Stories From the Past: How a headline from over 50 years ago connected a daughter to her dad

I subscribe to, and part of the package includes access to I'd had the service for six months before I took the time to try it, and within the first fifteen minutes of searching, I'd found an article that made the extra fee worthwhile.

A few weeks ago, I sat down at my desk and brought up the website. I had about an hour before dinner, so I settled back in my padded chair, laid my hand on the mouse, and clicked in the search bar.

I typed in Murl J. Hume, my maternal grandfather's name, and hit enter.

On top of the list was an article from the Muscatine Journal and News-Tribune in Muscatine, Iowa. Bingo! I had a hit on my first attempt! The article was titled, Pvt. Murl J. Hume Returns to Camp, and it detailed how Hume, an enlisted Army serviceman, had been home on a 10-day furlough to visit his parents. It also told of his basic training and his Camp address in South Carolina.

I smiled at the way small-town newspapers reported on the community, and felt a surge of warmth as I gained insight into my grandpa's early life.

After clicking on a couple more posts, I tried my paternal grandfather, Raymond Kelley.

This was the first headline to pop up: Boy is Injured Playing With Toy Pistol. A small light went on in the recesses of my memory. Didn't Dad say something about hurting himself when he was a kid?

I clicked on the link to continue exploring.

Neil, 14 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Kelley who live about two miles north of Green City, suffered a painful accident last Saturday afternoon as the result of a toy pistol explosion.
Dec. 6, 1962

The article was about my dad! I quickly clipped it and emailed it to Dad, Mom, and my sister, Kara. I texted Mom to make sure Dad would check his email, grinning the whole time.

The story was originally printed in the Unionville Republican, a town about 20 miles north from where Dad was living in Green City, Missouri. However, the clipping I had found was a reprint in the Chillicothe newspaper, a larger town about 60 miles south. It made for big news!

The real beauty came later that evening when my phone rang, and a picture of my dad popped up on my call screen. Dad rarely calls. He's a man of few words, especially when it comes to talking on the phone. I swiped to answer. "Hi, Dad!"

   "Where in the world did you find that story?" I could hear a smile on his face. "I haven't thought about that day for a long time." After a pause, he continued to tell me about packing gunpowder into the barrel of the toy gun.

   "I put the gun in a vice then used a bolt to pack the powder. I'd heard that the tighter the pack, the bigger the bang, so I got a hammer and started pounding on the bolt."

He chuckled and I cringed at what we both knew would come next.

   "Then, BOOM! Dad must have heard the sound and come running. He loaded me in the truck and drove me to Unionville. That was the nearest hospital." I pictured a younger version of my grandpa finding his son with a bleeding hand.

   "Did Grandpa tell your mom you were leaving?" I asked. I could picture my grandma in a dress and an apron working in the kitchen of the farmhouse.

   "I think he yelled up to the house, 'Going to the hospital! Neal just blew up his damn hand!'" I heard Dad's smile get wider at the memory.

I was smiling, too. This was one of the longest phone calls I'd had with Dad.

   "It didn't say that your grandpa passed out at the hospital." He was referring to the article again. Amazed, I asked him to tell me more.

And he did.

He told me about his dad fainting at his bedside, getting stitches in his palm, the doctors saving his finger tip, and the extended treatment for a subsequent infection. He told me about the pain and the real-life consequence of a poor decision.

Had I not taken the time to explore and then reach out to share what I'd found, I would have missed this opportunity to connect.

We need to continually be looking for these moments - these beautiful chances to build bridges between us and those around us. If we do, they have the power to bring compassion and love to the world.

What kinds of stories does someone in your family have to tell?

How can you take time to reach out and listen?

Some recent Doorways:

  • I shared my blog post about board games on social media and had some fun interactions with friends as they commented. One comment even led us to schedule a game night!

  • My husband, Shawn, invited me to see his new work space (more of a warehouse than an office!) then we went to lunch together. I enjoyed the rare mid-week outing, and we ended up sharing a root beer float!

  • My mom was out of town, so she couldn't go to the basketball games with me last week. Our family friend, Jill, stepped in to keep me company, and we had a great time cheering on the home team!


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