Not for the weak minded.

Grandpa’s Tour of Duty, Part 2: Close Call

August 13th, 2009 Josh

I have been so busy over the past few months that I have let many of my projects collect quite a bit of dust. Tonight I finally broke out and posted another war story video from my grandpa.

When I took these videos, I didn’t start when he started telling the story. So I ended up filming most of the story, then having him circle back to the beginning. The videos previously posted were actually taken after this one, so there is a small gap in the story. I also didn’t have time at the moment to research this part of the story, but if you want to try to figure out what battle this is, I would love to have some comments on it!

Grandpa’s Tour of Duty: Prelude

March 10th, 2009 Smerfj
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Tour of Duty

Last week I took a day off of work and drove down to Zolfo Springs, Florida to attend an antique engine show. This show is put on by the Florida Flywheelers antique engine club, which I have been a member of since my grandpa signed me up at age 3. I was then the youngest member of the club and have been a member every year since. This particular meet is called “Pioneer Park Days” and I have been a participating member every year since 1990, making this the 19th year I have displayed.

The draw of this club to me is the vast array of technology at these shows. At first glance it appears only to be a bunch of cast iron beasts spinning their wheels and blowing out smoke, but on further inspection you will see the almost countless ingenious designs to convert burning fuel into rotating mechanical energy. This, however, is not what I want to talk about at the moment.

Every year that I go to the show I camp out with my grandpa. This year he didn’t set up his canopy outside his camper, so we sat inside to eat and the conversation tended to be a bit more personal. From college, to war, to how he met my grandma on a blind date, I think I learned more about his life’s events in the two nights we chatted over dinner than I have in the last 20+ years of working with him in his machine shop. He would always tell me stories of his life and his time in the war, but never in any particular order.

This weekend something led into talking about his time in the war, so I pulled out my camera and set it up on a tripod to try to capture some of his story. What I managed to get is the entire start-to-finish story of him in the war. ON VIDEO! I think I have in the neighborhood of 90 minutes worth. The only issue is that I started it late, so I didn’t catch the start of his tour at the start of the video, but I did manage to get him to tell the beginning of the story again at the end of the video.

This video is something that my family has wanted to try to get on tape or written down for years but never managed to do. The whole video takes place in his camper van with him under the shade of his tin foil covered reading light, which actually captures his character rather well. If you’ve never met him, he’s a brilliantly frugal man who’s lived more life than most of us can hope to. By the way, he turns 89 this year.

Over the next few weeks (hopefully…) I will be chopping the video down to manageable segments and uploading it. My goal is to post the video along with a map of his travels and any other history or supporting information that goes along with it. The only trouble is that I tend to start these sort of projects strong, then let them fall to the wayside. I think I will have enough people through family and friends that will want to see this that I can count on you all to prod me about it until it’s finished. So if you are reading this, and I don’t post anything for a week… give me a shout!


February 1st, 2009 Josh

A week and a half ago, my grandma, Cay Murphy, passed away. Thursday evening I arrived in Dallas for the weekend. On the drive to the airport I was pretty depressed. I had no idea what to expect for the weekend’s events. My mom and dad picked me up from the airport and we drove to my uncle Hugh’s house in North Dallas. My parents had been in town since Tuesday and recapped the events of the last few days while on the drive. 

My grandma didn’t like to throw things out. She had so much stuff saved up that my family still had not sifted through it all. Most of the stuff they were going through was old pictures. When we got to my uncle’s house we visited for a while, then went to the hotel. 


Friday we got up, and went to my uncle Brian’s house (the house my grandma raised her family) to meet the family that was in town. (This is where I found the giant piece of ice in the bird bath in the picture above.) Throughout the day more and more family arrived. This was the first time that all of the living Murphy family has been in the same place at the same time. I got to visit with family that I haven’t seen in years. It was fun seeing all the “little” cousins that are now close to graduating high school! I also met my cousin Kevin’s wife for the first time. It’s crazy how much has happened in the last 6-8 years. 

That night we all met at an Italian restaurant for a family dinner. My Uncle Mike had arranged the meal and brought a few opera singers to entertain us. I thought it was odd, but he said he and grandma used to go to a restaurant a long time ago where they had opera singers and he wanted to do it for the family. The singers covered a broad range of opera while we all conversed at our tables. It was a great family dinner.



After the dinner we went back to my Uncle Brian’s house for a Rosary service. A few of us dragged too long getting out of the restaurant and we missed most of the service but did catch the end. It was nice. Even more people were there than at the restaurant; these were family friends that I didn’t even know. After the Rosary we all wondered around to tables where albums of old pictures were placed for people to look though and talk about. It was interesting to see all the pictures of grandma in her childhood and growing up with the kids.

To wrap up the night I went with a few of my cousins to watch a movie. We saw Slumdog Millionaire – pretty good movie. After the movie I went back to the hotel room and crashed. All in all it was a pretty packed day.

On a sadder note

January 16th, 2009 Josh

My grandma Murphy passed away yesterday. I have had a number of relatives pass away over the years, and each time brings a different set of feelings. Grandma was a wonderful person. She lived in Dallas with my other relatives and I didn’t see her often, but I did spend some time with her just over a year ago. I’m really glad that I knew her; My grandpa murphy passed when I was rather young and I really don’t remember him. 

If you’re reading this, please pray for peace for my family.