Every morning at 7:05 a well kept red Toyota pulls into Jake’s parking lot - you can set your watch to the arrival. The front door lock turns, a light switch is flipped and another good day begins.
Lyle Fournier was born in Massena NY in 1934 to a hard working father and a stay at home mother. Large families were typical and the Fourniers were no exception; fancy cars and vacations were not part of Lyle’s childhood but ball games in the yard and pies made from scratch were matter of fact.
Hard work was not just expected; it was the only way to survive when high school ended and grown up life began. Lyle worked odd construction jobs, hauled thousands of yards of concrete on the St. Lawrence Seaway project and ended up in the pot rooms at Reynold’s Metal. Even though the work was hard – and hot - life was very good. Lyle fell in love with Patty and a family began to grow, adding life to the little house on Orchard Street, the first big purchase for the young couple.
A friendship was struck with a budding entrepreneur and Lyle caught the bug – a partnership was formed and the two purchased Malone Bowl, leaving the comfort of Orchard Street and heading to Malone to see if they could make it on their own, and they did. Four children who make him feel complete rounded out a busy life but as retirement years approached and life in “the alleys” became more than Lyle had to give, a move to Potsdam placed him close to family and Jake’s became a great way to add routine to a simpler life.
Lyle has been shining up Jake’s each morning since the day we opened and he hadn’t missed a day until just a few weeks ago. I get to share a part of each day with Lyle as I rush in to “set the drawers” and see what fires will be burning when I return later that day. For a long time all I noticed was the old school country music playing a little louder than I preferred, or the dreaded FOX News broadcasts screaming about who was right and who was wrong from the televisions. I rushed in, made a polite hello, got my tasks done and went on my way. And then I grew up a little bit and starting paying attention. I listed to stories, I asked questions, I observed and I took advantage of what was sitting in front of me each day.
Each day I get to share a moment with a man who sees the good in all that each day offers; a very simple view of a very complex world is sincere and contagious. I was in a bit of a hurry after returning from a trip away this week but paused to enjoy Lyle’s pride in his victory in a local football pool. I envy his joy in a simple life, his pride in his work, his infectious view on all things good.
I am lucky to have time with him each day. Even luckier that he survived a heart attack a few weeks ago – even luckier that he gave me his only daughter’s hand in marriage 25 years ago.
Good things happen at Jake’s – at 7:05 each morning.