By Richard Mabey Jr.
My beloved father was a man who was immensely proud of the patriotic heritage of our family name. Dad and I spent a lot of time, from the time I was in my freshman year of high school, researching our family history. My father was always very proud of the patriotic aspect of the Mabey name.
Benjamin Mabey, a cousin of my great grandfather, was a true American hero. Benjamin was a Private in the Third New Jersey Infantry during the Civil War. Benjamin enlisted in the Union Army on May 29, 1861. He fought in several battles. Benjamin was seriously wounded in battle. His battle wound left him paralyzed from the waist down, for the rest of his life. Benjamin received a full honorable discharge from the Union Army on May 24, 1864. After he came home from being wounded in the Civil War, he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
My grandfather’s brother, Earl Mabey, was killed in action in France during World War I. My Great Grandmother, Dora Mabey, never healed from having lost her son in war. I remember as a child, there were times when she would break down and cry, sitting in her rocking chair on the front porch of the old Mabey Homestead.
Dad and his brother, Edward, were both veterans of World War II. Dad’s cousin, Delbert McNeill, was also a World War II veteran. Two of Dad’s younger brothers, Carl and David, were veterans of the Korean War. And Dad’s nephew, Wesley, was a veteran of the Vietnam War.
In the old Lincoln Park Museum, on Main Street, there were several boxes of old pictures that were kept in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet in the museum. Art Smith, a fellow member of the Beavertown (Lincoln Park) Historical Society, had found an old picture of my Great Uncle Earl standing beside the smaller home of the Mabey Estate, that once stood at the corner of Mabey Lane and Main Street.
As a gift to my dad, Art had the picture of Great Uncle Earl enlarged and he took the time to frame it. It was a most beautiful tribute to my patriotic great uncle. During the 1990’s, we used to meet on Saturday mornings at the Lincoln Park Museum and set up shift times, in order to have the museum open from nine in the morning till five in the evening.
One Saturday morning, in the early Summer of 1991, Dad and I arrived at the museum, about 10 minutes before nine, Art was waiting for us inside the museum. As we opened the door to the museum, there sat Art with a big smile on his face.
“Dick, I got something to show you,” Art said with a song in his voice. And then Art led Dad to one of the pegboard display stands to show my father the framed picture of Dad’s Uncle Earl. My father was quite taken with the picture. Here was the rugged outdoorsman, the Scoutmaster, the long-distance truck driver, almost in tears.
Dad so sincerely and earnestly thanked Art Smith that Saturday morning, back in the early Summer of 1991. Art insisted that I take Dad’s picture, standing beside the photo of my father’s beloved uncle. Today, when I look at that picture, it brings back all of the emotions that transcended when Art showed Dad the tribute picture of Earl Mabey.
Art Smith and my dad have since passed away. I miss them both very much. From time to time, I think about the tribute picture of my Great Uncle Earl. I wonder if it is still hanging in the Lincoln Park Museum. Things change, new administrations come into an organization, I fully understand that. But deep in my heart, I wonder what may have happened to that beautiful picture that Art Smith enlarged and framed for my dad.
I am all so grateful to the kind hearted generosity of Art Smith. I’m not sure if I ever really thanked Art for framing the photo of my Great Uncle Earl. It is a most funny thing. Now at 67, I have an even deeper appreciation for all that Art Smith did to preserve the colorful history of Beavertown, the former name of the town of Lincoln Park. So, from earth to heaven’s gate, I most earnestly and sincerely thank you Art Smith!
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.