Monday, November 12, 2012

Lewis Parker Cardiff, PFC, Co F 311

My Grandpa Cardiff was a farmer, an unpolished rough-around-the-edges man who possessed the most amazing volume of swear words I had ever heard.  With his grandchildren, Grandpa was gentle and kind, but he was quiet.

My mother is the small blonde girl on Grandpa's lap.

He was quiet, but he was a listener which was a good thing because I could talk enough for both of us.  With him, my little girl imagination and world of questions could burst free and fill the air.  

It was a rarity that a grown-up would sit and listen to me, but he did.  We would sit on a bench down by the garden under a twisted peach tree.  He cut pieces of tree sap and let me taste it. Once Grandpa even gave me a piece of his “chaw” or chewing tobacco once, and I threw up.   

When I spent the night at my grandparent’s house, I slept on the couch in the living room.  Grandma often babysat for neighbors, making a whole 25 cents an hour.  When Grandma was out babysitting, Grandpa and I watched the black and white TV; his preferences were baseball and boxing.

I understood neither.  “Which one do we like, Grandpa?”

But I loved it when he swore.  He raised his fist, let loose with a string of profanity, and told the players, “Yuh shoulda …yuh sons of bitches…”  I never knew what that meant, so when I said it to my 4th grade teacher, she did not like it one bit.

Later, much later after his death, I learned more about him.  How he had been in the Great War, how he was a sniper behind enemy lines.  How he had been gassed and what that did to him.  What he had seen and what he had to do to survive.  Why he was so quiet. 

Oddly, I cannot reproduce his wide knowledge of profanity.  I guess it was one of his many gifts, and Lord knows, he had the right to use it.

Men in the infantry were the ones who "went over the top" from the trenches.


  1. haha sure the teacher did not like that at all. Profanity can be fun, sounds like he deserved to let it fly indeed.

    1. My son is the most talented swearer. He is so creative in his combinations of profanity. He doesn't swear around me anymore, though. Grandpa would have been proud.

  2. Replies
    1. Yes, his generation needs to be recognized for their sacrifice in a war that was brutal, and didn't end all wars.

  3. A wonderful post for veteran's day. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Grandpa died in 1965, when I was 13. I was just beginning to understand him when he died.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you, Lynn. This day and all days should be days to remember the veterans, both living and dead.

  5. The reason that they were so quiet. Yes. We can only imagine what they had seen and experienced.

    Like your grandfather, my father seemed mild-mannered but there was a deep well of anger that he tapped every now and then. And he knew a lot of cuss words, too.
    Great post.

  6. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. I did not know mine on either side of the family. My father told us, with no little pride, that he could sleep, eat and swear in six or seven languages. Certainly the words he used on the lawn mower sounded profane. His experiences in the war were not discussed, other than the tale of the vultures that stole his breakfast bacon while he was in Egypt. Other than that, he made an oyster look garrulous. Which I understand more and more as time goes by.

  7. No one ever comes back from war the same person they were. Swearing probably was an outlet for his frustrations. Bless that dear man and all of the others who have served their nation.


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