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Grandpa Rooney kissed the Blarney Stone and was the best storyteller I ever met. On summer nights in the 1970's, he would let my cousins and me stay up past bed time drinking 7-Up and eating Lorna Doones and sherbet while he told us stories about Suzy and Joe, a brother and sister who were always having adventures and getting into trouble. Along with being a marvelous storyteller, Grandpa had many other special gifts. Most memorable were his magnetic feet, which enabled him to walk up the sides of buildings and upside down along the ceiling. He was also very brave and once caught a lion by the ears with his bare hands in his backyard after all of the animals escaped from the zoo.
The most amazing story my grandpa ever told me was about how he met and married Grandma Lucille. In the early 1930s there was a race to see which lucky woman would get to marry Grandpa. If no one caught him, Grandpa would be allowed to stay a bachelor his whole life. Grandpa was a very fast runner and wasn't worried, but he practiced just in case.
When Grandpa saw the long line of ladies on the day of the race, he knew he would have to run very fast indeed. The starter fired the pistol and as the race progressed, it looked as though Grandpa would win for sure. There were no women in sight as he rounded the last turn. Little did he know that Grandma Lucille had taken a shortcut and was hiding in the bushes near the finish line. At the last second she jumped out of the bushes and onto his back and the rest is history.
Grandpa soon realized how lucky he was that Grandma Lucille had taken the shortcut. She is a glorious grandma who sings like an angel. Each night after Grandpa told us a great story, we would lie in bed and listen to Grandma play the piano and sing downstairs as we fell asleep.
My grandparents are two of my biggest influences and The Candy Machine is in large part a tribute to them.
George and Lucy Rooney wedding, September 14th, 1940