Friday, July 11, 2008

Happy "Would Be" 100th Birthday, Grandpa Johnie

Memory page of Johnnie Willie Greene (Coins and keys surrounding his picture were some of his actual belongings) Click to enlarge

I would like to wish a Happy "Would Be" 100th Birthday to my Grandpa Johnie. He was born Johnie Willie Green(e) on July 11, 1908 in Bradley, Arkansas. He actually added the "e" on the end early on to distinguish himself from what he considered the "ordinary." It fit, because he was anything but ordinary.

He was a very rare and special person. He was the son of Edward Green and Recie Clayton Green Jackson. Although, he was born in Arkansas, the family relocated back to the Plain Dealing, LA area where both of his parents were from. His parents parted ways during his youth and his care was assumed by his Aunt Lucy Green Faye and her husband Ransom Faye who he described as a tough taskmaster. Grandpa Johnie was required to work the family farm instead of attending school so he taught himself to read and write and later enrolled in adult school upon reaching maturity.

Johnie met and married Johnnie Pearl Lee, the daughter of Robert Edward Lee and Annie Bell Johnson Lee Green. The couple became parents to my mother, Lottie Viola Green and Shirley Bell Green. Johnie also was father to William Green and Lucille Green. He was a wonderful father to all of his children.

Grandpa Johnnie relocated to California in the 1940's. Initially, he moved to the San Francisco Bay area cities of Oakland and Richmond where he worked in the shipyards and worked for a period for the Ford Motor Company. He also worked for a time in the agricultural industry picking tomatoes and other crops. He was a hard worker with an excellent work ethic.

He moved to Sacramento, California where he resided for many years and became a homeowner. Like him, his home was also distinctive! The inside of his house was filled with things that reflected his unique style. It was essentially a kid's paradise. He had a large collection of dolls, trains, cars, action figures and other toys that every kid longed to play with. However, for the most part, his toys were for looking at and not for playing with. In addition, he had a fascination with unusual gadgets like clocks that uttered animals sounds at the stroke of each hour, cans of peanuts that when opened, snakes jumped out and toilet seats that talked to you when you sat on them. His house was distinctive, indeed!

Christmas was a very fun time at Granpa Johnnie's. He decorated every inch of the exterior of his house with neon lights, life size Santas and all the trimmings that said Christmas.

During the rest of the year, the exterior of his home was also special. Grandpa Johnie because of his early rearing was an excellent Gardener. He had one of the most wonderful and bountiful gardens that I have ever seen. He grew large stalks of corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, greens, peas and many other delicious vegetables. In addition, he had apple and peach trees. He also had the most refreshing well water that you ever tasted. You could sit all day under his shade trees and drink his delicious water.

My Grandpa was also an excellent hunter. He knew how to live off the land. He could hunt pheasants, quails, rabbit or anything else that had the misfortune to cross his path. He was actually a very healthy eater which I know contributed to his longevity.

My Grandpa was one of my favorite people in the world. He was very special to me. I loved going to his house as a kid and he made me feel very special. As a kid, he referred to me and the "Lawyer" because he said I would argue with a "sign board." He referred to my younger quiet sister, Carla as the "Rabbit." Ironically, she was one that became the Lawyer.

My Grandpa loved coconut cakes so on his birthday when I was growing up, I would make him a coconut cake and walk it over to his house on July 11th, one of the hottest days of the year. I would get as much joy out of making it as he would eating it. It would last him all week!

Grandpa Johnnie retired from Bercut Richards cannery in Sacramento and soon after relocated to Fordyce, Arkansas in 1984. He lived there for many years. While there, he became a Jehovah's Witness and later an elder. He was very active in the Church and traveled to many Kingdom Halls in Arkansas to speak which was remarkable at his age.

He relocated back to Sacramento in January 2001 at the age of 92 and remained in excellent physical and mental state. He rode a recumbent bike daily, out walked most young people and his mind was as sharp as can be.

No one would have guessed that he had terminal cancer that had metastasized all over his body but in July 2001, it became apparent. He fought a good fight but inevitably, he lost his mortal battle with cancer on August 13, 2001 at the age of 93but remained spiritually victorious since his soul reunited with Christ.

Grandpa Johnie Willie Greene was quite a man. He was a gentle soul that would give you the shirt off his back. Everyone loved him both young and old. He was truly good person and it eminated from his very soul. Little children especially could see it as they were naturally attracted to pleasant manner.

He lived to see 4 generations of his seed. From his daughter, Lottie, her daughter, Sharon, her daughter, Shawndra and her son Pablo who he established a very special bond with. In addition, his daughter Shirley, her daughter, Cassandra, her daughter, Josylyn and her daughter, Alexis. That makes 5 generations living at the same time and before his mother passed, 6!

He was a very intelligent man of distinction. He prided himself in his dress. He was a very daper older gentleman who was always dressed color-coordinated. He also wore gold and diamond rings on every finger but his thumbs. He was quite a handsome fellow and it did not go unnoticed by the ladies even in his elder days.

I miss my Grandpa Johnie. Again, he was so special to me. He thought he would live to get 100 years old and so did I since his mother lived to be 111. He would have but God had other plans for my Grandpa.

Anyway, I am wishing him a Happy "Would Be" 100th Birthday. May the angels in Heaven throw you one of the biggest Birthday celebrations ever with trumpets and angelic voices loud enough to shake the foundations of the world!

By the way, in rememberance of your "Would Be" 100th Birthday, your daughter Lottie made you a cake!

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