When I think of my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, who was my dad, Allen Lewis Spencer’s dad, I usually think of his carpenter days with the Great Northern Railroad. That is because that was the job he held for probably most of his working years. I have seen a desk that he made, and it is beautiful, but of course, there weren’t many, or maybe not any, desks on railroad trains. Mostly he made things like seats, probably, unupholstered, which I would find extremely uncomfortable these days. I have ridden on trains from that era, and those old bench seats were not meant for long trips. Still, the workmanship is interesting, and they were well designed. I don’t know what kind of seats or other things my grandfather build, but I know that he was a talented carpenter.
Grandpa met my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer, through her brother, Albert Schumacher, who was his good friend. Once he got to know the family, he did his best to be a good son-in-law to my great grandparents, Carl and Albertine Schumacher, and brother-in-law to the younger kids. My great grandparents had a ten-acre lake on their property in those days, but it wasn’t really anything the kids could exactly enjoy, so my grandfather decided to seed the lake with fish, so they could go fishing, and it would provide food for the family for years to come. He also built a flat-bottom boat so the kids could actually go out on the lake to do their fishing. The boat isn’t surprising, since he was a carpenter, but seeding the lake. Who knew that he knew anything about that?
Life wasn’t always easy for my grandparents. They went through a number of tough years in history. It’s hard for me to believe, but my grandpa was born just fourteen years after the Civil War ended. Our nation had witnessed its first Presidential assassination (later, there would be four more, and of these, my grandfather would be alive for two). The nation was likely still reeling from the Lincoln assassination in 1865, when in 1881, James Garfield was assassinated, followed by William McKinley in 1901. In my lifetime, we have had one successful assassination, when President Kennedy was assassinated. The identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators is still a source of contention on that one to this day. There have been plots and attempts on most presidents, but we may not have heard of most of them. Politics can be a dangerous game.
My grandparents also lived through World War I and II, as well as the “Roaring Twenties” and the Great Depression. Grandpa spent time farming, as well as the oil fields of Texas, the lumber industry of Northern Minnesota, and the Great Northern Railroad. He even did a little time in the fur trade, trapping a number of animals, including skunks (wow), but I don’t think he found that to be very successful…and I’m sure the smell was not his favorite thing either. Looking back at Grandpa’s life, I would have to say that he led an “interesting” sort of life. He had, what could be classified as several careers before he retired. I never met my grandfather. He passed away in 1951. I think that when I meet him in Heaven, I will spend quite some time asking him about his life. I think that as a “history buff,” I will really find his life an interesting story. Today is the 144th anniversary of my grandfather’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Spencer. We love and miss you very much.