Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Family Tales

Paul's great-uncle/step-great-grandpa* Frank Kropf had a volcanic temper, I am told. It's odd--I see old pictures of him in the Kropf cookbook or remember his sons, all with long chins and crooked grins, and think of them in black and white, as mild-mannered, proper characters, when in reality they were anything but.

Last night Victor Knox, one of the six Knox Brothers who grew up in this house, was talking with Paul and telling stories. Frank, he said, never got along well with his sons. One day he and his son Ray were in the shop and a Magneto (?) got lost. Each blamed the other and things got more and more heated until Ray ran out of the shop. Frank took off after him....and threw an ax at him.

Victor's dad was Vernon, married to Frank's daughter Elsie**. He was a peacemaker and seldom got in his father-in-law's way, but this time he told Frank that that was wrong of him to throw that ax. Frank said, "Well, I have to do something so he doesn't run all over me."

Unfortunately this temper has percolated through the generations. My SIL Lois tells me that when a certain pair of brothers, Frank's grandsons, talk to each other, they yell and carry on so bad you'd think they were about to murder each other. And then there's this second cousin, and that one, known for their hot bursts of anger.

And we must not forget Frank's daughter who, when her husband wouldn't let her have her way, would go out and lie down in the middle of the road in a childish attempt to scare everybody. Or she would take off to town and stay away for three days.

In addition to their tempers, the Kropfs were also known for being very blunt and not being afraid to speak their minds.

Odd how the more I know of the family history, the better I understand my children. As Paul says, it's a good thing that some of those strong traits are starting to get dissolved in a larger pool of genes.

*Paul's grandpa Orval married his stepfather Frank's younger sister Lena.

**Vernon and Elsie's wedding was a story in itself. Elsie was 15; Vernon was her dad's hired man. Frank and Annie wanted to go on a trip, but Frank didn't trust his own boys to run the place, so he asked Vernon if he would. Vernon said it wouldn't be proper for him to stay there, since he was dating Elsie. So Frank said, "Well, then, get married!" This was on a Friday. Vernon and Elsie got married on Sunday. On Monday Frank and Annie went on their trip as planned.

Quote of the Day:
"Mom! Steven's chewing with his mouth full!"


  1. It took us months to teach our son to chew. Then he regressed, due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids, for three years. After he had them removed, we had to re-teach him.
    Halllelujah, Steven can chew! Mouth full, open or closed. :-)

  2. wow. that's quite the story.

  3. *laughs*

    Family history is great. :D

  4. I got a kick out of reading your "Family Tales".....some things I've heard before, but loved reading them regardless....Vernon and Elsie were my grandparents, so heard most through them. Very important to pass on the family history, I think. (certainly explains some of us off-spring!)Thanks for sharing.....

  5. Isn't it wonderful how these strange characteristics from our ancestors exhibit themselves so plainly in our children? So nice to know that they skipped our generation!!!!!!!!! Pauline

  6. God must have a good laugh at all of us when He sees the way we behave....or maybe he just cries when He sees how we treat each other.

  7. Yeehaw!!!! Takes one to know one! We do have a, uh, rich background, now don't we? I learned some new things myself from that story. :-)

  8. Ah, Mrs. Smucker, you never do cease to humor me. Loved the post. There is a strain of hot blood that runs through my family and my brother and I, who are probably the most alike in the family, seem to have gotten it. I'll have to do some digging into my family history. I know it isn't from the Beachy side because the Beachy's are forevermore the most easy going, calm, level, steady, gentle people who have no enemies and offend no one. Temper or not, I don't think we have ever considered throwing an axe.....we just ruin doors. I broke a door and he kicked a hole clean through his, but that seems a little safer.

    I love these fun, fascinating, family facts. One of my favorite stories in my family history was about my mom's parents. Now when I knew them, they were elderly and quite conservative in every aspect, however, my grandpa used to like to box (oh, they were Amish too). When they were first married, he would go out and box and my Grandma didn't like it at all. He never did it to quit, so one day she had enough. She got his boxing gloves, climbed up onto the roof, and put them down the chimney. She still smiles when she says, "And he never did find them!"

    Well, I have to say that hot-blooded people definitely have better stories to tell their grandchildren!