This grainy photo is one of the few that I have of my grandfather smiling. It's kind of odd, because with his grandchildren he was often joking and laughing. But he didn't care for having his picture taken. He wasn't much for crowds or meeting new people. What he was was a good hearted, incredibly strong and smart individual but he didn't broadcast it. He just was all of those things and more.
My grandad was a weaver. He started working in the Glen Royal textile mill at the ripe old age of 12, and worked in textiles most of his life. He worked his way up to being a weaver at the Royal mill and when the mill closed he found jobs at other mills and eventually worked in the Textiles School at NC State. He found a home there and worked there even part-time after his retirement. Having worked to support his mother and younger siblings through much of the depression, he was always thrifty and as the textile students experimented with spinning yarns of different materials and textures, Grandad salvaged most of that yarn the would otherwise have been tossed and brought it back to my Aunt Matt and others who would find uses for it. To this day my grandmother, mother and I have cones and cones of yarn that was saved in crazy colors or unexpected textures.
I am not a weaver, but I have always been fascinated by the workings of large looms, their speed and complexity. There can be something hypnotic and fascinating in a well woven fabric. That's something that I'm sure I come by honestly. I was lucky enough to have my Grandad until I was an adult, and I wish every day that my husband and children could know him. The many photos of him unsmiling or looking away from the camera just don't show the kind of open-hearted goodness that he spread to those of us who knew him. I still feel it every time I feel thread slide through my fingers.