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A Man Named Ed

Posted by djingodjango on Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tom Brokaw wrote books and talked about him. He didn't mention Ed's name, exactly, but he was part of that “Greatest Generation”. Your parents and grandparents probably lived through similar times.

And what a story, although if you were to ask them they would say it was nothing spectacular. Just doing what they had to do to get along every day.

He was ninety-one years old when he died last Monday.

Ed was born in a farmhouse in Western New York. He never got a chance to see his father who had passed away a few months earlier from pneumonia. A massive summer storm took out the barn before that. His mother died when he was a senior in high-school. But this was a time when you did what you had to do. No pity for him.

As he grew, Ed pitched in and did chores, feeding the live stock. Raking, tedding and mowing the hay

His older brother Carl quit school in the eighth grade to run the farm with a hired hand and his older sister Lucille. His aunts and uncles stepped in and took care of raising 5 children. There was a sixth who died many years before at childbirth. Back then the chances of a child reaching 6 was not very high. Besides the risk at birth, there was lots of stuff floating around in the air - like polio, measles, chickenpox, scarlet fever, mumps. And your chance of contracting something was pretty high.

And then there was the Depression which made life even a bit more difficult..

Christmas was a time of joy, however. A time of hope, and the kids always got something. And they were content, although the presents didn't bulge out from under the tree like some do nowadays.

The town property tax came due, and there was no money to pay. And the stock market took a tumble. But Ed's family figured out a way to pay. The school house he and all the other children attended was heated by wood. So he and the rest of the kids chopped and stacked cord after cord and delivered it every year to warm that little school until they all graduated.

In 1941, a war swept across the world and took so many young men with it, including Ed.


He joined the Army along with his brothers and found himself in France, stringing phone line and setting up com links for the Communication Corp. And he did what had to be done.

When he got out he took out a GI loan and built a house in Collins, where he lived almost until the end. He fell in love with a pretty gal named Mary and they started a family.

The service gave him a career and he found himself climbing poles and stringing line for New York Bell Telephone. The years sped by.

Ed and Mary added to the home as they added to their family. Four boys and a girl (who is now my wife). One of the boys was born with Down syndrome. But there was no complaints, and Kevin lived with them till just a few years ago. He is now in a wonderful group home and doing well.

Mary and he found a way to help all their kids through college and when I met and fell in love with Rose back in New Hampshire where I lived, we made sure the ceremony was held near her family.

They were celebrants at St. Josephs RC Church in neighboring Gowanda. Their kids were educated in a Catholic school and Ed volunteered for many church ministry’s including St. Vincent DePaul and Knights of Columbus.

After ten years of marriage, Rose and I noticed a change in grandma. When she moved it was with a great deal of effort and difficulty.

I found that she had MS, a disease that had wasted her sister and that took a toll on her.

But Ed was there, getting things she needed, helping her in an out of a wheel chair and always with a stoic sense of duty and a smile' He drove well into his 80's even maybe when he shouldn't have. And it was with a sense of duty that he would take grandma to see Kevin or make a quick trip to the store when it was snowing. And it snows a lot in western New York.

I think, above all things, this is the most important lesson I learned from knowing Ed.

Just get it done. It's what we do as fathers, husbands and grandfathers. (And as grandmothers and mothers.) And we don't bitch about it. Ed taught me that responsibility is a one way track. We take it on knowing that it may never be acknowledged; or that some one will slap us on the back and say....”Good job.”

And Ed passed that sense of responsibility onto all his kids including his oldest who lived a few towns over and who, with his wife, became their caretakers; going to see them everyday, doing chores, mowing the lawn, tending gardens, shopping, taking them to doctors appointments, and dealing with the paperwork that showers down on all of us at the end of life.


Selling and closing the home they had lived in all their lives was also part of the job that Chuck and Marty did. And with no complaints. It is just what needed to be done.

A year ago or so Eds old body began to wear out. Grandma was heading to a nursing home and when Ed joined her it was if all the responsibility’s of all the years just were laid down. It was time for someone else to do the job.

From that point on, he faded fast.

So we buried him a few days ago; we said some prayers and sang some songs; so I say. “Thank you Ed for teaching me what being a man is all about.”


© 2014 George Locke+

2 comments on “A Man Named Ed”

garman Says:
Thursday, May 22, 2014 @7:30:15 AM

Such a nice tribute to your father. He sounded like a great father and a man for all of us to envy. Thank you for posting this.

a g cole Says:
Thursday, May 22, 2014 @9:37:33 AM

We surely need lots more people like Ed.

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