My Funny Grampa

We always called my father’s dad “Funny Grampa.”

Frank Heitzman came over on the boat from Bohemia with his family when he was a child of two. Soon thereafter, the family settled in the Bronx.

Grampa served during the Great War and his best friend from the army died in the 1918 flu epidemic. When Grampa went to visit the family, he met my grandmother, Vera, his best friend’s sister.

Frank and Vera married and moved to Gainesville, Florida, where Grampa went to college on the G.I. Bill. Grampa wanted to study graphic art, but instead was funneled into animal husbandry, aka chicken farming.

Grandma learned about the chickens at the same time and took over the chicken operation after Grampa finished his education. That’s when a kindly sign painter took Grampa under his wing and taught him how to paint signs.

Grampa also ran a gymnasium around that time, teaching fitness and boxing before anyone else even thought about it. One of his prized possessions was his ticket stub from the Dempsey-Tunney fight which he attended in Philadelphia in September 1926.

Grampa often dressed up for local parades as a hobo and served for many years at Christmas as the local department store’s Santa.

When I was in the third grade, I started publishing a “weekly” newspaper, The Heitzman Press.

Grampa made bumper stickers and banners for the Press and often contributed jokes and comics for various issues of the paper. My favorite comic is the one below that appeared in the April-May 1965 issue of the Press. Perhaps my Daddy saved the original comic somewhere safe. Sadly, the only copy I have is one that’s been sitting in The Heitzman Press morgue. At that time, we were printing the paper on a hectograph.

Pygmy comic

The representation here is the “cleaned up” version used on the cover of my newest book Happy Holidays with Randie and Troy … and Bubba.

Pygmy comic

I always loved the humor of the pun in the caption to this classic comic.

Me: You’ll hear about this! I’m the editor of the Heitzman Press.

Aborigine: Don’t worry, Lady. Pretty soon you be Editor in Chief.

— Rebecca