Telly the daredevil
As a child, Telly was a bit of a daredevil. He enjoyed
a variety of stunts, from skipping through the subway
turnstile without paying, to balancing on the train track
right next to a high voltage line.
Telly also loved to swim, which he did as often as possible
for hours on end. He swam like a whale, methodically and
tirelessly. In his teens, Telly worked as a lifeguard
at Jones Beach. He would often tell two stories about
his years lifeguarding. Once, after a long day, he wanted
to take a relaxing swim before going home. When he attempted
to head back to shore, a rip tide prevented him. Telly
tried swimming parallel to the shore to get around it,
but after numerous attempts he gave up. Instead, he changed
direction - and swam to New Jersey.
The second story, about the only person Telly ever lost
while he was a lifeguard, is much more tragic. Telly rescued
the man, but was unable to revive him. He happened to
be the father of two young children, who were with him
at the beach that day. Telly was haunted by the memory
of the young children crying next to their father and
begging him to wake up. Later in life, Telly made sure
that all of his children were capable swimmers, educated
in the potential dangers of swimming unsupervised.
Telly joined the Army in 1941. He was a member of Company
C, 12th Medical Training Battalion, 4th Medical Training
Regiment at Camp Pickett, Virginia. Although Telly received
a Purple Heart for his service in World War II, little
is known about his time with the armed forces. Telly did
not talk about his experiences as an enlisted man, and
most of his records were destroyed in a fire at the National
Personnel Records Center in 1973. He was released from
the Army in 1943 after suffering serious injuries in a
car accident. While on authorized leave from Camp Pickett,
Telly and eight friends were involved in a head-on collision.
Telly sustained a broken pelvis, sprained ankle and concussion.
He spent over a year in the hospital recovering.