Friday, April 15, 2011

Clocks, Trains, and Pekingese

No this isn’t one of my normal ramblings…this is a Memorial to my Great Uncle Speed. Great in all aspects of the word.

AMHERST – Ludolf "Speed" Norman Kreeger, Jr., 87 years of age, and a resident of Amherst, passed away Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at New Life Hospice Residential Center in Lorain following a lengthy illness.
He was born November 7, 1923 in Amherst, Ohio. Ludolf was a lifetime resident of Amherst and graduated from Central High School in the class of 1943.
Ludolf served in the United States Army during World War II with the 8th Infantry in the European African Middle Eastern theater. During his service in Germany, he was awarded the Purple Heart medal.
He was employed as a sheet metal worker for over thirty-five years at A. Nabowkowski, D.L. Page Inc. and then T.O. Murphy before retiring in 1985. Ludolf was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Amherst.
He was a member of the Lorain DAV Louis Paul Proy Disables American Veterans #20 and the Lorain Amvets.
Ludolf was a gifted craftsman and enjoyed making wood clocks and calendars. Ludolf was an avid college football fan, especially of Ohio State University.
Survivors include his wife of sixty-four years Evelyn "Ev" Yvonne Kreeger (nee: Kirschner); his beloved dog Bandit a Shitzu; many nieces and nephews and many great nieces and great nephews.
He was preceded in death by his sisters Connie Turner, Betty Kreeger, Sally Loch; and by his parents Ludolf, Sr. and Candace Kreeger (nee: Werner).

Uncle Speed and Aunt Evi didn’t have any children of their own, but to our branch of the Kirschner clan (Aunt Evi being my grandfather’s youngest sister), they are loved as dearly as parents and grandparents.

Growing up, one of my favorite treats was spending the night at their house. To them, I am “Annie” and they taught me how to play Chinese checkers and quizzed me on state capitals. We always ran out for “frozen custard” even though it looked like soft ice cream to me. And at the end of the night they pulled out the sleeper sofa in the great room and I had a whole king-sized bed to myself.

After I graduated and took a short-term gig delivering mail (Yes, I was a postal worker. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?) Whenever I had their route, I ate my lunch with them, listening to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story.”

Uncle Speed was a big man. Well over 6 feet and much larger than life to a scrawny runt like me. It kind of always felt like he should have been a lumber jack, as I still picture him in a red and black flannel shirt and suspenders. He had a fabulously deep voice, but was always smiling and ready to laugh.

And of course he loved John Wayne. He practically was John Wayne to me. That’s what we watched when my parents would take us over their house for a movie night. And while, I don’t share his and my mother’s passion for The Duke, The Cowboys is one of my favorite westerns of all time; and the first time I saw it was with him.

But maybe what I remember most about him were all the things you wouldn’t expect by looking at him.

While most people remember the fact that he made clocks, what I remember is just how many clocks he had in his house and each and every one of them had a distinct chime. I also suspect that he purposely set them just a little off from one another so they weren’t all singing at the exact same moment. To imagine hands at least three times the size of mine doing all that work is astounding.

He also loved model trains. I don’t remember how many he ended up with, and over the years he put less and less of them up each year until only one stayed out all year long, but when we were younger we made special Christmas visits just to see them. Some of the tracks wound underneath the sitting room sofas. Some were up on tables. I may remember a year when one ran from the front of the house to the back. He was an oversized kid at Christmas time.

And this is a man that should have walked beside German Shepards and Mastiffs but he loved his Pekingese and Shitzus. The first of their dogs I remember were Chin and Choo – two black Pekingese that wore matching red sweaters in the winter time and he taught to do tricks. Over the years, the puppies they brought home could literally fit in the palm of his hand, but there was no gentler person I know.

He’ll be missed, but remembered fondly.

“Sometimes it's hard to understand the drift of things. This was a good boy. He'd have been a good man. He didn't get his chance. Death can come for ya any place, any time. It's never welcomed. But if you've done all you can do, and it's your best, in a way I guess you're ready for it.” – John Wayne as Will Anderson in The Cowboys.

“Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.” – John Wayne as himself

1 comment:

  1. (Tina) I'm so sorry; I always remember them being such a classy couple. The world has lost a great man.