Robert Lawrance Grinstead

Robert Lawrance Grinstead

Male 1935 - 2010  (74 years)

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  • Name Robert Lawrance Grinstead 
    Birth 4 Sep 1935  Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Death 13 Apr 2010  Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Robert Lawrence Grinstead wrote some interesting stories about his life in the early part of the second millennium. They follow in the order he wrote them:

      Installment 1

      I was born at home, at 2530 Yew Street Bellingham, Washington at 5:18 pm, September 4, 1935. Many years later we lived just a few blocks away at 2708 Superior Street. I have zero recollection prior to my 5th birthday. While I was growing up I knew my sister Charmie’s birthday was sometime in October, my brother Dave’s sometime in March, my brother Jim’s was in June and easy to remember because it was at the height of strawberry season and we would have strawberry shortcake. My brother Ray’s birthday was April 2, easy to remember because it was the day after April Fools Day. Then came my brother Bill who was unfortunate enough to be born the day after Christmas. My sister Ginny was born sometime in August and my brother Ed was born sometime in February. I am not sure if the lack of attention to birthdays was peculiar with me or if it was a family thing. Later in life I learned my mother was a Jehovah’s Witness and thought perhaps that had something to do with it.

      It was Sep. 4, 1940 we lived in a big old house at 1901 H Street. The house had a kitchen, dining room and living room downstairs and four bedrooms and a bath up stairs. My sister Charmie had one bedroom, my Grandma had the second bedroom, my Mom and Dad had the third bedroom and Dave, Jim, Ray and I shared the fourth bedroom, in two double beds. I don’t think it had a closet, but if it did I didn’t use it. Ray and I each had a nail in the door where we hung our other clothes. Each fall when school started we would each get 2 pairs of jeans, two long sleeve plaid shirts and a pair of high top shoes that we were expected to wear until the next fall. Anyway that is a very long build up to a very short story.

      I got out of bed and went down stairs, excited, because it was my 5th birthday. When my older brothers and sister went off to school, no one had said a word about my special day. The day passed slowly even though my brother Ray who is younger than I was home with me. All day my Mom had not said a word about my birthday. When my brother Dave rode home from school on his bike he saw me sitting on the porch looking very sad. He asked what was wrong so I told him it was my birthday and everyone had forgotten, so Dave got on his bike and went to the store and bought a 5-cent package of 2-cup cakes and gave them to me for my birthday. He was already my idol prior to that incident but that solidified it.

      Fifty or so years later I reminded Dave of that incident and on my following birthday I received, in the mail, two cup cakes, smashed flat but edible.

      Installment 2

      I was 9 years old and it was June of 1945. My brother Ray and I were out in the front yard playing when the air raid horn started blowing and people starting honking there horns and my Mom and some of the neighbor women came out on the front steps, all excited and happy. “The war was over.” To some one my age, the war being over was strange because it had been going on for about as long as I could remember.

      I started the first grade in September 1941 and a war was already going on in Europe and Japan had already invaded China. From the very beginning of my school days we had air raid warnings, where we would all go down in the basement of the school and set with our backs against the cold concrete wall and lower our heads and cover them with our arms. We would then wait for the all clear signal to line up and go back to our classe

      During those years many things were rationed, like sugar, shoes and gasoline to name a few, but we hardly noticed. We didn’t have the money to buy them anyway. My Uncle Lawrence, who wasn’t really my uncle but my cousins uncle, was a farmer so he had a Class B ration sticker on his old Model A pick up, so he could buy more gasoline then my Dad, who only had a Class A sticker. During that time my Dad had a 1933 Oldsmobile that sat in the side yard a lot. We lived about eight blocks from where my Dad worked as an automobile mechanic so he often walked to work.

      We lived in an old house at 1901 H Street, which was kitty corner from the Whatcom County Court House. During those years we had “black out” shades over all of our windows. The only light we would leave on at night was a red light that was over the stairs in the hallway. Of course the reason for all of this was we expected the Japanese to bomb us. We heard many stories of Japanese submarines coming up into Puget Sound and releasing mines to float into Bellingham Bay. The Newsreels at the movies were frightening to a young person. They showed Japanese soldiers with babies impaled on their bayonets. In every town there was at least one home or building where the children were sure some Jap or German soldier was lurking waiting to abduct you for whatever purpose.

