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Uncle Ed March 24, 2012

Posted by vsap in Blogroll, Uncategorized.
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Ed (Edwin J. or Eddie, sometimes called Popeye) Taff was one scrappy dude! Uncle Ed, my mother’s brother, passed away on March 20. He was a passionate, sharp-witted and sharp-tongue youngest of three boys. Only my Aunt Jerry (Ellen) remains of William and Viola Taff’s family.

Here’s a brief look at the family: Dale (William, the eldest child) was a successful businessman in Sayre, PA. I detailed him in a previous post. Ken was a great coach and teacher in St. Louis’ metro north area high schools. The strong, quiet type, with broad shoulders and a powerful grip. The girls, Betty, Dora, my Mom (Rose) and Jerry, rounded out the large family that grew up in the St. Louis area.

Today, however, is about some recollections on Uncle Ed. One phrase that comes to mind when I think of him is “life of the party”. He laughed heartily and loved to make others laugh. That sharp wit and tongue would have made him a hilarious stand-up comic. He would have been able to tame the toughest room!

That said, he was a tough, “rough and tumble”, competitive businessman, proud of his achievements. I didn’t realize the challenges of his world as an HVAC manufacturers’ rep, until I started selling to electrical manufacturers and learned some about the “rep world”. No question Ed had the strength and endurance to create a successful business from 1962-1995. The pre-internet era can be romanticized by TV shows like “Mad Men”, “Pan Am” or “The Playboy Club”, but living the experience must have been a hell of a ride for him and his son, Patrick.

I have nothing to prove this, but I felt there was an unspoken competition between Dale and Ed, spawned by the younger needing to impress the eldest. There was no need for it, they both being successful in their own ways, but i think it was a way for Ed to keep his edge…to be a little “better” than Dale in some way. Again, it may not have been true, but from my point of view something might have existed there.

Aunt Pat (nee Morgan) needs a mention in small measure since she is my Godmother. In the grander scheme, she deserves mention not just for the care she gave in Ed’s declining years, but for her patience through the years. Always thin, with what seemed to be an ever-present cigarette, she was the quiet wife, allowing Ed to be Ed and judiciously jerking his chain when needed. I felt she was the navigator who didn’t just help Ed stay focused on business but helped feed his passion for “the ponies”. They both loved thoroughbreds: owned, trained and raced their share over a couple of decades. In my estimation there may have been few sets matched as well as Ed and Pat.

My best memories of Ed were at the family Christmas parties. The Taffs hosted Christmas Eve every year, whether it was Bill and Viola’s on 13th Street, Dora’s on 20th Street, or, later, in St. Ann at Betty’s. You could be sure there would be plenty of activity with a large family, children and grandchildren running around, but above that din could be heard Ed’s voice. A joke, a story from the family’s past or from his experiences in the Navy or in business, Ed was ready and he delivered. even if I didn’t know what he was talking about, the howls of my aunts and my Dad and other brothers-in-law couldn’t help but make me laugh. That’s how I will remember Uncle Ed.

Love life, laugh hard, play well.

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