June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire.
I’m Carol Robinson. I am the eldest of the five Smith kids, but Pete was close behind – just a year and nine months behind. Whether it was a year and nine months or two years depended on the subject because typically he resented being told he was two years younger.
My memories of life with Pete began at Little River Farm in Freeport, Maine. It was a wonderful place on an inlet of Casco Bay – a point, as it was called, and accessible over a single-lane wooden bridge. Diving from it – when the tide was in, of course, really was great fun. Pete, of course, probably would have had me do it at low tide. I recall that his challenge was to do this race barefoot – on this gravel road. I have noticed that he and I have very wide, big feet. Wonder if that’s why…
Actually, I do recall a funny story about living in Yarmouth, before Freeport, also near the water. I know that we were very young then, because Smith kid Number 3, Suze, hadn’t been born. The story goes that Mom wanted Pete to go up to the garden – in my child’s recollection it seemed like a long way - but might have been just the equivalent of two or three blocks – to get her some green onions. There was a thunderstorm threatening and a reluctant and scared Pete got up there in record time - Mom and Dad often talked about how fast he must have run.
But back to Freeport, Little River Farm held great memories. One questionable memory for me was Pete teasing me with garter snakes – he’d toss them at me and make me scream for help. He also liked to snap a damp tea towel at me when we did dishes. Dishwashers always were the two-legged variety in the Smith house.
It was there that he helped an injured crow and in the process taught that crow to talk – probably more fiction that fact. That was a subject of family delight for a long time. The crow was named Pliny, the family middle name. Pete also knew that the only way to kill a porcupine was to hit it in its tiny head with a 22, and I believe he must have dispatched a porky or two on that farm.
One of the most interesting things about my brother was that drawl. Where did that come from? I can’t recall that he ever had a Maine accent, but then none of us really did. That, I believe we have to attribute to Mom, that Montana girl. That drawl was a characteristic of Pete’s that I think most of us enjoyed.
When our parents left Colorado to go back to the East Coast, I was in college and Pete had just started at what was then Colorado A&M, so we didn’t go back with them, but those three little kids did.
At school in Colorado, Pete met the love of his life Jody Haley. I think Jessica was born after Jody finished college and Pat when Pete graduated, or thereabouts.
One of Pete’s greater lines was regarding our kids – his and mine – when anyone was heard to say that Abbott and Betty had produced a great bunch of kids, he liked to say, “Wa’al them good genes shore skipped a generation.” – because the kids he and I brought into this world have been not only great, but bright and loving kids.
Lastly, I just have to tell you, Pete, you left too soon. I am the eldest – yes, two years or a year and nine months – and I should have gone first. I know that Mom and Dad have welcomed you with open arms. They probably wondered if they were ever going to see any of us, and were surprised it was so soon. I love you, Pete. Yes, you won another race – the biggest one.