Sunday, October 27, 2019

Edward Ebert Kelly died this day in 1987

Dear Ed,
I hardly knew you... of course I was curious about you... you are, after all, my husband's father. I had wanted to meet you before we were married. That didn't happen. After we returned from our honeymoon, we drove up to the Poconos so I could meet you and your wife. My Ed was not enthusiastic about the trip, but I think he agreed because he knew how important it was to me. It was difficult for my Ed, he was still smarting from your departure from his life.

Over the years, through researching your family, I've learned more about the circumstances of your life. It doesn't excuse how you treated your children but it does help us understand.

Born 3 April 1926 in Philadelphia to William Joseph and Alice Mae (Hanna) Kelly, you were the 5th child and second son. According to family lore, you were supposed to be named for your maternal grandfather Edward Everett Hanna. When your birth was registered, there was some confusion so you ended up Edward Ebert instead of Edward Everett.

William J. Kelly Family 1930 census with Edward E. Kelly underlined in red

In the 1930 Federal Census your family was living at 5326 Westminster Avenue in Philadelphia. Your father was working as a Weaver in a Cotton Mill and your older siblings were in school. Things seemed to be going well for the family even though it was the beginning of the Depression. Your sisters, Marie and Dot, used to tell us of how difficult things got for the family during the Depression. They spoke of having to move suddenly, when the family was evicted for non-payment of rent because everyone had lost their job. They explained that if no one had coins to but in the electricity meter in the house, there would be no light, no heat also if no one had the funds to purchase coal.

Things became desperate for the family when your Dad, was killed 17 Sep 1939. We have yet to find the record of the inquest so we do not know if he was killed in a fight or when he was pushed into the street and was run over by a car. There was no life insurance, nor death gratuity. The income he was bringing in ceased.

William J Kelly Death Certificate
The family was living in a typical Philadelphia brick row house at 663 N. Conestoga Street according to your mother who was the informant for your father's death certificate above. The photo, from Google, is the house as it looked in October 2018. By today's standards the house seems small for a family of 8, your younger brother John having been born late in 1930.

The row houses in this area were typically, two rooms down stair, living room or parlor, then behind the dining room and the kitchen was a lean-to attached at the back. There were two bedrooms upstairs.

By 1940, your older sisters were all working to support the family. Marie, Dot and Alice were all working as Cotton Winders in a Rubber Factory. Your older brother William had left school and was looking for work. Only you and your younger brother were in school. Aunt Marie told us that you left school at the end of the term, having finished 8th grade, and started looking for work.

The family managed to stay in the house at 663 Conestoga.

1940 Census for Kelly family recorded April 3, 1940.
We don't know how long it took for you to find work with the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper Company or if it was your first job. We do know you were working there when you registered for the draft on your birthday April 3, 1944. You described yourself as being 6ft tall and weighing 155 pounds with Gray eyes and brown hair and a "flesh pimple on the left hand." I wonder if any of your children remember the mark on your left hand.
World War II Draft Card for Edward Ebert Kelly from from NARA
Though your draft card does not say it, three months later your enlistment papers list your occupation as pressman and plate printer. It was an occupation that you would pursue much of your life. As a single man, without dependents, it was not surprising that you chose to enlist in the Army on July 21, 1944, you surely would have been drafted. Luckily, the war was winding down and you got only as far as Ft. Ord near Monterey, California during the two years you served.

We don't know how you met Pauline Nelda Haas. Your neighborhoods were not far apart in Philadelphia. Perhaps, one of your siblings introduced her to you. our were headed home to Philadelphia by July 6, 1946 departing from Fort Meade, Maryland. We know you and Pauline were married October 25 1947.
Edward Ebert and Pauline Nelda Kelly on their wedding day October 25, 1947
You and Pauline went on to have five terrific children, Edward William, Russell Alan, Patricia Anne, Robert Steven and Doreen Lynn Kelly. It's a shame you did not stay to see them grown. Though you reappeared in their lives now and again, I think its fair to say none of us really knew you well.

Your daughter-in-law,