Grace Kelly and my father, Philadelphia in the 1960s
Just called my dad who is doing well, living with one of my sisters in New Jersey. Born in the second decade of the 20th Century to parents who came to the US in that wave of East-European immigration; a while back my sister managed to track down the actual logs from Ellis Island documenting their arrival from Poland (the original family name of "Dzieniszewski" was shortened to "Denski" a short time later). He grew up in the tough part of Philadelphia, the "Fish Town" neighborhood and made his way during the Great Depression as a pool hustler, gambler, fighter and occasional footballer. Along with another million plus men his age, he joined the Army and fought from the beaches in Normandy through France and Belgium as part of what Kurt Vonnegut would later describe as the "children's crusade" (now that I'm in my fifties, everybody looks impossibly young in the photos from that period).
Coming home after the war, he wanted "a job with a pension" and joined the Philadelphia Police force, eventually retiring as a Lieutenant. Growing up and coming of age in the 1960s with a police officer father made ours a tumultuous relationship. These days, we speak about once a week and that past is well behind us now.
I love this photograph. Grace Kelly and her mother are unveiling a bust of her father, John B. Kelly, a famous Philadelphia native, somewhere in Fairmont Park. The bust is gone now, nobody seems to know where it went; I believe it was removed when a larger sculpture of Kelly as an Olympic rower was installed sometime, I think, in the 1990s. But I digress.
My father is there on the left, one of two Fairmont Park police officers serving as an honor guard. The other guy is Bill Hamilton, who once went to FBI school and brought me a present of a big book on the FBI that he had autographed "To Stanley, J. Edgar Hoover." I don't know what happened to the book, I wish I still had it.
I used this photo a while back to start a rumor in the family that my father and Grace Kelly had an affair and that our brother, Joe, is actually my father's son by Princess Grace. Nobody in my family actually looks like Joe, and Joe looks a WHOLE lot like this bust of John B. Kelly.
Anyway, happy father's day you rascal you.