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NEWMAN CENTER Powered By Docstoc
					                                 NEWMAN CENTER
                                   JUNE 23, 2004

I’ve never been introduced as chicken man before. Good evening. I really
appreciate everyone taking the time from their life and for being here this evening.
I would like you to take a minute and pause and think of your childhood memories.
Childhood memories are something that we all have. I have three specific that I will
never forget. One memory is the stream I would play in. If reality would check it
out, it was a drainage ditch, but it was a little stream of water that we would sit in as
kids and I used to think it was the jungle. And for some reason, I still remember
that silly little drainage ditch, but to me it was pretty amazing to see the wildlife
teaming in just that little bit of water.

The other was, we didn’t call it sandlot, but vacant lot baseball. The vacant lot was
what was between our house and the Presbyterian minister’s home. Where’s Father
Pat? I have to tell you that I grew up next door to a Presbyterian minister so I have
the influence there. So first base there was the poplar tree. There was a worn spot
on the poplar tree and you would grab it and that meant you were safe. Second
base was a rock, third base was a bare spot on a little mound of dirt and left field
had a huge rock in it and center field and a home run was the neighbor’s house
behind, and the window was run for it.

The third memory I have of my childhood is working with my father. I’ve had the
opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people in my life. I wanted to share a father
story with you of a young boy who was working with his dad in the garden and they
didn’t have enough shovels to do the job. The father was a stocky, burly man and
had a gut that was as hard as rock. Rumor has it that he was an amateur boxer.
And the father told the son to go borrow a shovel and he did, from Mr. Cohen.
When the job was done, the father said to the son “son, scrape the mud off of the
shovel and return it to Mr. Cohen and tell him thank you for letting us borrow his
shovel”. When the son was headed back toward Mr. Cohen’s house, the father
yelled out “stop”. The son stopped and asked, “What’s the matter dad?” The
father said, “go and get some steel wool from the basement and I want you to polish
that shovel”. So the son rolled his eyes, out of his dad’s site obviously, and went
down to the cool, damp basement and got a very course piece of steel wool and
started to polish that shovel. He came back outside and quickly started back to Mr.
Cohen’s house and the father yelled out “stop”. About this point the young boy was
pretty worn in terms of his patience and he said to his father “father, now what?”
and the father said, “get some oil and oil it”. The son protested but got the oil
because he new his father meant what he said, and oiled the shovel and took it back
to Mr. Cohen’s house. And on the way he turned to his dad and he said “dad, is this
good enough?” and he said, “Son, yes it is”. The son said “you know dad, not only is
the shovel better than when we borrowed it, but he won’t recognize it”. And the
father said to the son “we’ll never have trouble borrowing it again”.

Everyone under this tent, in fact everyone in the world have some special things in
common. We were all born, we were all one family and we all have or had a father.
How special is our commonality? What are the odds of being born? The odds of
being born with our DNA are 224 trillion to one. I want to put million, billion and
trillion in perspective briefly for you. If I gave you a gift of a million seconds of
time, does anyone want to take a guess of how much time that would be? A million
seconds of time. Eleven days. George is a bit ahead of his time, because the next
question is how much is a billion seconds? Go ahead George, it’s 31 years. George
likes to round numbers off. And a trillion seconds is 31,000 years of seconds. Now
try to multiply, and I can’t, 31,000 years of second’s times 224 and that is the odds
of you being born with your DNA fingerprint. That’s a staggering statistic because
you see billionaires and trillionaires don’t play in the same ballpark. One may have
a fancy house, the other may have some fancy islands, but all the millionaires and
billionaires gathered together for a nice party aren’t going to be able to help the
government’s trillion-dollar deficit.

So how special are we? Whether we’re extremely intelligent or we’re differently
abled and extremely challenged. We are all very special. We’re all one family.
We’re all one family because we’re 98 percent genetically identical. All human
beings on this planet, scientists discovered, are 98 percent genetically identical. But
more amazing is that we’re all 98 percent genetically identical to all wildlife, we’re
98 percent genetically identical to all vegetation. In fact, when you came here and
walked into the tent and walked across the grass you were walking on top of your
brothers and sisters.

