I was a teenager before Pop started hanging out with Mr. Lee. They were both retired and needed each other. Their idea of playing usually meant work for me and especially Dad. Every old man needs a younger man in order to carry out their plans. And to more or less babysit them.
Mr. Ronnie Lee was a tall man, maybe 6’2″. And about 160 lbs if I’m being generous. He wore glasses and-like so many other old men-a mesh backed hat that sat on top of his head. I have a hard time visualizing Mr. Lee without a hat. He also always had a cigarette.
“I can’t tell you how many times an old man with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth has saved my bacon.”Bo
Mr. Lee had a saw mill and a planer. I remember helping dad plane enough saw-cut lumber to panel the inside walls of the lake house Mr. Lee had built. It was interesting work and typical of the type of stuff that Dad did for Mr. Lee.
“How do you want me to do this Mr. Lee?” Dad would ask as he was about to tackle whatever oddball task Mr. Lee had assigned.
“You do it just any old way you want to Perry.” Mr. Lee would say through his nose, his mouth being occupied by a cigarette. “Just however you think is best.”
Dad would commence work upon the task at hand with purpose. Dad would be knee deep into the work when Mr. Lee would come back around and check on progress.
After looking around for a moment Mr. Lee would remark, “I don’t know if I’d have done it that way Perry.” Much to the frustration of my Dad.
This story has become part of my family’s literary reference library; a readymade punchline to be quoted like ancient Greek mythology.