Today is Pearl Harbor Day, 2012. Aside from contemplating its historical significance, Pearl Harbor Day reminds me of two things, (1) that it’s my wife’s birthday and (2) of the wife’s, no, of our Grandpa Bud. I’m not really sure why it reminds me of Bud, but it does. He watched movies about it on tv a lot, maybe that’s my only link.I’ve been blessed throughout my life and haven’t missed out on much, so I don’t have many regrets, but I certainly have some. One of those regrets is that I never really engaged Admiral “Bud” Crone in anything other than small talk. Like many from his generation (I am of the Tom Brokaw belief that Bud’s was the Greatest Generation, in spite of very good arguments to the contrary) he was tight lipped about things that related to himself. Old men and woman (in their 80s and 90s now) are, for the most part, much more modest than we are today. My Great Uncle Art parachuted out of planes during WW2 and never said a word about it! Kids today zipline in the woods for half an hour and don’t shut up about how awesome it was. Zipline in a strange country with people who don’t know you but still want to kill you aiming guns at your ass and then let us know how awesome it was.
Bud was the same way. I dont’ know if he’d have ever opened up to me or not, but I sure would have loved to had the chance to talk to him about some things, some of which I never knew until he was buried last year. I saw some of his life’s momentos and accomplishments posted as an afterthought on a bulletin board at his wake and was very impressed at the man I had already missed.
Bud was in the military, and you’d always have known that because he proudly wore his Navy cap with pins everywhere he went. I still see those men out and about, though their numbers are dwindling, proudly wearing the hat that represents which ship they were assigned to during certain wars. Those men came from all parts of the country and, without questioning why their lives were being disrupted, banded together to win a most important war, not only for the USA, but for the entire world. They and their sisters helped pull this country out of a depression and into a time where a man with some work ethic could flourish in the middle class and live a very satisfying life.
Bud made a living working on the trains, back when trains were relevant to this country’s economic growth and dominance. I imagine he saw some pretty hilarious things while riding that train and could probably have written a book about it. There was a newspaper article at his wake about a time he got off the train to save two black kids who were drowning in a nearby lake. We’ve talked about police incidents before and crazy situations, but he never mentioned to me that he was a genuine hero!He was also a great sportsman. He bowled at least one 300 game that I’m aware of. I’m no Arnold Palmer, but when I moved back to STL from Texas, I had a decent golf game going. Once, Bud let me tag along with him and a couple of his friends to play a round that I’ll never forget. That bastard (sorry Bud, I’m still a sore loser) beat me HANDILY! Not even close and he was using persimmon woods that he probably had since the 60s! I was 25 and he was nearly 70! What he lacked in power, he made up for in accuracy and smarts. It was a course he had played many times before, and I never had, but I have no doubt that he’d have beaten me no matter where we played. He was just one of those guys who was a winner when he competed.
I’ve seen Bud drink once, literally one beer in the 16 or so years that I had the pleasure of knowing him. It was after that round of golf and I had a hunch that he and his buddies regularly hit this watering hole after a round. He orderd a Michelob and I had the same. Per his wishes, I never told his wife that he had that single beer that day…lol, I assume Jean won’t read this Bud, so your secret is still safe.
Finally, he was invited to tryout for the St. Louis Browns way back in his youth. He was, by all accounts (none from him, of course) a fine ballplayer. There was a letter from the organization at Bud’s funeral inviting him to come tryout. It was very cool and something I’d have really enjoyed hearing about.
Alas, it never happened. With the kids and work and all the other excuses, I never made the time to sit down and talk with Bud about Bud. My own grandpas both died when I was fairly young. My dad’s dad (who also drew interest from the Browns) may have lived long enough to see me turn 1, but if he did, not much longer after that. I don’t remember him at all. My mom’s dad (St. Louis Soccer Hall of Famer) died when I was in the fourth grade. I remember both my parents picked me up from school, which was unusual, on the day I learned he died (oh the silly things we remember). I do at least have memories of him at family get togethers and waking up early with him to eat bacon and eggs before he went off to the firehouse for work. Plus, of course, visiting him at the firehouse and sitting in the trucks. Those were good times.
Bud was my most recent and last grandpa and I’ll always remember him as though we shared the same blood. He had a sharp mind up until the day he died. He could tell you anybody’s birthday before he even blinked. He also had a vice grip handshake that he administered with no effort. He wasn’t squeezing hard or showing off or anything, he just had one of those grips that made you take notice, even in his 80s. Years of hard work made them like that. My wife always tells me I have soft, pretty hands…thanks, dear, why don’t you kick me in my vagina while you’re at it! Oh, crap, almost made it through an entire post without using profanity or referring to a sexual body part!! Next time!
Anyway, we all know people a little bit, but could learn so much more by just talking to them. If you’re lucky enough to have a grandpa, go sit down over a beer or coffee with him and chat him up. At this point, he’ll probably think you’re after his money when he dies, but if you can get him past that, you may learn something you never knew about him before!
God bless you Bud and thank you for letting me be a part of your family!