I don't eat a ton of carrots and never have. I wasn't a big fan until later in life.
But I can spot the tiniest thing on the floor if I know what I'm looking for.
It made me $25 when I was about seven years old.
That's a lot of dough no matter how old you are.
My grandfather loved his rings. He didn't have a ton of them but the ones he owned were nice. I've talked about one of them in a post from three months ago; it's one of my favorite pieces. But that was a ruby ring with diamonds surrounding it. He had another one. This one had a big ol' diamond stuck right smack dab in the middle of it.
Well, it had had a big ol' diamond stuck right smack dab in the middle of it, before it came loose and fell out somewhere in his printing shop.
My grandfather lived around the block from the house I grew up in. You had to cross Bedford, my street, and walk down Johnson St. (named after my great grandfather) and take a right on Beattie St., and walk about 500 yards and step into number 230.
It was my grandfather's printing shop which he had lived in since he and my grandmother split up back in the sixties. He had a little roll-away bed that he'd wheel out at night. It looked uncomfortable, but it certainly did not prevent my gramps from conking out at the drop of a hat. In the 1980's my mother and aunt remodeled a room in his shop into a pretty nice bedroom, complete with precious cable TV, and a new set of fancy, thick, fleece bedding. But my gramps maintained allegiance to the roll-away bed, spending most every night between simple cotton sheets spread over the thin, white and black striped mattress.
It kept him closer to his dogs. They were a constant at 230 Beattie St.
Usually it was a German Shepherd or two.
Chief was one I remember well--big, awkward and lumbering, but faithful and protective to the end. Chief was light brown with callus pads as big and as thick as sneaker soles. Questa was the black, female Shepherd; they made a good couple.
I was constantly amazed that none of my grandfather's dogs' tails were ever separated from their rumps by the heavy, powerful, and speedy revolution of the many gear belts and wheels that were constantly spinning close to the ground. Come to think of it, I'm surprised I ended up with all of my extremities intact after the hours I spent there, close to the ground, tempting fate. Then again, my aunt always maintained that I was born with a tail, and that she had it in a jar in the storage room. But, I'm sure everybody has a story like that ... right?
My grandfather worked a lot when he could, because the political printing season was just that: a season. If he didn't make the money when he could, it would be a long time between paychecks.
I'm sure he was working hard when he looked down and noticed his big, sparkling, diamond was missing from his ring; he must have simply freaked.
I remember walking in and seeing my mother and grandfather from the entrance way, standing awkwardly close to each other, with all the lights on, and a look of stark concern in their faces.
I reached over the 4 foot high red particle-board door, pulled the ring-like latch over, as I had done two thousand times or more, body-blocked the dogs from getting out, and hurried over to the two worried grownups.
Chief and Questa, as expected, both spun around and chased after me, furiously scraping their nails on the rough wood-plank floors in an attempt to dig in and gain traction and keep up with me. Then, as always, they would comically, and unsuccessfully put the brakes on a few feet too late, bumping into each other before turning around panting and smiling like they had been rehearsing the routine all day. I draped an arm over each of their furry bodies, and avoided their hot, pervasive tongues as best I could.
"Frederick, your gramp lost his diamond from his ring," my mother said. "It's got to be here somewhere. Help us look for it, please."
I looked at my grandfather and it was the first time I think I ever saw him look legitimately heartbroken.
"Fred, I'll make you a deal. If you find that diamond for me," my gramp said, "I'll give you twenty five dollars."
"Dad ... you shouldn't do that," said my mother.
"Hush, Jude. That diamond could be anywhere. That'll be a small price to pay if he finds it."
I turned around and looked down at the familiar floor.
" ... I see it!"
"Frederick, don't play with your grampa like that."
"But I see it! I see it! ... It's right there!"
And I pointed to the floor ... to the area beneath the table that the television was on ... beneath the basketball that I had been playing with the day before ... and, like in a movie, a sparkle came from the loose diamond that was wedged between the ball and the rough, dark, wooden boards, and I swear it almost made a sound.
I turned to my grampa, who was smiling in a way that I can only describe as proud astonishment. He looked at my mother as if to silently congratulate her on a job well done.
He took out his wallet--the size and shape of a black softball--and pulled out a crisp twenty, and an even crisper five, and he looked at me and said ...
"I'll swap ya ..."
And I looked at the money, with all it's immediate importance and value, and my eyes bugged out of my head.
"OK, Gramps ... you sure?"
"Yes, Fred," he said, "I'm sure."
He turned to my mom and said, "Judy, I think we should call him Eagle Eye. What, say?"
And my mom looked at me holding the most money I had ever held in my grubby little seven year old hands and said...
" ... I think we should call him a boy who just earned himself his first savings account."
Thanks for reading,