Gina McKnight, Monday Creek Publishing Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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Monday, February 25, 2019
Milliron Monday: Dick Sheets 2 25 19
Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M. June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
When I first met Dick Sheets it was at Milliron Clinic. It was March 14, 2013, a Thursday. Jody and I met Dick in the late afternoon. The clinic was empty and we had the entire reception area for memories. Dick was excited to be interviewed about his time with Dr. Smith and working at Milliron Clinic. We talked for hours - about Milliron, Pete, and life in general.
Dick Sheets was a Milliron Clinic employee for over twelve years. The work was hard; building fences, repairing fences, baling hay, cleaning stalls, metal work, reparing machinery, and more. It was Dick who was there since the beginning - part of the clinic construction crew, he maintained the barns, farmhouse, and the sawmill. Here is an excerpt from Dick's interview...
“Used to be when they had a horse that they had to put on the table, I’d be the extra help,” Dick says, pointing out the window. “I’ve dragged them up the hill a time or two. I didn’t mind it. It was part of the job; took them and dropped them in a hole way back on the ridge. I remember building all the fences and wooden gates around. I sawed every board. Sawed them at Pete’s sawmill. We started with just a real little sawmill and a shed. Pete said the sawmill was always his dream. That’s why he was a very successful man. Not very many can have their dreams like that. He worked for it; he earned it. But, Jody would take the checkbook away from him. When he’d go to the auction, boy he’d like to buy things. Actually, I wasn’t around him a whole lot. I’d be working on Pete’s other houses. I wouldn’t even see him. I built Pat and Karen’s house. It’s about two miles from the clinic by horseback, and four miles if you drive. Russ Smith helped on it - Russ, Jerry Leedy, Craig Higgins, and Jeff Davis. They were all working for Pete at the time. I liked working for Pete. He would tell me what he needed done and I wouldn’t see him for a few days. He always had me doing something different.
“I was thinking about that time he broke his ankle,” Dick continues. “Pete had assigned me and Russ Smith to build a fence. We were working on the fence when he came down the creek bank to check on our progress. He was drinking a Pepsi, stepped on a rock, and went down! He twisted his ankle and didn’t spill a drop of Pepsi! ‘Oh, hell!’ He had a few choice words. We had to carry him over to get his truck. Someone took Pete to the emergency room. His bone was sticking out. They sent him up to Columbus. They gave him some kind of pain killer at the emergency room that he was allergic to. He was tough, because when he got back, it wasn’t very long until he hobbled down to the clinic on crutches. He was laid up awhile,” Dick says. “It was a bad break, but he came down to work every day. They reset his ankle and put a plate in it. Later, they removed the plate.
“One thing I remember about Pete; he was a hard worker himself,” Dick says. “He wouldn’t ask me or anybody else to do anything that he wouldn’t do. He’d get right down in the mud just the same as us. I worked on all the barns, the house he lived in, and all that. I always found work here. I know I’d still be working if I was able. I’ve worked all my life. Pete had big dreams and he made them work. Behind the clinic garage, there wasn’t anything just some piles of dirt and lumber. When we started I never dreamed it would turn out like that. He knew what he wanted. I remember we were working on an old abandoned highway bridge in New Marshfield. The bridge went over the top of the railroad track. It was wintertime. It was cold. The engineers told Pete he could have the old timbers from the bridge. That’s what we used to build the sawmill. We tore down the bridge to get the lumber. I was afraid he was going to get killed when we were tearing down the bridge. He was on the skidder and one of those steel beams came at him. Pete thought the skidder would hold it when we cut the leg off the beam. It didn’t. When Russ cut the steel beam, it jerked the skidder back. Pete was wise enough to turn the cable so the beam fell loose. The beam fell into the ravine. I told him that if that had been any of the other guys, they’d been dead. Pete said his instinct kicked in. Didn’t seem to shake him up. He just knew."
Last Friday, February 22, 2019, we remembered the family of Dr. Smith. It was on February 22, 2010 that Dr. Smith left to his Heaven home. Garrison Keillor said it best, "When a loved one dies, memories fade, there being one less person to remember it, and you are left disinherited, unarmed, semi-literate, an exile. It's like losing your computer and there's no backup."
When I mention to hard working people, like Dick, to take it easy and rest, the response is usually I'll rest when I die. Rest? No, I'm sure that he and Pete will find something to do.
Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.