My dad celebrates a milestone surrounded by family
Ed Newvine turns 85 in November.
He’s my dad.
He’s been a loyal son, fair-minded brother, loving husband, proud father, devoted grandfather, and revered great-grandfather.
He was born in 1933 at home in northern New York State. He was the third of what would become four children of Art and Vera Newvine.
He lived on the family farm (which is still in the family, operated by my aunt Betty’s family), went to Port Leyden Central School, and built a life together with my mom Beatrice.
He’s remained in his native Lewis County New York all his life.
As a little boy before entering kindergarten, he had a round face and a little extra fat around his waist. Someone referred to him as “short and stubby”.
The name Stubby stuck.
He quit high school in his junior year because he was needed to help on the family farm.
He married Beatrice when he was twenty. Dad did not want to stay on the family farm any longer than he needed to. He left the farm the day he got married.
Over the years, he did factory work, road construction, and eventually became a union carpenter.
Bea and Stub raised three children: Terry, Steve, and Becky.
Along with my grandfather Art and my uncle Jim, Dad worked on construction projects primarily in the Utica and Rome area of upstate New York.
Occasionally, work would take him as far away as Oswego (seventy miles) to the west and Albany (one-hundred, twenty miles) to the south of our hometown.
One summer in the early 1970s, the three Newvine carpenters worked on the Empire State Plaza project at the state capitol in Albany.
The trio rented a mobile home near the job site and would spend work nights there and come back to Port Leyden on weekends.
Empire State Plaza was the largest state office building complex at the time of its controversial construction.
Then Governor Nelson Rockefeller wanted to leave a legacy.
The two-billion dollar project, kept a lot of union workers busy.
I’ve written about my dad over the years in my books and in the Our Community Story column.
What follows are some random memories: How scared I was in fifth grade after accidentally breaking a full length mirror in our living room.
He was coming home from work and I was sure I was going to be punished. Instead, he hugged me and told me everything was going to be all right.
The advice he gave me on the phone the night a tire came off a car I was driving. It was snowing, and, the tire just flew off.
I walked to a nearby house and I called Dad. He said, “If you need me to come, I will. But try to find the tire, and then take one lug nut off each of the remaining three wheels and put the tire on with those three lug nuts.”
I found the tire, put it back on, and was on my way. More than anything, he was really saying, “stay calm, and everything will be okay.” How much he likes to laugh. He repeats jokes or funny stories others have told him.
If he really likes the joke, he will repeat the punchline.
My favorite Dad retelling of a funny story is about a deer hunter who shot a doe.
Shooting does was against the law without a special permit, which this guy did not have.
"The hunter went to a bar to brag to his friends. A man at the end of the bar listened as the story of the doe unfolded, and then approached the hunter. Man: Do you know me? Hunter: No. Man: I’m the game warden. Hunter (pauses, looks up at the game warden): Do you know me? Man: No. Hunter: Well, I’m the biggest damned liar in Lewis County."
How good of a friend he has been.
There are many men in and around my hometown who would call him a good friend.
There’s Bill who attends daily Mass along with Dad and stops in for coffee afterwards. Larry is another friend who stops by for coffee on a regular basis.
And there was Fred, a neighbor who Dad would take to the VA hospital in Syracuse in the years leading up to Fred’s passing.
There are others, but I’m not around all the time to see them.
How he will perform an act of kindness just because that’s what he does. Whether it is helping out around his church, tending to a neighbor’s problem in their yard, or taking action when he sees someone in need, he does it because that’s what people do.
How he would never miss Sunday Mass or a Holy Day of Obligation.
How he always thanks me for calling, something I try to do every other week.
We tried it every week, but not a whole lot changes from one week to the next. The calls got better when I got into the every-other-week routine.
When I saw him cry for the first time. It was at the graveside of his brother Bill who died in a car crash at the age of twenty-five, just six months after returning from Vietnam.
How he’s renewed my subscription to a weekly newspaper from home ever since I left in 1979.
What a good relative he is, especially in how he treated his elders. Most of them are gone now: Grandma and Grandpa Newvine, Mary and Dennis, Vaughn and Francis, Charlie and Rose, Peachy and Joe, Myrtle, Kenny, and Grandma Snyder.
But they had a reliable son, nephew, brother-in-law, and son-in-law with Dad.
The same can be said for those who are still with us such as his brother Jim and sister Betty.
How I’ll never forget the night in 2000 when I saw him kneeling at my dying mom’s bedside and saying his prayers next to her ear so that she could hear them.
Mom passed away that night, and I’m sure his loving prayers were the last words she heard on this earth.
So I raise a bottle of Genesee Beer and celebrate with an old-fashion donut with peanut butter (a family tradition) to wish my day a happy birthday.
Stub at 85 is not a whole lot different than Stub at just about any other age.
He’s a good man and I’m proud to be his son.