George and Kate

Over a week ago, Jessica the questions,What is love?  How deep is love?  What is true friendship?”  Well, I’m not much of a philosopher, and I couldn’t come up with a great answer for her, but it did get me thinking about such things.  And my thinking usually leads me to my family stories.  This time, my thoughts are on my Grandpa, George Haroldsen.  I don’t know why questions of Love would lead me to thoughts of George.  He couldn’t be described as a “Don Juan” by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact most of the love stories that I have heard about him center on his blunders. 

Oh… it makes sense now.  I can relate!!! 

George was a hard working, no nonsense sort of guy.  Back in 1905, when my family moved from Hyrum, Utah to Idaho Falls, Idaho, 19 year old George was working up in Montana.  In fact his earnings provided the earnest money for the new family farm. 

A few months later when the neighbor girl, Kate Smith, came over to invite the new neighbor kids to her 16th birthday party, George wasn’t around to meet her.  Later, when he got back into town, he asked his younger siblings lots of questions about the birthday girl. 

Over the next few years, they “both did a lot of looking at each other” as George put it, but like I said, George was very slow and calculated in his love live.  Nevertheless, Kate made sure she was frequently within his gaze, like when George was leaving on a train to accompany a shipment of cattle to Portland, Oregon, Kate was there to “wish him a good trip.”  So eventually, George and Kate started to see each other a little bit.  Kate thought they were getting serious, but then George made a big blunder. 

He had just bought a beautiful new buggy.  So here is a 23 year old eligible bachelor sporting around his new ride, and there was a dance coming up on Saturday night. 

The town flirt decided that she wanted to go to the dance in style, and before George knew what happened, he had agreed to help her out by giving her a ride to the dance. 

When Kate found out, she was furious.  George really had to scramble to make amends with Kate again.  And by the time he was back in her good graces, George was thinking of the future.  Later in his life while recalling that time in his life, he philosophized, “Life without a mate, without a partnership, would be a flop.” 

They were married June 9, 1909 in Kate’s family home and the next day, they were on the train to Salt Lake City, for their honeymoon.  It was on this honeymoon trip in Salt Lake, that another George Haroldsen “blunder” happen. 

One of George’s female cousins, who lived in Salt Lake City, showed them around the city.  One stop was at the Photographer.  George didn’t know until it was too late that Kate wouldn’t want his cousin to stand in the picture with them for their wedding photo.  I have that picture of the three of them.  It was their only wedding photograph.

Dumb guy… certainly not the Don Juan type with all the slick moves and right lines.  But no woman experienced more loyalty or devotion than Kate did in her married life.  George was a slow learner when it came to properly showing his love, but no one beat him in staying in love with his life’s partner.  Unlike the new buggy story and the wedding picture story, no one and nothing got between George and his love for Kate.  By his own definition, his life was not a flop.  

I was 8 years old when after 59 years of marriage, Kate died within a week of discovering cancer.  It was on leap year day, February 29th, 1968.  George was devastated.  But he tried to carry on.  Along with continuing to do his farming (he was now 82 years old), in honor of Kate, he tried to keep everything in the home the way she had always done things.  When I came to visit, I remember he still had cookies in the cookie jar (they weren’t the good ones Grandma had, but…) And like Kate had done before, the toys for us, the younger grandkids, were cleverly hid around the house so I could go searching for the “cool” toy truck, and my sisters would find the doll.  One of my aunts reported that he did pretty well (with his daughter’s help) learning how to cook certain meals just the way Kate had done it, but she did catch him watering Kate’s plastic house plants. 

June 7th, 1974 was a sad day I will never forget. George had been admitted into the hospital only a few days earlier.  At the age of 86, it was his first hospital stay.  With my father, I had visited him a few hours earlier, but he was sleeping for the whole visit.  They said he died of a stroke.  I really felt the loss.  I hadn’t spent nearly enough time with him.  But my sadness was sweetened at the thought, “Grandpa is with Grandma again.  Now he is happy again.” 

As I think about it, what my grandpa said fits in perfectly with my own philosophy.  “Life without a mate, without a partnership, would be a flop.”  I would consider my life a flop without my partner… without my “Beautiful Wife.”

