Aunt Babs and Uncle Paul by
(165 Stories)

Prompted By Aunts & Uncles

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I’ve written about all my aunts and uncles before. (See Call Me by Their Names)

Here’s more about my wonderful aunt Babs and uncle Paul,  high school sweethearts who met as kids in the Rockaways.

Family legend has it that when he was in medical school at NYU,  and Babs was at Skidmore College in upstate New York,  Paul missed her so much he couldn’t concentrate on his studies,  cut classes to play Bridge,  and had to repeat a year.

But Paul eventually buckled down and he and Babs got married.   And although my cousins Debra and Robin weren’t yet born,  when Paul graduated from medical school his four-year-old niece was there – me!

Paul became an obstetrician and even once performed a hysterectomy on the family cat.   Always good with his hands,  he was a whiz with tools and his wife and daughters called him Mr Fix-it.  Indeed Paul could fix anything mechanical or electrical and once installed a complicated buzzer system between floors in my parents’ house.

And Paul was also an excellent boatman,  and after learning to fly in the Air Force during the Korean War,  he piloted his own private plane for years,  often flying up to Massachusetts to see his brother and sister-in-law in Northampton.  (See Rosie and Milt, the Literary Lady and the Second-Story Man)

On November 22, 1950 when Paul was a young intern at Queens General Hospital, word came that two Long Island Railroad commuter trains had collided on the tracks near Kew Gardens.

My uncle Paul was among the first responders on the scene and worked tirelessly to triage and treat the injured passengers as they were pulled from the mangled railway cars.  My mother proudly framed a newspaper photo of her heroic kid brother standing on a ladder propped against one of those damaged cars.  With 79 fatalities,  that train wreck is still the worst disaster in LIRR history.

While Paul was finishing his medical training,  and before their girls were born,  Babs worked as a librarian.  In fact it was my aunt Babs who encouraged me to enter that field and so I did,  making it a 30 year, very rewarding career.   (See  The Diary of a Young Girl)

In the 60’s when Beatlemania was all the rage,  fans were asked to name their favorite of the Fab Four.  This is a button that Babs wore!


Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Aunts, Uncles


  1. Marian says:

    Fun to learn more about your aunt and uncle, Dana. Wow, being a first responder at that LIRR accident must have been something. I’m glad your uncle was recognized for his heroic work there. Good to learn about Babs inspiring you in your career.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    You were blessed with a great family, Dana. I loved reading about Paul’s many talents, and clearly Babs had an influence on your choice of career. And by the way, I was a Paul girl too.

  3. Suzy says:

    Very fun story about Paul and Babs. I especially liked that he put his medical training to good use by performing a hysterectomy on the family cat! And of course his heroic work after the LIRR crash was very impressive. Love that Babs wore a Paul button, referring to her husband rather than the Beatle. I wonder how many other girls and women who had boyfriends or husbands named Paul did the same thing.

  4. Well, I love Paul because he married a Babs, but. I would wear an “I LOVE JOHN” pin…imagine!

  5. John Shutkin says:

    Much enjoyed the story, Dana. Your Uncle Paul was a true Renaissance Man, and a whole lot more impressive in all ways than my scoundrel-ly Uncle Paul (though he was loveable in his bad boy way). And I love Babs’ “I Love Paul” pin. Oddly, I don’t remember any girls coming up to me wearing an “I Love John” pin. Go figure.

  6. Great story Dana. Irreverent me, your mention of “the greatest disaster in LIRR history” made me unconsciously add the qualification “other than day-to-day operations in the 21st century”. I was particularly drawn to your uncle’s work then. Perhaps it was standard for medical training but my Dad also did ambulance work as an intern at Knickerbocker hospital. Never had any experience like your uncle’s however. And nice to know that your aunt inspired and supported your choice of career, especially knowing about the WOE you wrote about recently.

    • Thanx Tom!
      Our one bone of family contention was Paul’s conservative slant, and I remember many heated political arguments over holiday meals.
      But I’m sure our current national travesty would have Paul turning in his grave along with his lefty siblings.

  7. Betsy Pfau says:

    Impressing family, Dana. Your uncle lost his head and heart to Babs, but finally buckled down and became a great doctor for man and cat alike. And your aunt clearly had was a strong influence on you and loved the right Beatle. That was clever and cute (well, Paul was the cute Beatle, after all). Thanks for filling in the details.

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