2020 – Grandpa Curly Kibbe


(Ignore April 30. 2017 publish date – this was published on November 20, 2020)


His name was Elmer Kibbe – my mother’s father – and no one called him “Curly”
nor was he in The 3 Stooges. And given his receding hairline, that’s the last thing anyone would call him. I just made up that name and you’ll see why later.

He died when I was 9, so I really didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, but that’s 9 more years than I got with my other grandfather, who died 3 days after I was born. My father used to tell me that he took one look at me and keeled over.

Here’s a shot of Grandpa Kibbe from 1944 and one from a dozen years later, when his son Joseph – who was my godfather – got married to the lovely Rita:


Grandpa – who served in WWI – loved his country and his cars………


….and two-tone shoes, apparently………….

(These last two pix are from 1951 and 1944 when he was with his wife and 3 daughters – whom he also loved – in Atlantic City. Thumbs up on the wingtips and thumbs down on the saddle shoes, Gramps – too Catholic schoolgirly.)


Forced labor at rolling-pin-point, however, was not among his loves:


Sometime during the mid-1960s, he was awarded this certificate posthumously by President Lyndon Johnson:


As mentioned above, he served in WWI. Here are two photos from that period. One is labeled “WWI” and the other just says “1918”:


I have one other picture from that time period that’s undated, but mentions two related children and “Uncle Elmer”:


This photo is from 1922 at an unknown location. Grandma and Grandpa are the first two people on the left in the top row. Everyone else are their relatives:

At around that time, Grandma was about 4 months pregnant with her first child (of 6), Eunice.


Since Eunice was born in mid-December, this undated picture is probably from 1923. Here’s the new Mom and Dad (who’s holding MY Mom):


Thus concludes the non-Curly part of our show.



Sounds-Unrelated-But-It’s-Not Department: One of the reasons I originally took this apartment was that it came with its own storage room a couple of feet away. After 32 years – and after inheriting the family histories of my mother (as the eldest, she had it), my father (an only child, so he had his) and my own (I’m the eldest) – it’s pretty full. But due to yet another absolutely insane move by my landlord, I’ve had to find a way to temporarily store most of it in my apartment, which now might qualify to be on the “Hoarders” TV show.

The only positive out of all this is that I have a chance to go through it all and discover some pretty interesting/unusual things I was unaware of.

FOR INSTANCE – I found an old photography studio portrait of my Grandpa Kibbe that I could not believe. He was born in 1895 and he looks to be 10 years old or under, so this is a 1900-1905 image.


Are you ready for this?





NOW do you understand the sudden nickname?


But this isn’t even the weird part!


I also found a very old candy box that once held Norris Chocolates from Atlanta. The contents were mind-blowing:


From me, my siblings and dozens of cousins…………….thanks for the 115+ year-old surprise, Grandpa Curly!


(“Curly Kibbe” has kind of a nice rhyming/rhythmic sound to it, don’t you think? It’s a lot cuter than what one of my ancestors did………naming a child “Green Leafe”!)


And to all those cousins: first, second, third………once, twice or thrice-removed AND my siblings: I had you all in mind when I put this together since I’m apparently the only one of us who had any interaction with the man.

He could be pretty grumpy at times, but you knew that deep down, he loved you.


LATE ADDITIONS (November 25, 2020):


This is what happens when you have a mountain of history to go through (there may be more).

I just found Grandpa’s 1919 discharge papers in their leather folder:


And here’s into whose arms he was discharged (that’s my grandmother?):


“I’d better marry this babe.”:

(I don’t know what the story is with Grandma, the witnesses AND the priest all being Goldings)


There’s actually an interesting story about this certificate I sent to a cousin recently:

Regarding the E&C Kibbe marriage certificate: I recall offering it to their kids when I found it and the only taker was Uncle Bill…………..but he didn’t want me to send it in its frame – just the certificate. No problem.

When I pulled it out of its frame, I found that the cardboard backing had a drawing/painting on it that had a semi-familiar look to it. I thought it might be a village on the Hudson River just south of the George Washington Bridge area (but maybe pre-GWB). It turned out to have been created by a local artist who was a member of the Hackensack Art Club a long time ago and was semi-known.

I put it up on eBay and it went for $150! :

Thanks, Gramps (and Uncle Bill)! :



SOMEBODY looks pretty happy about the first three late-addition images:


Back to the curls thing:

I also just came across two black-and-white studio photos of me that were taken for my second and third birthdays AND something from the New York Mirror newspaper. Unbeknownst to me, my mother had submitted at least one of them to the paper’s “Charming Child Contest” (I found a submission form taped to the back of one of them).

Apparently, I wasn’t charming enough to win. I’m guessing that the note from the paper was the their kind rejection notice.

I also found two hand-colored copies of those pictures and noticed that I hadn’t had my first haircut by my second birthday, but did by my third. It reminded me of Annmarie’s comment about saving children’s hair. I haven’t found any other hair collections, so maybe this was Mom’s way of preserving my locks (which look somewhat gray to me……………and the gray seems to have transferred to part of my face in the colored shot of me at three):


Next late addition (December 28, 2020) – Grandpa’s dogtags:



  1. Antoinette November 20, 2020

    What a fun story. I am not in your family, but loved it anyway!

  2. Vanessa November 20, 2020

    Amazing story and amazing photos. What a surprise. The curls and photos – candy box included – should be in the Smithsonian!

  3. Annemarie November 20, 2020

    Great story! Is that your mom in the AC photo on the left in the floral outfit? It was a “thing” to save your child’s hair after a first haircut.

  4. Bob Leafe November 20, 2020

    Yes, that’s Eunice. She has her mother’s smile, don’t you think?

  5. Vanessa November 25, 2020

    Your grandmother was beautiful! The photos of you as a boy are priceless. What a treasure trove!

  6. Annemarie November 25, 2020

    I had wispy blonde curls that weren’t cut until after my first holy communion photo was taken, maybe 6 or 7 years old.

  7. Terri Keck November 30, 2020

    OMG!!! Space my head is spinning from SoHo much that is packed in this end and my eyes are just filled with tears with so many memories. My mom had that picture of grandma in her room. I know I had seen seen the photo of grandpa with the car but the others are all new. Then to see that picture taken from 1918 with this being 2020 with it snow pandemic really gets to me. Thank you thank you for doing all of this. Love you from crybaby cousin Terri Merrie! By the way is there any way that these blogs can be printed. I would love to have them

  8. Terri Keck November 30, 2020

    Bob… Since I am so technically challenged is there a way I would be able to save your blogs/have them printed??

  9. Steven J Thompson December 1, 2020

    Thanks for the great photos and history lesson

  10. Dan Kibbe December 28, 2020

    I enjoy the pictures and the stories behind them immensely. My parents (Joe and Rita) had the picture of Grandma Catherine on the chair and the picture of a smiling Grandpa Elmer in the hat hanging in their bedroom. Catherine Kibbe was the only grandparent I got to meet as the others had died by the time I arrived in 1963.
    Thank you Bob for these pictures and stories.

  11. Terri Keck December 28, 2020

    Thank you Bob for the latest update…happy 2021 (trying to stay hopeful!)

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