Posted by: SJS | August 27, 2012

Dress blues at home

Pop Stahley snapped this photo at the family home on Fisher’s Avenue in North Philadelphia, probably in late 1944 or early 1945.  Red was home on furlough and put on his dress blues before going out to a family dinner.  Looking at photos like this one, I am reminded of just how young my father was when he was a sailor.

Red in his dress blues

Red at home on Fishers Avenue in Philly

Our son, Thomas, began his senior year of high school today and, in a few months he’ll turn 18.  Trying to picture my father at this same point in his life, knowing that he would be going into the service as soon as high school ended is a staggering thing to me.  Those years in the service would form my father and shape him in ways that we can barely understand.

As he proudly wore the uniform of the US Navy, Red was like so many of the young men of his generation.  They transitioned from high school boys to adults in the blast furnace of a world at war.  Photos like this one remind me powerfully of his courage and devotion to a cause so much larger than himself.


  1. Congratulations on Thomas starting his senior year in high school. This blog is a great gift to your children that will help them better appreciate their family.

    • Dudley,

      One of my strongest motivations in writing the blog is providing Thomas and Sarah with information about their grandfather whom they never had a chance to know. When my father died in 1999, Thomas was almost five years old and Sarah had just turned three. In passing on these stories, my hope is that they’ll come to know more about the family story on my side of the family. Thanks for your coninued support.


  2. I like the line you wrote, “They transitioned from high school boys to adults in the blast furnace of a world at war.” Very well put. I was so immature at 18 and can’t imagine being thrust into war at such an early age. They had to grow up fast. Another great post.

    • Darren,

      As I continue to “unpack” my father’s Navy experience I keep understanding more about the powerful influences that shaped his adult life. The veterans of WWII were told not to burden their families with the tragic and traumatic things they went through during the war. Keeping all of those feelings and memories bottled up inside caused those vets a lot of pain. As a child, my father had shared only the good things about his Navy days with me. I’ve had the good fortune to connect with his buddies and crew mates who have shared with me the other side of those days. In many ways, through my research, it feels like I’m coming to learn about someone I never really knew. It has been quite a journey for me. So glad to have you along as I keep learning more. I appreciate your support.

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