Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's house 1991:
Today we celebrated Christmas with extended family at my grandfather's house. This marks the 43rd time I have celebrated Christmas in this way, and it will be the last. Grandpa, who is 94, moved to Bethany Home this week. He had lived in only two places during those 43 Christmases of mine: in the home he was in until a few days ago and, before that, in Ripon's firehouse. Yes, he lived IN the firehouse. Part of the building housed the trucks, and part of the building housed the family of the fire chief. Grandpa was fire chief in Ripon for 39 years. He retired in 1979 and moved to his new home, pictured above, about 6 blocks from the firehouse.
Above is a picture of Grandpa in uniform and a picture of me in front of the firehouse home in 196?. It was pretty amazing as a kid to get to tour the firehouse every Sunday after church. Actually, it is amazing as I look back; then it was just normal.The pictures above and below are from 1978, our last Christmas at the firehouse.
I just saw the following picture in a Ripon newspaper today and couldn't help but append this note to my post. It is a picture of one of the Ripon Police Department's FOUR dispatch modules in the new police department headquarters. Grandma used to be THE dispatcher in Ripon for ALL the emergency services. This was for no salary. It was just her job, BECAUSE she was married to the fire chief and lived in the firehouse!! (It was certainly a different world back then! Can you imagine anyone today taking on a 24/7 job -- and I do mean LITERALLY 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- with NO pay just because of what her spouse does??!! Add to that raising 5 children in your "work" environment!) Notice all the computer screens below, and compare them with the black phone on the table next to Grandpa in the photo above. That was one of a bank of phones that made up that corner of the LIVING ROOM! I remember as a child learning very young to become absolutely silent when one of those phones rang. I can still remember Grandma sitting there saying all the official code letters and numbers as she sent on the information. Then she would go back to being Grandma and serving cake!