Is it any wonder that human beings find comfort and solace in watching the sunset
and spending time by the water? What’s our infinity to water? Most of our body is
made up of water. The sky and all the things that surround us. And the third
special commonality is that we all have or had a father that had positive or negative
space that influenced things on us. And that reminds us of positive and negative

In our family, there are many artists. My late mother-in-law was an artist, my wife
is an artist, and our son and daughter are graphic artists. Our daughter on top of
being a graphic designer is an artist and sculptor. So art definitely runs in the
family and one thing that I have become to know from this design is that all design
and objects have negative and positive space and if I were to look at this basket – the
weaving makes a positive space, but the holes are negative space. It creates the
image of the basket. So a father’s influence, whether living or deceased, may have
had a positive or negative influence, but it is part of the whole picture. For example,
my dad always worked since he was a product of the Depression. So I tried to fill up
that negative space in my life by taking our kids camping and our grandsons
camping (those that you hear in the background and it is a blessing to have them

This Wednesday night’s speakers series is about building bridges and the bridge I
hope to build for you tonight. The bridge tonight is the bridge to our fathers,
especially to those of us who have a bridge to our deceased fathers. Life has been
very good to me. I am forever grateful for all the family and friends that are here
this evening and all the folks who I have not met just here but in several countries. I
always look forward to International travel as an opportunity to yet meet more
members of our family. Not only has life been good to me, but also very
unpredictable. You see when I started out as a child I said one of my three favorite
memories was working with my father. And at 9 years old is when I started
working for my dad and Father Pat said I should never tell a lie so working was
actually not repairing the cleaners at 9 but polishing the chrome because dad never
wanted to return a cleaner that didn’t look better than when he started to work on
it. In fact, he had much of the philosophy that we heard in the story that his goal
was that they wouldn’t recognize the repaired cleaner when they picked it up or he
delivered it.

I can remember as a child that my dad would repair a motor and he would take the
motor out of the vacuum cleaner and he would sit on a little wooden bench in the
center of the basement surrounded by all of these vacuum cleaners and he would
have the motor on his knee and he would have all these leads. He called them,
jumper leads. I said, “dad why do you call them jumper leads”? He said, “well
when I connect these ends to the wire on the motor and I put this in the outlet if the
motor jumps off my lap I know it is a bad motor”. I said “Dad there has to be a
better way”. I worked for him until the day he died. In fact, this is the 20th year
since his death. Twenty years ago this June. And when I became a teenager I was
still not only repairing cleaners, but I developed an interest in repairing
automobiles. I realized I would have a greater opportunity for meeting young ladies
if I drove a car rather than if I picked them up with a vacuum cleaner.

So I still spent time with dad but I also worked on cars and, in fact, he got me my
first illegal job working in a collision shop as an underage youth removing bumpers
from automobiles. And I will never forget that when the owner went next door to
his home to have lunch and he said, “son I want you to take that bumper off of that
car”. Now I never really knew this man; my dad knew him as one of his customers
and when he left I was having trouble getting these big bolts off and this is when
bumpers weighed more than 3 or 4 human beings, all solid chrome. So I knew what
the other fellows would do, they would get a torch and heat up the nuts and get
them nice and red-hot and they would expand and the nut would come off easily. So
I saw them do it and thought I can do that. So no one was in the shop and I lit the
torch but I didn’t know the difference between oxygen and the settling. I only had
the settling on and the entire garage filled with black soot; flakes about as big as
silver dollars landed on all the cars that were in the shop that were about to be
painted. This was not something you could wipe up quickly and disappear and say
nothing happened. Needless to say, when the owner came back I think I was looking
for another job.

When I was a senior in high school, my dad knew that I was not interested in going
to college. My older brother had started at Niagara University, my sister was on her
way to being a nurse and I was enjoying working. I said “Dad you only had a sixth
grade education, I have 12 years, that’s double, that’s fine with me” He said, “that’s
not fine with me”. So, I’m not just saying this, but in my last few months of my
senior year in high school, much after everyone else had decided where they were
going, I went to the guidance counselor and said I need a place to go and it needs to
be something quick and easy. He said, “what are you interested in”? I said, “I
don’t know”. I make model cars, I repair my father’s vacuum cleaners and I work
in collision shops. He said, “there is this state university called Morrisville and they
have an auto tech program and he said you might fit into that”. So I applied to the
program and I was not accepted. I was not accepted because I dropped out of
physics in high school. I said to the counselor “what do you need physics for to fix a
car?” and he said, “you have to follow the requirements”. So I applied to
Williamsville Senior High School to take physics in summer school. I showed up the
first day in summer school very reluctant and very much to my displeasure and I
waited in the room and I was the only person in the room. In fact, no one showed
up. Not even a teacher. So after sitting a while and thinking now what do I tell my
dad? I went to the office at Williamsville High School and said I’m sorry but I’m
here for a physics class and no one is in this room and I’m not sure if I have the
wrong room or not and they said didn’t you get the letter you were the only one
signed up for it.

