One Heroic “Country Bumpkin” | Teen Ink

One Heroic “Country Bumpkin”

September 20, 2007
By Anonymous

“No I haven’t done anything heroic. I’m just another human being.” That’s the answer you’ll get from Lewis, if you ask him if he thinks he is a hero. I disagree. I believe he is an inspiration for all who feel trapped in their life and there is no way out. Surviving through WWII and taking all the opportunities he got in life was the way he came to be who he is. My grandfather, Pat, which is his nickname, is my hero because his life shows that a farm boy left to think his life would be worth nothing can make something of himself.
Before the interview began, and almost every time I go to his house, Lewis makes a fresh batch of coffee and enjoys it throughout the interview. He sips it once in a while as if it is a mind jogger giving him the answer to all my questions. I’ve known him for years, but recently got to know him better because I work at his house every weekend helping with the yard. When we take breaks, he tells stories from his youth. While over there I can observe how truly great he is, and hopefully it is rubbing off on me! If you ever met him you would notice he is not tall, just like everyone else in my family, and wears casual clothes that usually are khaki shorts, and some type of comfortable white shirt. Between sips of his coffee, he might pop a tootsie roll or other candy into his mouth. One thing you would notice is that he keeps his house clean and is almost always moving. “I love being fit for my age.” He is a young 82. This is what my grandfather says is one of the most important features of his life. It’s due to his constant movement and working around the house. When I first told him I was using him for my hero profile paper he looked at me, laughed and said, “I’m not a hero. My life’s too boring!” By the time the interview ended, I had found that his life was much more than boring.

Lewis was sworn into the Marines on Labor Day 1942 at age 18, but many important factors led to this day. It all started on a crisp day in upstate New York, 1924. Six years later his life was drastically changed when his parents both drowned after a storm came up while they were boating. Even though Lewis had not had much time to get to know his parents, it hit him like a rock. He was immediately taken to live with his grandparents and aunt. In the next seven years Lewis learned how to work on a farm and the labors of the working life. As he got older though, it didn’t necessarily appeal to him, but he did what needed to be done. Suddenly, in 1937 Lewis’ grandfather, Frank, died. His grandfather had run the farm and taught him everything. With his death, the farm and all the work was left for 13 year old Lewis. “I thought all I had to look forward to was farming. I wanted to get the heck out of there.” Farming was all Lewis thought was left for him in life; backbreaking work.
Even though Lewis wanted to leave the farm, he still told me it had some importance in his life. His first major influence was his grandma, Katy, but after saying that, he said, “Although grandma had an influence on 12,000 relatives!” She taught him the basic tools he needed to become a great person such as how to be a respected man. Soon enough, his wish of getting away from the farm came true. In 1941 the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. Lewis begged his grandma to sign the papers allowing him to join the war, but she wouldn’t because he was 17 and he had to be 18. The next year rolled around and Lewis’ birthday did too. Now eligible to join the war, Lewis had his grandmother reluctantly sign the papers and off he went to Europe and Southeast Asia. This opened up opportunities for him that he had never dreamed of on the farm.
One of the most important experiences that Lewis had was being the orderly for Admirable Starks of the U.S. Navy. An orderly is someone that gets coffee and runs errands for the admirable. My grandfather said, "I was supposed to keep him happy." He considers Admirable Starks to be the second greatest influence on his life, after his grandmother. He believes this because being around the admirable and his staff introduced him to a number of influential military individuals during WWII. He attended the wedding of actress Maureen O’Hara’s sister to a commander, and the christening of the Battleship Missouri in the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City which was christened by President Truman’s daughter Myra. These exposures confirmed that farming was not for him, and that he wanted more out of life.
After WWII, Lewis went back to the farm a short while. He decided that the best way to make something out of himself was to go to college. He did, choosing architecture as his field of study. He started designing houses, which had been a childhood goal that he had always dreamed of achieving. “I wished that someday I could design houses. I had always wished that.” With his goal met, he moved on to a business that sold roof trusses. He was a truss salesman for many years; enjoying almost every bit of it. Next, he decided to start his own business. He manufactured patterns for designer ceilings in dining rooms in upscale homes. The creativity and design elements of this work fit his life perfectly. After many years of leaving his mark on Hamilton County homes, he decided to spend more time with his wife, Betty Jane, and their family, so he retired.

I think my grandfather’s life is a wonderful example for all people. If you start out with nothing or are in a tough position in life, never give up, and always reach for your goals. You never know what adventures await you. Be like Lewis and enjoy every moment of life. All you have to do is have the courage to try new things, to learn, and to lead. During the interview my grandfather called himself a country bumpkin. After the interview and hearing about his life I would definitely say, he’s one heroic country bumpkin to me!

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