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Biography
 

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.

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