from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

I live in one city, my grandchildren in another almost a thousand miles distant. During one of my visits I took my, then, three-year-old granddaughter for a stroll. We paused to examine a spider's web spanning a space between two shrubs. A rain shower had passed shortly before and droplets festooned the web's strands and rainbow-sparkled in the morning sunlight. Standing there, both of us bent forward peering into the web, I wove a story that transformed the sparkling strands into a carnival and the spider into an acrobat. Granddaughter's eyes widened with wonder.

We continued on and stopped at a house to observe a cat on the porch playing with a yellow ball. I wove another tale, this time of a cat and a strange ball that bounced too high. Again, my granddaughter's expression showed her pleasure in hearing grandpa's story. For the remainder of my visit, and during subsequent visits, I told her, and when he was old enough, my grandson, of the world around us and how we hoped to, some day, live together on Planet Earth.

Visits, in either direction were infrequent. Adult-oriented telephone calls usually left only brief moments for talking to grandchildren. Long distance calls just didn't generate the right ambiance and enough time for the relaxed talking and easy listening that goes naturally with a grandpa story. Then, too, at the close of an adult telephone conversation the youngsters are usually busy at other things, and sometimes grandpas just don't do well as talkers.

In my situation, I filled the gap with hand-scribed and, later on, typed stories. The letter-stories lengthened our telephone chats to plot the next story, flesh-out characters, the environments of settings and scenes. There are no better aids to a grandpa-grandchild telephone story conference than our faithful friends Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

One letter-story followed another, often illustrated with pictures from discarded magazines. When I couldn't find the right illustration, I laboriously sketched an all-thumbs grandpa original. It was an enjoyable experience for me, and feedback from the family showed it was enjoyable for my grandchildren as well.

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