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My grandfather was a first generation American from Lebanon and his family had settled in Delray Beach, Florida. The family owned a block of stores on the main street, Atlantic Avenue, and their store, which they lived above, was A.George and Sons, a men’s clothing store and the first one of its kind in the town. My grandfather, Ed George, was very strong and an excellent swimmer, often swimming in the ocean for miles and miles, very far from shore.
One day, when he was in his late teens, he and some friends were swimming up at the Boynton Beach inlet, a few miles north of Delray, when Ed saw a huge sea turtle passing under the bridge. He jumped into the water and got on the back of the turtle for a ride. The fins of these sea turtles are sharp and Ed had been cut a bit. The turtle went under and his friends saw the blood, as did the town policeman nearby. They thought that Ed must have died or drowned because they never saw him come up again. The policeman eventually went to the family store and was telling Ed’s father, my great-grandfather Abraham, that his son had drowned.
Abraham answered that Ed was coming up the street that moment, which he was. He had been able to hold on to the turtle and to swim with him/her until they had left the inlet. Then, my grandfather swam the few miles south back to the Delray public beach and just started walking to the store up Atlantic Avenue. He had been scraped by the turtle, but other than that, he was just fine.
Everyone on my mother’s side of the family knows this story and it is oft repeated by my grandmother. I believe it speaks to my grandfather’s claim to strength and his daring, spontaneous and passionate life. It also emphasizes the place the family had, and still has somewhat, in the town as well as the undying connection we all have to the ocean.
Thanks! – Hannah-Marie Warfle