Grandpa Dale’s 1930s train adventure West

The journalist in me wants to cut this video down to 1:30, add some B-roll and voiceovers where the story isn’t the strongest. But the granddaughter in me wants to watch my Grandpa Dale share a tale I’d never heard before, about his visit to his buckskin-wearing Uncle Bert, who left home at the age of 12 and stayed a bachelor who grew flower bulbs and garlic in Oregon City. My grandpa’s father gave him a train pass when he was 14 and told him to go visit his uncle, and somehow, in 1933, he survived.

Grandpa and I talked for a good hour on Veteran’s Day, when I was in Roanoke for the day (for a bizarre eye appointment where outer eyelashes that relentlessly tickled my eyeballs were burned off–certainly an interesting experience). I’m hoping to film my grandpa–my mom’s 94-year-old father–telling stories of his life over the next few months, and share them both as shorter clips on YouTube for relatives and save them for my own kids one day, so they can learn about what life was like in the 1930s and ’40s. (I’m fairly certain I won’t be giving them a train pass as a teenager and letting them explore the West alone, with just $30 in a pocket.) I learned a little about my grandparents’ lives at my Grandma Betty’s passing: They met at the University of Illinois, but moved to Washington when the war broke out. Dale broke codes for the Army, and then for the National Security Agency. And if you ask, he’s got some strong opinions about the NSA’s role today.

A bonus in this video: An appearance by Winkie the cat and some nifty animated iMovie maps. Soon, I’ll share his story about growing up in the tiny, flat town of Dana, Illinois, the two-room schoolhouse and how he could deliver 50 newspapers without once touching the handlebars on his bike.

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