Frequently Asked Questions* #1 about Me:  Craig R. Garrett

(Actually, No One Has Asked Me These Questions)
March 2017

*Taken from Family Search 52 Questions.


Goals & Achievements

What goals do you hope to achieve this year?

I hope to travel as I am able, to continue to write stories about my ancestors, to write prose poetry as the mood and inspiration strike me, to be a good father and grandfather, be a loving husband, and to be a source of comfort to friends.

Also, I wish to grow in grace, compassion, gentleness, peace, and love.

What is something you taught yourself to do without help from anyone else?

Ride a bike.  Study habits.  It is hard to imagine anything else that did not require family or community assistance.

What goals are you actively working toward right now?

See first question.

What would you want your friends and family to learn about making and achieving goals from your example?

Decide what you would like to do then persist in achieving your goal(s).

What will be the greatest achievement of your life?

To have successfully raised our children to be productive citizens and to have compassion for themselves and others. 


Love & Friendship

Do you know the story of how your grandparents met and fell in love?

I think my grandparents Garrett would have met in Macksburg, Iowa, a small farming community.  Harley was from a stable family while his future wife was raised by her maternal grandmother Jessup and spent time in Colorado and California.  I also think my grandmother was an attractive woman and he was an attractive man.  I do not know how my grandparents Kreie would have met, except to say they were both from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and were part of the German community there.

What have been the most important and valued friendships in your life?

The first would be the members of the Class of 1965, Colfax High School.  Certainly, I am not in touch with all of them after graduation.  My closest male friends from school were Robert Van Elsen and James E. Hamer.  I met and dated my future wife Kendra Jones as well.  I am surprised that I do not have any valued friends from my years at West Point or my years in Medical School.  I did have a lot friends from my years in the Army, but I have kept in contact with just a few.  I value my current friendships from my years (1990-2016) at Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Who was your first best friend? Are you still in contact with each other?

Robert Ellsworth Van Elsen whom I met in 1954 in the second grade after moving to Colfax, Iowa.  We are still in contact with each other.

What qualities in friends do you most admire?

Sense of humor, good social manners, ability to speak coherently and without swearing, honesty, integrity, and intelligence.


Goals & Achievements

What were your favorite hobbies and pastimes in your childhood?

These changed a bit over time, but baseball and basketball were more constants.  Playing the trumpet and singing were also pastimes I enjoyed.  I also watched more television than I should have.  I was also one who collected baseball cards that usually came in a pack of 5 cards and a slab of pink bubble gum.  Of course, my mother threw out all my shoeboxes full of baseball cards when I left home.  I also played marbles and collected them as well.

Do you like to dabble in lots of different hobbies? If so, what are they?

I have few hobbies as an adult.  I suppose that genealogy could be considered a hobby.  I got started in genealogy in about 1972 when I realized that my grandmother, Floye Garrett, knew a lot of family history and no one else seemed interested.  I wanted to preserve the family history so I made it my project to do so.

What hobbies, interests, and talents do you have in common with your parents, grandparents, and other ancestors?

I have the love of genealogy as did my grandmother Floye Garrett.  She had a collection of elephants that she proudly displayed.  She was a Republican, but the collection was not related to the Republican mascot.  My dad did some work with wood though infrequently.  He also had a collection of old coins.  I collected pennies and nickels for awhile.  As a young man, he enjoyed photography and printing out his own pictures with other pals in an attic development lab.  I have enjoyed taking pictures in my later years.  My Grandfather Garrett collected antique firearms, several of which are in the possession of my brother Kenneth.  My mother did needlepoint, mostly decorating pillowcases.  None of my relatives read for pleasure that I recall, though it is a pastime of mine.

Who taught you how to work? What would you want your children and grandchildren to learn from your example?

My father set me straight about working diligently at the grocery store.  I started at a young age.  I got a paycheck commensurate with my age and abilities…it was a positive feedback.  Start a job and keep at it until it is done.  West Point taught me to do the harder right instead of the easier wrong.  It also taught me integrity and that my signature on a document was my word.  It was not something to be taken lightly.