My father made me write a letter to the school asking that I please be accepted on
the condition that I would pass physics in my first semester. I was accepted to
Morrisville under that condition and my first semester I flunked English. And you
are all here for a book. I took English in summer school at Canisius College and in
my second year, it’s only a two-year program. The last semester I was painting
more cars and repairing more vacuum cleaners than I was reading books or doing
any assignments. In fact, during finals week I actually lined up a barn full of cars to
be painted from 6 in the evening until about 6 the next morning. That’s a fact. I
actually was crusted with multi colors of paint. This was before masks were
invented and I actually finished early because I was hustling and getting tired and I
knew I had to get back for a final exam, which I didn’t study for. And I will never
forget coming over these little knolls and hills that were somewhere south of
Morrisville somewhere between Binghamton and no-where land and I saw these
silver dancing circles and all I thought of were UFO’s or Martians. I obviously I
had taken in too many paint fumes and as I got close it was a herd of cattle that had
broken a fence that I had run into. Yes, mom, these are all true stories. Things you
don’t know.

Well, I flunked out of Morrisville. I didn’t pass my social studies exam but I made a
hell of a lot of money painting cars. But my last semester at Morrisville one of my
professors said you would make a heck of a teacher and you ought to teach
automotive. You would have more fun doing that rather than being a technician for
an auto company. So, I applied to Buffalo State and I was accepted under the

condition again that I pass social studies at Buffalo State. I went for 2 years to
finish up my Bachelors Degree in Industrial Education and when I student taught I
had students with special needs. I will never forget my first experience with
students with special needs. If it weren’t for parents, the Association for Retarded
Children, started by individuals who had children with special needs who forced our
government to put into legislation a place for retarded children to be integrated
until they are 21, regardless of their ability. But when I was a child, children with
special needs weren’t in the regular mainstream of education. So when I student
taught, this was my first experience.

But another experience I had when I student taught was that they told me that I had
to have a Masters Degree in 5 years or I could not stay a teacher. Now mind you, I
did not want to go to college at all and my dad was pretty insistent that I did go on
to school and I did so here I am working on my third degree in the masters program
at Buffalo State in exceptional education. I went on to teach at the Kenmore
schools. The Kenmore schools in those years had 24,000 pupils in the system and in
eight years they went from 24,000 to 8,000 pupils. It was the largest student
population drop in the country at the time and I believe still is to this day. So here I
had my dream job after 3 degrees, which I didn’t want and now I was going to be
unemployed. So I said to my dad, “do you have more vacuum cleaners that you
want repaired”?

When I taught I still spent nights and weekends whenever I had a chance working
on those cleaners and in return dad was an impromptu kind of guy and would show
up at our house even with Barb and I as newlyweds. At our apartment the first few
weeks we were married, there would be a knock at the door and it would be my
father with a loaf of warm bread from an Italian bakery. He said “I’m not calling at
a bad time am I”. My dad found more bakeries when I first got married than I
knew there were.

Well, in my seventh year at the Kenmore schools I was asked to sit on a committee
with two parents, two administrators, and two members of the board to look at
declining enrollment. I came home and I told my wife after the first meeting and
she said how did that blue ribbon committee go and I said great. In two years I am
going to be out of work. She said what do you mean and I said they are predicting a
severe drop in the population from the saturated housing market and from baby
boom to baby bust years. So I found a job at O-Cello Sponge as their first director
of safety and training.

I have to tell you that when I interviewed, I went for a supervisory position but in
the second interview they changed it to director of safety and training and don’t tell
anyone at O-Cello but when they told me that I would be responsible for the new
OSHA legislation and implementation at O-Cello and General Mills I proceeded to
the library to find out what OSHA stood for. But they figured that because I was in
industrial education that was a good foundation. I am glad that they thought so.
But 9-1/2 months after I was there the plant went on strike. I didn’t pay much

attention because as you know, I flunked Social Studies and I didn’t know much
about strikes other than labor unions were a result of not paying attention to labor
and when they weren’t happy, they had a strike. Well, now I am in one, and the
president of the company said we were going to work all the jobs in the plant. Well
I had an office job and this plant was a chemical plant and in this chemical plant
you had to wear steel-toed boots and the whole nine yards and you came home
smelling like the bottom of Love Canal. The strike meant that we had to work 12
hours a day, 7 days a week for 5-1/2 months without a day off. They didn’t know
the strike was going to go that long. And during that strike is when I earned my
first true business degree because I found out what it was like to be a laborer in
heavy industry.

