My maternal grandfather, Adolph Joseph DeMan, was in his mother's womb as the family crossed the ocean from East Flander, Belgium. He was the first to be born in the U.S. in 1885. His father's death in 1888 contributed to his departure from school and work as a lad in the iron mines of Republic, Michigan. The house he later built on a homestead in Maple Valley, Washington, near Kent, was a substantial pillar in my unstable early life as a precocious JW child in a dysfunctional home.
Grandfather DeMan, raised Catholic, but, during my lifetime one of the JW "anointed," typically sat in a recliner near the wood stove that heated the ancestral house. He read the Bible, underlining verses, alternately in red and blue, the two colors of his favorite pencil, while making notations in the margin. When I was maybe 14, he stopped me as I tried to hurry past his station near the stove, explaining that Adam and Eve were not merely naked in the garden after their sin, but, were actually nude. I quickly offered that they were "exposed." Grandpa liked that and quickly wrote the word in the margin.
A year or so later, I had the privilege of working in field service with grandpa, a "privilege," because despite being one of the 144,000, he seldom went in service, more interested in tilling, fertilizing and working his football-sized garden and making long-winded comments and prayers at the weekly Watchtower study. Grandpa and I were offering the green New World Translation Bible for a dollar to the public as authorized in the Kingdom Ministry. When I deferred to grandpa at the first door, he grabbed the green book in his bare hands and handed it to the shocked woman opening the door. "This will make a great Christmas present," he said.
As we walked to the next door, he said: "Maybe you should take the next door, Jimmie. You're a lot better at this than me."
About mid-morning, after I had exhausted my teenaged voice doing all the talking, grandpa saw a man working his garden. My grandpa took off his sportcoat and grabbed a hoe. He did tell the Czechoslovakian man who we were, but kept weeding and doing whatever hoes were meant to do. The man invited Adolph into his home and poured him a beer. "And the lad?" he asked. "Yes," my grandpa answered.
I drank my first beer in field service.