What are some of your greatest career achievements so far?

I am proud of completing twenty years in the Army and finishing my career at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1989.  I was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal as well as an award as the outstanding internist at an Army teaching hospital.  

I served for 18-½ years as the Director, Division Internal Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I believe I was successful in that capacity and that I changed with the times.  I am proud of the professional connections I made within the division.


Home & Hearth

What was your childhood home like?

I had homes in Lorimor, Pleasantville, and Colfax Iowa.  Some were rentals.  I spent 4 years in an old rental house in Colfax that had a coal furnace and only heated the first floor.  I am sure that an upstairs bedroom was turned into a bathroom.  Cooking heat was provided by propane.  The furniture was our old furniture.  There was a large backyard that extended to the alley.  Dad put in a basketball hoop and there was space for a large garden.  There was also a storm cellar just outside the back door where some canned goods were kept.  But we had three meals a day and two parents.  The rental home no longer exists.  We lived in the home my parents owned in Colfax for the subsequent 7 years.  It was a two-bedroom bungalow.  It did have a window air conditioner in the living room and a built in fireplace.  Heat was provided by natural gas, and it had one small bathroom.  There was a full basement.  There was a small backyard with a detached garage.  There was a place to burn trash beside the garage.  My parents purchased new furniture for the living room and the bedroom my brother and I slept in.  Our televisions were hand-me-downs from our paternal grandparents, until my parents bought a console black & white television in about 1963.

What kinds of things did you collect and display in your childhood bedroom?

Model airplanes were becoming very popular and the switch was being made from wood to plastic models.  I usually bought the model plane kits at Cross Jewelry and Sporting Goods store in Colfax.  Other things I played with included baseball, baseball cards, the Erector set, the train set.  I bought my own record player and collected some 45 and 33 1/3 rpm records.  The record player was a Sears Silvertone portable record player.  I actually took it to West Point after graduation from high school.  I had a coral-colored plastic AM radio at my bedside when I was in high school.  The pop stations out of Des Moines, Iowa, were KSO and KIOA.

How many different homes or apartments have you lived in throughout your life?

Lorimor:  1 (1947-1950)
Pleasantville:  2 (1950-1954)
Colfax:  3 (1954-1965)
West Berlin, Germany:  2 (1970-1971)
Iowa City:  3 (1971-1975)
Aurora, Colorado:  1 (1975-1978)
Colorado Springs, Colorado:  1 (1978-1983)
Potomac, Maryland:  1 (1983-1990)
Plymouth, Minnesota:  2 (1990-2004)
St. Paul, Minnesota:  1 (2004-Current)

What do you love most about where you live now?

There is easy access to downtown Saint Paul, a long walking and bike trail, and closeness to two of the three children.  Also, maintenance is taken care of by the homeowners’ association.  The driveway is heated so there is no ice or snow to worry about.

What are the barest essentials you would need to make any place a home?

A roof that does not leak, windows to the outside, no drafty walls, non-dirt flooring, indoor heating and plumbing, closed off bedrooms.  Adequate storage space would be nice.  A lighting system.

Mothers & Motherhood

How has your mother or being a mother enriched your life?

My mother did not work outside the home so she set the parameters of my existence growing up.  I think she made my father attend events at school that he probably would have liked to have missed.  Somehow she heard about my poor stories, probably from my children.  She said that we may have been poor, but we had love at our home.  That taught me about humility and the need to be careful about saying things to my children that they would not understand fully.  She tried to limit my dating to persons within my own socioeconomic class as a high school student.

What lessons have you learned from your grandmothers’ life experiences?

This would be my Grandmother Garrett as my maternal grandmother died years before I was born.  I learned a love of genealogy from my grandmother and the importance of story telling, albeit religious stories she would recite at bedtime when I stayed at her home.  I also learned how painful the loss of a loved one can be at the death of her husband.  My grandmother was visibly and verbally distraught for days after his death

What are some of the stories you loved hearing from your mother’s youth?  From your grandmothers’ younger days?

