I don't snore. I stayed up and listened to myself all night and never snored once."
"A fartin' horse will never tire. A fartin' man's the one to hire."
"You've been innoculated with a phonograph needle." (after another lengthy monologue from my grandmother.)
"Today is Monday. Tomorrow's Tuesday. Next day's Wednesday. Goodness, the week's half over and we haven't done anything yet."
So long, Gramps.