RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Time now for StoryCorps. Loved ones are talking with each other for this project in recording booths around the country. E.J. Miller brought his dad, Ed Miller, to StoryCorps in New York City. E.J. wanted to hear more about his grandfather, who lived in Brooklyn, known to the family as Pop.
Mr. ED MILLER: He was a short-order cook at a local restaurant. And I would go on Saturday mornings. My father would open the store up at 6 o'clock. I'd have an apron that was six times too big with me, and I would fill the sugar jars and fill the salt shakers and stuff like that. And in a busy place, he could take orders from the waitress, and 99 percent of the time get the orders right and never lose his cool. You know, I thought it was pretty amazing.
Mr. E.J. MILLER: What kind of a dad was Pop?
Mr. ED MILLER: You know, my mom ruled the roost. You know, she was the disciplinarian. But Pop was the play guy. He'd come down and play stickball with us until he'd throw his back out. Then, you know, his back would heal, and he'd be reaching for a bat, and the whole neighborhood would be running, no, no, no, no, don't let him swing that bat.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. E.J. MILLER: Sounds like somebody I know.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. E.J. MILLER: What do you think you learned from him?
Mr. ED MILLER: Pop would give me advice that at the time, I probably thought was corny. You know, he would say do a good job and work hard, and you'll get noticed, and not necessarily to get noticed, but because it was the right thing to do. And the most important thing I learned from Pop was to be gentle, not a gentleman, just gentle, you know?
Mr. E.J. MILLER: I think that's - I mean, that's something I've gotten from you, too. How did it feel when you found out you're going to be a father?
Mr. ED MILLER: You know, knowing that you're going to become a father is not as big a deal as actually becoming a father. If I had advice for people now who are young having babies - is try to remember every single minute of that time, you know, when your son or your daughter thinks that Daddy is the greatest thing in the world. When you walk in the door, you know, the sun is shining because Daddy walks in. We go to the mall nowadays, me and Mom, I see dads walking with their sons or daughters, holding their hands, and I tell you, my heart aches for the days when I used to do that. It's heart-aching, sometimes. You know, I don't know how I got so lucky. I did a lot of good things in my life. I did a lot of things that - not so good. And I'm blessed with a woman that I'm still in love with, and you three guys.
Mr. E.J. MILLER: There's no doubt about it. You are my hero. You're what I think of as a good man. You know, I thank you and Mom for just being such great examples.
Mr. ED MILLER: That's pretty cool, J.
Mr. E.J. MILLER: I love you.
Mr. ED MILLER: I love you, too, man.
(Soundbite of music)
MONTAGNE: Ed Miller with his son E.J. at StoryCorps in New York City. Their story, and all the others, are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Hear some of them at npr.org.