My mother did not talk about her younger days until the last 10 years of her life.  She then talked about growing up on a small hobby farm at the edge of Antigo, Wisconsin, going to a one-room school, having a horse and other farm animals.   She then would talk about the changes when the family moved to town.  She also talked about taking the train for free in the Midwest as her father was an engineer on a steam locomotive.

My grandmother mentioned briefly about living in Escondido, California, but she also live several other places growing up as she was raised by her maternal grandmother.  I have a sense that she was a bit of a hellion growing up and an attractive one at that.  She never talked about how she met her future husband or when they were married.

What is the best thing about your relationship with your mother or grandmother?

I knew that both loved me without reservation.

Who are some important mother figures besides your own mother who have been influential in your life?

I suppose I would include Margaret Hootman, my second grade teacher in Colfax, Iowa, and Mary Hunter, my church choir director, who yearly sent homemade Christmas’ candies.  Both women kept in touch with me for many, many years.

Fathers & Fatherhood

What did you enjoy doing with your father when you were a child?

I suppose that would be walking home with him at noontime from work or after work.  I have no recollection of what we might have talked about.  My father did not share much of his time with me doing things like playing catch.  I am afraid that I did not do much better with my own children.

What life lessons have you learned from your father?

My father was the silent type, but I think he taught me that a job worth doing was worth doing well.  He was in the ‘people business’ as a grocery store manager, and I think he taught me that sometimes the customer is right even though they may not be.

What are some of the stories you loved hearing from your father’s youth? From your grandfathers’ younger days?

My father never talked about his younger days, nor did my paternal grandfather.  Most of what I might know of those times comes from my paternal grandmother’s diaries and various artifacts that were kept over the years.

What are some of the signature phrases, quotes, or sayings that remind you of your dad? Of your grandfathers?

My father used the phrase ‘knucklehead’ to describe someone who made poor decisions or who performed poorly.  My father said several times after signature events that he could die now.  I don’t recall either of my grandfathers using specific words or phrases.

Who are some important father figures besides your own father who have been influential in your life?

I suppose my wife’s father who gave me my first taste of an alcoholic beverage.

Events & Milestones

What do you know about the day you were born?

It was a busy time for my father as I interrupted the taking of inventory at the grocery store in Lorimor.

What were the biggest momentous events in your life and how have they changed you as a person?

I think ‘momentous events’, such as marriage, birth of children, career changes, and deaths, did not really change me as a person, but changed my focus.  I do not recall an ‘ah ha!’ moment.  Then again, I lost faith in the Christian God in 1965 in a rather sudden moment of enlightenment.  I am sure that others would not agree that it was a moment of enlightenment.

What decisions have you made that have had a long-lasting positive effect on your life?

Giving up the accordion for the trumpet.  Deciding to go to West Point for college.  Getting married and having children.  Moving to Minnesota.

How does your family celebrate significant milestones?

Mostly cards and phone calls, though my wife Kendra usually demands a cake at the time of her birthday.

What events and milestones are you still anticipating and looking forward to?

Whatever the next trip is, whether my son Evan will marry [ed. dubious], and whether there will be any more grandchildren.  I anticipate death, but I do not look forward to it.

Travels & Vacations

What were your most common childhood vacations like—road trips, visits to grandma’s house, camping trips, weekends at the lake or the beach?

We did not have a usual vacation destination.  Several times, though, we traveled to an island on Pelican Lake where my maternal aunt and uncle Janasak had a large vacation home.  It had electricity, but did not have indoor plumbing.  I hated to use that outhouse.  I went a whole week without having a bowel movement as a result.  

My father never had more than two weeks of vacation at any time.  It seems like he did not like to travel much for vacations and perhaps did not have the money for such things.  Neither my father nor my mother engaged in outdoor sports, though I think my father fished and played golf in his younger years.  My mother did own a one-piece swimsuit, but I never saw my father swim.

