Wiebke (wiebke) wrote,

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Family story: Granddad's elbow

My paternal grandfather was a sort of jack-of-all-trades. He worked in the shipyards in City Island, NY, building America's Cup yachts and other wooden wooden sailing boats, but he also did construction work like plumbing installation, putting on small additions, carpentry work, etc. Basically, he would do whatever he could to keep his family fed, especialy during the Depression.

Anyway, during WWII, the shipyards in City Island switched from making yachts to making various vessels needed for the war. I forget which kind they were, but everybody on the island took pride that they're little town (incidentally, part of the Bronx) would be contributing to the war effort. My grandfather was in his early 40s when he started working on the project.

One day there was an accident. My dad's told me the details and I forget exactly, but basically some big heavy thing, like part of a metal ship, came down and crushed my grandfather's elbow. Typical of a Darling, he went home, in excrutiating pain, and had his wife look at it. Finally they called the town doctor, who was aghast and got him to a hospital. There, they took a look at the arm and told him his elbow was crushed and they've have to amputate. My grandfather said, basically, "No way!" How was he supposed to make a living with one arm, especially when all his work was physical labor? He pleaded with the doctors to come up with some other solution. In fact, being a handyman, my grandfather suggested they just do a sort of hinge. And they did; they cleaned out the various bone fragment and joined his upper and lower arm with some kind of metal hinge!

My grandfather kept his arm and went on to work for many more years. He couldn't fully extend the arm because, duh, it was just a hinge, not a real elbow, but he had both hands, which was the important thing.

P.S. I may post more of these stories, like the time my other grandfather's brother chopped up a piano as a favor to his mother.
Tags: family

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