Fernand Leuba, sweetest man

Fred Williams
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The sweetest man on earth! Throughout my childhood from 1945 to the early 1960s, my grandfather was present in my daily life. Owing to my father's work schedule and remoteness, Fred Leuba served as a virtual father for me. He walked with a severe limp from a poorly treated injury from a bull that gored him when he was about 30. During most of my childhood, when he wasn't living with us, he lived in the basement of a Lutheran Church in Baldwin, NY where he served as the caretaker. The Church was located a few miles from our home. On saturdays, we kids would walk to the church, partly through the storm drainage system beneath grand avenue. On those saturdays, we helped him set up the little tables and benches for Sunday School. I loved those days with him, the smell of Lucky Strikes and his coarsely shaven chin. I remember grandpa as an extremely strong and wiry little man who always wore a white shirt and tie along with woolen dress pants and matching vest. I guess in his youth this outfit, no matter what the weather or occupation, whether at the beach or in a blizzard, was the mark of a gentleman, like Charlie Chaplin's comic figure. Fred Leuba was fluent in French, having grown up the eldest son in a French-speaking swiss immigrant home in Rhode Island. He seldom spoke French but, years later when I arrived at a train station in Geneva, I heard my grandfather's spoken French. The Leuba farm was located along Leuba Road in the hamlet of Washington, R.I. (inside the town of Coventry). When I was eleven, my grandfather drove me from Baldwin, L.I. to his sisters' places on Leuba Road. This was summer 1956. Gramps drove his bright blue 1940 Chevy on what he called "the old post road" from the New York border through Connecticut to Rhode Island. I was in Paris in April 1972 when Grandpa died.
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