In my ninth year of working at that plant, I was now 40 years old, still helping my
father nights and weekends whenever I had a chance, or he had a need, organizing
his basement much to his dismay. And I wasn’t happy and didn’t know why.
Lovely wife, lovely children, great support at work and great mentors but just
wasn’t happy and someone suggested that I go see my pastor. This was before I met
Father Pat, at a parish that shall remain nameless, and after the third person told
me to go see the pastor, by the way whose sermons I did not really enjoy. But when
3 people tell me to do something I do it. I went to see the pastor and told him my
story and I said I really don’t know what makes sense in my life. It’s a crooked path
and I’m not sure where I’m supposed to be going or what I’m supposed to be doing
and he looked at me and shook his head and said, “I can’t help you, but you can
help me,” and I said, “ how is that”? He said, well we hired a big shot consulting
firm to do a survey of our parish, which was in the same vicinity as the school
district that I worked at a few years earlier, and he said their parish demographics
were changing significantly, so much so that the women were dying at home alone
because they were outliving their husbands, the kids moved out of state and he was
very concerned and so was the parish council.

I finished the survey and I came to the pastor and said here are the survey results. I
said what would you like me to do with them? He said I would like you to present
them to the Board of Directors. Well, when I showed up at the board meeting
everyone there was wearing fancy suits and beautiful watches and hand-sewn type
of lapels and wonderful ties. I gave my presentation and part way through they
asked me to step out. I realized that I probably had said something I shouldn’t
have. I waited outside for quite a while and then the pastor came out and opened
the door and he said come back in please and I came back in and sat down very
nervously and he looked at the entire board and said we would like you to sit on our
board. I was quite shocked and I said what does a board member do? I had no
idea. He said well as our board member we would like you to present the results to
the parishioners. I said how do you do that? He said at all the services on Saturday
and Sunday.

That was my first experience at public speaking. I have to tell you that was the most
intimidating speech I ever gave because it was a very large parish and as far as the
eye could see were masses of humanity sitting there motionless. And I had to give
these results. I realized that day that my real interest and purpose in life was to be
involved in situations that were unfamiliar. So I made it a path and that is what
brings me here today. I’ve never been here before. I’ve never been an author this is
only a very meek and minor attempt and certainly my attempt to be in another
place that I have never been before. Maybe that was some influence from my dad.
Influence of doing things that I have not done before, like going to school but not
wanting to go to school and pursuing other interests.

In 1991 when I started my own business, it was scary. It was scary because I had a
client all lined up and the client never materialized. In fact, we were so confident
that I was going to get the client (I was by myself in this consulting firm when I first
started) and I took my wife and son and daughter on a camping trip and I told the
client that when we come back he would have 150 percent of me because once I
jump into something, that’s what I’ll give it. We came back a week later from the
camping trip and he said he had changed his mind and he was going to repair his
company on his own. I went back to his office that first day when we got back and
he said that his family had recently met and decided that they were really going to
try to make it happen this time and appreciated all my efforts and thoughts. In fact,
he said that I gave him some ideas on my initial visit that encouraged them to do it
on their own. Never give too much away, I guess. But anyway, while I was in the
office, there was a knock on the door and it was the secretary and he said to the
secretary don’t bother me I’m talking to Gerry and she said, but it’s the bank. The
bank took them into Chapter 11 that day.

So for the first nine months of my business I didn’t have a business. I had a day and
a half of billable time and maxed out the home equity loan and maxed out the credit
cards and didn’t have my first client until nine months later. It was a frightening
road, but one of my early breaks was when Cornell University’s Industrial & Labor
Relations Division here in Buffalo asked me if I would present to Ford Motor
Company in the UAW and also to General Motors regarding strategic planning. I
have to tell you that this is the 90’s when the auto industry was really starting to
tank for the first time, and significantly. The foreign competition was becoming a
major factor in taking market share. And I said to myself what do I do to motivate
these individuals. Take them from the bottom of the barrel and give them some ray
of hope. So I told them my dad’s story. I don’t know if Cornell really approved of
that, but they were very much, and rightfully so, very interested in having
significant data and information about the auto industry conveyed, but I saw a
greater need.

I shared the story of my dad whose parents were born in Poland and came to
Buffalo as immigrants. They had seven children and my Uncle Stanley, the oldest
surviving Murak, is here today. Thank you so much for coming. He was one of
those seven children along with my dad. As the story goes, the seven of them got

together and decided that six of them were going to leave school so that the youngest
could go on to college. You see, this was the Depression era. So my dad at that
point was in the sixth grade. He left school in the sixth grade and started peddling
eggs on a bicycle off of the Broadway Market. He went from there into his early
manhood as a member of the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps. He worked on
the Tennessee Valley Authority project and CCC would work on many projects
across the United States to improve infra structure, bases for energy and national
parks. In fact, on the table in the center in front of me I have some memorabilia
and photos from my dad during those days at the CCC camps and also from his
next career at Electrolux.

