William H. James, 1917-2009

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Let me start by saying that Grandpa Sex Machine is NOT based on my grandfather.

My real grandpa was definitely a charming guy who flirted with every woman he met, but he had class and was always a gentleman (not like Gus).

I’ve always heard the stories about how tough Grandpa was–how after he,  his crew mates, and their B-25 got shot up with .50 caliber machine guns and they were getting ready to land, he threatened the pilot that pulled into the flight path in front of him, even though the other guy out-ranked him.  How he kept the bullet in his back for 10 days because the flight surgeon said, “I’ll come back for that later–I’m too drunk right now.”  How they got shot down over China, bounced off a rice paddy, and flew the rest of the way home.  How after being stationed on Guam  his job was to fly inside typhoons (those are hurricanes to you and me).  On purpose.  Repeatedly.  How there were times inside a typhoon when they had the nose pointed straight down and the throttle all the way up but the altimeter kept climbing.

Those are the stories I heard about Grandpa.  What I knew about him first-hand was that he was the man who taught me the importance of filling every crater in your waffle with syrup.  He taught me the whole concept of “Ladies First,” including the bit about holding the door open.  We built a birdhouse together.  We sat at the bar together when I was little and he’d drink a dry martini while I drank a Shirley Temple.  He always insisted on picking up the tab.  He’s the first person I knew with a home computer (an Apple II+), and he encouraged my sister and me to use it/play with it/learn about it.

He had plans to live to 102 and get shot by a jealous husband, but it didn’t quite work out that way.

I love you Grandpa, and I miss you.