Ordinary America, Portrait 1
When I was a growing boy I played ice hockey, many years for the entire year.
When I wanted an expert sharpening job on my skates my mom would take me to Neal’s.
Neal operates a full-service skate shop out of his basement. He was 89 last year so I’m guessing he’s 90 now, unless he was born sometime later in the year. His wife, bless her soul, answered the phone and booked appointments and sat up with him all night in the basement shop–she was a cheerful, attentive woman and a laugh riot.
Neal is a retired Pennsylvania Turnpike engineer. He originated the habit of locating rumble strips at the shoulder of highways. That’s a clever innovation that saved many lives. I should know–I was once on a youth hockey team bus that hit the rumble strip before the coach noticed the driver had passed out.
Neal will never be as known as Steve Jobs but I’ll always be more impressed with him.