Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Louie gets his finger back

When folks meet me at a show or display, they often ask whether the craft was passed on to me by my family, and I answer no. I think that they yearn to hear that there is a generations old tradition for which I am the torch bearer. Well, in some ways it is true.

When my grandfather Louie Kaplan was a teenager, circa the 1930's, he was showing another student at the high school how to use the jointer (I imagine a gorgeous old Oliver or something), he managed to nip off the end of his pinkie finger. Of course, as a child, the story shifted to a warning of the dangers of nail biting, but as I took to woodworking, he seemed to take more and more pride in explaining the end of his woodworking career.
Louie went on to become a pillar of the St. Paul community on a variety of levels. While he barely stood 5 feet tall, his name could unlock doors, and drinks, all over the twin cities. I won't bore you with tales, but suffice it to say, as a child companion of his, I was as close to a prince as I'll ever be.
We buried Louie the other day, and if he hadn't outlived most of his peers, reaching 97, I swear that half of St. Paul would have shut down.
Witnessing the impact that one man could have on his community, and the joy and endearment that he brought, even to his nurses at the end of his life, was humbling.
I've received plenty of kind remarks about my postings here, but rest assured, there is much work to be done if I am going to fill his tiny shoes.


BigT said...

I am sorry for your loss, Peter.

Terry Chapman, Atlanta

Patrick Tipton said...

Sorry for your loss Peter. Sounds like Louie lived a full and generous life. Your relationship reminds of the Jerry Jeff Walker song "Desparados waiting for a Train"

Good balm from a fellow Texan.

Bern said...

Sorry for your loss Pete. Louie sounded quite the lad in all the right ways. Thinking of you mate.


p.s. if timtams are needed let me know

Peter Galbert said...

Terry, Pat and Bern,
thanks, he was a great man and I appreciate your comments,

Anonymous said...

Pete - sorry for your loss. Those that pass on will be on a journey to a better place.

Stow OH

Glen Rundell said...

Never an easy time Pete, sorry to hear your news.
Our thoughts are with you and your family.
Glen & Lisa

Scott P said...

Beautifully worded expression of your respect for him. Sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. I wish I had a grandfather like that growing up.

Tee said...


This is a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. Grandparents can have such a positive influence on our lives and it seems like he was a very positive influence to you. I am so sorry about your loss. It is never easy to lose a loved one.

Harry said...

Peter, I'm sure he's up there smiling.
I'm named after my two grandfathers and though I only knew them in my childhood I still remember them with fondness and reverence.
I'm sorry for your loss.
Harry Victor Miller

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks, it's wonderful to hear from you. When I was thinking about his community of family, neighbors, and business associates, it struck me that perhaps my largest community is that of my computer savvy chairmaking friends. I get more than I give here,
thank you

Sherrill Graff owner said...

Good man, Great post, warmed my heart to see how close you two were. Thanks for sharing. Sherrill Graff BC NV