Papa "Spaulding" and Grandson "Jamison" by John J. Patridge


October 1, 2017

Grandchildren are such a joy.  Nana and I have been blessed to have nine of them, starting with Ben who will be 28 soon, all the way to Julia who will begin college next year.  Each one is special and each is different from the other in personality and interests - but upbeat and fun to be with.  Is there a favorite?  Absolutely not.  Our lives have been enriched by seeing each one progress from the baby years to adulthood.  We have always looked forward to the holiday visits, and to the one week stay with each grandchild at age 12 or so.  But I have to say that I developed a unique form of kinship with Zach.  

I have been a lifelong fan of the Marx Bros.  I have all their movies and have seen each one multiple times. So, when Zach and Emma flew out for their week with Nana and Papa, I looked at this as an opportunity to expand their intellectual horizons and expose them to the zany comedy of Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo.  Zach took to them like a duck to water; Emma, not so much!  Zach couldn’t get enough.  His favorite was Animal Crackers, which we saw more than once.  In that film, Capt. Spaulding (Groucho) has just returned from a successful hunting trip in Africa accompanied byhis field secretary, Jamison (Zeppo).  Capt. Spaulding boasted that one morning he shot an elephant in his pajamas.  When Zach heard the punch line, “How he got into my pajamas, I’ll never know”, he started laughing so hard, I thought he would never stop.  All the time Emma is sitting there rolling her eyes, while Nana would look into the room with a quizzical look.  We continued watching the films and Zach continued to laugh and laugh.

Anyway, I don’t remember how it began, but Zach and I started a game where I would pretend to be Capt. Spaulding and he would be Jamison.  Over a period of time this fun charade escalated to the point that we would actually assume the roles.  So, for a number of years, I would call the family home and simply ask for Jamison.  With either, Susie, Dan or Anna answering, there would be a pause, and then “Oh”, and then I would hear “Zach”, Capt. Spaulding is on the line”.  And during that brief conversation, we played the game.  It would go something like this:  “Captain, it’s good to hear from you; what can I do for you?  Well, Jamison, I just wanted to be sure that all is well at home and that you are keeping everyone in line.  Of course, Captain, the situation here is under control and I’m on top of it”, and so it went until we couldn’t think of anything else to talk about and we would revert to Papa and Zach.  It was fun for both of us and Zach engaged in the role playing with the same unbridled enthusiasm that he did with just about everything else.  He was a pure delight.