Chauffeur for Mr. Lewis

As a young man, only in his teens, Dad applied for a job as a chauffeur for a local machine tool dealer named Mr. Lewis. When he hired him, he told Dad, “Let’s go”. Dad climbed behind the wheel and tried to decipher the confusing levers and pedals that lay before him, never having driven a car in his life. Mt. Lewis quickly realized what was going on and asked Dad, “Earl, have you ever driven a car before.” Of course Dad said, “No sir”. So Mr. Lewis said slide over and I’ll show you how. Dad drove Mr. Lewis to the golf course every morning to play nine holes before work. Eventually he became a mechanic for the company which led to the following.

Lewis Machine was a new and used machinery dealer in Milwaukee. One of the lines he represented was Davenport Machine Tool Company, Inc. from Rochester, New York. One day Mr. Davenport was in town making calls on local customers. In the morning Dad was moving a turret lathe out from the corner of the warehouse by himself to prepare it to show to a potential buyer. At noon, when Mr. Lewis and Mr. Davenport returned, the machine was in the middle of the floor, completely disassembled and cleaned up. That evening when they returned, the machine was assembled and running. Mr. Davenport being duly impressed said to Dad that if he was interested in learning the Davenport machine he should write him.

The invitation from Mr. Davenport was immediately followed by a letter from Dad and his travel to Rochester to study the machine. After a few weeks Dad knew he didn’t know enough about the machine to go back to Milwaukee. After a few months Mr. Davenport sent for Dad, who was working in the assembly.

Dad, being a young guy of nineteen at the time, thought he had done something wrong to be summoned by the owner. When he walked into Mr. Davenports office Mr. Davenport asked him, “Earl, is Mr. Lewis paying you while you are here learning the machine?” Dad said, “No sir.” Then Mr. Davenport said, “Did Mr. Lewis pay your transportation to come to study the machine?” Dad again said, “No sir?” Then Mr. Davenport asked, “Is Mr. Lewis paying your support while you are learning the machine?” Once again Dad replied in the negative. After a short pause Mr. Davenport said, “Well then Earl, would you feel free to accept a position with the company?” Dad immediately replied, Yes Sir!” That started a fifty four year career with Davenport that culminated in his being known as “Mr. Davenport” throughout the world.

Learn more about Mr. Davenport and the history of Davenport Machine in our company timeline.

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