Fred Sam Smith

Oct. 30, 1917 our dash Nov. 27, 2012. (95)


Fred and I had something in common although I never could quite my finger on it. I know your first thought was it was that we had the same first name. But, you wouldn't be right if that's what you thought, because we didn't have the same first name. You see, Fred was actually Fred the First and I was Fred the Second. That's what we called each other. Now here's the first thing I want to tell you about Fred. He was as they say, 'generous to a fault.' This was evident by the fact that whenever we met, after greeting each other by our titles, he would always offer me the title of Fred the First and he would take Fred the Second. He meant it. I of course would always decline, but he wanted to make sure that I still felt comfortable being second fiddle. This example of his generosity was only one of many. There are many events in his life that gave him the opportunity to be a millionaire if he hadn't been so generous.

What we did have in common was a love of the story. We both loved to talk but also listen. After a few trials and errors I think we found a good balance in our repertoire. Fred of course had a lengthy lifetime of stories and was able to tell them with an unequivocal accuracy, no matter how many times they were repeated. I shall tell a few them when I revisit this page in the future.

Fred was a bit of a philosopher. One of the characteristics of a philosopher is a sense of curiosity and wonderment about the world around you. After learning about something new, Fred would express himself with an, 'OH MY.' He was always open minded about discussing a huge range of topics and never adversely judging your viewpoint.

Fred worked with me when I was installing the electrical and plumbing on my newly framed cottage on Long Lake. I quickly learned his method of staying in control of the job was to speak out loud of what he doing each minute. At first this seemed quite amusing as though he was talking to him self. But after I thought about it he was simply listening to his narrator and affirming what he was doing made sense. If you are not familiar with the concept of a narrator watch the play The Narrator, by Canada's famous playwright Norm Foster. The Minister who conducted the service at Fred's funeral, Reverend Barbara Mahood, said that Fred told her that he talked to himself because it was the only way he could get a sensible answer. Well Fred, I going to tell you that I still use your method of dialogue to this day. I do it very quietly, but the purpose is the same. Having a chat with yourself of why, how, what, when and where you are doing something and questioning yourself is a good way of staying out of trouble. Did it work on the jobs we did at my cottage? You bet, to this day I have never had a problem with the wiring or the plumbing.

Fred's caring about his family and their welfare was a dominant driver throughout his life. When he was running his farm the price of cream dropped a dollar. a pound. This was in the late thirties when market forces in farming radically changed. The impact on Fred's livelihood as a dairy farmer was devastating. To his last days in any discussion, Fred would always recall that fateful day. One can only image the shock and the challenge that presented itself to a young newly married couple with small children. Fred rose to the challenge. He learned new skills, bought and sold property, including the land that to this day my home sits on. He bought a home with an attached store on the intersection of Babcock Road and Long lake Road which his wife Joyce ran for many years. Joyce still resides in the retirement home (Arbour Heights) that she and Fred spent their last two years together. They were married for 72 years.

Fred had a remarkable memory. I would often sing with him in his later years at Arbor Heights. One of his favorite songs was "The Strawberry Roan." Fred knew the words to this very lengthy song and corrected me on any deviation. His memory for people and names in the local townships was legendary. I shall write more about this when time permits.

So to sum up for now. Fred was a man of values, courage and humor. He touched anyone who came into his life-in a positive way. I am blessed to have been one of them.

So as I say my final farewell to Fred, despite the fact that he has gone on to greater things, to keep his memory alive I will humbly and gratefully be Fred the Second and he will always be Fred the First.

I have had a few close calls in my life. So had Fred. His FINAL act of generosity was being Fred, the First.