After the war, he started selling vacuum cleaners like there was no one else in the
country. He won many prizes. In fact there was a standing joke in our family that
the only vacation that we ever had was one that dad won. He took my mom to New
York City almost every year and stayed at the then famous Waldorf Astoria. Every
once in a while he would put on all the watches he had won. In face, here is one of
them that I am wearing today. Not in a boastful way, but in a way to say you can
accomplish what you want. If he needed a shirt, he sold cleaners. I’ll never forget
that when Elaine was getting married he had to start bringing in some more revenue
so he started breaking more records. He died in 1984. When I told that story to the
autoworkers there was just deep silence in the room, as there is now and I would
share with them a little prayer book that my dad had left behind.

There are only two classes of people in the world; those who fall and stay down and
those who fall and get up again. Life is important when you fall. It’s easy to get an
A; it’s easy to accept an A. I’ll never forget that when our son Andy called us from
Fredonia and had flunked one of his courses in his major and I said congratulations.
He said dad cut out the motivational speech, this is serious. And I told him that life
is really only measured by people who know how to handle failure.

In the mid 90’s, I took my first business course. Now mind you, I had been involved
in manufacturing at O-Cello and on to General Mills Cereal Plant. In fact, at the
General Mills Cereal Plant I was the laughing stock of the facility. Posted as my
credentials were associate automotive, Bachelors Industrial Arts Education, Masters
Exceptional Education (mental retardation). That’s what my diploma said. I never
had a business course, I never took a course in grain milling science or engineering,
but whether it was a chemical plant and being responsible for the chemical process
or being in a cereal plant and being responsible for high speed packaging lines, I
knew it wasn’t about the specific knowledge as much as it was helping others to
understand their potential. That knowledge led the General Mills Cereal Plant
from my being there from being dead last to number 2 in the country in 9 months
and I give all the credit to the employees and my dad.

In the mid 90’s after finishing up my MBA at UB I started to travel a lot in my
consulting projects. One project I was flying to Winnipeg, Manitoba every week for
a year and a half so I had a lot of time to gaze out of the airplane window and I

always loved the window seat and a lot of folks don’t particularly care for that seat
because it’s crowded. At one time, I was looking out the plane window and I saw
the most beautiful formation of clouds and the tops of the clouds were absolutely
gorgeous. I said to myself why are the tops of clouds so beautiful? When one thinks
of all of the millions of years that this planet existed with no human beings and then
only dinosaurs only millions of years later, and then millions of years later human
beings that were only walking with no transportation, not even an animal. They
had animals but didn’t know how to use them as a means of transportation or work.
And here we are in the last 100 years and we’re able to see the tops of clouds. It
really caused me to pause and say to myself, what’s life all about. It’s very quick
compared to how long the Grand Canyon has been around. One time I did a little
comparison in inches and humanity has been on this planet for 3 feet. The Grand
Canyon, or let me just go to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs have been here for about a mile
in inches by comparison, but the Grand Canyon has been on this planet for 30 miles
worth in inches in comparison, from here to Batavia. So humanity is only 3 feet
compared to 30 miles for the Grand Canyon. And our life span on that same scale is
a 16th of an inch or less. So when I looked at those clouds I said what is it that allows
life to go on and I started to think of the word legacy.

What does legacy mean anyway and when you hear about someone leaving a legacy,
does that mean leaving an estate, does that mean leaving all kinds of possessions, or
does it mean leaving a lasting message. And that was the day in the mid 90’s that I
realized that the way to leave a legacy is to author something to genuinely create
something that others can read beyond your own lifetime. Look at what we can
read today Aristotle, Homer, the Bible, documents that are literally thousands of
years old. So the written word is very powerful and I also found out how
unforgiving it is. As soon as I started the book, I gave my father a different middle
name. Sorry, mom. I always thought his middle name was Andrew. Aloysius; I
found his old metal social security plate when a tool fell in the basement and I went
to pick it up and to my embarrassment, I was always under the impression that his
middle name was Andrew. But dad always had a great sense of humor so I’m just
trying to live his lesson.

So the written word is powerful and the written word that I have for you today is a
little start, I call it an acorn of a vision. It’s called Our Fathers Who Art in Heaven
and What They Continue to Teach Us. And before you leave today I am going to
give everyone a free copy of this. It has a complete story, but it is also the
foundation for that acorn to turn into a mighty oak because the dream is, and I
already have several submissions for this book, to create a compilation of stories of
ordinary individuals who had extraordinary experiences through the positive and
negative relationships with their father.

