Grandpa Richard Kallman = snus

If I had only one word to describe what I remember about my grandfather the word would be snus. Seal brand Snus. That is what I remember about him. He seemed to forever have a scowl on his face and a frown. A frown with a little dribble of tobacco slipping out of the corner of his mouth.  I don't ever recall seeing him smile or laugh. Sitting with his arthritic hands curled around his cane with a growl he would bang his cane on the floor and holler "SNUS"!!! Grandma would painfully get up (she too was very arthritic) and fetch his snus. I remember once her crying silently over his demands. One summer he sat on our back porch. My grandmother, mother and aunt were inside in the kitchen. As my cousin and I were coming up the stairs he reached out and grabbed my cousin. "you two go to the store and buy Seal brand snus". We tried to explain to him that they would not sell tobacco to kids and he proceeded to  swing his cane at my cousin. I ran into the kitchen hollering for my Aunt and Mom. "Grandpa is hitting Robert with his cane." Funny, I remember it like yesterday because to me it epitomized the type of man my grandfather was yet my cousin has no memory of the event. Seal brand snus is what he always used, tucked under his lip making little sucking sounds. Sorry to say, I did not like the man.

These past years as I have looked into my family history my thoughts of the man have softened considerably. Or is it my own advancing age?  Here is what I now think about that crippled crabby old man with the snus dribbling out of his mouth.

I belong to a facebook group with a focus on Swedish genealogy. We in America are searching for our Swedish ancestry. Those in Sweden are looking for family in America. I have numerous times seen a post by a Swede, most likely my age, looking for their grandfather. Leaving a hard life he scraped together the money for a ticket to America with the promise to send for the wife and family he left behind. But he never did and their genealogical research now shows he married again leaving  a wife and children forever in poverty. Grandpa Richard came to America for a better life and although it certainly was better it was also tough. He lived in a time of two world wars and the Great Depression.  Hard times in America and one business venture after another failed.  I heard he often had to pack and leave his home in the middle of the night as he did not have the rent money. But he always took his wife and children with him. His children loved him. I remembered my Aunt crying uncontrollably at his funeral. My father named his son after him. He was a good father. An older cousin remembers him fondly as the one who took her out for driving lessons. I now have photos of him as a younger man, healthy and full of hope and smiling. The crippling arthritis he suffered? There were none of the drugs then that are available today. By the time I came along life had beat him down, he was old and severely crippled, in pain with rheumatoid arthritis. And he just wanted his snus.

Who was I to judge him? I who was born in a very different time and place to a much easier life? How bad a man could he have been to produce such a good man as my Dad? Seal brand snus? Even today snus is a very popular Swedish habit. Heck grandpa, if that is what made things tolerable for you? You go right ahead.We owe you that.....and more.....much much more.

my grandfather
Richard Severin Kallman 
b. 3 October 1887 Grytgòl, Hällestad, Östergötland, Sweden
d. 28 August 1968 Chicago, Cook, Illinois, USA