While located off the coast of England, Uncle Ed’s ship was attacked and sunk by the Germans. Uncle Ed bobbed up and down in the Atlantic Ocean for days. He saw some of his good buddies, also hanging onto life by a thread, die right in front of his eyes. Uncle Ed was in a state of near starvation when he was saved by a British ship.
Around the year 2000, my dad and I worked on putting together a scrap book of Uncle Ed’s amazing tour of duty, during World War II. One morning we sat at our kitchen table and Uncle Ed talked about the horrors of war. Normally, Uncle Ed was the kind of man who liked to kid around. That morning, as he talked to Dad and I, he became incredibly serious, a sadness filled his eyes as he spoke about the horrible nightmare of seeing his fellow sailors die in front of his eyes. He spoke of that terrible helpless feeling he felt, in hearing his fellow sailors yell for help.
For many, many years Uncle Ed was an active member of American Legion Post 279 in Lincoln Park. I remember how he would ask Dad and I to go to K-Mart with him on a Saturday morning. There, he would buy about a few dozen packs of white socks, some shirts, and then some belts to bring to the men and women who were almost forgotten about, living in the veterans’ home.
Funny how you remember things. I remember one time, he filled up his shopping cart with all of these packages of white socks and handkerchiefs. My dad jokingly asked Uncle Ed, “Edward, what are you going to do with all these socks and hankies?”
He looked at Dad and I and just said, “the guys at the vets’ home tell me they need socks. Someone’s gotta get them to the guys.” And that was that.
My Uncle Ed was my next door neighbor for over 15 years, before he and his wife, Joy, moved out to Nevada. He was a good man. He had a good heart.
Oh, there were times, when I would do something dumb when I was a kid and he wouldn’t hesitate to scold me. One time I rode my bike way too fast down Mabey Lane and went head over on the handlebars and crashed onto the road. After I was all bandaged up, I’ll never forget that Uncle Ed said to me, “you do something stupid like that again and I’ll kick your butt all the way to Towaco!” Towaco was the neighboring town to Lincoln Park.
My mom and dad, and my Uncle Ed and Aunt Joy, took over a dozen cross-country trips after they had retired. My Uncle Ed was very camera shy. My dad was quite a camera buff and loved to take pictures. Still, he found it very difficult to get a picture of Uncle Ed.
I still remember my dad showing this picture, which was taken out west, to Uncle Ed at our kitchen table. “I gotcha on that one, Edward,” I remember Dad saying. Uncle Ed sipped his tea and simply said, “I hid from ya’ long enough that day brother, I thought for sure ya’ had put that old camera of yours away.”
Uncle Ed was one of the most patriotic men I have even known. He was a good man and I miss him dearly.