For The Love of Uncle Fred

Uncle Fred worked on the railroad for years. In those days, Staples was a major railroad hub in central Minnesota. He traveled the rails from Staples to Fargo, back to Staples, down to St. Paul, and back up to Staples over and over and over again throughout his career as a railroader. It would seem by this cartoon that the life of the train crew was not as serious as one might think:

"Maybe they're not bo's. Maybe they're the train crew."

Fred and Eleanor were raising the three children from her disastrous first marriage when suddenly they found themselves proud parents of their own special son, Eugene. They quickly nicknamed him “Geney”, and he was twelve years younger than my mother. Here we are on that same wonderful baptism day. By the way, I posed with every possible combination of family members on that day. You’ll enjoy those pictures for weeks to come…

Geney, the fancy Goose and her jeweled mother.

Four short years later tragedy struck. Their special son, the apple of everybody’s eye and a real big brother to me, was found dead in their home. He had died of unusual circumstances and unnatural causes which were never fully investigated. Our family grieved for years at his loss. We watched home movies of him for years and years — Geney riding horses with Fred, the family going blueberry picking, Geney playing baseball. We’ve never gotten over his passing, wondering who he might have grown up to be and how he might have blessed the world. There are always so many questions when a young person dies. But there’s also the need to go on with life somehow.

Uncle Fred and my grandma bought a resort hundreds of miles away. She moved there to heal. She successfully managed the resort and was a favorite teacher at a nearby country school while he continued to work on the railroad and live in a trailer home in Staples. He would commute to the resort and Grandma for weekend visits until his retirement.

He was a fine painter. Our homes are still filled with his paintings. Here are a couple that he did for me — most of his better work hang on the walls at my dad’s house, my brother’s house, and my sister’s house. You’ll have to contact them for viewing privileges…

Bringing Home the Christmas Tree, by Fred Barrett

A lake in the Rocky Mountains

One of my favorites.

Watercolor Cardinals

Piano music filled their home. Uncle Fred was a virtuoso composer. The song he wrote for my grandma still brings me to tears.

Yellowed manuscript but the love endures forever.

“The sun has set, sweetheart, and the moon’s on high.
Each star as it shines above tells me of our love.
A moonlit night with you by my side and your hand in mine.
I will say again as I have before,
I love you, Dear, love you Eleanor
Sweetheart, sweetheart tell me that we will never part
Eleanor, Eleanor tell me that you love me
Just as before, just as before, maybe more.”


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bunn
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 11:43:37

    Wow that song is just beautiful! I’ve never seen nor heard that either! I’d love to hear you play it!
    I think you have many many beautiful paintings!


  2. Mark
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 12:04:59

    He is very insporational and I see his talent reflected in Joe’s great artistic style.


  3. Dianna
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 13:19:48

    Oh, Natalie, that’s so sad about your cousin passing at such a young age — it sounds as though there have been so many questions and few answers regarding his death. Uncle Fred sounds like a true sweetheart himself.


  4. Three Well Beings
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 01:48:04

    Uncle Fred was very talented and in so many ways. I can’t imagine how shocking the loss of Geney must have been to everyone! And to have his death be somewhat mysterious only adds to the grief, I’d think. The picture of you and your mom and Geney is precious! Debra


  5. yearstricken
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 18:24:04

    Great story. Your Uncle Fred had many talents and obviously made an impression on you.


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