Many years ago I was a boy and my Grandpa Laatz was alive. From my perspective at that time we were both going to live forever. My Grandpa proved me wrong on that point, and I miss him very much. However, much of my Grandpa lives still in me.
Now I am the Grandpa, though my title happens to be Papa. My little ones are growing up and much a part of my life. I hope that I can add to their lives like my grandfathers added to mine. I mostly have memories, and those are wonderful.
I also have my Grandpa Laatz's book. I remember when he received it, a book in the mail. Complete Book of Outdoor Lore, by Clyde Ormond. He did not have it long. I found it fascinating, and one day he gave it to me. I could tell he really didn't want to part with it, yet it became mine. I have had it since.
The copyright date is 1964, and it was hot off the press when he got it. It must have been shortly after that when it came into my possession. Though I looked at it often, I never read it through. Now it is dated, and more of a treasure than a source of contemporary information regarding hiking and camping and the like.
The dust cover is torn and frayed. It has old book smell, which is not a bad smell to a lover of books. It has dated information, much of which is timeless if survival is the issue. It also has a bit of my Grandpa Laatz infused in between the lines of print.
I remember walking in the woods quite a bit with my Grandpa. Not so much when I was particularly little. We lived in the sprawl of Los Angeles in those days, and the outings I remember were to a park in Irvine and occasionally to Knotts Berry Farm. No, the woods came later, starting when I was ten years old and for a precious hand full of years to follow.
I recall finding old cabins and gold mines in the woods with my Grandpa Laatz. I remember one time being with him in a dry creek bed when we heard a crashing from down the hill. Crash, crash, crash! A doe burst from the covering scrub and jumped right over the depression in which we stood!
We fished rivers and streams together. We climbed a tall mountain so high that I could see the curvature of the Earth, or at least so it seemed to me. We found leaves pierced by porcupine quills with two quills still in them. We saw grouse and pheasant and squirrels in great numbers. We shot dead tree stumps with pistols. We hunted memories and made them our own.
Now I am reading through my Grandpa's book. Between the lines he walks again with me.
16 hours ago