I grew up down around Rowley and Walker, Iowa, and as such, we were a stopping off point for those family members using the airport in Cedar Rapids. Gramps used to get summer help from his grandsons, and for some time, it was one of Uncle Chuck's boys that came up to help. If Dad didn't go down and pick the person up, Gramps or Leo Jr. would come down and make the trip, but they almost always stopped through the house to visit. On one occasion when I was in my early teens, Gramps stopped and Dad was sleeping as he worked goofy hours for the railroad. Grandpa had Leo Jr's son Ben with him who wasn't but 7 or 8 at the time - and possibly younger. We went to the barn and looked at the cows and I got a lesson from Gramps in the art of telling how healthy a cow was by their manure. I was also instructed that the old outhouse needed a roof and that I should get to that soon. The old outhouse was in such terrible shape and obviously hadn't been used in 40 years! Anyhow, Grandpa told me to get in the car. I told him that I should tell Dad that I was leaving or leave a note and he told me not to wake Dad and to not worry about it. You didn't ever tell Gramps no. I got in the car, worried that Dad might wake up and wonder where the hell I was. We commenced to heading down to Cedar Rapids, which was a very common occurrence for me. But for Ben, this was very exciting. He wasn't used to seeing so many people. Ben was standing up in the back seat - Gramps bought that car because it was old enough that seat belt laws didn't apply. We pulled onto the interstate and cars were whizzing by. Gramps was driving fairly conservatively at this point and Ben - excitement in his voice asked Gramps, "How fast will this car go?" I was surprised by the answer - "I don't know, let's see." With that, Gramps punched it to the floor. The old car came to life. It sounded like the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard. The old speedometer kept crawling up and we were now the ones whizzing by people. Cars up ahead, obviously noticing this old car coming up fast in their rear view mirror seemed to scramble to get out of our way! That speedometer went up over 100 miles per hour and I know we were doing well over that. When the car would give no more - Gramps let off of the accelerator and the car slowed back down to it's pre-race speed. He calmly stated, "About that fast." Cars that we had just passed doing well over 100 miles per hour were now passing us back, their occupants quite inquisitive at this crazy old man with two children in his old car. They took wide berths passing us, probably fearing the driver's next move.
We arrived at the airport without incident - and with time to spare I might add! We had enough time that Gramps treated Ben and I to ice cream sundaes at the airport. Chuck's boy came in and we headed back towards Walker. When we got home, Dad was livid. He was wondering where the hell I had gone. When he found out that I had been with Grandpa, he started chewing me out for not letting him know. Gramps told him, "I told Eric to get in the car and not to pester you." Issue dropped. Even Dad knew that whatever Gramps said went. I don't think I ever told Dad about the ride to Cedar Rapids. I'm not sure how he would have reacted. All I know is that my grandfather left an enduring memory that I'll never forget. I wonder if Ben remembers that or not?
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