By Bible Bill
It is hard to say how this all started. I’m blaming my brother or giving him the credit for getting me moving. You can decide what you think. His second child was due soon and he said he wished he knew more about the family. I guess having children can make you nostalgic and Homer, the self-appointed family historian, lives in Iowa, a reasonable drive from my apartment in Denver. So doing my part to prepare for Grayson, I reached out to Homer for family records and to schedule a visit to hear any stories he had. That’s when the wheels started turning.
It was far too early in the morning to make life changing decisions, but that’s how it goes. I bumped into Ryan in the lobby and passing hellos quickly turned into a twenty minute conversation about not a whole lot. Somehow we got on the topic of books, which gave me the opportunity to say I thought from the little I knew my grandfather’s life would make a great story. Iowa farm boy turned World War II pilot who crashed in the South Pacific and met cannibals. He later competed in the Senior Olympics. This is what I shared with Ryan as my elevator pitch to showcase my grandfather’s story. From there, it only seemed natural to ask for his help to write it all down. He agreed.
It turns out I don’t know much about my grandfather beyond that. He played cribbage. He went to the Naval Academy. People called him Spike when he was younger. He had a farm. He may have ridden a horse to work. He was married twice but only loved one woman. After he died, we found a box of harmonicas. That is how I learned he played the harmonica. This is what I knew about Leo. It was a start, but not enough to fill a page, let alone a book. So this is the story of me getting to know my grandfather and the ridiculous friendship that inspired the journey.