To Florida With Family
"Why don't we drive down to Florida," Gerald Atwood suggested on the spur of the moment last spring.
"You're crazy," said his wife, Barbara Swat- Atwood — not with a 2- year-old boy and a baby daughter in tow. But he talked her into it, and they were off.
For if Mr. Atwood, 38, a firefighter with Ladder Company 21 in Manhattan, loved anything as much as fixing up their house in Marine Park, Brooklyn, his wife said, it was getting out and "seeing new things, meeting new people." In Florida, those new people included a retired New York firefighter working there as a bartender; Mr. Atwood reveled in talking to him and "finding a common bond."
Her husband had "an infectious laugh," she said, and regularly dressed up as the firehouse Santa Claus. And while a lot of firefighters had second jobs, "he was able to work it out without that," because his time at home was so precious.
"He always said that if money wasn't an object he'd have 20 kids," she said. "His daughter was just becoming Daddy's little girl." A third child, the couple learned in July, is on the way.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 27, 2001.