By Frank Lewis
Sometimes I’m a day late and a dollar short. I hadn’t given much thought to writing about my father until I read the account of Sam Piatt and his relationship with his father. I actually thought twice about writing this column because I am woefully inadequate when it comes to matching the word pictures painted by the word painter, G. Sam, himself. However I will try.
There are so many similarities when it comes to our fathers. Dad worked at Detroit Steel or a variation on that name for 48 years. He was still a teenager when he got his first job there and worked his way up to becoming superintendent of the sheet metal department. Every time I would pass that property I saw big steel letters that read – “DETROIT STEEL CORPORATION.” My father made that sign. They had mechanical doors that opened by a motor. I watched my father invent them with a thread spool and wire at home. He gave them to the company.
Dad could make or fix anything. I never picked up that gene. However I am thankful that my son Tony did. It’s nice to know there is someone mechanical in my immediate family. My father was a doer. If I needed my bike fixed, instead of teaching me to fix it, he just said – “Leave it here and come back in an hour and it will be ready.” There have been times I wish he had showed me his skills, not that I would have been able to measure up, but I might have saved a few dollars over the years by being able to do some things.
Sam talked about his father never saying, “I love you.” I honestly don’t remember if my dad ever said that or not. I don’t remember it being that important to me. Like my wife always says – “Love is not something you say, it’s something you do.” Using those guidelines, I know my father loved me very much.
If anything I may have been a little spoiled. There was never anything I needed that he didn’t get for me – a baseball glove, a bicycle – whatever. When I played organized baseball, he showed up after the game started and left before it was over. I will always believe it was because he wanted to send me a message that it didn’t matter to him whether I won or lost.
For years I thought it was funny that my father liked the fat off a piece of meat. Then one day it dawned on me – he wanted us to have the good stuff.
One year, early in his management days, he went on vacation. He got a call that his men wouldn’t work without him. He cut his vacation short and never took another one. He was fiercely loyal to his company, yet couldn’t wait until the day of his retirement and he never stepped foot in that place again.
Like Sam’s dad, my father went to the 8th grade. He lived in a place that doesn’t even appear on new maps – Tannery, Kentucky. He was too old for World War II, so he taught sheet metal at Portsmouth High School to train young men in preparation for their futures.
He was, in many ways, one of a kind – a prankster at times – with a sharp sense of humor. As far as I know, he loved two things in his life – his family and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (my namesake). They tell me he cried when Roosevelt died. That was something I can’t verify because I wasn’t born yet. But I know he felt deeper than he wanted to show at times.
Father’s Day came and went and my father has been gone so long that I didn’t give it much thought until I read Sam’s column. Then I started reminiscing a little. Fathers are essential, not just biologically, but in molding our lives. They are often the link to stability, which is sadly lacking in the world today. They do without so they can provide for those in their care. They impart wisdom that is immeasurable and set you up with memories to last a lifetime.
Lovell Edward Lewis, Sr., I love you and miss you very much and thanks Sam for jogging my memory. I needed that.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.