For Father's Day, I Wish I Could Tell Grandpa He Was Right
My Grandpa Lou was my dad's stepdad and the only grandpa on my father's side I ever knew. Once, on a visit with him, I lamented that I would have to take a typing class in the fall. I was 15 and entering my sophomore year of high school. We sat at a picnic table in a park and watched my younger cousins run and play. Grandpa assured me that learning how to type would be a vital skill for me as I entered the job market. I was offended. It was 1990 and I was certain he meant that I was destined to be someone's secretary. Had he not seen me playing my guitar on his front porch that very morning? I was to be a musician. I loved to write, too, and I would surely journal about his expectations of me later. It would seem we were both full of assumptions.
I would learn way too late to tell him that I was wrong. As glamorous as hunt-and-peck typing seemed for Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Breslin, my Grandpa Lou was right. Learning to type would serve me well, and it turns out his suggestion was not sexist at all. He offered this advice with an understanding of where the world was headed.
Grandpa Lou was the accountant and manager of the Cincinnati division of the R.L. Polk Company, which provided business directories and marketing information to the automotive industry and insurance companies. Beginning in the 1950s, Grandpa Lou pushed for computerization as a faster, more efficient way to provide and deliver data. According to my dad, Grandpa Lou specialized in cost control and efficiency. R.L. Polk trusted Lou to prove the need for and long-term benefits of computers. The website Company-Histories reports R.L. Polk's first computers were installed in 1956 and 1958 and were used to compile motor vehicle statistical data and facilitate direct mail marketing.
In those days, companies built special climate-controlled computer rooms to accommodate the huge machinery. My Grandpa Lou was promoted to corporate controller in 1967. It was his forward thinking and success in bringing R.L. Polk into the digital world for data processing that earned him this promotion.
Grandpa Lou retired in 1990 at the age of 70. That same year, he tried to impart some wisdom on his rebellious granddaughter who was begrudgingly headed into a typing class. I listened to his words, but I did not hear what he was saying. I do now. It may have taken me a while, but I learned two valuable lessons from Grandpa Lou. One, never assign ill intent based on an assumption. Ask and clarify to truly understand. This would be a recurring lesson, and I still get it wrong sometimes. And two, yes, Grandpa, you were right: Learning to type is a vital skill in today's digital world. He died in 2013 at the age of 92, and I wish I had told him how right he was before he passed.
For all the fathers and grandfathers imparting wisdom they may never know is appreciated, happy Father's Day.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a wife, mother and award-winning columnist. She is the media director of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Find her on social media @WriterBonnie, or email her at Bonnie@WriterBonnie.com. To find out more about Bonnie Jean Feldkamp and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate, Inc.