Fifty Bucks

Today, on what would have been Pap’s 92nd birthday, I wanted to share a story about fifty bucks I have supposedly owed him since the day I was born.

Pap at his 90th Birthday Party
Pap at his 90th Birthday Party

I am the oldest grandchild on my father’s side and with that I feel like I have a particularly special relationship with my pap (grandfather). There are a couple reasons for this. To me, Pap made me feel special.  His kind words as we said goodbyes after a visit, his compliments when introducing me to friends and extended family members, his instructions to boyfriends/husband to take care of me, or the way I just “fit” in his arms for those awesome Pap hugs made me feel extra special in his eyes.  Now, I imagine each one of us grandchildren can say similar things about Pap.  But one thing that was just between us was me being teased by my pap, as long as I can remember, that I cost him fifty bucks when I was born and therefore I owed him those fifty bucks,

Pap and I at my high school graduation party.
Pap and I at my High School Graduation Party.

Since I can’t remember the day I was born, from what I have been told, this is how it all went down and why I have owed Pap fifty bucks:

Pap had a hunting camp in Tionesta, PA.  The camp was being built the year I was born. As a matter of fact, Pap was up at camp on Friday, September 23, 1977. He had headed up early and my parents were planning to join him after my dad got off work that Friday.

Let me pause here and say that my mom was pregnant and due in November.  Mom and Dad had just attended their first lamaze class the night before, Thursday, September 22. My mom had been feeling a bit crampy that afternoon and mentioned this to the instructor after class. The instructor was not concerned and my mom went home to a fitful night’s sleep.

The next morning she told dad she was ok and didn’t feel any worse and he went off to work. Mom planned on canning bread and butter pickles with a friend, Barb, that day. Barb was to cut up and deliver the cucumbers and mom was going to can them.  She wasn’t feeling great at this point, worse than the night before actually, when the cucumbers were delivered by Mike, Barb’s husband. So Barb ended up canning the pickles while mom watched and with the encouragement of Barb ended up going to the hospital.  It became apparent that I was not waiting until November to enter the world and mom had been experiencing labor.

To continue the story: due to the events transpiring back home in Butler, there was need to talk with Pap.  No cell phones back then kids, so Grandma called the state police and asked them to get a message to Pap.  A policeman drove up to the cabin and found that Pap was not there, so he tacked a note to the door with a message saying “call home immediately.”

Pap had been in Tionesta, probably for dinner, and when he returned to the cabin he saw the note and accurately thought something happened at home. His mind thought his wife or one of his children had been hurt, in an accident, or had an emergency. His first grandchild about to enter the world did not even cross his mind.

So Pap jumped back into the vehicle and drove quickly back to Tionesta to make a call home. In his haste, he blew through a stop sign and was seen and promptly pulled over by a policeman.  As the policeman wrote out a ticket, Pap explained that his reason for failing to stop at the stop sign was due to a note he found on the cabin door instructing him to call home immediately and he was concerned something had happened at home. At this point the policeman realized he was already familiar with this situation because he was the very same policeman who had delivered the note.

You would think Pap would be off the hook right? But the policeman had already started writing out the ticket and apologized to Pap saying he could not tear it up. So Pap got a fifty dollar ticket for failing to stop at a stop sign while driving to town to call home to find out his first grandchild was born.


And with this, Pap thought it quite appropriate to remind me as often as he thought of it that I owed him fifty bucks for being born because that is what I cost him.


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