Sifting Through Social Media…


Here’s Kenny’s picture of his Pap, Ken Penrod Sr., with two Pennsylvania bucks.

Social Media has, for better or worse, influenced society in ways our forefathers would never imagine. It’s boggling to think how an illuminated box full of shenanigans, stories, pictures and confessions of mere everyday mortals consume the attention span of almost every single person walking the planet.

Everything from the common, to outrageous, has the potential to be seen by millions, by simply pushing a button and “sharing” whatever is on your mind, without the benefit (scrutiny?) of an editor to keep you in check. And we all know a lot of people who would benefit immensely by having someone proof their writing before they hit the “send” key.

There’s a lot of trash to wade through in this sea of garbage, but by controls of your own you can select the type of material hitting your newsfeed by selecting your “friends” — with discretion.

Amid the jokes, good information and interesting photos, we might stumble across a story we never knew about, written by a buddy. One explaining things, perhaps tying up loose ends, making you stop and think, nodding your head, saying to yourself, “Hmm, I didn’t know that…”

Here’s Kenny Penrod III, with his first deer, taken when he was 11, using his “Pap’s” rifle.

The Discovery

This very thing happened to me as I was scrolling my newsfeed of a popular social media website. When I saw the old black and white photo I recognized Kenny right away. However, after reading the story, I learn it’s his grandfather.

Like social media, genetics can be wonderful, or horrible. Some are blessed with good looks and a lifetime of good health, while others, not so much. But, the passing down of physical traits can be uncanny, as it was in this case.

Kenny did a wonderful job telling the story, and not wanting to take away from it, I’m letting him tell it here, as he wrote it.

“This week’s Life Outdoors Unlimited Fishing Report was written by me and dedicated to my “Pap”— Ken Penrod Sr.— in remembrance of him on Memorial Day. My grandfather was inducted into the US Marine Corp on July 10, 1944. On February 22, 1945 he disembarked the USS Bolivar at Iwo Jima as a machine gunner with the 3D Marine Division.

“The battle of Iwo Jima lasted for five weeks and was the only battle in WWII where more US Marines were killed (nearly 7,000) and wounded (over 19,000) than the Imperial Japanese Army. My “pap” left that island on March 16, 1945.

“My pap went to war leaving behind a wife and three kids. He left a job as a steel worker in Cleveland making $75 a week. He returned after the war to the mountains of Pennsylvania where he was born and would eventually die.

“My pap was an ordinary man who experienced unimaginable things that were probably beyond the imagination of a small town Pennsylvania boy. My pap was a true hero and I celebrate him on Memorial Day.”

A classic hunting picture from the 70’s full of friends and family.

An Exchange Of Sorts

After reading this story, I comment on Kenny’s post, something very easy to do with social media. We began a short back and forth exchange. I remark I liked his Pap’s “PA Tuxedo,” a Pennsylvania term for the iconic black/red plaid Woolrich hunting gear he was wearing. Kenny told me he still has his “Pap’s” coat, as well as his “Pap’s” Remington .243 Winchester rifle. Kenny still hunts with the rifle and used it to take his first deer when he was 11.

A recent picture of Kenny, still knocking deer down with his Pap’s
Remington .243 Winchester in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Paps

This strikes a chord in me as I know the power these mementos hold. As a matter of fact, I have my Pap’s Woolrich hunting coat hanging in my basement, his last hunting license still pinned on the back.

This leads to a further conversation of how ornery our Pap’s were. I tell him my Pap would catch baby raccoons and tie bailing twine around their neck like a leash and walk them around the front yard. The hissing ‘coon wasn’t real happy with his new leash as Pap would giggle — and I’d run for cover.

Kenny tops this story by telling me his maternal Pap’s nightly ritual before bed. He would place his dentures in a glass of water, then remove his socks, revealing missing toes from a mining accident, and chase him around the house, laughing the laugh of a toothless, toeless Pap-monster.

As crazy as these stories seem, our Paps were doing their jobs preparing their grandkids for life. We developed thick skins, a sense of humor and a kinship with memories we can both look back tenderly on. When you look back at a loved one and smile, that’s about as good a legacy as you can leave.

All these life revealing snippets are possible through this thing we call Social Media. Good, bad, or indifferent, we can find some gems mixed among the drama.

We just need to look for it at times.