Posted by: SJS | December 21, 2011

Red, Reds, and Christmas memories

      My father’s uncle George was better known to the family as “Reds.”  George Young was the brother of Red’s mother, Mary Young Stahley.  In the years before he had any cousins in the extended Young family,  my father enjoyed the privileges of being the only child with no competition.  He had the undivided attention of all his aunts and uncles as well as his loving parents. 

Red and Reds

Red with his Uncle Reds in 1944

     Growing up, he had a special fondness for his Uncle Reds – the name by which George Young  was known by everyone in the family.  Reds and his wife Justine lived for many years in New York City.  Whenever they made a trip to see the relatives in Philadelphia, usually at Christmas, they always came with loads of gifts and plenty of tales to tell about their exciting life in the Big Apple.  I can vividly remember their visits when I was a young child; it felt like celebrities were coming to see us.  Uncle Reds smoked big cigars,  wore fancy suits, and sported two-tone shoes.  He seemed to have rings on every finger.  Until I was nine years old, I confused Uncle Reds with W.C. Fields (another famous Philadelphian).  Both Uncle Reds and W.C. Fields loved the spotlight and hated to surrender it. 

      In the world of my childhood, the name “Reds” belonged exclusively and absolutely to my great-uncle,  someone who lived in a distant city and seemed to be exotic and flamboyant.  The nickname I heard my grandparents and other relatives use for my father was “Junior.”   Sorting out all these family monikers was just a part of growing up in a large family.

       What a pleasant surprise it was in October of last year when my father’s best buddy from his Navy days, Tom Saffles, phoned me from Alabama and started telling me about their days together on the PT boats.  And what a shock it was to learn that my father’s nickname was “Red.”  The surprises, and even a shock here and there, have just kept coming as my journey of discovery continues.  I have to say that the trip keeps getting better all the time.

       Best wishes to you and yours for a happy and peaceful Christmas holiday.  Enjoy your time with the relatives (the stranger they are, the better).  Thanks for reading the blog.  Your comments are always welcome, especially if they’re a surprise!         



  1. Steve,
    I have really enjoyed reading your blog throughout the year. I look forward to reading more of your interesting historical blog post next year. I wish you and your family a happy, blessed and peaceful Christmas.


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