This morning I woke rather late and rolled over to scan mail on my bedroom’s laptop computer. There was the message from Mother than another member, designated by Tom Brokaw as The Greatest Generation, had passed on. For myself, it was another member of my “great” generation – siblings or their spouses of my grandparents’ generation.

Normally I wait until after 9:00am to do any work outside that provides loud noise; however, this morning, characteristic of my need to work when I hear of a death in the family, I lit a candle, popped in my pipe and was blowing leaves by 8:15am.

One of my earliest recollections of Uncle Dewey was of the man behind the counter at the post office who knew my name. Now, the ladies behind counters at Leesons, Penneys, Johnsons and Rhodes knew my name – even Mr. Zirbee knew my name – but this man had a uniform and looked official, important.

One day Mother allowed me to take the mail in all by myself. I must have been around age five or six, and this was a huge responsibility. At that age, walking up big marble or stone stairs – such as the post office, library, or city building – was exciting for me. Once inside the echoing chamber, with the one wall filled with little bronze doors, I turned to my left and walked to the tall counters.

“Hello, Mr. Jolliff. And how may I help you today?”

The tall gentleman leaned on the counter looking down at me, smiling. Of course, this was my great-uncle, but at that age, he was someone really important who recognized me and made me feel important.

And through the years, each time I would see Uncle Dewey he never stopped making me feel important, for there was always a kind word, questions about my life, and always humor.

The past several years, I have enjoyed reading Uncle Dewey’s posts on Panther Den and Willkie’s Pride. His crisp memory of his youth in Monon, and his vast knowledge of family and Elwood history from the 1940’s to current day were always appreciated, and looked for.

To my cousins – Judy Smith-Hallett, Jan Smith-Kleyla, Dewey Smith and Kevin Smith and all their family – know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Good bye, Uncle Dewey. Thank you for making a little boy feel so important that nearly forty years later the memory is still with him.

And give Aunt Evelyn and others a hug from me as you join them on this new and exciting camping trip.


By the Campfire

Author: Unknown


We sat around the campfire
On a chilly night
Telling spooky stories
In the pale moonlight
Then we added some more logs,
To make the fire bright,
And sang some favorite camp songs
Together with all our might.
And when the fire flickered
and embers began to form.
We snuggled in our sleeping bags
all cozy, tired, and warm.



Dewey Smith married my maternal grandfather’s sister.