52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Maternal Side, My Family Tree

Week 34: Character

I’ve really had a hard time coming up with someone for this week’s theme for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I contemplated writing about my third great-grandfather who was a deeply religious man, but I haven’t done much with him yet, other than figure out all his kids (there were 16 – and thankfully someone wrote a book to assist with finding them all).

The person who kept popping in my head was a man who is not blood-related to me, but he was family, and the only man I can remember being a grandfather to me. My dad’s dad passed away when I was 2, so I didn’t really get to know him. My mom’s dad was just mean and I didn’t like him so there’s that. But my mom’s mom remarried (twice) and her third and final husband was James Edward Metzger, whom she married the month after I was born. He was a lively sort and for a very long time I thought he was just one of the greatest people ever.

So for this week’s post I’m going to write about my Grandpa Jim, and hopefully he will make you smile as he use to make me.

James Edward Metzger

James Edward Metzger was born on 12 May 1930 to Howard J. Metzger and Gertrude Mary Rule in Columbus, Ohio. In a few years time he was joined by a sister. I’ll admit I haven’t done a great deal of research on him just because I get so caught up in blood lines, but I believe Howard and Gertrude must have divorced and she remarried Marty Roush, but I’m not sure when.

James Edward Metzger, sitting at the dining room table at my parents house (aka my first home) sometime in the 1980’s (the sofa and curtains were the originals)

Marriages

On 2 September 1950 Jim married Mary Jo Williams, with whom he had two sons. He divorced Mary Jo in 1956 and remarried a woman named Florence and they had a daughter. Their marriage also ended in divorce in 1962. His third marriage would be his last, to my maternal grandmother, Alberta Lou Fleming. He always made sure that he told everyone that he paid for her second divorce (as it was final 16 March 1973 and James and Alberta got married on 24 March 1973 (1 month and 2 days after I was born).

He Was A Character

Not that my grandparents ever had much, but they would do what they could to help you. My Grandpa Jim was a drinker, but he wasn’t the type to get mean and violent, the more he drank, the louder he became, and the funnier he thought he was (it was hit or miss to those around him).

But my Grandpa Jim always took the time to be involved in what mattered to me, as well as my other cousins. When I was into swimming, he was my biggest supporter. I remember him taking the time to cheer me on when I visited with him and my Grandma in the summer of 1986, it was my sister’s graduation present but I ended up tagging along too. For the 6 weeks we spent in Florida with them, except for the days we went to Disney and to Busch Gardens Tampa, all my time was spent with me swimming in the pool. I’d get up and swim, take a lunch break between 12-1 to watch my favorite soap at the time, Loving on ABC, then I’d swim in the pool until 4 when it was adult swim time – at that point I’d head to the Gulf of Mexico for an hour and then I’d eat dinner, only to return to the pool again from 6-10, my Grandpa calling me in when he went to close the pool for the night, I went inside and be it a chair, recliner or sofa, that’s where I fell asleep and I’d get up in the morning and do it all again, which was easy as I was still in my bathing suit.

Grandpa Jim was different from anyone I knew. His passion was singing, and he sang so beautifully, so much so that he joined the local Barbershop Quartet (or choir as it was sometimes) in Florida. He would burst into song (not like a musical, but if a song fit the moment, he’d sing it).

Everything he did was a bit larger than life. And though I know life wasn’t a bowl of cherries, he always tried to make it seem that way when all of us younger grandchildren were around.

He was a die-hard Ohio State Buckeye fan and would brag at no end about how his step-dad, Marty, would caddie for Jack Nicklaus (this seems to be true).

Jim Metzger in his red sweater & Buckeyes mock turtle neck (my grandma, Alberta Lou Fleming, is to the left)

His Occupation

At some point in his life I heard that Jim Metzger sold dental equipment before he began managing condominiums and apartments with my Grandmother. Alberta was the manager while Jim fixed things. It was a good set up.

A Funny Story

I consulted with my mom’s sister for this next story as it was one that always made my mom cry she would laugh so hard. So here is what my Aunt told me, the story includes my Grandpa Jim, my Uncle Jim, and an outhouse.

“A death occurred on Howard Fleming’s side of the family in Corsica, Pennsylvania. The house they were staying in belonged to an Aunt Margaret (possibly Martha). She was apparently a hoarder by frustration as she got tired of picking up after everyone, so she began stacking stuff and eventually everything became full except a little path from the bedrooms to the kitchen.When she got up in the morning the boys had gone outside to use the outhouse (there was no indoor bathroom). As they were standing there, taking a leak, the floor gave away. Somehow they were lucky enough to have both feet land on a pole that was ran underground under the outhouse, but they were still waist-high in poop.

My Aunt doesn’t remember what they did for clothing but they had no shoes for the funeral. My Aunt could only wonder what Jim Metzger was thinking.”

I don’t think he was married to my Grandmother yet.

My Grudge

I’ve been told by both sides of my family that I am as stubborn as the other side. My mom telling me I’m as stubborn as the Blair’s while my dad says I’m all Fairhurst. I have learned that deep down I’m probably a combination of them all.

One such time of my showing how stubborn I could be was when I’d hold a grudge against someone, and I had such a grudge towards my Grandpa Jim. He embarrassed me one day when he was drinking really heavy in front of my best friend. doing a really bad imitation of Jerry Lewis, it was never good, but this day had him doing it repetitively trying to get people to laugh, and it wasn’t working. Top it off with the fact that I was in 10th grade, so you know how that age can already be, but he was slurring his words and just going a little too much over the top. Even my mom would admit that was a bad day. He ended up getting in his car and driving to Columbus after an altercation with someone (that part escapes me now but I remember my mom being horribly worried something really bad would happen, to our knowledge nothing did).

After that day I never was the same around him, giving him the silent treatment and the like (well, he and my grandma forgetting my 18th birthday a year or so later didn’t help, but maybe I brought it on myself).

Where I ended up making my peace with my Grandma Metzger, I never had the chance to really do that with my Grandpa. I was young and stupid. And then I was in my twenties. They had moved back down to Columbus so I didn’t see them all the time. I’d like to think he would forgive me, he was the first person who drank a lot that I was around. I have/had all kinds of addictive personalities in my extended family, but he was the first person who I truly “saw”. And he was one of my heroes, they aren’t suppose to fall off their pedestals.

How Scanning Photos Changed My Mind

I also think my opinion really changed last year during Covid when I began scanning my Grandma Metzger’s pictures that my dad gave me and I found the one below of my Grandparents. Look at them looking at each other. And I can tell this was when they lived in Florida which was a good 13 years into their marriage. So much love. I can just hear him calling her “Dear Heart” (well, he called everyone that). He may have had his flaws, but you can tell he loved my Grandma.

Alberta Lou Fleming and James Edward Metzger circa 1983-1985

James Edward Metzger died 21 July 2001 from lung cancer in Columbus, Ohio. He was far from perfect, but he was full of personality, and considered everyone he came in contact with a friend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s