LIFE ACCORDING TO MY 95 YEAR OLD GRAMPS
Allow me to introduce you to Kenneth Taylor: WWII Veteran, Successful Entrepreneur and the absolute BEST Gramps in the entire world. He is kind and loving with a huge heart, sharp as a tack and will make you laugh all day long!
Last week, I paid a visit to The Villages, Florida to visit both he and my fabulous Grams. During a special dinner one evening, he and I got to talking, and it clicked: I HAD to interview him. And I was going to do it right then and there! His stories, his wisdom, his life experiences were all something the world could learn from. With that, I present to you:
Life According To My 95 Year Old Gramps
You’ve been married to Grandma for 48 years. In your opinion, what’s the key to a successful relationship?
Gramps: Be loving, be good companions.
What is your go-to cocktail?
Gramps: ::chuckles:: Scotch over the rocks.
You mentioned you read an article about how listening to music daily helps with memory. What is your favorite song?
Gramps: Stardust. There are many recordings, but Frank Sinatra’s is my favorite.
What decade stands out the most when it comes to music?
Gramps: I would say the pre-war 30s, 40s, 50s and even the 60s. But in the 70s they stopped writing good music. :: Gramps chuckles:: I really loved The Big Band Era. There were 12-20 people in a band with trumpets and trombones. The music was coordinated, the singers were excellent, and you really felt what they were singing.
Speaking of decades, which was the most exciting to live through?
Gramps: The most exciting decade was when I was in WWII. You can’t duplicate that, that’s for sure.
You served as a bombardier in WWII. What was that like? How long did you serve?
Gramps: We flew on a B29 called Renton’s Reck. I was in the service for 32 months and overseas for six months. I completed over 30 missions.
What’s your advice for future generations regarding war?
Gramps: I admire the armed forces we have today. I admire the ones that are making an effort to keep this country going. There are a lot of nice young kids that are doing that. I have just as much admiration for them as they do for those that preceded them.
You just celebrated your 95th birthday in August. You also had a flag flown in your honor above the United States Capitol. What did that feel like?
Gramps: It was the nicest birthday gift I’ve ever had.
What was your first job and how old were you?
Gramps: At age four I helped the family business. My dad owned a movie theater in Washington. Back then, movie projectors didn’t have motors on them, so we cranked them. If you got tired, the movie slowed down. They were silent movies with no voice. Us three kids took turns cranking it, and I was the youngest at four. My older brother did most of the work.
Are there any lessons you took from that experience that you still carry with you today?
Gramps: Oh yeah, be enterprising! :: Gramps chuckles:: In those days, you helped out. The whole family worked together. We ran the pictures, my parents sold the tickets, and we sold popcorn and candy at the concession that my mother would make. It was homemade candy. For a nice sized candy bar, it was only a nickel. In those days, a family of five, two adults and three kids could go to a movie with popcorn and a coke for $1.87!
My, how times have changed! Do you know how much it is today?
Gramps: Oh yeah! A bag of popcorn on its own is $20!
What was life like after the war?
Gramps: When I got out of the service, I had a little restaurant off of the theater. It was a great lunch business. I would go and work the lunch hour and be home by 1p, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. Between hunting and fishing, I started building a house. We were living in an apartment behind the theater, so I went down to the shop, got a huge piece of paper and started drawing plans out for the house. My father gave me a lot, and I started building from the ground up.
What advice would you give someone looking to start their business?
Gramps: It pays to know something about it, of course, but it doesn’t take long to learn if you really want to be successful. You just have to roll with the punches. Experience is the most important thing in business. Experience is everything, and you learn as you go along. Just start.
What is your favorite place that you have ever lived?
Gramps: Arizona - I loved it there. The weather was amazing, the recreation was great, the mountains, the sunsets. Remember we used to go boating? Grandma and I were always keeping busy. Great nightlife, golfing, boating, fishing and hunting. I had a great time there. Always busy doing something!
What would be your advice to your younger self?
Gramps: Don’t do anything different. :: He chuckles:: I’ve been very fortunate.
In your opinion, what’s the ideal age to have kids?
Gramps: In my day, it wasn’t a cut and dry rule, but most had kids in their early 20s. Now, it’s early 30s. It really is just a matter of choice. :: He takes a beat:: I don’t see how people can even afford to have kids these days.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference between men and women?
Gramps: They both have different attitudes, I know that. I call them different brains. :: He laughs::
You are a very talented artist. How did you get into carving and making kachinas?
Gramps: I just started. When we moved to Arizona, I had a great sized area to begin making duck decoys for hunting and people started wanting them. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I would make more. You kids also always wanted me to carve you things. Remember the Dalmatian?
I do!! And the bunnies and kachinas! You’re the best Grandpa. Speaking of, what’s your favorite part about being a not only a father but a grandpa and now a great-grandpa?
Gramps: Being loved by them. I’ve been very fortunate. The love shows more and more every day.
If you could have lunch with any person in the world, who would it be?
Gramps: Your Grandma. Always your grandma.
Be still, my heart. Quite the romantic!
And there you have it! Life according to my 95 Year Old Gramps!