Remembering Weldon Shank
He was born in Virginia the
son and grandson of grist mill owners and operators. When he was 10 yrs.
old his father bought a grist
mill at Zora and the family moved here from Va. He was very ill
at the time and Dad says when he looked out the windows and saw the
beautiful mountains, he said, "I never want to leave here".
And So for the last 78 years heís done just that. He bought the grist
mill from his father and raised his family here. I donít think Daddy
chose milling, It was expected of him.
Our family always went to Sunday School
even when we were away from home. Dad never liked church. This stemmed
from a incident when he was a little boy in church.
He was strict and sometimes severe to
us older children but had mellowed quite a bit till Nora and Nita came
along. A lot was expected of us and we worked hard; me mostly in the
house and garden and caring for the younger siblings; the boys, in the
mill or with the livestock. or the hay fields. Punk and Wendell even
hauled feed to school to deliver during a free period or after school.
In the Summer the whole family went swimming daily in the pond or the
I saw my Dad as tall, handsome, lanky,
strong and a hard worker.
He was a true blonde until his hair
turned prematurely white in his 30ís. He told everyone it was just
Just the last year and a half when I
was asking ten thousand questions to write his lifeís story I found
out that he never like milling But I might have guessed it by his many
diversions. He was interested in many things and he was very talented.
He was very musical. Dad played the trombone in the high school band.
When he was a teenager he learned how to play guitar and played it a
lot at home. He played the piano by ear and it sounded quite good and
sometimes sang along. He bought several accordions and learned to play
them, then the concertina. Itís a little octagon shaped accordion that
plays a different note pushing than pulling, quite a challenge.
When I was a teenager and the
Emmitsburg Band started back up. They had enough trombone players but
needed a Bass Horn so Dad got a bass horn and learned to play it for the
band. All of us played in that band as well. At our house the question
wasnít, "Are you going to play in the band?" it was
"WHAT are you going to play in the band"
There was a lot of music in our house,
singing mostly. We all Harmonized around the piano with Mom playing.
This is where we all got our love for harmony. When we were at Grand maís
and Grand dadís, and his brothers were there, they always sang a
couple songs together in harmony. Leo sang and played the harmonica (not
at the same time). Dad, his brothers Odell and Cleo, and Ralph McDonald
formed a Barbershop Quartet and sang together for quite a few years.
They sang mostly gospel songs.
We felt we were poor but we had all the
essentials, plenty of food, clothes and transportation. When I was in
Nurses training and needed transportation, Dad sort of tricked the boys
and ask if any of them wanted the old green Plymouth. It wasnít a cool
car and they said NO. So he gave it to me. I just loved it and drove it
till it rusted to pieces, even though I had to always park on a hill to
start it by drifting.
Dad was very artistic. He dabbled in
painting, and photography. He had a movie camera when I was very young.
Mom complained that he took long stretches of sunsets and then just
glimpses of us little children. He later took slides of all animals, all
stages and all colors and some of the children. This is where his love
of the outdoors showed.
He was good at woodworking. He made
quite a few pieces of furniture, like corner cupboards and unique pieces
with inlaid wood designs. One in particular is a small stand with chess
board table top, 3 drawers and 3 drop down leaves. Each leaf has an
inlaid design, one of tumbling blocks, one a cross and one a Masonic
design. He made a chess set on the turning lathe and carved the details.
Dad got his pilotís license about the
time I was born and had several planes. The family didnít get included
in the flying much. My brothers did, most of them are pilots as well.
Dad was a nature lover and went for
walks up the meadow with the rifle over his arm almost daily. He was
also an avid hunter. He went on many hunting trips with his hunting
buddies. He bought and sold rifles and bows and arrows and accessories
for many years from his "Gun Room" in our house. We ate a lot
of venison, not much small game.
He liked the Ocean and took the family
a number of times. The last 15 years or so the family has spent a week
each year at Vickie and Jerryís beach house at Kitty Hawk NC.
He was very independent and did not
rely on the government in his dealings or personal life. He believed in
self reliance and family values. He was extremely fair in his dealings
with his customers, giving them the extra measure.
Daddy was able to do many things such
as hobbies, hunting, and searching out business opportunities mainly
because he had a wife that always took up the slack and protected him.
Mom (Polly Baumbardner Shank)
is the real glue that made it all happen. The evidence of a lot of good
came as a result of her making the sacrifice and of their working
together for their family.
My favorite memory of Daddy is when heíd
play his guitar and sing "You are my Sunshine, My only
Read Remembering Polly Baumgardner Shank
Do You have your memories of
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