Thursday, November 10, 2005

Grandpa Was A Cross Dresser

That's Grandpa and me to the left. I must have been about 3 years old at the time of this picture. He called me Peanut back then. I called him Pere Pere back then. He was of French descent. Pere Pere means grandpa in French. Well, it means grandpa in a sort of broken Canadian French anyway. His grandparents came down from Quebec to Illinois in roughly 1850.

I called him Pere Pere until I was seven or eight years old. Then I quit. I had begun to feel embarrassed about it, because none of my friends called their grandpas Pere Pere and probably somebody said to me in a snide way, "Why do you call your grandpa Pere Pere?" I caved in to peer pressure.

Yes, Grandpa was a cross dresser, but only at night which, I guess, made him a nocturnal cross dresser. Silky nightgowns! That's what he liked to slip into at night. Grandma's silky nightgowns. Grandma and Grandpa were about the same size. Grandma didn't mind. She thought he looked cute in her nightgowns. There was nothing kinky about actually. He said her nightgowns felt good to his skin and that was why he liked to wear them. So, I suppose that made him a tactile nocturnal cross dresser. And since he was French...never mind. I won't carry it out to that extent.

Grandpa wasn't kept hidden in the closet because of his eccentric preference in sleep wear. Although our family thought it was funny, we weren't ashamed of him. It would have been impossible to have kept him in the closet anyway.

You see, Grandma and Grandpa owned a huge brick home in my home town. They lived on the first floor which had somewhat of an open feel to it. Very little privacy. They rented out rooms on the second and third floor, and in the basement as well, to folks who had come up from Southern Illinois to take jobs at the nearby mental hospital.

With that many people flowing in and out of the house all hours of the day and night due to shift work, somebody was bound to catch Grandpa in Grandma's silky nightgown either on his way to bed at night or, in the morning, sipping a cup of coffee at the kitchen table which was visible from the front door.

Grandma and Grandpa didn't have any Las Vegas type house rule stating that what goes on here stays here. Consequently with that many people living under one roof and with so little privacy, word about Grandpa's eccentric preference in sleep wear was bound to get out to the community at large. Grandpa was such a likeable guy though that nobody in town appeared to mind what he wore to bed even if it was his wife's nightgown. Everybody liked Grandpa.

When he was in his early sixties, Grandpa took a job driving a school bus in town. He adored the children and the children adored him. About five months before he died at age 66, he was down on the floor playing with my first-born daughter, his first great-grandchild. I was pregnant with my second child at the time. We were talking and, out of the blue, he said to me that he hoped he would still be around to see my second child. I remember I was shocked. "Of course, you will still be here, Grandpa." I remember saying to him.

There was a big snow storm the night before he died. The next morning when he got to work, he struggled to put the chains on the tires of the school bus. He went on to make his rounds out in the rural area picking up children. He returned to town with his precious cargo of children and was driving down a street toward the school, when he suddenly slumped over the steering wheel. The bus slowed down, veered to the right and softly glided into a snow bank alongside the street where it came to a stop. No child was injured. The doc said Grandpa had died instantly from a heart attack.

Grandpa thought the world of me. As far as he was concerned, the sun rose and set in me. Although I undoubtedly deserved it from time to time, I never recall him saying even a cross word to me. I could do no wrong in his eyes.

How fortunate I was to have him in my life. My beloved Pere Pere!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. o.k., susie, iam here. i can't type in big letters because i'm holding a baby snake that i found today in my hand. i don't want him to die and the only way i have of keep[ing him warm is to hold him. what are her redemming qualitys? tell me

  3. He sounds like a wonderful man! What great memories -- the nightgown image cracks me up. I'm sorry he died so young.

  4. Well, hi there L>T. It sure didn't take you long to get over here. Good luck with your baby snake. All God's creatures, great and small!

    Her redeeming qualities are revealed in part in the comment she left at LG blog in which she shares her life story with everyone. She was profoundly honest.

    Did you get a chance to read my story about my beloved Pere Pere?

  5. Oh, thanks for stopping by, Meegan. I was hoping you would. Yes, it was so funny to see him in Grandma's nightgowns.

    I am still working on the story about my cousin Jimmie. I have so many stories stacked up now in draft form you would not believe it.

    I dearly loved your Charmin story. I laughed and laughed.

  6. SusieQ I like your grandpa story..

  7. sigh, i miss my grandparents terribly!

  8. Nice when folks don't sieze on one aspect of an otherwise great persons life and batter him down with it.

    This is so unlike the intolerant society of today. Just try to be sick or overweight or anything else and some evil jerk will come along and use the fact to tear your life all the way dowm.

    Your Granpa sounds like a great man. I'm glad he had tolerant people to share his life with.

  9. Hi there, Dancing Crow. Yes, my Grandpa was a great man. He was a very simple man though. Nothing fancy about him except his nightgowns.

    Of course, most everyone in my small, small home town was simple. So, it isn't like he stood out any in that regard.

    I think the reason people liked him so much was because he was a very friendly man.

    About 98% of my story is true, Dancing Crow. I fudged a little on just how many people might have known about Grandpa's silky sleepwear. Literary license and all.

  10. What an awesome story! Which brings back memories of my Grandpas! And although they wern't "cross dressers" they each had their own quirks, equally as sweet and charming!

    However, my Uncle used to hang around the house in his underwear...tighty whities even...a voyer maybe? ;)

  11. I wish I had known your grandpa, my great-grandpa. I remember hearing about his death but never in such a touching way. Very sweet.

  12. Still in a few weeks hed have to learn differently. I told him that I didntknow if I could do that, but would try for him.
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    Still in a few weeks hed have to learn differently. I told him that I didntknow if I could do that, but would try for him.