This manila envelope is very special. One day my wife and I came back from an
evening of boating and the boat needed some more gas and I always like to fill it up
again before we go out. It’s not good to be out on the Niagara River without gas,
and I said you start the grill and I’ll go fill the boat with gas and I’ll be back and by

the time I fill it up dinner should be ready. So I’m standing there pumping gas in
the boat and this gentleman, he couldn’t be here this evening, he really tried hard,
but unfortunately his mom has health needs, but he pulled up on a motorcycle with
a beautiful paint job, just shining with all types of color and chrome, and having
done collision work in my life I really marveled at this paint job. I said gee I wish I
had your cycle and tank and he looked at me and said I wish I had your boat and
tank. I said that’s a very unusual paint job do you mind if I take a closer look and
he said no go right ahead; I just came back from a motorcycle show. The tank had
a Vargas girl on it and for those that aren’t of my era, a Vargas girl is a young lady
that is a cartoon or animated type figure, with a very pinched waist, and you can
imagine the rest, and she had long hair and was pulling her arms back and often
was painted on the sides of World War II planes, and there were bullet holes
painted on the tank. Not the details you see kids put on a car, but these were
immaculately painted so that you thought you could stick your finger into the depth
of the paint. There was a Maltese cross and there were some little bombs coming
down, just some odd figures. When you looked into the depth of this paint job there
was so much detail that I said this is an utterly amazing paint job and he said well I
always wanted a motorcycle and when my father died there wasn’t much money but
with the little bit that he left, I put it together with some money that I saved and I
bought the cycle and that way when I would go for a ride into the wind, I would
think of my father. He said then it was about a year or two later when he was
cleaning up the attic with his mom when she decided to move out of the house that
they had built many years earlier, he found an article about his dad being a World
War II hero. He said mom I didn’t know dad was a World War II hero and she
said I didn’t either. He’s telling me this story and then he turns around to his
motorcycle bags and pulls out this manila envelope and pulls out a story about his

I got chills that day. A total stranger pumping gas, turned into a conversation about
how his dad influenced his life several years after he passed. Tom Basinkski is his
name and we have exchanged many e-mails and phone calls. He travels quite a bit
as I do and really very much regrets that he could not be here this evening.

At another point in our firm’s history I was in Chicago with one of my partners to
look at the potential of doing a strategic alliance or merger with this firm from
Chicago and we had meetings all day long with the partners and I was in one of the
partner’s offices near the end of the day and I looked around at his memorabilia in
his office and here’s this picture of a fellow with ski poles and a very dated outfit
and I said Is that your dad? He said how did you know? I said just a guess. He
said you’re from Buffalo aren’t you and I said yes. Why? He said I’m not, but you
have a place around there called Kissing Bridge don’t you and I said yes. And he
said that’s what I thought because when I travel here I usually come in through
Pennsylvania so I really wasn’t sure how close it was to Buffalo but he said it was
my father’s wish in his will that after he was cremated his ashes be spread on the
slopes of Kissing Bridge where he learned how to ski. He said every year on the

anniversary of my father’s death I go to Kissing Bridge, whether there is snow on
the slope or not, and I get down that hill one way or another to be close to my dad.
So there are already several stories that are well on their way to being in the
finished edition of this book. But I have been encouraged by many to get a sneak
preview out so that ordinary folks could submit their stories. And when that
became an internal charge as well as folks I have come to know and close friends
and professionals who encouraged me down this path all of a sudden it became a
race. A race with myself to meet a deadline for someone who had flunked English,
who has difficulty with the written word and I can’t thank enough those that helped
edit this document. But it’s more than a document because from the proceeds of
this book, and tonight I’m giving it away, and it is the first time I’m addressing the
book and the foundation, but once these previews go out into the open market,
which they will, and they have the IBSN number and I found out how to do that on
the computer. I got quite the education over the last several months and couple
years about how all this process works. All the proceeds from this main preview are
going to go to the Our Fathers Who Art in Heaven Foundation. The mighty vision
turned into a dream is that someday here in Western New York is going to be the
Our Fathers Hall of Fame to recognize ordinary dads who have influenced
everyone’s life in an extraordinary way. I think the time of putting drug addicts
and those with criminal records into a hall of fame deserves some genuine
Americana. I also think that it is important on Father’s Day that for those of us
who don’t have a dad that’s alive and that we can be near that we have some place
to go and that we share that time with others that have lost their father.

So part of this process, I’m a member of National Speakers Association, I have been
in communication with several members of that international organization that have
lost their father and that have had a significant influence on their life, both positive
and negative to move on to greater things and they are willing to, in fact, be a part
of this process and on Fathers Day in June of years to come to give presentations in
their respective cities so that folks in their community who don’t have a place to go
on Father’s Day have a place to be with others and gain inspiration. And the dream
goes on. About this time next year, if not earlier, I hope to unveil Our Mothers Who
Art in Heaven and What They Continue to Teach Us in a sneak preview. My mom
is still living and healthy but I know there are many who have lost their mom.
We’re blessed, but I believe in the importance of what lives on those who we have
lost that there is a legacy in their spirit.

