GAYS MILLS - My paternal grandfather, Clyde F. Gibbs, was born on February 29 in the leap year of 1892. That is a rare birthday as pointed out last week in this paper (Remembering the way it was).
The odds of being born on Leap Year Day are 1461 to 1. And, Clyde Forest Gibbs was a rare and wonderful guy that I was proud to call grandpa. I’d like to share some memories of Grandpa Gibbs here in honor of what would have been his 32nd birthday.
One of my earliest memories involving grandpa was riding from Gays Mills to Barnum with him and grandma Maude. They lived in Barnum and it was a treat to spend an overnight at their house. We were in a Model A Ford coupe. There’s not a lot of room in a Model A coupe: I rode sprawled out on the shelf behind my grandparents and, as I recall, thought it was great and plenty roomy for a three or four year old.
Grandpa carried mail out of Barnum when it still had a post office. In that same Model A coupe I went on the mail route with him one spring day. One memory of that experience was that we delivered a box of baby chicks to a ridge-top farm. Another memory of the day was grandpa getting a mail box open, putting the mail in (not the box of chicks) and closing the mailbox, all without actually stopping the car. I think he must have done that just to keep me entertained.
Grandpa served as the president of the Wisconsin Rural Letter Carriers Association for a time. In that capacity, he attended conventions all over the country and he took grandma and my dad, Ryland, along with him. My dad mentioned to me one time that by the time he graduated from high school (Gays Mills, class of 1939) that he had been in 38 states. This at a time when travel was much different than it is today.
Grandpa and grandma moved to California in 1952 to be near our family; we had moved west in 1951. And I’m so glad they followed us. We saw a lot of each other as our family grew up and they were an important part of our lives. Grandpa was a friendly, gregarious, and talkative fellow. One time, he drove my brothers and me to a mall and waited outside on a bench while we browsed around. When we came out we found grandpa having a swell old time talking to another man. We just assumed they were old friends. “Who was that man, grandpa?” was asked. “Oh, some guy from Ohio.”
Later, in 1977, when my family and I moved to Gays Mills, a parent of one of my agriculture students, said, “Gibbs. Any relation to Clyde Gibbs?” I said I was and he said, “He was our mailman for years and if you’re half the man he was, you’ll be just fine.”
Thinking pleasant thoughts about my grandpa this day.