James and Alena sat on their slatted wooden lawn swing almost every summer evening with the fire flies cascading around them. Their sleepy little town of Delphi, Indiana was in the heart of the Midwest, and James knew the area more intimately than most because he operated the town dump. Strolling down the quaint street of Delphi, one recognized that James was about to appear before meeting him because the pungent sweet aroma of his pipe tobacco met you with a sudden invasion of your nasal cavity. James and Alena were authentic Hoosiers—straightforwardly honest in every way. What you saw was what you got! Alena never learned to drive a car, in those days of the early twentieth century, because she claimed she just didn’t have eye and foot coordination. Without the independence of driving, Alena was dependent upon her husband who called the shots in the family and dictated the directions she made. On Sundays, for example, the dinner menu prepared by Alena for any number of guests who might stop by was composed of egg noodles and chicken, mashed potatoes, and home-made pie, not to mention a few other side dishes, stuffed with carbohydrates. Stirring up those noodle and rolling out the dough to dry and then cutting them in perfect symmetry required real skill. James and Alena were an integral part of Delphi until their deaths in the 1980s. Even now, recalling the image of James in his dark green trousers and matching shirts with a chunky leather boots and Alena with her cotton print dress, breezing a bit in the wind as she swung on that wooden swing still evoke a great appreciation for my grandparents and that carefree time of childhood. What so many didn’t know however, was that my grandfather
was a decorated soldier from World War I who spent considerable time at the front, and had been overcome by his share of mustard gas. James was a blacksmith for the cavalry and he taught me a knowledge and appreciation for horses. He was my hero. Last year when my daughter named her firstborn son after James, I couldn’t restrain the tears of joy. The pride that James and Alena would have felt for their great-granddaughter who knew them from the memories and stories that had been related and read of them had lived on yet another generation to our precious little grandson, his namesake.