Do you have one special vacation spot that you return to again and again?  What do you love about it?

When our children were young, we went to Harmel’s resort ranch in Colorado on a number of occasions.  We had our own cabin, and the resort served breakfast and dinner.  There was a small mountain stream that ran through it, and horses and trail rides could be purchased.

More recently, we would do camping trips to several of the Minnesota State Parks, especially Lake Carlos and Lake Itasca.  We enjoy the views on the lake and eating out of doors.  We use a 1999 Coleman Santa Fe tent trailer.

We have taken numerous cruises on the seas.

What are all the different modes of transport you’ve used?

Car, minivan, boat, ship, airplane

What are the most memorable meals or exotic foods you’ve tried on any of your travels?

Snake wine in Vietnam.  Street vendor food in Beijing, China.

What destinations are on your vacation wish list?

Portugal, world cruise, river cruise, train trip west

I have traveled to all 50 states and to over 40 different countries.


Education & School

Who was your most beloved teacher? Why?

Probably Margaret Hootman, my second grade teacher in Colfax, Iowa.  She gave me positive reinforcement about my academic efforts and she kept in touch with me until she died in her 90s.  I liked most of my teachers.

What are your memories of school lunch?

The school lunchroom in Colfax was in the basement of a large brick building built in 1896.  For grades 1 and 2, one ate in a small penned off area with supervision by a teacher.  One had to eat all the food on the plate before one could be excused.  Older kids ate in a large room with tables and bench seating.  I also remember that I had a Roy Rogers thermos with a glass lining that broke somehow; I did not drink from it.  Probably had hot chocolate in it.  In high school, we ate in the band room, and food was trucked up from the kitchen in the basement of the elementary school.  Mostly, I ate hot lunch at school.

What subjects did you excel at in school? Which were hardest for you?

I excelled in most all subjects and none were particularly hard.  Probably the hardest was the vocabulary exercises that the high school English teacher had us do.

What extracurricular activities did you get involved in?

Football (Junior high only)
Orange and Black (school newspaper)

What valuable lessons have you learned from school that have helped you in your life?

Doing well has its rewards and benefits, but it also raised expectations.


Values & Beliefs

If you had to pinpoint three main values that your parents lived by and tried to instill in you, what would they be?

Be fiscally conservative.
Follow the moral precepts outline in religious teachings.
Be humble.

What personal values do you hold most dear?

My word as a bond.
Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.
Be humble.

What values do you feel are most important to pass down to posterity?

Integrity, compassion, and love.

What were the faith and religious traditions of your ancestors?

Myself:  Methodist, the Unitarian leanings    
My mother:  Episcopalian
My father:  Presbyterian, though he converted to Episcopalian
My maternal grandparents:  I suppose Episcopalian
My paternal grandparents:  Christian, though unsure of denomination
A maternal great grandparent:  Jabez Eliot Beard was an itinerant preacher


Causes & Convictions

What motto or creed do you live by?

Medicine:  First of all, do no harm.
Life:  Live a life of integrity and grace.

In what ways do you sacrifice your time to volunteer in your community?

I do not have a history of much volunteer work in the community.  I did volunteer to supervise both Laurel and Evan in Olympics of the Mind while in Maryland.  Recently, I have volunteered at the Second Harvest Heartland warehouse.  I tried to be a mentor at a community center for elementary children, but did not find satisfaction doing that as the students just wanted me to do their homework.  I regret that I did not volunteer more.

How has your life been enriched by your commitment to causes?

Most of my commitment has been financial, and it does give me some sense of satisfaction.

Is there someone in your life who has inspired you to care more about community and global issues?

My wife Kendra has been a source of inspiration with her commitment to community causes.  A friend has made me aware of global issues, the United Nations, and Dag Hammarskjold.  

How has your commitment to make the world a better place evolved throughout your life?

I suppose my commitment has been to patients and trying to maintain or improve their health one patient at a time.  In my later years this has extended to making monetary contributions to favorite causes.


