Uncle Fred and Aunt Sarah

Uncle Fred was born in New Jersey. His parents were immigrants from Estonia. In the 1920s he was a young merchant marine man on a ship bound for places further south when he got Appendicitis and was taken in to the Marine Hospital in Key West. While recuperating, he was invited to dinner at the Curry home on Elizabeth Street. Fred was a handsome man, blond hair he wore in a crew cut, blue eyes and a personality bigger than life. All the young girls were dazzled and then shocked when he chose my Aunt Sarah to marry. Sarah had broken her hip as a child and it had not been set properly and one leg was decidedly shorter than the other and when I knew her she wore black lace-up shoes, her right shoe with a 2-inch platform on the sole and with a four-inch block heel. She walked with a decided limp. Boy would I love to know the story of that courtship. The family arranged for them to buy a house in Key West for back taxes when Fred got a job at the port in Ft. Lauderdale and Sarah went with him, and later to the port in Tampa Bay. The family was not happy about it.

Uncle Fred and Aunt Sarah were my godparents. I have so many stories that this will probably take two blogs. My first memory of Uncle Fred was when he and Aunt Sarah were visiting during one of our downtown Saturday nights and we went to Kress with my father to get our toys my brother and I got each week. Uncle Fred went with us and wanted to buy me the biggest doll in the place. My father wouldn’t let him. I was not privy to the conversation but my father didn’t want me getting used to more than he could provide. I don’t remember being disappointed.

My Uncle Fred and Aunt Sarah took me to the New Year’s Eve Orange Bowl parade in Miami. I was maybe seven. It was my first time away from my parents and I remember crying the night before we left. I was scared. Cathy my cousin went with us to the parade. It was fun.

My next memory was when I was nine; they took my brother and me fishing. We took a few sandwiches and went up the keys to a place underneath the start of the Bahia Honda Bridge. We used hand lines and when throwing the line out one time, I caught the hook on the back of my pants. Ouch. Despite my lack of fishing skills, I think we even caught a few small grunts that Uncle Fred took the hook out of and threw back into the ocean.

Then one summer when I was fourteen, Aunt Sarah took me to Washington, DC, where I went to the Washington Monument where I walked down the few thousand stairs. Whew, bad move. And to the Library of Congress and Mount Vernon, and later caught fireflies with my cousins, and was out playing in the twilight well past nine o’clock. We went next to Lakehurst, NJ where we stayed with Uncle Fred’s family and went to a Music Hall and I learned to do the Polka, and went swimming in a lake for the first time. Then we traveled to New York, and to Radio City Music Hall, the Empire State Building and to an Automat for lunch. We did this all by train and staying with family. For a young teenager who had only gone as far as Miami, that trip with my Aunt Sarah gave me a view into a bigger world. Speaking of bigger worlds, next week I will tell you about how on a dark night in February I almost went to Venezuela.

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