|Harry and me – 1958|
Not only is December 31st New Year’s Eve, but it also marks the day my Grandfather Harry Raley was born in 1906. He and his older brother J. Frank Sr. and younger sister Alice aka Sissie grew up at Smithwood located on Camp Brown Rd. in Scotland. Harry took a job in Baltimore where he met and married my Grandmother Anna. My Mom was born and grew up in Baltimore. Harry and Anna bought the Store in 1945 and ran it for 8 years before selling it to my Dad Buzzy in 1953. During this period Harry and my Grandmother Anna married and divorced each other twice. They were either the most hopeful of romantics or just very slow learners.
After selling my Dad the Store, Harry worked on Base during the day and helped out in the Store in the evenings. He would watch the Store for Buzzy so we could all eat dinner. Harry would sit on the bench in the Store along with folks like Capt. Dick Smith, Wallace Green and Preacher Fenwick and they would trade gossip, comment on the news of the day etc. Harry would then head down to his small house just south of the Store.
Harry had a somewhat jaded glass-is-half-empty philosophy when it came to life. He did not spend a lot of time trying to look at the bright side of things. His favorite expression on holidays was “It’s just another day to me.” Other times he would say things like “Nobody knows the sorrows I know.” Because of this I always feel a little sorry for Harry whenever I think of him and this is why the following Sam Cooke song reminds me of him. (After listening to the song, check out the controversy surrounding Sam’s death and his women problems. Makes Harry’s woes seem rather small by comparison click here.)