Nowhere Tribune has a new profile picture.
My hard copy is framed along with another, smaller picture, a dog tag, and a newspaper clipping with the title: “Sergeant Bird Being Treated at San Antonio.”
From the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
“Sgt Albert Bird, 25, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Bird of 3312 Meadowoaks, Haltom City, is at Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio for treatment of wounds received Feb 15 in Korea.
The former Amon Carter Riverside High School student was wounded while fighting near Chipyong where a French battalion and two U.S. units were surrounded by the enemy and his unit went to rescue the trapped forces.”
The back of this photo says, “Albert Irving Bird, Switzerland, 1947.” My grandmother says the photo was really taken in France, but I can’t be sure. Regardless, my granddad sits there in a foreign country with his classic good looks and a hint of a smirk. Two bottles of beer sit on the table. It reminds me of a good Hemingway story. The only thing missing is the beautiful foreign nurse; I’m sure he saw her later that evening.
I came along 25 years later; we were 50 years apart, almost to the day. The man I knew was still the man in the picture. Confident, strong, good looking, hard working. Not a man to fool with.
When I was little, my granddad asked me if I wanted more mashed potatoes. I responded with, “Yeah.”
“Can’t you say, ‘yes sir?’” he asked.
Decades later, I still say “Yes sir” when men ask me questions or give me an order. I can’t stop.
“Please don’t call me sir; I’m only sixteen. Call me Bobby.”
“Yes s…, I mean, okay, Bobby.”
My grandfather didn’t demand respect. Something about him made it impossible not to respect him. Even in my thirties, I was sure to shave on days I knew I’d see him. He never told me to; I just knew that he didn’t approve of any lack of discipline.
When I turned sixteen, he called me. “When you find the pickup you want, I’ll help you buy it as long as it’s a Ford or Chevy.” A month later we met at the bank, and he cosigned my loan to buy my 1977 Ford F100. When we walked out he said, “Now, you better always have a job, and you better never miss a payment.” At the time, I’d hoped for more “help” than a signature, but I realized later he’d helped me much more than if he had bought the pickup. By the time I graduated high school, I’d paid off my first loan.
Albert Bird was the personification of manliness. He could build, and work, and provide, and fight when needed. He could enjoy a beer or whiskey without acting like a fool. He could make us behave with a look. He’s the kind of man I’m still trying to become.