Edward Gibeau, titan of industry, experimental materials “tester”, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, Marine, gambler, throughout his life my Grandfather donned many a hat. Young children often look at their parents or grandparents with a sense of black and white devotion that usually fades as they age. Your parents are the most amazing people you know when you are small and they keep answering all of your questions. That relationship seldom survives the transition from child (sponge) to adult (combative/self thinking). It is usually a healthy transition; I still consult my mother on many planned (and during the turmoil of unplanned) changes in my life and hold her wisdom and values in the highest esteem. That said I wouldn’t hit her up for advice on a stock purchase or a system upgrade, at 35 she is not the ultimate authority I look to for black and white resolution to all questions. Age has taught me to look elsewhere for some things that fall out of her wheelhouse (and that there are many questions that have no black and white answer). Edward (Grandpa) Gibeau is an odd duck in that regard, as a child I looked at him and saw power. When I was very little he was wildly successful in business, and that success was reflected in the power and authority of the man. As a little person there is immense comfort in knowing that someone close to you is powerful, and my grandfather was. Ed Gibeau had all the trappings of success, cars, an extravagant house, a gigantic boat, HBO, and all the beef jerky a young lad could consume. He usually wore suits and drove a Mercedes, and his property stretched from the bay at one end all the way back to the lake at the other. Jeanne (Grandma) Gibeau had decorated the exterior grounds with what must have been hundreds of gnomes all throughout the woods, and traipsing around as a wee lad the whole damn place felt magical. They were magical, but I am losing my place here. Ed Gibeau took simple things like Easter egg hunts, and added a little magic to them as well. The “Easter bunny didn’t hide hard boiled eggs around his house (who the hell really wants 20+ hard boiled eggs, I never understood that reward system…), the Gibeau Easter involved searching the house inside and out for hidden silver dollars. Colin and I would do the normal egg painting with Grandma and Mom, but the “hunt” involved prey of a different nature. I still have some of those silver dollars, (my father owns the vast majority since I used to turn around and sell them to him when funds were short, but I digress). Magic though, Edward Gibeau created a sense of calm for me as a child, he was power and stability and magic. Many family members gag a bit when I roll out my memories of the man, he excelled at being a Grandfather I have to remind them, and my memories are remarkably sweet. Edward Gibeau jumping into the pool, ruining a perfectly good suit, and a rather expensive watch as his grandson watched from the bottom of the pool doe eyed. He thought I was drowning, I think I was just holding my breath, but for that little child in the pool it was enough to know I had a champion. An unshakable bull of a man, strong, powerful, no nonsense, yet sweet; I had that in my corner, and that was a powerful thing. Ed Gibeau, even after he lost some of that power and shine of success, even after the big business was transmuted into a smaller entity, even after age diminished his gargantuan physical strength, he still represented the same sense of calm for me. He still would have jumped into a pool to pull my arse out at 85. If he popped out of the grave today I would still defer to his business acumen with the same reverence I had as a tot. It takes a remarkable man to imprint you in such a way, and Edward Gibeau was a remarkable man.
Posts Tagged ‘Edward Gibeau’
Fun with Ed Gibeau (Grandpa Gibeau), or in this case Edward Gibeau. Grandpa used to delight in a story about a cop who had pulled him over for driving too fast for conditions, it was a blowing snowstorm of the like people who grow up in northern Michigan are quite used to. You can’t see a damn thing in front of you, the whole world seems to be swirling around, and the mask of white that envelopes your vehicle makes you (and every other driver/pedestrian/etc) completely blind. Ed Gibeau, was cruising down the highway in his Mercedes at a rate exceeding the “you should really be walking” pace these storms dictate, when a cruiser somehow spotted him, and flagged him down with lights a blazing. Grandpa was known at that point to be a friend of the sheriff department, the local judges, and donated time and money to enough of the local business groups that speeding tickets were not something he normally dealt with. This policeman was pissed however, and gave him one anyway. Grandpa would have been out of the car, storm be damned, arguing with the officer. Pleading his case, mentioning his charitable nature and damning the man for pulling him over in the first place (I believe he was late if memory serves.) At some point the officer finally got him to take the ticket and returned to his car. This is where my memory grows hazy, and Edward Gibeau would have shown his talents. The story would flare at this point as Grandpa savored the moment. The policeman had either gotten his car stuck on that highway in the middle of a storm, or his battery had died (I believe it was the latter.) As Grandpa was pulling away the officer came running up asking for a charge (or a ride). Edward Gibeau, business man, entrepreneur, negotiator of favorable deals – this turnabout, he must have been salivating. What powerful friends had not delivered mother nature had. I believe Grandpa laughed at the man and started to pull away. Finally, he stopped and mentioned that there was still the matter of a ticket to deal with. Like most of Grandpa’s stories they were best heard from him, the sheer audacity of a policeman giving him a ticket! God had to intervene to correct the matter. Edward Gibeau had the local police in his pocket, so I was shocked when I located a notice that some officer had actually given him a ticket, and the notice had hit the paper. Anyway, a blip on my Grandfather, as I have a little fun with the Google and search for tiny bits of the past that key delightful memories of my favorite storyteller.
3:30 in the morning and I am thinking about the people who helped form me that are no longer with me. Jim is ever present on my mind, my dead mentor/conscience/friend still whispering advice in my ear. I still catch myself playing with different tacts to use in arguments that haven’t been voiced in 7+ years now and only live on in my head. Jim makes me laugh, it is a remarkable comfort after the pain and horror of death to realize someone had such an impact on you that they still carry on in both your head and your heart. Jim will be giving me advice for the foreseeable future. Tonight and many nights lately my thoughts have been on my Grandfather though. I have been having fun searching for Grandpa Gibeau. Edward B. Gibeau, or Edward Gibeau or just Ed (he wasn’t fussy about his name, though he was a giant of a man so often he was called Mr. Gibeau…) Finding Edward Gibeau’s gravestone was a bit of a shock, but then a pleasure to look at it again and have a positive thought about Grandpa and Grandma immediately eclipse the negative feeling a grave tends to bust your lip with. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=57483504&PIpi=32160541
Grandpa and Grandma online in a macabre fashion, I suppose I need to scan in some pictures of lighter times and less finality. Edward B. Gibeau (Grandpa), was a fascinating man for a multitude of reasons, of his many facets the most engaging was his artful storytelling. Hands down the best oral storyteller I have ever encountered (though certainly I am a tad biased since the man used to let me eat beef jerky and stay up late watching HBO.) There was a time when I was set to record Edward Gibeau with my digital camera and capture video of his stories as a personal keepsake, and to pass on to the younger folks on the family. I missed my opportunity for that, but am going to take a shot at laying down some of the fragments I remember. The treat is that the internet is filled with odd little points of interest on this journey (Edward Gibeau was the MRCA President from 1971-1972 for instance), the trail of his roofing history (and exploits) is going to be one of the personal delights as I take a wander down this path. I can’t speak in his voice, but I am delighted to have a little fun attempting to put together some of the pieces of the stories he used to enthrall me with. So more to come on Mr. Edward Gibeau!