The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Opinion

June 16, 2014

A Father’s Day tribute for 2 men who taught me so much

An Editor's Notes

- — I spent Father’s Day low-key, much like I have spent the day for years, with my wife and daughter, hanging around the barbecue grill cooking burgers.

It’s a day of reflection for me, as I think about my role as a father throughout the years, proud as a peacock of our daughter, Jamie.

I see a lot of myself in her work ethic and zeal for community involvement as I think about how I was able to influence her throughout her youth with actions, rather than with words. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

It’s a day that I think about how much the guidance of both my father and grandfather meant for me in the 1950s and 1960s.

Unfortunately, the two most important men in my life died in the early 1970s, depriving me of yet more of their guidance and love.

My grandfather, Pasquale Lenzi, with whom I spent all kinds of time as a youth at 1025 Emerson Ave. in Farrell, died in 1973 when I was a senior at Penn State.

His youngest son Pat, my Uncle Junior, lives near York, Pa., and picked me up in State College for the long drive back to Farrell. I remember clearly thinking about all that I would miss with grandpa’s passing during the long ride across I-80 back home.

Lost amid the sad thoughts of a 21-year-old was the realization of what he had given me while I was growing up – love, tons of guidance, confidence, an appreciation of the value of a hard day’s work, and a sense of respect for others and their property.

In the context of today’s social issues, maybe the most important thing I learned from both him and my dad – was that even if it meant getting licked – to always stick up for yourself and not take anyone’s crap.

My dad died in 1975 when I was 23 and gone with his death, coupled with my grandfather’s, were those leisurely hours of fishing at Pymatuning or at the Shenango River, all the while absorbing like a sponge important lessons in life by listening to stories about their youth.

I reveled and learned so much from my grandpa’s accounts of his life in Bagnoli Irpino, Italy, his arrival in America at Ellis Island, and his toiling as a laborer at the former Sharon Steel Corp.

It was much the same from my dad with his stories of growing up poor on Mac Way in Sharon’s South Ward, and from his experiences in the Navy and his accounts from work at the former Jennings Manufacturing in Masury.

One of the important things I learned from both of them was the value of hard work – by watching both get up every morning and head to the mill and watch them get home most afternoons dog-tired from a tough day.

I admired my father’s disdain to be out of work – when he was laid off during frequent down times – and his drive to find other work in the meantime rather than sit around and rely on a relief check as sole support for his family.

These are the things that cross my mind on every Father’s Day, always serving as a reminder of my good fortune to have had such pillars of strength while growing up.

I can only hope as a father, I have been able to pass on to Jamie a fraction of some of life’s lesssons that were afforded to me by example, as in “walking the walk, not talking the talk.”

SHS’s loss is our family’s gain

Not to be lost amid the Father’s Day celebration is a huge family milestone – my wife Janice’s pending retirement this week from the Sharon City School District where she has worked for more than 30 years as a secretary and most recently, assistant athletic director.

Cheers to years of a job well done.

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