The theme of a lifetime, “How that work?” were also my father’s first words. It was not apocryphal. It really happened. Years ago, his father (my grandfather, Dr. Louis P. Reitz) told us the story where Dad walked up to some motor device, perhaps a tractor and Dad pointed at it and uttered these now famous words, “How that work?!”
Now, after a lifetime of work repairing/improving engines and anything else with moving parts, he commanded these parts to function optimally. “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed,” said Francis Bacon. And as Dad commanded, nature obeyed, and engines obeyed, and air conditioners obeyed, and electricity obeyed, and boats obeyed, and Mopar cars obeyed, and the race track obeyed. Hell, anything with moving parts obeyed… period. (Ok, so perhaps plumbing eluded him somewhat… but he would be the first to admit it.) Even the rockfish obeyed by jumping up on dad’s lures to be caught and to be filleted and eaten later that day. I think I heard the rockfish in the Bay rejoice overnight!
I received one half of my brain from my dad and one half from my mother… definitely an even 50/50 split. On the one hand, I want to know how everything works (“How that work?” is my mental refrain several times per day at work.) in computer systems, and on the other hand, I want to meet everyone and make sure everyone is having a good time at work. Logical/social would be how my mind works. Thanks Dad! And thanks Mom!
So, just like in Atlas Shrugged with its famous question: “Who is John Galt?” The engines of the world will now sputter and fail as my father is no longer here to repair them, to coax them back into optimal health and to keep them running smoothly. In Atlas Shrugged, the movers and shakers vanished. They left the world, not wanting to improve it, to fix it, to heal it…. But Dad has left this world, with the answers to mechanical problems taken with him. But he wanted to fix things. He wanted to repair things. He had hope for the world that he understood and mastered…. The world of engines. He became a member of the East Coast Drag Racing Hall of Fame a few years back. I think it was his crowning achievement.
Whenever we asked him about his old racing days, Dad would light up and with an amazing detailed memory where he would recall events that had happened 50 to 60 years ago. He once told me that the first time he heard a hotrod roar up a street in Kansas circa 1948, he knew that he found “IT”. Dad was about 10 but he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. A motor’s purr was what enthralled him.
Over the years, we tried to pull information out of him on mechanics, but it was just too much. Impossible to share. My brothers and I (or maybe it is just me haha) didn’t have the capacity that he had to hold all of this information in his brain that he wielded with absolute ease to conquer and slay these crotchety and cranky misanthropic mechanical machines.
Old engines can rejoice because they know that they can now rust and decay in peace without this mechanical wizard coming along and messing up all of their joyful entropy.
Rest in Peace Pop!
(written by Thomas Reitz, Dave’s youngest son)