Clarence Elmer Keck: 1889 – 1968

April 26, 1889 – December 3, 1968

What to say about Grandpa Keck? I could go on and on. I’ll start with a few of the earliest memories.

Grandpa had a tattoo. I was so impressed because I didn’t know any other people with one. It was of his initials and was on his lower arm.

I loved to go the Butler on Sunday when I was very little. Grandpa had a red leather chair where he sat to read the Sunday paper. I’d get up on his lap and beg him to read the comics. He would always oblige. He never seemed to be bothered by a little kid climbing all over him and demanding he read.

Grandpa loved ice cream. He would give Susie and I each a dime so we could walk down to Isley’s to buy “skyscraper” cones. The cones were not round, but moved like a mountain that came to a point on top. Once he asked us to bring him a cone. It began to melt before we could walk back up the hill so we took turns licking Grandpa’s cone too. He would also take us to the A&W for root beer floats in the summer. Grandma would be annoyed with him because she had just given us a good meal with a dessert and didn’t think Susie and I needed a second dessert.

Susie and I took our “vacation” at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We would walk to the swimming pool and Grandpa would drive over to get us after he was done working. He liked to take us to the Spang Company picnic. I remember the games and the pop. We could drink as much pop as we wanted. That was quite a treat because we didn’t get pop often.

When I was very small, I could go with Aunt Joanne, or the person taking Grandpa’s lunch, to Spang’s factory. I loved to go along to see all the machines. It was dirty though.

Grandpa had a big, roll top desk in the sewing room. If I was around when he was paying bills, I’d get a chair and sit beside him. He had loose change in the top, left drawer. He taught me to count the change. Imagine my mother’s surprise when she gave me the jar of egg money, thinking playing with the coins would keep me busy while she worked, only to have me tell her how much change was in the jar. I was only five so she didn’t believe me. After she counted the money she found I was right to the penny.

Once, when I was around nine or ten, Grandpa teasingly told me the safest way to save money was to hide it under the rug. I took him seriously and began to shove any coins I had under the rug in the front bedroom. The next spring, when Grandpa and Grandma took up the rug to clean, he found several dollars in coins pushed under the rug. He remembered that he told me that was a place to save money so he knew who was the culprit. He and Grandma brought me some crisp dollar bills in exchange for the coins as well as the balance of coins.

Grandpa and Grandma would play Chinese Checkers with us when we were young. He would never allow us to win just because we were kids. We had to beat him fair and square. It was wonderful to finally understand the game well enough to be able to beat him.

I remember the glider under the grape arbor. Grandpa loved to be able to reach up and get some grapes to eat while we rocked in the cool back yard.

Oh yes, and Grandpa smoked. Neither of my parents smoked, so that was unique. I liked the smell of the smoke from a distance but never liked it when I was up close. Grandpa would be horrified if he were around to know the effects of second hand smoke. He doted on all his grandchildren and would never have wanted to do anything that would put them at risk.

I could go on and on. Grandpa was a very special person. He really enjoyed life.

One thought on “Clarence Elmer Keck: 1889 – 1968

  1. What do I think of most when I think of Great-Grandpa Keck?

    The roll top desk that he kept up on the top floor of his house on Center Avenue. Cousin Eddie and I used to love hiding in it and exploring all of the drawers and hidden compartments of it. I remember Grandpa sitting at it, doing his paperwork and when you talk of him teaching you to count coins, it brought back a faint memory!

    The other, probably more important, thing that I remember about Grandpa Keck is that we shared a birthday. I thought that was the coolest thing when I was a kid. For the first eleven years of my life, the first Sunday picnic happened the weekend of, or after, April 26th. I always thought that this was to celebrate both of our birthdays. But in 1969, when the picnic didn’t happen as planned and was pushed to late May, well, it was my first experience in life’s lesson of – it’s not all about me!

    I remember that Grandpa Keck loved family gatherings – Sunday picnics, Christmas Eve, any reason to get his entire clan together was good enough for him.

    Grandma Kradel said that when she was a kid, Great-Grandpa Keck had always kept a huge chunk of Sugar Bowl chocolate on the table at the bottom of the stairs for everyone to chip away at. Sugar Bowl chocolate was a staple of the family diet.

    Grandpa Keck trivia: He worked as a foreman at Spang for forty-four years and was a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.

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