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Grandfather Says: The Story of Dan and Ralph

Original oil painting by: Grandfather’s wife

Grandfather says he thinks you might be interested in the story of Dan Blakeslee and Ralph William Blakeslee.

Well, Grandfather’s going to tell it to you anyway.

Dan Blakeslee made his way up the Chilkoot Trail into the Yukon in 1899, built a boat on the shore of Lake Labarge as so many other stampeders did, then set off down the Yukon River toward the Klondike and the gold fields.

He lost most of his provisions when his boat approached the Five Finger Rapids on the wrong side of the river and he had to cut the raft he was towing loose in order to muscle his boat through the only passage between the fingers. He tells of the men who didn’t make it, clinging to the rocks.

He was one tough bird: Survived, came back to Pennsylvania with enough gold to buy a farm near Corry, married Bessie Crowell and raised children, among them Ralph William Blakeslee, Grandfather’s father. Ralph nearly died during the 1918 flu epidemic when he was a teenager and he was in delicate health ever after.

Later he was obsessed with preaching the gospel and rented a room in a public elementary school in Detroit in the 1930s for his Sunday school. Imagine teaching the gospel in a public school building these days; we’re too enlightened.

Ralph’s car was a 1936 Chevrolet, which eventually trickled down to Grandfather. It had an auxiliary crank for starting, and a good thing too. It was the middle of the Great Depression and Ralph didn’t have the money to replace the battery, so he cranked the car to life.

Grandfather remembers Ralph pulling into gas stations and asking to buy “a goblet” of gas. He got enough gas for a dime or so to get us to Sunday school and back, thanks to the grace of God and sympathetic gas station attendants.

The end.

***

About the Author: RD Blakeslee is an octogenarian from West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here.

Photos: Courtesy of the Blakeslee Family

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