Earlier I shared a story about a father and a son doing some gardening. That
amateur boxer was my father. He taught me to leave things better than I found
them, which I will never forget. I put that on my screen saver on my laptop so
whenever I start my day, whenever I meet a client, whenever I finish my day, I look
at those words. Whether it’s going fishing - when George took me one time to a
trout stream near his camp I’ll never forget his example of bending over and
picking up things and leaving that stream better than he found it. So whether your
dad was a skier or a boxer or a vacuum cleaner salesman or a laborer in an auto
plant, give some thought to those childhood memories and how they have influenced

you positively and all the things that you did not feel comfortable with about your
dad that have caused you to raise your children or influenced your nephews and
nieces or other relatives to turn it into a positive.

Many of you may have noticed that I wear two wedding bands. You may think I’m
either very rich, very poor, or in trouble with 2 women or the law. Barb and I have
been married for 34 wonderful years. I love her to bits. That’s my dad’s 24-year
anniversary band and my mom offered it to me after he passed and said would you
like to have this? I’ve worn it ever since. When my mom decided to leave the house
that my dad had dreamed about building and built and move to some place smaller,
my brother Ed, my brother Dennis, and Elaine and nephews and nieces all helped
out to empty the house of many years of accumulation. After the house was all
empty I’ll never forget taking one last walk around before they have the final
inspection and the walk around from the bank and I went back down to the
basement and the shop where I got the steel wool from, where I started polishing
chrome when I was 9 years old. You had to understand the space. It was maybe
twice the size or 2-1/2 times the size of this alter, but not much more. Maybe about
8 to 10 foot square at best with a laundry shoot right down the center of it.
Underneath that laundry shoot we built some shelves for old ice cube trays to hold
nuts and bolts and built some shelves along the walls to hold parts. There was an L-
shaped bench a door to a coal cellar and not a lot of room to move around. That’s
why when I started testing motors I built a little wooden frame to hold them because
I figured that I am not going to have that thing jump off my lap in that space. I
looked at the bench and I looked at what was left and all the warmth and memories.
I looked up under the floor joist where we have parts for all the different models of
Hoover and Kirby and whatever would be hanging up on these big gutter spikes.
Every nail was now empty. I found a rusty little pin stuck up in the floor joist that I
never saw in all the years and the button says simply Ya Gotta Wanna. There is
nothing that I said today that can cause you to want to change your life or do
something different but Ya Gotta Wanna.

I can’t thank you enough for your time and I very much appreciate Father Pat and
the Newman Center for offering me the opportunity to present this evening. I do
have free copies of the book. There are no gimmicks; I want you to have them and
there is some memorabilia there from my dad, we have some refreshments over at
the table and I thank you very much for your time this evening.

Any questions or remarks? I feel that you are a very religious person and I was just
wondering if your parents took you to church every Sunday or how did their lives
influence you spiritually. Absolutely, but we didn’t always go to church as a family
but everyone always went to church. Dad worked very hard and long hours so
sometimes it was hard and others, as we were getting into our teen years, had jobs,
and my sister was a nurse but, yes, Church was a very important part of growing up
but as Father Pat often says here in his sermons a church is not a building, or a tent,
it’s a way of life and I truly believe that the way of life of my parents and family has
been a tremendous influence on my life. And for that I am ever grateful.

Father Pat brought a reflection back to me. He brought up tape recording voices
and our daughter, Kimberly, is here from New Mexico. She flew in to be here and I
can’t thank her enough for coming. Every Christmas since my dad died, we have a
Polish celebration call Regalia. My mom and her sister, Aunt Bertha, who is here
this evening, and the other sister, Aunt Irene, would tell stories about their
childhood. So Kimberly, when she came home from New Mexico, snuck a tape
recorder underneath the table and taped the aunts going on with their stories at
horse-race speed. And it brought back a precious memory and for that I thank you
Father Pat.