Holidays & Traditions

What were some of your favorite holiday traditions in childhood?

Christmas meant a tree from the grocery store my father managed.  I recall the trees being rather scraggly and I doubt we got any of the choicer trees.   Favorite lights for the tree were bubble lights and a short string of incandescent colored lights.  There were also a couple of glass bulbs.  We opened Christmas presents on Christmas Eve with the Santa visit on the following morning.  Santa’s presents were never wrapped.  There was a visit from Santa at the Star Theatre in Colfax; he handed out a bag of peanuts in the shell, an orange, and several non-descript chocolates.  The Star Theatre also showed a serialized show over several weeks before Christmas.  Christmas also meant singing in the Methodist Church choir, often a cantata.  

Mother’s day seemed to be an important time to attend church.  Red carnations were worn if the mother was living while white carnations were worn if the mother had passed away.  Father’s Day was less a religious event.

Of course, Easter was important to a young lad because it meant an Easter basket with candies in it.

May Day meant getting a basket from a girl and then chasing after her.

Which were your top three favorite holidays when you were a child? Why?

I suppose Christmas was the top holiday for reasons mentioned above, but additionally we had time off from school.  Thanksgiving meant good food.  Memorial Day meant the start of summer vacation.

Which of your childhood holiday traditions have you continued into adulthood?

When our children were growing up, we always had a decorated Christmas tree.  Instead of opening of all the presents on Christmas Eve, our children were allowed to open only one present.

Of course, we hid Easter baskets around the house.

What are the most memorable and treasured gifts you have received in your life?

Each gift was a treasure at the time.  The gift I used for years was a Schwinn bicycle that I received for my birthday.  It was a two-speed with a front hand brake and cost $69.50.  I think that was about the weekly paycheck for my father who managed a grocery store in Colfax.  

The wedding band given my by my wife remains a treasured item.

What different occasions do you celebrate each year?

Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.

*Taken from Family Search 52 Questions.



How would you describe your ancestors to someone else who might be looking for them at a train station?

My mother:  Short at about 5 feet, 1 inch, with brown hair which she had permed at the hair salon.  She was not slender, but she was not fat either.  If she were sitting down, she would likely have a cup of coffee in her hands.  She wore glasses.

My father:  Medium height at about 5 feet, 10 inches.  He had black wavy hair with a few white strands.  His weight was about 165 pounds or so.  He was clean-shaven.  He would likely be standing, looking off in the distance with his hands held behind his back.  He wore glasses.

My paternal grandfather:  He was a silver-haired fox.  He might be smoking a cigar.  He was of medium height and build.  Likely, he would be wearing a fedora and a suit.  He would likely be wearing glasses.

My paternal grandmother:  I remember her as always looking old with slight build and silver hair.  Pretty sure that she wore dentures.  She always looked frail.  I never saw her in pants, so assume she would be wearing a dress or blouse and skirt.

How would you describe the personalities of your parents/grandparents?

My father was an introvert who would rather be by himself and felt uncomfortable in groups.  As an example, I think eating with friends at Thanksgiving was difficult for him.  I recall that we were visiting with my parents and had Megan and Evan with us.  My father would rather read the newspaper and had to be urged by my mother to interact with the children.  

My mother was the more extroverted of the pair and the stronger personality.  She pulled my father to join the Episcopal Church in Mason City, Iowa.

My paternal grandmother was 'old' when I knew her.  She was a teetotaler and a religious person.  She sent checks to missionaries in Africa long after she did not have the finances to support it.  She enjoyed the social status of being the wife of Harley.  She and her husband appeared to enjoy an active social life in St. Charles, Iowa, for 30 years.

My paternal grandfather likely very much enjoyed his social status as a veterinarian and then as State Veterinarian, I think.  He was a success in his vocation and as the Iowa State Veterinarian.  He enjoyed driving upscale cars, such as Oldsmobiles and V-8 cars.  He smoked cigars, but I never saw him drink.  While his wife Floye was active in church activities, I don’t think that Harley ever was.