EDITOR’S NOTE: The columns of Bill Duncan are being reprinted in The News-Review. Duncan, who died in November 2011, wrote a weekly column for The News-Review and The Capital Press of Salem from 1981 to 2011. Duncan wrote the following column in September 2004. His thoughts are still pertinent to today.
Last Christmas I got many presents, but none as clever and special as the one I got from my two great-grandsons, Kaelen and Coleman. For years, I have produced a newsletter — first for my grandchildren, then, after they grew up, for my great-grandchildren. I usually just signed everything “Just Another Grandpa.”
On Christmas 2003 I received a book from Kaelen and Coleman — mind you, not just any old book, but one they had written. The title: “The Formal Education of Just Another Grandpa.” On the title page was this message:
“There are a lot of things that grandpas need to know. As you get older and your grandchildren get younger, you may find yourself losing touch. Please refer to this guide to remain a supercool grandpa.”
They were right. There are a lot of things a grandpa needs to know in this world of video games, sports and Yu-gi-oh. I discovered that last mentioned item is a card game and two of the most powerful cards are Exodia and the Blue Eyes White Dragon.
I gathered from their report that you are supposed to collect the cards, and Exodia comes in pieces. Between them they only have two pieces — a left leg and head. So far, they told me, they have 446 cards, but are still lacking the right leg, the body and both arms for Exodia and still need all of the Blue Eyes White Dragon.
Now that is something every grandpa needs to know.
The video games? Believe me, grandpas really need a guide to these strange places. They only mentioned three games: Jack and Daxter, Spiderman and Spiro.
I would have had to be under a rock not to know about Spiderman, but the other two games blew my mind. Jack is a boy, and Daxter used to be a boy, but is now a ferret because he fell into a dark eco.
Spiro is a dragon, and the player is trying to free all the dragons.
Whatever happened to checkers?
Both boys play in a youth basketball league and are keen on basketball, especially Luke Jackson of the University of Oregon. They admitted football came in second.
The book is filled with their drawings. Spaceships and race cars seem to be favorites. Kaelan and Coleman are twins, so they not only look identical but often speak as one, as in the written statement: “We like to check out books from the library that show us how to draw new things — like goblins.”
Kaelen and Coleman are not only artists but also fairly good writers, and they filled the back of the book with some of their original manuscripts.
But I like best their book review of a book titled “Chickens May Not Cross the Road and other Strange But True Laws.” They quoted a dozen or so strange laws, like “People may not put an ice cream cone in their pocket,” or “Policemen may bite a dog if they think it will calm the dog down.”
I pulled “The Formal Education of Just Another Grandpa” down from the shelf this week because we are, if the calendar is right, about to celebrate Grandparents Day. Grandparents Day is a national celebration started by Marian McQuade of Oak Hill, West Virginia, and made a national holiday in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.
Marian McQuade is 76 years old and is blessed with 15 children, 40 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She is quite modest about why she was so passionate about getting a day set aside to honor grandparents and says the idea came from her childhood.
“I would visit my grandmother, Maude McClung Dickerson, on her 130-acre farm,” she said in an interview. “After working all day on the farm, Grandma would walk to visit elderly people in the community. Often I would tag along. I never forgot talking with those delightful people. That’s where my love and respect for oldsters started.”
Her concern, she said, is not just for people who happen to be grandparents, but for all the lonely elders in nursing homes, and on Grandparents Day she wants the community where they live to adopt those grandparents as their own.