What does 90 years mean to you? Today it means a lot to me. My Granddaddy is 90 years old today. What a special accomplishment! Not many people live to be 90 and still drive, still raise a garden, and still pick up every pinecone and magnolia leaf in their yard with a 5 gallon bucket and his dog along side of him.
My Granddaddy was born in 1922. I Googled what important things happened in 1922 and it came back with a list of things and people I had never heard of. I guess 90 years ago was a really long time!
So I decided to tell you about the important things that I know of that have occured in the last 90 years that pertain to my Granddaddy.
He was born on June 3, 1922 to two loving parents, Ray and Kizzie Carpenter, on the Carpenter family homestead in Marshville located in Anson County, NC. He was one of 7 children and he had 3 sisters and 3 brothers. His father operated a saw mill. For a few years, the family lived in Florence, SC where they also operated a saw mill. They returned to the Caudle homestead (Grandma Kizzie's family) in Peachland, NC after the family lost the business during the Depression. After Granddaddy graduated from high school in 1941, he eventually moved to Baltimore, MD with some of his brothers and several cousins and worked in the shipyard. When World War II broke out, he was drafted and served in the Navy in the South Pacific. After the war, he returned to Peachland where his family was farming. He and his brother Harrell came to Craven County to start a saw mill. Eventually his whole family relocated to the area.
He met Granny when she was about 15 years old after she played a basketball game. She was supposed to have a date with a boy named Billy, but Billy brought along Granddaddy. And the rest is history. Granddaddy picked Granny up from her job at Penney's one day and gave her an engagement ring as they drove down the road. They were married on August 6th, 1949 at Granny's home in Clarks (which used to be the old Clarks post office). They planted their roots in New Bern, NC.
Granny and Granddaddy had 4 children over the years. These 4 children have given them 9 grandchildren, and these 9 grandchildren have given them 6 great grandchildren.
Granddaddy built a successful logging business that supported his family. He was then able to pass this solid business onto my Dad who has been able to support his family of a wife and 4 children, and hopes to pass it down to my brother one of these days. Granddaddy built a strong company with a solid foundation for it to support so many people successfully. I am not sure how long ago it was (Granddaddy said they had to pull each log out by a mule so it was a long time ago), but my Granddaddy and Trent's Granddaddy knew each other from the business. Trent's Great Granddaddy Henry and his Granddaddy Carl had my Granddaddy come in and log their farm land where we live now. Isn't that neat? All those years ago, God probably knew our families would be connected some day.
Granddaddy loves to fish. They had a nice house down in Pamlico County on the river for years where family could gather, relax, fish, and cookout. Unfortunately, Hurricane Irene destroyed the house last August so there is just an empty lot there now. But the memories live forever. He and Granny also used to travel all over the country in their RV. I remember going over to their house and just sitting in that RV wondering where in the world it had been. And back then, an RV was a sight you didn't see much.
It amazes me as to the changes that my Granddaddy has seen over his 90 years. Technology, automobiles, paved roads, or shopping centers being built..... How simple life was back then and how complicated it can be today.
My Granddaddy is a strong man. Never have I seen him waver. Yes, in the last several years, he hasn't felt his best. But he still gets around better than I imagine I would at 90! As hard as he has worked physically in his lifetime, he is doing quite well I would say! Of course, being in the logging woods so long, he cannot hear well. So when you get him, my dad, and a few others in the room, everyone is having to yell at one another so they can hear you. It's pretty funny! I tell my brother he better wear ear protection or he will be just like them when he gets old!
You might wonder what one trait is that some of us grandchildren got from our Granddaddy. I would like to say his strength, his pride, his determination, or his hard working attitude. But I have to break the news to you - we got "The Carpenter Earlobe." Yes, next time you are around one of us Carpenters, check out our earlobe. It is huge. And it is a Carpenter trait for sure. My brother calls them "floppies". It is still to be determined whether Claire has floppies or not. ;)
I am so glad that Claire is able to know her Great Granddaddy. What an age difference. If only they could talk to each other. I hope she will remember him. I remember my Great Grandmother Kizzie (Granddaddy's mother). I think I was 4 when she passed away so I have a few memories of going to her house and visiting. It was just behind my Granny and Granddaddy's house a few steps away.
As strong as my Granddaddy is, I have to admit I have heard him cry once and seen him cry once in my 32 years. And they both happened in the last year and a half. When I was in the hospital before I had Claire, I was told I needed to call my Dad and my Granddaddy to tell them I was ok. Well of course I was ok! At this point I didn't realize just how bad it was for me and for Claire. I guess everyone else knew but me. I called my Dad first and as I said "hey Dad" he burst into tears. I thought, wow, he must really miss me! Just kidding. Then I called my grandparents and talked to Granny first. She then said Granddaddy wanted to talk to me. I said "hey Granddaddy!" and he burst in to tears too.
Then one weekend when I was home, before Claire came home from Duke, they came over to my parents house to eat for some occasion (Thanksgiving, Christmas??). As they were leaving, he rolled the window down and asked if Claire was doing ok. He then told me that he prayed for her every day and began to cry.
I knew then that this strong, tall oak of a man also had the large, soft heart of a pine.
Granddaddy is like an old southern pine - tall and strong, large center of heartwood. Deep, strong roots that hold him steady. Underneath his hard, thick layer of bark lies soft and gentle man. The wood of a pine is soft but useful in a variety of ways. Yes, he may have lots of knots along his bark, but these imperfections are what make him unique. These knots show signs of the hard times and lessons learned in life. They may be limbs removed or chapters closed during some point of his life. They may be scars from working hard or bumps and bruises along the way of his 90 year journey so far. The long branches that reach out from the trunk represent his family and their journeys. Going their own way out into the world, but always staying connected to him.
And if you look inside of this tree, you will see a piece of natures artwork. Ninety growth rings, dark and light, thick and thin, symmetrical and asymmetrical. Each ring representing a year of life. And by studying these 90 rings individually, you can look back and tell what that specific year was like in his life. If a tree has a light, thin ring just two rings in from its bark, you can tell that two years ago in the spring there wasn't enough water for the tree. If you see that five rings in, there is a dark, thick ring, you can safely say that five years ago in the late summer or early fall, the tree had plenty of rainfall and ideal conditions for growing. So are the growth rings of Granddaddy's 90 years. Some years were good and some years were not as good. And each ring of his life tells a story and makes him the man he is today.
We are proud that he is our Granddaddy and Claire's Great Granddaddy. And that he has reached the awesome milestone of 90 years old! Happy Birthday Granddaddy/Great Granddaddy!
The Scott Family
PS - we have lots of pictures from his birthday party celebration that I will post later this week!