Tuesday, February 07, 2006


This is my other remaining cyanograph. I used an old picture, got a large blown-up negative of it, then did the graph. It's a lot of work to turn a picture blue, but it looks cool. You can see some texture in this one. I used a course paper, very pulpy. Sorry, this isn't weird. I've included extra pictures for you. Of course, I can't take credit for them.

This is Vern. He's hanging out on the ranch sitting on the tub of an old Lizzy in this graph. Vern was born 1899 in Ferron, Utah. He started herding sheep when he was eight. Even at that age, he'd stay up with the sheep and his dog overnight, by himself. At age nine Vern bought an 1889, 32 caliber Winchester Special rifle off an old outlaw/prospector. This helped him kill off coyotes and other predators, so as to protect his flock. Vern also was a crack shot, so long as his target was moving. He has been known to hit a deer running at full steam between the eyes. If he had to use more than one round to do the job, then he was pissed off. He liked to ride the rails and always carried his Winchester Special or his Colt Savage pistol.

(Dapper Vern with a stogie, left picture; Cowpoke Vern, right picture, sitting on the left.)

The amazing thing about Vern was that he was such a hard worker, fighter, and determined individual. He was afflicted with polio at three. This withered one of his legs to a degree, but he never made it an issue. By age twelve, Vern was old enough to work in the coal mines of Carbon County. His first job was setting explosives in the small crawlspaces and also drilling the holes for the dynamite, using a hand cranked drill. Vern worked in the mines until in his late thirties.

One of Vern's passions was fighting. Whether it was a boxing match or a bar room brawl, he would always win, or make the other guy wish that he'd lost. Vern also made many trips to Tijuana during prohibition. That's all that was said about that. You can figure out the rest.

(Vern and his gal, Genevieve, or Gennie.)

Vern was turned down by the Army during WWI for medical reasons (leg). He kept working hard and playing hard, until one of his fellow mine workers got killed in a mining accident. Vern got to know this man's widow and soon married her and adopted her soon to be born daughter. Vern began to change his ways, slightly. He still had tattoos up and down his arms and across his chest and back, made the odd trip to Tijuana; then, in time he had his own son. With a family to feed and the coal mines killing off his friends, Vern decided to take up a trade and become a machinist. After becoming a qualified machinist, Vern moved from his desolate hometown to the capitol, Salt Lake City.

Vern showed up one day at the offices of a machine shop that did work for Kennecott Mining Corporation. He walked in unannounced into the manager's office and told the manager that he was going to work for him. After some conversation, the manager said maybe. Vern said to hell with maybe and then instructed the manager to give him his own shop so he could cut gears for the big mining trucks...it worked. Vern got his shop, and Kennecott didn't have to wait for complex parts to be shipped from the factory, because he could do a gear in a half day. Mind you, this was before computer controls. Vern could do the complicated conversions of decimals to fractions, and any other machinist math in his head, as well as handle measurements, blueprints, and schematics with ease. This is from a guy who didn't finish the sixth grade.

Vern eventually got religion, had his tattoos removed the old fashioned way (grafted off) and grew old, enjoying his grandkids. While he was a mechanical genius (I have dozens of his tools that he made), he had a passion for raising ferns. Yes, that was his sense of humor shinning through: Vern's ferns.

When Gennie died, he came to live with my family. I came along later in my parents' life and when Vern was in his seventies. When he lived with us he would tell me stories of his youth, but never the ones of his "past". I found out about that stuff later from my dad. Vern was a good man. I remember going shopping with him and if there was a long line he'd push his way to the front, pissing everyone off. But, that was grandad. He was quite the rascal, even in his nineties. He told the nurse, on his dying bed, that his dink itched and then winked at her. I learned a hell of a lot from him in a short amount of time. Thanks, Vern.


Scott said...

Wow that is a great post. Love the art, love the whole thing. Thank you for sharing it with us.


rjw said...

Brilliant post. What a fascinating character. There was a man who knew how to wear a hat!
Wouldn't it be great if a man like that had kept diaries but I imagine he was too busy working, fighting and generally living life to the full to bother with such things.

The Grunt said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Most people that met my grandpa were usually scared at first, but once you got to know him he was just a salt of the earth type with a great sense of humor. In the cowpoke picture you can see the steel in his eyes. I'm the dead opposite. Don't know how that happened. I'm a little dissapointed that the extra pictures are too small. I'm still figuring out how to get pictures on here other than the ones you can put at the top. Maybe I'll add some more. Your correct Rob, he wasn't the journal type.

One other thing that I'll add was that he was deadly with a cane.

Jim V said...

Howard Dean has been updated.

I have gone anon pursuant to content thereof. View with caution.

(Cool, that sounds like a government code phrase or something...)

English Professor said...

I thought he bore a little resemblance to Clyde Barrow when I first saw his picture.

Dang, I wish I could get my students to write with that kind of detail. Great post.

The Grunt said...

EP, I'll gladly take what you said as encouragement. I've always been good at story telling, whether fictional or factual, glossed with a touch of myth. I, however, have not been a great writer in the past, so I've worked on it. I wish to get more refined and do something big. I need to work on a few parts of my grammar--it's good enough, but you know what I mean. I'm guessing that my grampa could have been influenced by the Clyde, or vice versa? I'm going to add another picture tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Jim, good to see you visit my blog. The new Jim can go places the old Jim couldn't, I bet. Put your anonymity to to good use and step up the crazy a notch or two. This should be good.

MHN for short said...

That was a spectacularly wonderful post. We should all have a Vern in our lives. You are a lucky man. :-)

MHN for short said...

Flickr.com can help with the pictures & it's FREE!

The Grunt said...

Thanks, mhn. I really do miss the guy. All my grandparents were ready to die it seems when I was very little. He was the oldest of the bunch and out lived them all.

I'm with photobucket right now. I'll check out the one you recommended, though.