My Grandpa and Garbage Pail Kids

My Grandfather

I’ll always remember my grandfather as being serious and logical. My mother was his favorite daughter. He never had to say it out loud, but we all knew it.

He wasn’t your tickling or a piggybackride-providing-kind-of-grandpa. It’s not that he didn’t have a sense of humor or sarcastic streak because he did. He’d laugh and watch his grandchildren play, but then all of a sudden he’d round all of us up and make us sit around for one of his serious stories.

There was always a moral to his stories and we were never allowed to laugh even if we thought his story was funny. I was the oldest grandchild by many years, but I was never exempt from having to sit and listen. Even until the very end of his life he still sat me down for one more story…and it had a moral of course.

~ ~ ~

I grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but lots of my weekends were spent with my grandfather at his grocery store in Brooklyn. It was in Williamsburg, on Manhattan Avenue. It was the early 80s.

At the time Williamsburg was not terribly trendy or horribly hip. It was an immigrant’s neighborhood, just like lots of other neighborhoods in New York now polished and unrecognizable. I learned basic words in Polish because the store was in a Polish neighborhood. I ate kielbasa for the first time in my life in Williamsburg, and I can’t live without it even today. I love kielbasa.

I had my first fight with a Polish girl, and it was a draw.

Best of all I got to hang out with my grandfather for hours on end. I got to eat and drink all I wanted from his inventory, and I got to learn how to use the cash register too. I read my first real nudie magazines at my grandfather’s store, without ever getting caught. My grandfather paid me $5 each day for “helping” him at the store, meanwhile I probably cost him an additional $60 in merchandise and food per day.

When the Garbage Pail Kids cards came out I had more than anyone else did. I plundered my grandfather’s candy deliveries for them, and the cards came with some of the worst sugar-bomb gum but nobody cared about the gum anyway. They were some of the best days of my life.

I’m so glad I got that time with him, to be serious and not serious like we had all the time in the world…

Always dishing,





  1. Anonymous

    Another member of the family coming to life in your blogs …. Always interesting …. Just saw u mention u all are thinking about moving within Ghent. Would love to hear about the various areas u r considering and what the criteria are. U have also made Belgium in General and Ghent in particular really come to life.

  2. How lucky you were to have known your grandparents! I was near the very end of a long line of children and never knew mine. After seeing our girls with their grands it made me realize how much I hoped to have grandchildren of my own. I’ve been blessed many times and I can imagine the joy your grandfather had simply having you ‘help’ in the store every day. Another lovely glimpse into Jun. Thank you.

  3. I wasn’t blessed with loving grandfathers. My maternal grandfather died when I was four, and my paternal grandfather had a love affair with women who were not my grandma, and the bottle. But both my grandmas made up for that. I’m glad you have such good memories of your grandfather!

  4. Sara

    I LOVE reading your blog. I’ve spent the last ten or so years watching Big Brother with my family in California. But now I’m doing my phd in England. And even though I’ve spent the last two years living in England, and loving it, its nice to read about a fellow expat living in Europe.

  5. You brought back memories for me about my grandfather. Like yours, mine owned a store too – a popcorn store. Situated between 3 movie theaters, at the time you could still bring in your own food. I would spend a week with him in the summer “helping” him. However, I think I ate more than he sold some times. I do remember one of my 1st crushes was on a girl abut my age, who came into the store everyday and I got to sell her some popcorn treat. Those were fun days. I did learn all about the popcorn business; how to make cheese corn, regular butter corn, carmel corn. My favorite was to make popcorn balls!

  6. MarluvsBB

    Love your family stories, Jun. Wish more kids today made time to sit with their grandparents and hear their stories, and learn about the morals of them as well. Precious memories.

  7. Sarah Horton

    Awww Jun this touches close to my heart as my parents owned a little Mom and Pop grocery store and I too grew up hanging out at the store and working the cash register… My very best memories are from Dudley Fruit 🙂


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