Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

In the waning years of the Greatest Generation, still much to celebrate

The shadow box of memories is perched against a coffee table in front of him.

He appears disinterested as his eyes move from one keepsake to the next. Past the Purple Heart. Past the Bronze Star. Past the yellowed newspaper photos and headlines that call him a hero. Finally, his gaze rests on a piece of mail from nearly 70 years ago.

"That," Ted Denton finally says, as he points his cane to emphasize. "That is more important than all the other stuff."

The letter is from Bernard Taylor, a seaman first class recuperating in a Naval hospital in Hawaii in 1945.

"Dear Pal," the letter begins.

Taylor goes on to tell Denton of his latest surgery and recovery. He apologizes for having not written sooner. Eventually he gets to the point of this meticulously written missive.

"I guess you thought I've forgotten about you, but I didn't. For I couldn't forget you. If it wasn't for you … well I would be dead."

It was late afternoon on April 28, 1945, when a kamikaze attack turned the lower decks of the USS Pinkney into a hellish inferno, according to long-ago newspaper reports. At the time, Denton was a 21-year-old pharmacist's mate with a handful of wounded sailors under his care.

With the room turned to fire and confusion, Denton pried open a jammed door and began carrying his patients out and up a stairway to safety. He got one out. Then another. Then two more. By the time he turned to go back for a fifth, his shipmates stopped him. His back and arms were severely burned, and the passage was filled with flames.

"I had to do something to earn my pay," he now says with a self-deprecating grin.

"I never had a gun in my hand. When you're on a battlefield, you can't stop someone from bleeding to death with one hand if you're carrying a gun in the other. So you keep your head down, and do your job. That's how all the pharmacist's mates operated.

"Sometimes, I think about the men I saved. Mostly, I wish I could have saved more."

Ted Denton turned 90 on Wednesday, and his family and friends ended a daylong celebration with a party at an Italian restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg.

During the course of the afternoon, Denton told stories of his days as a door-to-door Fuller Brush salesman. As a malt shop manager in San Francisco. Of his work in New Jersey on a mink farm, a creamery and later as a fork lift operator.

He talked of his 62-year marriage to the girl he met at a skating rink, and the pain of her death seven years ago. He joked of his second marriage a few years ago when he was 88 and his new bride, Mary, was 90.

"I told her she was a baby robber," Denton said.

Listen long enough, and you hear Denton explain the changes he has witnessed through the years. Not the innovations or breakthroughs, but the shifting attitudes.

His voice sounds wistful as he talks of days when Americans believed in the greater good instead of individual glory. Of days when integrity was expected, and sacrifices were appreciated. Of days when it was not so rare for strangers to smile and wave.

The America he grew up in did not try to impose its beliefs or values on anyone else, he said. The America he remembers welcomed immigrants with arms wide.

"Some of the things I see and read today," he says, "are just so disappointing."

His was known as the Greatest Generation, the collection of Americans who endured the Depression, fought in World War II and stood witness as a country thrived.

Soon, they will all be gone. If we're lucky, we will take away more than just the keepsakes and memories they leave behind.

"I had the wildest life you could imagine," Denton said, "and I don't regret any of it."

Happy birthday, Ted.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

 
Comments
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Updated: 1 hour ago
‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

TAMPA — Nick Genovese was anxious.The 21-year-old from Land O’Lakes had come to Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena hoping to see the Tampa Bay Lightning triumph over the Washington Capitals in Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference winner-take-all Game...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA — The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday with the final horn, or, if you prefer, early in the second period of Game 5, when it scored its last goal of the Eastern Conference final.How about that? The team with the most regular-...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

TAMPA — Yanni Gourde said he will have to see a replay to know just how it got away, but even in a lopsided 4-0 loss like Wednesday night, he'll remember the puck in front of an empty net, and the missed opportunity that encapsulated a frustrat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

TAMPA — This one stings. And it will ache for a long time. Maybe forever in these parts.Another chance for a Stanley Cup. Another disappointment. As the Lightning skated off the ice after losing Wednesday night's Game 7 of the Eastern Conferenc...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
Updated: 2 hours ago