Posted by: suek2001 | July 3, 2013

A “Grumpy” story with a happy ending..

There are some stories that become a part of family lore and when all the principals pass away, that story gets lost in the progression of life.

I thought of this story while reading an article about the house featured in “Grumpy Old Men”, at least Jack Lemmon’s house. The exterior shots for that house were filmed in St. Paul in the winter of 1993.

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau starred in the movie as two old guys fighting over a girl from years ago and one in the present. I love this movie. It’s funny and wonderfully Minnesotan. The chemistry between Walter and Jack was undeniable and it translated to offscreen as well. That lead to an interesting encounter with my Aunt Betsy and my Grandmother.

It was my Grandmother’s 80th birthday. My Aunt took her out to eat for a fancy dinner. In our family, it was how you celebrated. Get all dressed up and go to a steakhouse at a classy place. Betsy chose the old Drake Hotel on the bank of the Mississippi River in Downtown Minneapolis.

They were enjoying their meal when they noticed two men in hushed conversation at a table next to them.. It was Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Needless to say, My Aunt and Grandma didn’t really talk to each other as they wanted to hear what Lemmon and Matthau had to say. All they could make out was a conversation about daughters or something like it.

When Grandma had finished her meal, she asked the waitress, “If it’s not too much trouble ,could you tell them, they made an 80-year-old lady’s birthday really exciting?”.

A few moments later, the waitress went over to the table and Jack and Walter raised their glasses to her.

As Lemmon and Matthau were leaving, they stopped by Grandma and Betsy’s table and sang Happy Birthday to her. My Grandma could have died a happy woman with that gesture but Matthau did even more. He leaned over and gave her a big , sloppy kiss on her cheek.

As the stars swirled around my Grandma’s eyes, she heard a young woman say “Hey Walter, could you give ME a kiss?”…Walter Matthau replied, “When you turn 80, look me up”. Within minutes, they were gone.

My Grandma told EVERYONE about this encounter…and as I recall she wrote to me once, “I’ve run out of people to tell Susan, so if you feel the need, spread the story around, I think the mailman’s even heard it twice now”.

So, now the story goes into cyberspace…and when “Grumpy Old Men” opened the following year, our family was among the first in line to see it…

Long live Betsy and Grandma…and long live Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.



  1. That is quite possibly one of the most adorable stories I’ve ever heard! 🙂

  2. … Thanks for sharing kiddo … and long live Ann Margaret!

  3. What a great story Sue! Warms my heart.

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