Friday, February 15, 2013

Fridays With Frank: Feeding the Pigeons

After my grandmother died in 1959, my parents turned their garage into an apartment for my granddad.  He had his own private entrance, a small porch, and big windows that overlooked the yard and the mountains.  He lived here until he passed away in 1962.  A dear friend and former neighbor in my hometown of Middlesboro, Kentucky, inspired today's post with the following message she sent me on Facebook a few days ago:

"Beth, when your grandfather lived down the street from me he had bird feeders in his yard beside his apartment.  I watched him many times put out seed for his beautiful friends.  He was a sweetie."

Frank Lewis Lee feeding the pigeons
Fountain Square, Middlesboro, KY, 1955
While I didn't know about Granddad's bird feeding habits at our house, I do know the story of how he used to feed the pigeons in the middle of downtown Middlesboro.  After he opened Lee's Drug Store on Fountain Square in 1910, Granddad's practice was to arrive at the store by 4:30 AM so he could meet the men delivering the daily newspapers from around the state and the region.  He wanted to have the newspapers organized and ready for sale at the drug store when the rest of the town awoke and started the day.

As he waited for the various newspaper deliveries, my grandfather performed another daily task--feeding the pigeons.  Granddad kept bird seed in the drug store, and every morning he would scatter seed on the downtown sidewalk in front of Lee's.
Frank Lewis Lee in front of Lee's Drug Store
Middlesboro, KY, 1955
The pigeons, you see, would roost on the ledges and in the nooks and crannies of the old buildings in downtown Middlesboro.  Perhaps they found this such an inviting spot because of the dear man who fed them breakfast every morning as the sun rose over the mountains.

Frank Lewis Lee and his pigeons
Middlesboro, KY, 1955
I'm sure that everyone in town did not find Granddad's feeding of the pigeons as sweet and charming as I, a fellow bird lover, do. They can certainly be a nuisance and cause lots of problems, especially in a public area.  At some point during my childhood, the pigeons began to disappear from downtown Middlesboro.  I recall hearing from my parents that city officials took steps to control and reduce the pigeon population downtown.  And that's exactly what they should have done.  Nevertheless, I'm so glad to have had such a kind and gentle man for a grandfather.  I also was blessed to grow up in a small town full of equally kind people who tolerated this sort of eccentric hobby of one of their own.

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