By Lloyd Graff
Don called me yesterday to ask if I still remembered him. I said “sure, you are that fat Polack in Milwaukee with the Davenport shop.” I could say that because even though I haven’t seen Don in a decade, I always loved his good humor and sense of joy about doing business and making money.
“Remember me, I was that skinny kid who walked into your old plant in south Chicago with my Dad and bought my first two Davenports,” he said. I remembered the story even if I could never remember Don as skinny. Don bought a ton of Davenports and Acmes through the years from me, eventually selling that shop. But he couldn’t resist the clickety-clack of screw machines and started up another shop in the Beer City.
Don’s call was a sobering commentary on the times. His primary customer had dumped him for Asia and his foreman was retiring at 71. Sickness had caught up with Don. He had a quadruple bypass two years ago and is now breathing supplemental oxygen 24/7. He also battles to keep his diabetes at bay, among his other woes.
Don is a warrior and there was no “poor me” in his voice. He wanted the straight dope on what his five-year-old Davenports, three Brown & Sharpes and 18 years worth of collets, diehards and thread rollers were worth today. When I told him that an auction was probably a waste of time he took it with the stoicism of a beaten up knight.
My heart goes out to this good guy, especially to his heart, which I hope will ultimately come back, even if the Davenports never do.