Thoughts on small kindnesses

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More than 50 years ago, we collaborated with a few other teenagers to build a three-point suspension hydroplane out of nothing but plywood, plans, an empty garage, and a warm Rome summer.

Someone unearthed an old 40 HP Mercury outboard engine that had the unfortunate problem of being broken down into some 500 pieces stored in an oily box.

There was no reason for Frank DiBerardino of Rome Marine to allow ignorant, energetic youngsters to rebuild an engine in his marine shop. But he did, clearing enough scarce workbench space for us. Hour upon hour was spent replacing nee dle bearings between pistons and camshafts.

In the end the motor didn’t fire up. That’s when Frank, despite his busy summertime workload, diagnosed our rebuild to determine we hadn’t shimmed the exhaust valves correctly. He fixed it for us. No charge.

The fastest boat on Lake Delta at the time by far— 52 miles an hour over water — would not have happened but for the kindness of one man who made time for some adventurous teens with a vision and no good sense.

Frank is what growing up in Rome is all about — people who care for friends, neighbors, and patrons.

Rome offers many role models. One is Frank whose obituary this week relates he was a kind and patient man. Yes, indeed.

We are proud to have known him, and grateful he helped shape our character.

—S.B.Waters

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