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Sunday, February 26, 2023

The closest person I had to a grandfather

 A few nights ago I was propped up in bed, just randomly looking up things with my iPad.  And I came upon something truly, truly special.  It is for me anyway...

It's on the website for the Order of the Arrow lodge of the Boy Scout council that I was in.  This photo dates to 1954.  The man on the right, in the light uniform shirt, is Allan "Doc" Lewis.  He was a lifelong educator and advocate for Scouting.  In the photo he and the other man (C. Lin Adams) are wearing their Order of the Arrow sashes, which indicate that they were Vigil rank.  The OA was especially near and dear to Doc's heart, as it symbolized true brotherhood and service.

I know these things about Doc, and much more, because he was the grandfather that I never got to have.  I suspect a lot of young men felt the same way about him.

I first wrote about Doc fifteen years ago, on the occasion of what would have been his one hundredth birthday.  Doc was born in January 1908, so he would have been about 46 in this picture.  That was thirty-one years before he and I met for the first time.  I was eleven and a half and a newly minted real Boy Scout.

I'll never understand why Doc took a shine to me as he did.  How it came to be that he brought me under his wing.  I think we definitely had a "master and apprentice" relationship going on.  Doc would often tell me stories of his interesting younger years (he once took Katherine Hepburn out to dinner, he used to hang out with George Burns and Gracie Allen, and he served on a committee with Norman Rockwell).  Doc was a well traveled man too and I think I inherited some wanderlust from him.  That year-long meandering across America that my dog and I did a few years back?  I was definitely channeling pure Doc for that one.  He often shared his witty sense of humor, and his belief in chivalry toward the opposite sex.

There isn't much to say that hasn't been already.  Doc Lewis really did fill a role in not just my life but the lives of many others.  He was very dear to me.  He still is.  And that's the earliest photo I've come across of him.  Seeing that, it's like I can still hear his voice speaking across the decades.

Well, it was just a neat find and I had to blog about it.  Doing what I can to keep his spirit alive and well in our hearts.  Thanks for reading this :-)


B said...

Good tribute, Chris.

Chris Knight said...

Thanks. I just can't look at that picture without hearing his voice. His hearty laughter. One time I took Doc out to lunch at the restaurant I worked at. He told me our waitress was very sweet and beautiful, and asked if I liked her. I told him that she indeed was a very sweet person and she was the kind of young lady I wouldn't mind being in a relationship with.

Doc INSISTED that he leave a tip for twenty dollars "and if she asks you tell her that you left this for her" he ordered me. Sure enough she asked me about it the next time I came into work. I fessed up and told her Doc did that, because HE thought she was a very nice person and great waitress. She said she had seen him before and always thought he was the nicest man.

It's the impression we leave behind us, that matters.