This is a story I need to tell. You can decide on your own if you will read it. It will come in parts as I remember events and have time to write about them. It’s a personal story about someone who had a big impact on my life. The man was not famous or wealthy, never played sports, and was never in a movie. He never held a public office (although he had very strong ideas about politics and politicians!) His worldly possessions were not impressive and as far as I know neither of the doors on his house had working locks.
Yet this man was real and when my life intersected his, when I came to see him for a visit, his world stopped and his focus was on me and my two brothers. He invested himself in our lives, shared stories, taught lessons, told jokes, took walks and hikes, and in general made himself available to a trio of scrawny kids. Every story needs a title and I chose a simple one – “The Giving Grandpa”. It accurately describes this man who would literally give you the shirt off his back if you needed it or even commented what a nice shirt it was and how you hoped to have one like it someday.
Grandpa Miller, known officially as Homer Durr Miller, was born March 22, 1894 in a tiny place called Leon in Mason county, West Virginia. His parents, William Scott Miller and Susan Mildred Jenkins had a large family with Homer showing up somewhere near the middle. Homer had 3 older siblings and 5 younger siblings and I found their names in some papers tucked away at my Mom’s house. Here’s the roll if you want to take attendance:
- Eliza Ellen (July 25, 1890)
- Edna Agnes (Dec 6, 1891)
- Cary Alta (Dec 6, 1892)
- Homer Durr (Mar 22, 1894)
- Owen Thomas (Apr 15, 1898)
- Andrew Scott (Dec 26, 1900)
- Jennie Catherine (May 24, 1904)
- Dora Frances (May 9, 1907)
- Early Spencer (June 17, 1910)
Grandma Miller started life as Lettie Jane Starcher and was born six years after Homer on April 17, 1900. Her parents were Ira Daniel Starcher and Cora Emily Webb and that family was also a big one. Imagine opening the back door and calling this crew in for dinner!
- Lakie Daniel (Sep 19, 1898)
- Lettie Jane (Apr 17, 1900)
- Harley Raye (May, ??)
- Hettie Faye (Sept, ??)
- Vonnie Marie (May 25, 1910)
- Effie Gladys (July 23, 1911)
Homer and Lettie were married April 20, 1920 and lived a rugged life in the hills of West Virginia, bringing up 12 children of their own. That marriage lasted nearly 63 years until Lettie passed away in 1983. These stories are about Grandpa Miller and the visits I had with him during my youth. Grandpa’s best gifts to me were not things I could hold in my hands or money I could spend at a store. His gifts were memories that live in my heart; memories that will survive economic downturns, health issues, and other hard times. Before time (or my memory) is too far gone, I want to capture those memories. Maybe someday my grandchildren will enjoy reading about their Great-Great Grandpa. The stories are in no particular order other than the order in which they pop into my mind.