Monday, January 18, 2010

Slim


So kids, this is your great-grandfather: Irvin Levi Hansen. His nickname is "Slim". I was going to say "was" but I'm sure he still is "Slim" to all the people he hangs out with now on the other side.  He was born in 1900-the turn of the century. He carried a 1900 silver dollar around in his pocket and it came in handy to amuse restless grandchildren when we tagged along with him on his various errands. He could make it disappear and then come out of someone's ear. Or flip it in the air and catch it. It seemed like magic to his adoring audience. He always had a funny story at the ready or a silly song for entertaining purposes as well. He could make a whistle out of a willow stick and he was the go-to guy for a piece of candy.

He was born to Danish immigrants, and lived most of his life in and around Twin Falls, Idaho. He liked to hunt and fish--actually early in his life, he had to hunt and fish if he wanted to eat. He was a heavy-equipment operator and a fireman. He could fix just about anything and he always kept his cars spotless and in tip-top shape. As I got older, I came to appreciate the fact that my Grandpa was a pretty snappy dresser. I was at his house one day when he got a big box delivered. In it were two suits: one green and one orange. Not everyone can pull off those two not-so-subtle colors!

For a time, we lived next-door to our Hansen Grandparents. I figured out that if I were ready a little early on Sunday mornings, I could walk to church with Grandpa. I enjoyed trying to keep up with his long strides, and he would ask me about school and Primary.  On the way home there were a couple of widows that he would stop in to check on. I remember sitting in  their little proper parlors while Grandpa visited with each of them.

He was a powerful influence in my life in ways he may not have realized. He and my Grandma owned an apartment building that was right next to their house. He worked hard maintaining the apartments and cleaning them when someone moved out. There was an old coal furnace so he had to keep the furnace stoked in the winter. But when he was taking a break, and in the evenings, I saw him reading and studying the scriptures. If I wandered in the living room and he was sitting in his chair, he would have his scriptures open and a study guide or book of some kind to help him understand what he was reading. He would tell me what he was learning and get so excited telling me about it.

There were crucial times, at important crossroads in my life, that he took me aside, sat in his chair with me standing in front of him, reached out to put a hand on each of my arms and look me straight in the eye. Once to explain morality to me when everyone else around me was being hush-hush about a teen-age girl who got pregnant out of wedlock. And another time to tell me that he was proud of me and that I would be happy if I stayed close to my Heavenly Father and always said my prayers. And, when I turned 12, he and my Grandma gave me a white triple-combination with my  name engraved on the front--my very own scriptures. He took a long time and painstakingly drew lines with a ruler to write a message for me in the front cover. Among other things he wrote: "Now it is my prayer that when you marry, you marry a good Mormon boy. One who has served two years in the mission field." That line from my Grandpa loomed up in my mind and gave  me the courage to break off an engagement that wasn't right for me--leaving me to marry the returned missionary who has been my husband of almost 28 years.

When my boys saw the above picture of Grandpa Hansen, "the hearts of the children turned to their fathers" in one glance. The tie that binds the generations?
 A cool car and a shotgun.
 Some things never change.

And this is the comment on the back of the picture:




1 comment:

Amelia said...

I hope you don't mind me commenting on older posts, but I just have to say that I love your historical posts! I would love to write interesting histories for some of my ancestors. I wish I had the knack for it like you do!