      Two of the Rogers boys who lived behind us were killed in the war and the boy who lived on the right who was an only son was killed on his ship in the Pacific. We did not grow up with a nuclear threat, which would come later but we lived with the real fear of war.

      Installment 3

      First Grade
      Days present = 146 1/2, Absent = 33 1/2
      Height = 42 ½”, Weight = 36

      Second Grade
      Days present = 147, Absent = 28
      Height = 46”, Weight = 44

      Third Grade
      Days present = 137, Absent = 36
      Height = 48”, Weight = 46

      Fourth Grade, September
      Days present =160, Absent = 20
      Height = 49.5”, Weight = 53

      Fifth Grade
      Days present = 136, Absent = 31
      Height = 51 ½”, Weight 57

      Sixth Grade,
      Days present = 164 ½, Absent = 15 ½
      Height = 53”, Weight = 59

      Seventh Grade
      Days present = 162, Absent = 18
      Height = 54 ½”, Weight = 65 ½

      Eighth Grade
      Days present = 142 ½, Absent = 38 ½
      Height = 57 ¾”, Weight = 80

      Ninth Grade
      Days present = 156, Absent = 17
      Height = 60 ½”, Weight = 90

      Joined Air Force 9/12/52
      Height 67”, Weight 113

      Installment 4

      It was summer between 5th and 6th grade. Laurence and Alice Pollar said I could spend part of the summer on their farm. I called them Uncle Laurence and Aunt Alice although they were not really my Aunt and Uncle. Alice was the sister of my Uncle Perry who was married to my Aunt Becky who was my Mother’s sister. At that time my Aunt Becky was Aunty to my siblings and me. I was fifteen before I knew she had another name.
      Laurence and Alice had two boys at that time, Doug and Donald. They were the same ages as my brothers Dave and Jim. They lived on a farm that was about 80 acres. They had a big hill just behind their house that nothing would grow on so you had to go over the hill and down the other side to plant whatever crop you wanted. All I remember them growing was beans and strawberries. On the house side of the hill they had about an acre of land they used for a vegetable garden. They lived on the Axton Road about 10 miles from Bellingham. On the north side of the Axton Road they had their house, barn, chicken coop for about a thousand chickens, a vegetable garden, hill and planting area on the other side of the hill. That was about 40 acres. On the south side of the road they had woods and pasture, they called it the lower 40. They kept from 10 to 12 milk cows, all with names, a big white horse called Prince, a couple of dogs, a couple of cats and for a while a nanny goat.
      I would get up in the morning and go down to the lower 40 and get the cows and bring them up to the barn to feed them and milk them. Laurence let me help milk but he always “stripped” the cow after I was through. Then we would have breakfast and then I would help Aunt Alice gather eggs. For their income they sold the eggs and the milk and of course their beans or strawberries. After gathering the eggs we would take Prince and a plow up over the hill and spend the day plowing or disking or cultivating. I got to ride Prince while going over the hill.

      According to my Mom, Alice had a College Degree, but her life style didn’t show it. When you went into her kitchen you had to shoo the chickens off the table and out the door before you could eat. I remember one time in particular when she was outside gutting a chicken and asked me if I wanted a sandwich. I said I did and she wiped her hands on the apron and preceded to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, She thought nothing of it and neither did I. She had a loud, rough voice, but was always very nice to me.
      Laurence was also very nice to me, but he had a definite mean streak. If a cow didn’t get into her stanchion quick enough he would hit her in the head with a flat shovel that we used to shovel the manure out of the barn. I have seen him wring a chicken’s neck because it pecked him while he was gathering eggs. One time I saw him pick up a dog by the hinds legs and throw him across the yard. My Dad told a story about Laurence trying to drive up a hill with an old model T that he had just bought. It wouldn’t make it up the hill so Laurence got out and kicked in the front fender.

      This farm had a well with a hand pump and an outhouse. Laurence wasn’t much on moving the outhouse so when it got full he would lay planks up to the door and spread lye all over the refuse that was running out all around the sides. To a ten-year-old boy, it was a great place to be.

