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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Grow

Question 2: Sanshiro is tall! Where did he get his height from?

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Where does Sanshiro get his height from? Well, once again, I have to say, "Certainly not from me." People in Japan have an image of Americans as tall, but when I first came to Japan and met the Murao family, I discovered I was the shortest one in the bunch (even Hidetoshi's grandmother was taller than me as is his mother and sister).

Until just after Sanshiro was born in August, 2000, we lived in New York City. Once I took his older brother, Mashu, to a local park. He was about 3 years old at the time and of all three siblings, he looks the most Japanese. An Asian woman looked at him and said, "He is tall! His parents must be tall." I replied, "Yes, they are, especially the mother, who works as a fashion model." Hey- if I am going to lie to the woman, I might as well make it a good one!

So, where is this elusive gene for height? My mother is 5 feet tall (sorry again, Mom!). My father at his tallest was 5'11" (he is a bit shorter now with age) and one of his 6 brothers was 6 feet tall.

But I just dug up an ancestor (not literally) on the Grow side, who was not only tall but quite interesting as well. He was Speaker of the House during the Civil War! His name is Galusha Aaron Grow of Pennsylvania. He went to Amherst College in Massachusetts. (Weird side note: my parents live in a town called Amherst in Virginia. )

Grow Family Hero
Galusha Aaron Grow, Speaker of the House

Galusha was first elected as a Democrat in 1850 and his leading issue was to prevent the extension of slavery into western territories. Glad to know, Galusha was on the right side of history. When President Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act (drafted by another Democrat) which would have allowed slavery in new territories, Galusha held to his staunch anti-slavery belief and he switched parties to the newly formed Republican Party.

Young Galusha Grow
Young Galusha (he really looks like a picture of my grandfather Grow, when he was young.)

As Speaker of the House, from 1861-1863, during the time of Lincoln's Presidency (1861-1865) he presided over the passage of the landmark Homestead Act of 1862, which gave 160 acres of public land to settlers if they lived and worked on the land in the new territories for a certain number of years. Very cool to think he had a working relationship with President Lincoln and was actually third in line for the presidency at that time. Well done, Galusha!

"He is described as tall, defiant, and not afraid to use physical force against his opponents, one observer described Grow as 'a thorough politician and a good presiding officer, possessing the tact, the quickness of perception, and the decision' necessary to lead." I found this in the History, Art & Archives website of the House of Representatives.

He was even in a fierce brawl on the House floor when someone insulted him and tried to choke him. Then the free-for-all began involving many members of the house. Happily, the tussle ended with a punch that sent one representative's hairpiece flying. Embarrassed, he quickly picked it up and put it back on his head BACKWARDS! Everyone started laughing and the fight was over, at least for the time being.

With tensions so high between the North and the South, one representative even challenged Galusha to a duel which he publicly declined. And we thought, politics is rough today! Let's see what or who I can dig up for tomorrow's post!


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