In the 1940s, my great-grandparents, Virgil and Thelma Daugherty Barmes, moved from North D Street in Elwood, Indiana to a farm southeast of town in the Frankton, Indiana district.
Grandma Thelma wanted a picture window on the western end of the living room in their new farm house. Grandpa Virgil complied with the request and employed the assistance of his eldest son, Leroy, my grandfather.
Grandpa Virgil was excellent with construction, as was Grandpa Leroy. I still possess two desks made by each grandfather, as well as two chests by each.
The expert carpenters had thoroughly measured throughout the process. When the process of installing the new picture window was completed, they walked the fifty yards to the road to inspect and admire their handiwork.
Grandma Thelma returned, parking at the end of the drive near the road. She joined her husband and son to inspect and admire the new window.
After a few minutes of eyeing the new picture window, Grandma Thelma said, “Virgil, it’s one-quarter of an inch lower on the right side.”
“Thelma, we measured enough to know it’s exactly the same on both ends,” Grandpa Virgil countered.
“No, the window is not even by one-quarter of an inch.”
With that, Grandma Thelma got back into her car and drove on up to the house.
Grandpa Virgil and Grandpa Leroy walked back up the slight grassy incline to the house.
“Come on, Son, let’s measure it just to satisfy this debate.”
Grandpa Leroy said he had never seen his dad’s face draw up and drop as it did that day.
“Damned if your mother isn’t right. One damned quarter of an inch.”
Many years later, as Grandpa Leroy retold the story to my two oldest sons, “I don’t think I’d ever seen Daddy look so dumbfounded.”