Friday, February 1, 2013

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

Today would have been my grandfather Clifford Monroe "Dick" Raynor's 99th birthday - he was born on Feb. 1, 1914 in Freeport, on Long Island in New York. He grew up on South Main Street, where his family had lived for hundreds of years, the oldest boy out of 7 kids. His best friend growing up was Dan Cronin, who lived on the same street. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and served in the Pacific theatre, and upon returning home, married Dan's sister, my grandmother, Mary Cronin. He joined the Freeport police department where he eventually made it to the captain's list, though he retired as a lieutenant. He and my grandmother moved down to Etowah, North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the 1970s. According to my grandmother, he loved to go golfing there, and he would buy fresh fruit at the farmer's market for her to make jams for us and he helped put the buttons onto the pajamas my grandmother would make for us. That's where he died on Sept. 18, 1991. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn, in my grandmother's family plot.

I don't remember a lot about my grandfather. I was 12 when he died, but I only saw him 2 or 3 times a year. I remember his house in North Carolina, which I used to love to visit - in fact, the smell of grass and trees and other greenery after a spring rain still makes me think of the woods behind their house. He wasn't Catholic, he and his family were Protestant, but my grandmother is Catholic and they raised their kids Catholic, and I remember Grandpa would go to church every Sunday with my grandmother. I remember that he used to make me laugh, that he could be really silly with us kids, and that he used to love to garden and work out in the yard. My mom always said he had a real green thumb. 

Happy birthday, Grandpa!

Clifford "Dick" Raynor, Crystal Lake Hotel, Freeport, NY
Grandpa at his wedding in 1946.

I have a photo of Grandpa when he's a kid, which I love, and a couple of him with me and my siblings when we were little, which is how I remember him - will post them next week if I can find them!

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