      Laurence played the violin. He and his brothers had a band and would play at the bars around Lyndon on Saturday night. He probably played the same bars as Loretta Lynn did. I learned a lot from Uncle Laurence. He taught through his actions that there was no such thing as not being able to do something; you just had to figure out how to do it.

      Installment 5, written 11/22/2001 by Bob Grinstead

      It was September 1941, my teacher, Mrs. Carlson, lined all of us up and led us to the basement to show us where the bathrooms were. It must have been my first exposure to a multi stool bathroom as I was very impressed. At that time I don’t think anyone went to kindergarten, I know I didn’t, so first grade was a big deal. We were then taken to the lunch- room, so everyone would know where it was. It was the only time I was to see the lunch- room in the six years that I went to Roeder School. This was my first sense of being poor. All of the wealthy kids ate lunch in the lunch- room, the rest took a brown bag with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or if they lived close enough, they went home for lunch. I was in the latter group. I went home for lunch, as it was real hard to make a sandwich out of fried corn meal mush. Mrs. Carlson explained that if you need to go to the bathroom to pee you held up 1 finger, if you had to do number two you held up 2 fingers. I thought this was very embarrassing and I was afraid of Mrs. Carlson and probably would have been afraid of any teacher at that time. My Dad told all of us kids that if you get a whipping from the teacher, you will also get one when you get home from him. We had all gotten out our watercolors and were painting pictures. I had to go to the bathroom but I was afraid and embarrassed to raise my hand for permission so I sat there and wet my pants. Then I spilled my water from my watercolors on my lap. Dorothy Olson whispered to Janet Halverson, “I don’t think all of that is water”. When lunch time came I went home for lunch and told my Mom I had spilled water on my pants so she took them off of me and put them in the oven of our old wood stove and heated them dry while I ate my fried corn meal mush. (I learned to hate that stuff)

      My brother Jim was in the sixth grade while I was in the first but I have no recollection of him walking to school with me, walking home with me or even seeing him at school, so much for having big brothers to look out for you.

      The second grade was a little better. I had Miss Purnell for my teacher. She had black hair, wore purple dresses and was beautiful.

      The third grade was either very uneventful or so bad that I have blocked it from my memory. I have no recollection of the entire year.

      In the fourth grade I had Mrs. Morgan who was very short, even to me and I was only 4’1” tall. I remember one time when we were all lined up to get weighed and measured, which happened about two or three times a year, Mrs. Morgan told us to take our shoes off. I asked her if I could wait until another day to get weighed. She said, “Why, don’t you have any socks on?” I told her I had on socks but they were my big brothers and they were so long I had them turned under. “There are a lot of kids here that don’t have socks,” she said, so I felt a little better and took my shoes off.

      Installment 6, written by Bob Grinstead

      “BAM” the gun went off and fire spit out of the barrel right in the face of the guy sitting next to me. I was in the back seat of a two-door coupe, just behind the driver, so there was no way out. I pushed hard on the seat in front of me and pushed the driver’s face into the steering wheel. His window was open and I knew it was my only way out.

      Two weeks prior I arrived at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. I had never heard of Tampa until a month before when I was asked to make three choices where I would like to be stationed. I had just attended a technical school at Shepard Air Force base in Wichita Falls, TX. The ones with the highest scores on our final exams were given an opportunity to choose where they were to be transferred. I chose Mountain Home, Idaho Topeka, Kansas and I had no idea where else to pick. A friend next to me said I should pick Tampa as he was from Winter Haven. So I picked Tampa as my third choice.

      I had learned to roller skate while I was in Wichita Falls so at my first opportunity I went to the skating rink on Davis Island. My first time there I met a beautiful girl with blue eyes, dark curly hair and the most beautiful smile I had ever seen, and to top it off she had a fantastic shape. I spent the whole evening putting the schmoos on her.

      When I first found out I was being transferred to Florida, I told my brother Dave. He said, “When you get there, find one of those old rich women on the beach and marry her. You’ll be set for life:

      Well, when the skating rink closed we all went outside and I was still talking to this good-looking chick when a Chrysler Limousine pulled around the corner and stopped in front of us. Barbara said good night and got in the Limo and left. I stood there unable to believe my luck. Good looking and rich too.