Any other questions? Yes, Ed? Gerry, portray the good times. And our interaction
with our parents and the inevitable no that came out. We couldn’t go out, we
couldn’t buy whatever we wanted, and you couldn’t buy that extra pack of baseball
cards. What was a big no that you and your dad might have had that had a similar
impact as the positive ones? Well, you brought back one right away. I had this
fascination with baseball cards and my parents didn’t like me consuming sugar
because I always had a lot of problems with my teeth as a kid, a lot of fillings so
whenever I had extra money from grass cutting or painting houses or repairing
cleaners, I would sneak over to the drug store at the corner of Cleveland and Beach
Road and buy all the baseball cards because I wanted a complete set.
Coincidentally, I don’t know how you picked on that. Ed and I just met through the
process here and through church, but really haven’t spent any personal time
together so I didn’t know you were going to ask that question but nonetheless I
wanted ____ and ____ - they had the homerun race and I wanted the complete set
and I did wind up getting the whole set. In fact, I used to flip cards off the stairs in
my parents home from the porch with a young fellow from Italy that moved into the
neighborhood and as I got older, I realized the value of these cards so I asked my
mom whatever happened to those cards and she dad gave them to the twins and I
don’t know where they are. But the real no from my father was not to marry a
German girl. I have to tell you that not only were it a no from my father, but it was
a no from my father in law to Barbara not to marry a Pole. Our first date was very
interesting because from a few days before I went to a pool hall and I was beat up in
a pool hall and my leg was in a cast and part of my head was shaven with stitches
and I had a black eye, and I was a Pole, and her dad had the newspaper up and
never dropped it. After we got married, my father in law and I became very close

But you see, there is negative space as well as there is positive space. When I was a
kid, strapping or getting spanked was not against the law. My father was not
abusive, but that is how you were brought up as a child, so when you stepped out of
line, you had a welt on your butt and that reminded you that you just didn’t do that

I didn’t love my father growing up. I loved being with him. He didn’t go with us to
family picnics or to family gatherings because he was working. He lived in the
Depression. So it meant a lot to him to make sure we had enough to eat and that we
all had enough for a college education. That was his priority and if he had any
spare time, it was work on the yard. So my Aunt Bertha, Aunt Irene and my mom
would take us kids. My Aunt Irene and Uncle Fred couldn’t have kids so they
would take us to the park. So there were a lot of memories that weren’t good
memories. But, as I said earlier, that negative space is what caused me, when we
first got married and had children, to buy a used tent for $100 so we could take
them tent camping. Because I said we are going to have a vacation every year
because I don’t know how to win one selling vacuum cleaners, but we could afford
the state park at $5 a night.

Any other questions?

Gerry, your father was from a different generation and I was wondering if your
father ever told his children that he loved them and whether you said that to your
children and if your children say that to their children. I know in my father’s house
that was never expressed. My father would often say things like I don’t have to say
it because I go to work every day. I look at that and say that’s true. (Gerry
speaking) It was a different era. Emotions weren’t expressed or shown, I mean
when I was in China, to this day, in China, it’s very rare, you only see maybe young
couples showing any kind of affection in public. It’s just not accepted. So it was
part of the world’s culture and in this society which is the freest society in the world
signs of showing emotion and expressing love came to be more commonplace.

Certainly, some nationalities, the Italian men hug, and other Middle Eastern type of
influence, but the words I love you were not expressed, but again, negative space
and positive space. Our son is 30 years and our daughter is 32 and I can’t remember
too many times that I don’t give them a phone call saying I love you, even when our
son’s at work or our daughter is at work. So I’m glad that you brought that up but
I think from your words and your question I think we can all learn from our
memories. Things that put a smile on our face and things that cause us to have a
little bitch of a retch in our gut and to say what can we do in our life to create a
better now and a better future for future generations.

But to me, love is not the peace of the 60’s and the hippies, although I had long hair
and a beard when I taught shop so I was one, but I’m talking about how small the
world is today and how fast you can fly around the world, how quickly you can
email around the world. So when I’ve gone to different countries or spent time with
individuals here in the U.S. from different countries, I’m always impressed about
how genuine and how small the world is and how much opportunity there is for us
to meet individuals from around the world. Just last Saturday I was asked to,
where’s Pat? Pat is adjunct faculty at Niagara University and I met him at a
function at Niagara University and he asked me to come and speak to his
International business class and I offered to take several members pleasure boating

and I showed up at Niagara and asked several of more members so after my
presentation we went to the Niagara River and we had five countries on the boat.
Isabel from Germany, Tom from Canada, a young lady from Korea, two from
Japan, a young man from Hungary and another American and myself. And then
we went to my home and had a camp fire afterward and I extend an invitation to
everyone this evening because that is what we are going to do, and sat around, and
here’s five countries sitting around the campfire and the young lady from Japan
started singing in Japanese.

How much conflict is in the world? How much hatred and death has to occur before
we realize that we are one family. We’re all very lucky to be born. We have all had
wonderful and horrible experiences in our lives. How do we turn those into better
experiences for future lives? Not just here but around the world.


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