otto’s one-legged turkey

granny pop-pop

I was lucky enough to know all four of my grandparents. Grandpa Van Buren showed up every Christmas as round and rosy-cheeked as Santa Claus, bringing with him a big suitcase full of gifts—sweaters with snowflakes, and sensible things like that—he and Grandma had picked out in Florida. Even into his 80’s, he remembered meeting her, clear as day, when she was a nurse at the hospital where he was a doctor: “Her red hair shone like an angel’s!” He fought in Korea, and they raised eight kids in Flatbush, and then Long Island. Though Grandpa has passed on, grandma is still with us, living in Massachusetts. She is 99. She still looks like an angel.

Granny and Pop-Pop raised my mother first in Queens and then in Long Island, just down the street from the Van Burens. The photo above shows them on their first date, on Central Park South, on May 1, 1936. They were so clearly already smitten, and they went on to marry and raise seven children together. (Our family weddings—teeming with aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins’ babies, all of whom think they can dance—are no joke.)

My memories of Granny and Pop-Pop are ferociously strong, so I wrote about them—my Granny’s frugality, my Pop-Pop’s pride, and a one-legged, possibly rabid, rather Irish-Catholic turkey—for The Daily Beast this Thanksgiving. I think I edited this piece 33 times on my own before sending it to Noah Rothbaum, who is running one heck of a food and drink page for TDB. I hope you enjoy it, and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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