10 thoughts on “George and Kate”

  1. a question let you think of your grandpa and grandma and yourself.
    Welll,love ,i think,is the best thing in this world.Man and woman live together,going through difficulty,sharing happiness.
    Wishing you will find your partner,enjoy yourself^^

  2. Wow dad, that is amazing.  I never knew that story about your grandpa and grandma.  That is the sweetest ever.  I am so glad that you shared that!  Thank you!!!  I love you dad!!!!
        Love Jessica

  3. What a beautiful story of love and devotion, Storyteller. Your family members were blessed to have found each other and to have had so many good years together. That beautiful energy has clearly rubbed off on you and here you are, continuing the tradition! More power to you!
    Peace and love,

  4. Ron, as I read this blog I was taken bck to the days of my youth and the passing of my grandparents who, like yours, were a big part of my life…I knew them when they were old…I am not sure that I ever saw the "magic" that held them together for 60 years…I saw their commitment…I saw their pragmatism…I saw their efforts to understand how the other could think as they did…I saw their insensitivites…their willingness to accomodate the other…to tolerate the others habits and attitudes…their caring for each other temporally…conversing about life…I saw them working together even into their 80s…I may have seen them hug each other or give a peck on the cheek…I think they pretty much LIKED each other.   I have seen couples who radiated the sense that they could not live without the other. I have seen looks of MUTUAL joy and contentment in knowing that the OTHER was happy.  I have known couples who lived out their existance in quiet resignment that their needs were never actually met by their spouse… whether it be because they lacked  common beliefs or common interests or common goals or common likes,  or maybe becasue they were just made of different stuff…  Some people are naturally content…others  are naturally discontent…some like simple things…others like complexities…some as social beings…others are reclusive.
    I have for years wondered why some couples develop great chemistry…and can maintain it..while others make choices that do not foster such dynamics.  I look at my own relationship with my sife…at times content…other times I yearn for so much more…. I know she too goes thru that same rollercoaster of emotions… I guess its like Jimmy Durante sings it…Its so important to make someone happy… make just ONE someone happy…make just one heart to heart you,  you sing to…one smile that cheers you… one face that lights when it nears you…one girl youre your’re every-thing to…fame if you win it, comes and goes in a minute …..where’s the real stuff in life, to cling to….LOVE is the answer…someone to love is the answer…once you have found her build your world around her…make someone happy…make just one someone happy…. and you will be happy too…

  5. You are writing the stories in a book somewhere aren’t you?  At least I hope you have them in the edit section of the Family Tree Maker Program..  Your story just made me choke up….  What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather George and his wife Kate.  Keep writing…  We keep reading..  lottiemae

  6. Ron, so beautifully put, with out Love where would we be, flop, LOL. Love your memories as a child of your grandparents and you treasure them, thanks for sharing and keeping them alive. I too am blessed to have the Love of my hubby and I for him, he is my Best friend be 50 years next week. Thank you for your compliment, yes I was baby of 18 and he was 21. Twenty five years for you next spring is just so Wonderful in these days! I have to say most of our friends are all long timers in marrage, but the kids today is so sad, they really don’t know what love or commitment is, so fast pace. Keep your journaling, your kids will appreciate the Family stories to pass on for years to come. Have a great weekend. Deanie

  7. Good Morning, Ron!
    Thank you so very much for your generous words back at the Little Boat.
    Remember that one of the cherished venues of storytelling is the Oral Tradition whereby family history, family customs, bedtime stories, and cultural mythology is transmitted one-on-one, person-to-person over many generations. You are indeed a storyteller of the highest caliber in that you are archiving the true stories of people, many now gone, giving them a bittersweet kind of immortality. You have simply taken your Oral Tradition online, and the purpose is exactly the same.
    You are most certainly a storyteller of the highest caliber and you have my greatest respect as such.
    I, too, will be visiting your wonderful space again. And again…
    Peace and love,

  8. Hi Ron,
    What a wonderful story and you told it so well. My paternal grandfather died when I was two so I don’t remember him but my other grandpa and grandma were very much in love after more than 50 years and showed much affection and respect. When he died, for a time my grandma felt she couldn’t go on. She did tho, lived to be 97 and sharp as a tack till the end.
    I also read your entry about dancing, and you know just keep trying, don’t worry what anyone thinks. I learned to dance as a teenager. A friends parents ran a cafe for a few years, then closed the cafe but continued to live in the living quarters in the back. We used to have parties there (in the old cafe part) so there was lots of room to dance. Our friends dad was a good dancer and he taught me how to polka and waltz. If you can get that , you can pick up almost any other like 2 step, jive,etc. I still love to dance altho we don’t get the chance as much as we used to.

    I read this entry before, Storyteller, but just finished reading it again. It was funny, warm, and bittersweet. My beloved and I found each other later in life, so there will never be a Golden Anniversary for us. The one thing I can relate to in the story of your grandparents is their devotion to one another, and your grandfather’s good-natured, well-meaning love for your grandmother. I see my beloved and I in your story…he, too, tries so hard. And I appreciate every thing he does for me.
    It took half a lifetime and a lot of mistakes for me to find the wonderful man I love today. I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, perhaps one: we would’ve met years sooner.
    Thank you for a beautiful story. Again.
    Peace and love, always…

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