      I had a date to go to Barbara’s house and as I didn’t have a car I walked to the Pickup Station, a place where you would go to get a ride to town. Other Airmen who had cars would stop and give you a lift. I was standing there with another guy and a two-door coupe pulled up with two guys in the front and asked if we wanted a ride. They apparently knew the guy standing beside me so I got in behind the driver and he got in the other side. On the way into town the guy in the front passenger seat was arguing with the guy sitting beside me. The argument got rather heated and the passenger said to the driver “pull over in that alley”. They pulled into the alley and the passenger turned around with a gun in his hand and said “I have taken all I can from you” and then he pulled the trigger.

      While I was scrambling out of the window the passenger started laughing and the guy in the back said “I have power burns in my eyes”. It was all a big joke. There was a blank in the gun. I don’t know how scared the other guy was but I was scared I refused to get back in the car and walked to the bus stop to go to Barbara’s.
    Person ID I00022  McKenzie Genealogy
    Last Modified 29 Oct 2021 

    Father Ellis Baker (John) Grinstead,   b. 4 May 1903, Riverside, Roanoke County Virginia Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 18 Sep 1970, Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 67 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Rachel May Bingham,   b. 7 Apr 1909, Spearfish, South Dakota Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 18 Aug 1994, Bellingham, WA Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 85 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Marriage 10 Oct 1926  Bellingham, Whatcom County, Washington Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F00023  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Barbara Ann Curry,   b. Private 
    Marriage Private 
     1. Darla Kay Grinstead,   b. Private  [Father: private]  [Mother: private]
     2. Steven Robert Grinstead,   b. Private  [Father: private]  [Mother: private]
     3. Dana Leigh Grinstead,   b. Private  [Father: private]  [Mother: private]
     4. Scott David Grinstead,   b. Private  [Father: private]  [Mother: private]
    Family ID F00004  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 29 Oct 2021 

  • Photos
    Photos of Grinsteads
    Photos of Grinsteads
    Left photo shows Robert Lawrence Grinstead (b. 1935) and Raymond Charles Grinstead (b. 1937). Photo on right from (L-R) Ione Richey Bingham (b. 1905), Rebecca Fern Bingham Anderson (b. 1909) and Rachel May Bingham Grinstead (b. 1909)
    Grinstead Photos (1)
    Grinstead Photos (1)
    Grinstead Photos (2)
    Grinstead Photos (2)
    Grinstead Photos (3)
    Grinstead Photos (3)
    Grinstead Photos (4)
    Grinstead Photos (4)
    Photo of (L-R) James Richard Grinstead (b. 1930), John David Grinstead (b. 1929), Charmie Fern Grinstead (b. 1927) and Robert Lawrence Grinstead (b. 1935)
    Photo of (L-R) James Richard Grinstead (b. 1930), John David Grinstead (b. 1929), Charmie Fern Grinstead (b. 1927) and Robert Lawrence Grinstead (b. 1935)
    Photo of (L-R) Raymond Charles Grinstead (b. 1937) and Robert Lawrence Grinstead (b. 1935)
    Photo of (L-R) Raymond Charles Grinstead (b. 1937) and Robert Lawrence Grinstead (b. 1935)

    Bob Grinstead's Poppaisms
    Bob Grinstead's Poppaisms
    Bob Grinstead's Bio
    Bob Grinstead's Bio
    Bob Grinstead's Ramblings About My Dad
    Bob Grinstead's Ramblings About My Dad
    Bob Grinstead's Bobby Ray
    Bob Grinstead's Bobby Ray
    The William Grinstead Family in America (Supplement)
    The William Grinstead Family in America (Supplement)
    Christmas Card from Ashe Brothers Motor Company
    Christmas Card from Ashe Brothers Motor Company
    A note appended by Virginia Lea Grinstead in 1999 states: Christmas card from Dad's (Ellis (John) Baker Grinstead) work in 1939. I think Charmie (Charmie Fern Grinstead (b. 1927) has the original. I remember some of those guys and I am sure Bob (Robert Lawrence Grinstead (B. 1935) does too.
    The William Grinstead Family in America (1974)
    The William Grinstead Family in America (1974)
    This copy is the original edition created by Gorrell Shumaker and John L.N. Grinstead

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