Saturday, March 11, 2006

100 Years ago today...

100 years ago today, my grandfather was born. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to get to know him. He died when I was only 1. But his memory has loomed around me in the years since from family stories. His name was Wilton Pratt. Although everybody knew him as "Ted". He got that nickname because when one of his sisters was very young , she couldn't pronounce Wilton and it came out Ted instead.

My father told me that when my grandfather was a teenager, he was quite an athlete at football, but in the small town of rural western New York there wasn't much money in the family to send him off to college. He worked a variety of jobs. He was a hospital aide, worked in a glass factory, and was a security guard.
My grandfather was a big outdoorsman. His greatest love seemed to be fishing and hunting.

I have his greatest trophy. On Thanksgiving Day, Nov.27,1952 ,my grandfather was out deer hunting but instead stumbled upon a large black bear in the Alleghany mountains.
I'll let him be a guest blogger- I have a letter written by him to his sister and he describes the tale:

"I thought you might like this picture of this bear I killed Thanksgiving day on the N.9 mile rd. at Vandalia. I was hunting alone and it was quite a job getting him to my car. He weighed 330 lbs as you see him hanging here. I was using my 16 guage shotgun. Had to shoot him 3 times using rifle slugs. The first shot was about 50 feet that knocked him down rolled him over,he came right back up on his feetand started for me .when he was about 20 feet from me i shot him again and he went down hard, but was growling and gnashing his teeth trying to get up again. I stepped behind him and shot him a third time in the back of the neck into the head that finished the bear. I am having the head mounted and a rug made from his pelt. I didn't get a deer but the bear was very good eating like nice young tender beef. Show this picture to Mr. Washie your neighbor."

My grandfather and the bear.

My father would tale me the tale about how then a day or so later when he went out to go deer hunting again with my grandfather they came across a buck. My grandfather raised his rifle for a perfect shot and the gun jammed. He considered himself lucky that didn't happen when the bear was charging him.

I know the hunting tale may be squeamish for people today, but that's how it was back in his day and in the part of the country he lived in. He died in 1966 of emphysema, much too young at age 60.

The bear today-age has taken the toll on the taxidermy to his nose and mouth,so I'm very careful with him.

I have the mounted bear head, a little fragile now over 50 years, and the rug. But on this,what would have been his 100th birthday, I just wanted to share one of the proudest moments of his life.

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