Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Dad - Warren Westcott Grant

Warren Westcott Grant was born at St. Mary's Hospital in the city of Passaic, Passaic County, New Jersey on 11 January 1922 to Ralph Westcott Grant and Florence Hazel Skinner.

Warren at 21 months
His parents were living at 196 Lakeview Avenue in Clifton, Passaic County, NJ at the time of his birth and they moved a few years later when my Dad was 4 or 5 years old to 267 Rollins Avenue, also in Clifton, where my Dad grew up.

Warren about 1928

When my dad was young, he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and was not allowed to participate in athletics. While in high school, Dad was the drum major in the Clifton High School marching band and he developed a strong interest in photography.
Warren Grant
Clifton, NJ High School Class of 1940

My father's dad, Ralph Grant, died of a heart attack when my dad was just 17. This picture was taken of the two of them the shortly before my grandfather died.
Ralph Westcott Grant and Warren Westcott Grant
around 1939

After high school, my father started attending Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. However, he only lasted about a year and a half there before he left. He told me once that he was spending too much time on photography and not studying enough. He later went back to Rutgers and completed his B.S. degree in 1949 taking night classes while working.
After Dad left Rutgers in 1941, he went to work for Curtiss-Wright in Caldwell, NJ, working as a metallurgical technician. The United States had recently entered World War II and Dad  received deferments for essential war-time labor. He was also helping out his widowed mom, Hazel, and younger sister with financial support.

Warren W. Grant about 1944, age 22

In late 1943, Dad went to New York City where he enlisted in the Army Air Force. He was inducted on the 27th of  November and reported to Fort Dix in NJ on the 2nd of December. He planned to be a pilot, but instead was assigned to train as a flight engineer on B-29s.

Dad's flight training was interrupted in January 1945 when his mother suddenly died one day after his 23rd birthday. Dad told me he was called into the Commandant's Office and told "Mr. Grant, sorry to tell you your mother died. See the Red Cross office to set up emergency leave". Dad was given a month's leave to head back to New Jersey and pack up the family home and settle the estate. His sister was still a minor at the time.

Younger sister Shirley, Hazel and Warren about 1944

Dad was in the service for 2 years and received his honorable discharge on the 27th of November 1945, exactly 2 years after his induction and just 3 weeks before he was to receive his commission. He served one month as a Private in basic training, 11 months as an Aviation Student, and 12 month as an Aviation Cadet. His discharge paper states "Discharge of Surplus Aircrew Trainees who Volunteered from Civilian Life". He told me that he had no option of staying in longer to become commissioned since the war was winding down. At the time, he was stationed at the Army Air Force base in Amarillo, Texas. He had also earlier been stationed in North Carolina and Georgia. I wonder if Dad would have received his commission  had he not had the month's leave after his mother died.
After Dad was discharged, he headed to Manchester, Vermont for a few months and did alot of skiing. He once told me he felt that he had to get back to the real world and thus moved back to NJ and went back to work at Curtiss Wright on April 1st. By 1951, he was living in an upstairs apartment at 75 Gourley Avene in Clifton, NJ, where he would stay until after he and my mom married.
Dorothy M. Veith and Warren W. Grant
11 October 1952

My mom and dad met on a blind date around 1941 when they were both just out of high school. They dated off and on for the next 11 years until they married on the 11th of October in 1952 at the Pilgrim Congregational Church in Harwich Port, Massachusetts where my Dad's family had a summer cottage that he and his sister had inherited.

At the time of their marriage at age 30 for both of them, my father was working in the propeller division at Curtiss-Wright as an engineer and my mom was an executive secretary at her father's furniture store in Englewood, NJ. My dad remained at Curtiss-Wright until around 1965. He briefly worked at Electric Boat in Groton, CT, before being hired as a sales engineer for Rolock, Inc., based in Fairfield, CT. Dad's sales territory was New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and parts of Maryland and Delaware. He stayed in this position until his retirement.
Warren W. Grant about 1985
Dad and mom bought their first (and only!) house at 29 Reiners Road, Little Falls, NJ about 2 years after they married. They moved in there with my older brother on 23 March 1955. They lived there until they moved to a retirement community in Pompton Plains, NJ in 2002.
Dad was 83 years old when he died on the 22nd of January 2005 in Pompton Plains, Morris County,  NJ.  He died peacefully, at home, in his sleep. I had last seen him just a few days earlier.
Warren Grant, Aspen, Colorado about 1968
Dad loved to ski his whole life. In the early days, he and a group of friends would take the train from NJ to VT to ski for the weekend at Snow Valley. Later, he and my mom and other friends often skiied at Stowe in Vermont. After we kids came along, Dad and Mom would drive up to Mt Snow with us in the back of the station wagon for a day of skiing (5 hours each way! that is dedication!). When I was in high school, we were able to take several trips to Aspen, Colorado for a week of skiing. I think Dad lived for those trips.
Dad also loved Cape Cod and I think some of his happiest times were spent puttering around the family cottage there. It seemed he could fix almost anything to me.
Happy Father's Day, Dad! May there always be snow for you.

4 comments:

  1. This was a beautiful tribute to and biography of your father. It's sad that he lost both parents so early in his life. That had to have been hard, especially with a sister who was a minor and him being in the service. I was surprised that they accepted him in the service with his heart murmur, but better as a flight engineer than a pilot! Oh, and what a cute photo of him as a baby and in short pants. My father was born a few years earlier than yours but always held shorts for men in disdain because he said it took him too long to get out of them.

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  2. Wendy Grant WalterJune 19, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Thanks for the kind comments Nancy! About the heart murmur - he once told me it had disappeared at some point and he had been told he hadn't needed to restrict his activities. Of course this was after he was grown! Also he started off in pilot training but they moved him to flight engineer when there were too many pilots. It was interesting to put together this post and actually pull all the bits and pieces of his service record together.
    Thanks again!

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  3. Greetings From Southern California

    I added myself to follow your blog.

    I invite you to visit TOGB and follow back.

    God Bless You :-)

    BTW, Great Old Photos!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wendy Grant WalterJune 21, 2011 at 9:17 AM

    Thanks Geez!

    ReplyDelete

Spam comments have increased tremendously as of late and I've turn the word verification back on. Sorry about that to those who would like to leave a real comment!