A great photo of my good friend, Big Ed. He most recently went Home to be with the Lord.
My Tribute to My Good Friend, Big Ed
By Richard Mabey Jr.
This past Tuesday night, the fifteenth of November, my Aunt Alice called me to tell me that “Big Ed” had passed away. It hit me like an 18-wheeler crashing into a brick wall. After I talked to Aunt Alice, I cried my eyes out.
Ed was of the World War II generation. He was a very kind man. Ed worked on my Aunt Alice and Uncle Pete’s farm, the famous Knothe Farm of Randolph, New Jersey. Ed had worked on the farm for well over 20 years. Plain and simple, he was like family.
Another great photo of Ed on his iconic lawnmower tractor that he loved to drive around at Knothe Farms.
Ed was just about the coolest chap you’d ever want to know. He had such a great sense of humor. He had this little lawnmower tractor and he simply loved to ride it around the 85 acres of the historic Knothe Farms. The Knothe Farm is divided by Millbrook Avenue. The land to the north of Millbrook Avenue, is affectionately known as “The North Forty.” And, you guessed it, the land to the south of Millbrook Avenue is known as “The South Forty.”
Every so often, Ed would say to my cousin Peter, “hey Pete, maybe I’ll take a ride across Millbrook and check out the North Forty.” My cousin Peter would chuckle and say to Ed, “yea, Ed, that’s a good idea. Why don’t ya’ check out the North Forty.” Then Ed would reply to Peter, “Okay, Pete, I’m gonna check on the North Forty.” And, then my cousin Peter would say to Ed, “yea, Ed, why don’t ya’ do that. That’s a good idea. Take a ride on your tractor and check out the North Forty.” And, away Ed would ride on his little tractor.
A great photo of Ed. This time holding his hands up in the air, stating his famous expression, “whatcha gonna do?”
Big Ed, as he was affectionately known as, had a great sense of humor. His most famous expression was “whatcha gonna do?” As Ed would ask this question, in a most comical tone, he would raise his arms in the air. I am ever so grateful that I caught Ed on camera in one of his “watcha gonna do?” moments. Ed had stopped to talk to me, while he was riding on his iconic lawnmower tractor, when I took this picture. Ed was such a great guy.
One of the grave covers that dear old Big Ed made for my Dad’s grave.
Big Ed had a most wonderful talent for making wreaths and grave covers. He was a master at it. He had this fantastic artistic talent to take a piece of Styrofoam, some pine branches, some ribbon and some Christmas decorations and create a wonderful masterpiece. I had the honor to watch Big Ed make quite a few grave covers and wreaths over the years. He worked fast and had this great focus as he created a decorated wreath or grave cover.
Every year, Big Ed would make a grave cover for my Dad. There are no words to express how much that meant to me. Ed and Dad were good friends. They got along famously. They loved to kid with one another and joke around. I am sure that Dad is one of the angels who is welcomed Big Ed into Heaven.
A photo of the very work gloves that I used to work with Big Ed in cutting and splitting wood.
Big Ed was a hard working man. It was just a few weeks ago that I was at the Knothe Farm and spent some time cutting and splitting wooden logs with my cousin Peter and Big Ed. The three of us had such great camaraderie, when we cut the logs and put them through the wood splitter.
I had brought some garden gloves with me, from Florida. I remember it was just about a month ago, when Big Ed saw my garden gloves he laughed. I remember him saying to me “kid, them garden gloves’ll never do ya’!” Then Big Ed turned to my cousin Peter and said, “hey Pete, wouldja get the kid a pair of good work gloves. I think there’s an extra pair in the truck.”
Well, my good cousin, Peter, went to his pickup truck and got that extra pair of work gloves and handed them to me. I remember Big Ed smiling and saying to me, “there ya’ go kid. That’s the kind of gloves ya’ need to cut wood.” In memory, I hold those gloves and cherish the good times I remember with Big Ed.
The greenhouses and produce stand of the historic Knothe Farm, where Big Ed worked and talked to the customers. Simply put, the customers loved Big Ed.
Big Ed was bigger than life. He had the most contagious laugh. When Big Ed laughed, everybody laughed. He had such great wisdom. He had such a wonderful insight into people. He was a hard working man. The next time I travel up to Randolph, New Jersey and visit the Knothe Farm, I’m going to miss Big Ed so very much.
I’m going to miss seeing Big Ed ride around the farm on his lawnmower tractor. I’m going to miss seeing him holding up his hands, with a great big smile, and saying “watcha gonna do?” But most of all, I’m going to miss watching Big Ed make a grave cover for my Dad. I’ve got to learn how to make grave covers now. One for Dad and one for Big Ed. So, from the whole gang at Knothe Farms, Big Ed we love you and miss you very much.