Harvey Sawler is a writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada, who estimates that he’s looked at about 20,000 photographs of John F. Kennedy. He’s seen Kennedy at work and at play, in the Oval Office and on the White House lawn. As the co-author of a book on JFK’s official White House photographer, Cecil Stoughton, Harvey spent hours at the Kennedy library in Boston poring over pictures. Two in particular stuck in his mind, photos that bespeak a mystery he hopes you might be able to help solve.
The photos were taken the same day: July 10, 1962. They were taken at the same place: at what was then called D.C. Stadium but would become, after the assassination of the second Kennedy, RFK Stadium. It was the 1962 All-Star Game, and Kennedy was there to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
In one photo, the president is caught in mid-throw. In the other, the president is gripping St. Louis slugger Stan Musial. Kennedy is flashing his trademark grin.
“Looking at the photo, you can tell the president is just having a good time,” Harvey said. “Sometimes you see that. Sometimes you don’t. He was often quite preoccupied with other things. The ability to go to a baseball game for a whole afternoon without a heavy itinerary . . . was unusual in and of itself.”
It wasn’t the president who caught Harvey’s eye, however. It was two boys in the foreground wearing Washington Metropolitan Police Boys Club T-shirts. Reading about the game, Harvey learned that the boys were the president’s guests that day, two all-stars from the Boys Club’s baseball league. One was black. One was white.
When Harvey saw the photos, he wondered: Who were those boys? What did that day mean to them? What sort of men did they become?
The boys’ names were Dennis Marcel and Frank Brown. With the help of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, Harvey was able to find Dennis, who retired from the U.S. military and lives in Indianapolis. Harvey is having a tougher time finding Frank.
According to the story in The Washington Post about the game, Frank Brown was 12 at the time and lived at 421 L St. NW. Harvey has a researcher combing records here but thought I might be able to help — or, more accurately, that you might be able to help. If you know where Frank Brown is, send me an e-mail:
“I do believe that day had an impact on their lives,” he said.
The Post reported that Kennedy arrived without a hat, as was his custom, and took his jacket off in the second inning, taking a cue from Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had complained of the day’s heat. The paper added: “President Kennedy, who had a large number of lawmakers, sports figures and two small boys as his guests, drank a coke and puffed on a cigar during the game.”
What have we learned from the narrowly averted debt-ceiling crisis? I don’t know about you, but what I’ve learned is that all those asteroid movies were a crock. And “Independence Day,” too.
In those movies, the country — nay, the world — puts aside its differences and comes together to fight a common enemy, whether that be a humongous space rock hurtling toward the planet or a race of tentacled monsters bent on galactic domination. But if that happens in real life, our elected leaders will argue for so long that we’ll soon be shining our alien overlords’ tentacle-boots. (And quite fetching boots they are, too.)
What’s that, you say? The system worked? Only the most optimistic citizen would believe that. I think I will celebrate the accord by buying some beachfront property — in West Virginia. If it took this much dickering to extend the debt ceiling, I can guarantee you these clowns won’t be able to fix global warming, let alone a well-aimed asteroid or garden-variety alien invasion.