Saturday, July 08, 2006

Memories of my grandfather……HARRY LEE

I recently read a heart-warming article entitled "MEMOIR, Seeking my grandfather in Jerusalem". It was posted July 5th on Mortart’s blog(
Thank you, Mortart for writing that and for reminding me of my own Grandfather.

Papa Lee, as we called him, was a gentle, almost child-like man who lived with my Grandmother, Mary, in Plainfield, NJ. He was a writer and his head was often in the clouds. That may have been of concern to his stoic and hard working wife but for his grandchildren he was a delight. One of my fondest memories is when he took me to see the movie “The Strawberry Blond” (I was all of 7 or 8 years at the time) and we danced and sang “And the Band Played On” all the way home.
“Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde,And the band played on.
He'd glide cross the floor with the girl he adored and the band played on.
But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded,The poor girl would shake
with alarm.
He'd ne'er leave the girl with the strawberry curls,snd the band played on".

Papa worked for Warner Brothers, writing movie reviews. His column was in one of the NY papers of the time (in the thirties) and he was also a published author. His first book, written in 1920, was titled “High Company”, and was a book of poetry portraying courage and comradeship in World War 1. He had been a medic in that war and I have a great picture of him in uniform standing behind a soldier in a wheelchair.
(If I can ever figure out how to get pictures onto my blog I will include that one.)

Shortly after “High Company” came out he produced a play that depicted the life & times of St. Francis of Assisi… “The Little Poor Man” (“Il Poverllo”) It was published in 1920 and actually had a short but successful run on Broadway.

Papa’s best known work was “More Day to Dawn” written in 1941. It is the biography of Henry David Thoreau, written in prose and poetry…dedicated “To Mary”, (my Grandmother) and with a forward by his friend Brooks Atkinson. I love the last page of that book:

The Sixth of May, 1862

May and morning..winds that sigh in cool trees yearning toward the sky.

A couch that pillows a weary head. “Have you made your peace with God?” one said.

Silence...and then the calm reply: “We have never quarreled…God and I”.

Papa spent a lot of time volunteering at the Henry St. Settlement House in NY City but he rarely spoke of that. I have often wondered if a tempestuous youth was a fore-runner of the gentle man that I knew. No matter……..he was my Papa and he enriched my life immensely


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely remembrance of your grandfather. I, too, like that last line you quoted. Thanks for sharing that story.

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so nice that you've been able to post photos to your blog! Now that you know how to do it, there is no stopping you. It's a great photo, that of your grandfather!

1:37 PM  
Blogger Mortart said...

I'm delighted to know that I inspired you to write about your grandfather. It made for wonderful reading.

7:51 PM  

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