Jul 14, 2022 - Economy

A different way to think about wisdom

The Worcester brothers — David (left) and Jeff. Photos: Julie Zagorianakos

I have spent years trying to teach my kids that true wisdom and smarts comes in many forms.

  • One form is two barrel-bellied, cheap-beer-swilling, gray-bearded, f-word hurling, meat-eating, big-hearted, proud, rural Mainers. They died within 3 days of each other this month.

Why it matters: Jeff and David Worcester, the "Worcester brothers," taught me — and my kids, family and friends — about old cars and exotic motors, Maine lore, remote fishing lakes and hidden four-wheel trails to nowhere.

  • They were gentle giants — and geniuses, in their unique ways.

Jeff and David were my wife's cousins. But, over the last two decades, they became my family too. I would just sit and soak up their earthy smarts over beers in what David proudly called "asshole's garage" or on Jeff's fishing boat in remote ponds.

  • Both died too young, in their 60s. Maine lost a big chunk of its soul.

The burly Worcester brothers left behind some awesome wisdom and values I hope live on with my kids — and resonate with many of you.

1) Camouflaged smarts. David was a redneck fashionista; the cruder, more obnoxious the T-shirt, the better. Think f-words and middle fingers. Get him talking about rare cars, broken motors or physics, and he was off-the-charts smart — an unalloyed nerd.

  • Jeff had a de facto master's degree in Maine, an encyclopedic knowledge of every lake, every animal or fish species, every hidden trail through forgotten forests. He was a four-season outdoor wonder. It was mesmerizing.

2) No B.S. They were never condescending. I am a dope when it comes to mechanics and was new to Maine's countless lakes, filled with landlocked salmon, togue and splake.

  • They'd patiently share their knowledge and never made anyone feel stupid or small for naïveté.

3) No pretense. David smoked like a chimney and drank Natural Light like water. Jeff scoffed at anything that didn't say Milwaukee's Best, maybe the worst-tasting beer known to man. Their diet seemed to consist of miscellaneous meats. But they were content.

4) Generosity. Nothing brought me more joy than bringing family and friends to Maine to fish with Jeff. He would pack the food, grab the bait, and spend hours with any city slicker wanting to wet a line.

  • I can think of a dozen friends who speak of him like a mythical Sherpa, a fishing and trail guide from the heavens. He opened their eyes to the outdoor magic of Maine. He is a big reason for my Maine obsession.
  • At every family gathering, they worked the grill, pulled the tubers, played with the kids. David would steal away the kids to let them drive in — or illegally drive — his latest antique car.

5) Show up. That's not a bad legacy for any of us: taking enough interest in enough people to leave an unforgettable and irreplaceable mark. They showed up, they shared and they cared. They left a big damn mark.

The bottom line: There is so much wisdom outside the big cities, college campuses and white-collar workforce — seek it and soak it up. It's precious stuff, folks. RIP, Worcester brothers.

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