Stanley Lee Brittingham
My grandfather, Stanley Brittingham, passed away today at the age of 84. His death came less than one month after my grandmother’s.
Papa, as I called him, was a larger-than-life figure. He loved boxing and lifting weights. He served part of the Second World War in the Navy and witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In the early 1960s he was chief of police in Nevada, Missouri, a job he loved.
I’m certain that my appetite is a direct inheritance from him. The amount he could eat was legendary — whole plates of pork tenderloins, giant bowls of Chef-Boyardee pasta with meat sauce, mounds of ice cream and candy bars. He loved everything sweet. Visiting my grandparents there were never any rules on when or what or even where you could eat. He liked to set up shop in the living room with a toaster oven to make sandwiches and watch Johnny Carson.
If he thought something was inadequate he would call it “Mickey Mouse” and if he thought something was of high quality it was “tremendous.” He always had rolls of quarters and crisp one dollar or five dollar bills for my cousin and me. Money held a magical quality for him and he transferred that to his grandkids by sending us letters with dollars inside or Eisenhower dollar coins taped to our birthday cards. At Easter the plastic eggs hidden in the yard rattled with change and sent us into a competition to get the most coins for our pockets. He loved to draw pictures for his kids and grandkids too. His favorite figures were a duck smoking a pipe and a butterfly.
He worked hard for his family and, though he never had a lot, did everything possible to make his children happy and never want for a thing. He was one of a kind and I’ll miss him dearly.
April 8th, 2008
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Bertha Louise Brittingham
My maternal grandmother, Bertha Brittingham, passed away today at the age of 86. She was a mother of six children who lived a modest life.
My favorite memories of her include waking up early as a child and coming downstairs to find her folding a pile of warm laundry, something she did every morning out of habit. “Wheel of Fortune” would be on the television with the sound turned low. I would take the washcloths and fold them in quarters for her. Grandma could guess the word puzzles with only a few letters filled in.
She was born 1921 in Butler, Missouri, a small mining and farming community in the southwestern part of the state. Growing up before the age of mass communications, Grandma’s way of speaking was filled with local flavor. Butter she called oleo. Things didn’t go bad, they were “no count.” She would say “stout” instead of “strong.”
View Bertha’s Life Slideshow at Smilebox.
March 11th, 2008