[Editor’s note: Former Flip-Pal team member Walt Grady shares a photo of his father, James F. Grady, USN and the story behind the image.]
My father, James F. Grady is shown in the image with his parents, James F. Grady and Margaret V. Grady, dated about 1942. Dad was first generation Irish American and he enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the outbreak of World War II.
There is so much I don’t know about my Dad’s military service and I have some simple questions . . .
- When exactly was this picture taken?
- What was the occasion? Was there a reason to celebrate and perhaps capture this moment in time on film?
- And what are the smiles about? Is there a meaning to them, perhaps known only to Dad and my grandparents?
Perhaps the photo was taken at the completion of basic training? Or possibly a homecoming at the end of the war? The smiles are joyful and somehow convey relief at having survived the War, relief as an individual, and as parents and son reunited as well as a nation. If I listen carefully, I can practically hear, “I made it home!” and “Our son is alive!” and “Our country is free!”
What if, on the other hand, this picture was taken at the beginning of the War? I can only imagine some of the feelings Dad may have been experiencing . . . such as pride in enlisting in the Navy, gratitude that “basic” was over, excitement over an assignment on the battleship USS Indiana, sadness of having to leave new friends behind or even fear of battle and possibly death.
Like my father during the early 1940s, many men were entering the service and beginning a journey with an unknown ending. By exploring his photos and documents from Word War II, I hope to get a better understanding what that time was like for Dad.
When I visit dad on Fathers’ Day, I’ll bring my Flip-Pal. Then, while scanning his photos, I can ask him those questions, record his voice, and create StoryScans talking images that I can preserve and share with the entire family.
Photo: James F. Grady with his parents, ca. 1942. Digital image. Photograph in possession of Walt Grady.