“June 26, 1974”

Forty years ago today, my maternal grandfather Marcel Paulhus visited Fenway Park for the last time. He, Grandma, David, Kevin and I attended a rain-soaked Wednesday afternoon game between the Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.

Milwaukee won 7-1. Boston starting pitcher Bill Lee gave up five runs in the first inning. During that barrage, 5 1/2 year old Kevin (attending his first Red Sox game ever) kept shouting “Take out Bill Lee! Take out Bill Lee!”

Finally, Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson did, but the damage was done.

Marcel Paulhus is the only grandpa I ever knew. He had his flaws. He blamed all of America’s problems on the communists. He loved Senator Joe McCarthy, R-Wis. Grandpa also smoked too many Lucky Strikes until he quit cold turkey in 1973.

But his strengths far outweighed his weaknesses. Though primarily educated by Catholic nuns and himself, he was a very intelligent man, a blue collar Renaissance Man. He did the New York Times crossword puzzle in red ink. One time, he and I had a heated discussion as to whether CT is the Nutmeg State or Constitution State. (It is actually both). His involvement in local Republican Party politics led to my parents meeting each other in September 1961.

Grandpa is the man who taught me how to ice skate, how to appreciate the natural beauty of this beautiful, bountiful Earth. He took us to the University of Connecticut agricultural facilities. Though he lived in the city, he loved the country. He loved visiting parks, listening to and watching birds, and looking up at the sky.

On that damp June 26 afternoon in 1974, I had no idea that he would be gone less than a year later (April 9, 1975). That’s why this day is so special to me, just as it was 40 years ago today. Thanks, Grandpa.

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