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Thu, April 25

<I>Happy memories</I><BR>Walking stick recalls grandfather's style

Ruth Auchenbach holds up the walking stick that belonged to her grandfather and has been in her family since the turn of the 20th century.

Courier/Julie Machia

Some of her most worthy life lessons came from conversations she overheard her grandfather having with customers of the bakery.

Auchenbach said Staples was always trying to help people and fix their problems, whether they were marital troubles or financial issues.

She said listening to her grandfather is where she learned all her "home-spun advice" with his words of wisdom, such as "'slow down, keep talking to each other and you're too tense about this.'"

Staples' giving nature went far beyond words, Auchenbach said. He would also tell people how to fix things in their home or go and fix them himself.

She said the unique aspect of her grandfather's life was he was always so full of wisdom, and he enjoyed such a simple life.

"He never furthered his education or traveled," Auchenbach said. "He never left the street he lived on and he was as happy as a little pea pod."

He shared that joy with his grandchildren often, and Auchenbach remembers sitting on the porch with her grandfather and her sister. Staples would light a cigar and catch the end of clothespins on fire so his granddaughters could pretend they were smoking.

They also enjoyed flying kites together, and "I'd let my kite go and he would go chasing after it."

She said Staples had a difficult time flying a kite while wearing gloves, and he would often take them off in the winter and fly kites until his hands turned blue.

Auchenbach was always fascinated with her grandfather's stories because "he manufactured those stories from his head right on the spot."

He made up of stories about dwarfs living in his work shed in the back yard and "that shed was the seed of most of his stories."

He had a way with words and Auchenbach believes she was fortunate to inherit that trait. She said he not only taught her to appreciate stories, "I think he gave me my own compassionate feelings."

Auchenbach knew about and learned from the way her grandfather paid attention to people and stories, which she believes is the reason she chose to work as a librarian.

"I thought about the way he took care of details in a story," she said, which made her good at listening to what people wanted while doing research in a library.

"I learned the carefulness and patience to stick with someone until I got the full story," she said.

Auchenbach, who lived and worked most of her life in Pennsylvania, now lives at Samaritan Village in Prescott, and finds herself always helping her neighbors.

She said she drives those around who aren't able to anymore and often brings them food.

One of Auchenbach's fondest memories is spending time with Staples when she was a little girl, and the impact he left on her carried her through the rest of her life.

The one thing she has left of her grandfather is his walking stick.

"When I was 9 or 10, I would get his walking stick out of a lovely container where my mother kept the umbrellas," she added. "I used to fish it out and go hobbling through the living room. When my grandmother and my mother died and my sister didn't find the interest (in the walking stick), I kept it."

Contact the reporter at rbump@prescottaz.com

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