The Search for Robert’s Father
I’ve been thinking a lot about my brother since I wrote that last post. Although he used the last name Stone when he moved to the States, he had, in fact, a different father. And like many things about her past, my mother didn’t talk much about this man. She never told me his name, and I’ve only seen one picture of him, taken on a beach where he was wearing a Speedo (and a hot little bod). I’ll post it as soon as I find it again.
(UPDATE: I found two pictures that you can see here. And trust me, you’re going to want to see them.)
Although I know that my mother knew him in London, I don’t know if he was English or from one of the islands. I don’t know how long they knew each other, but I do know that he was already engaged when they met, so when my mother got pregnant I don’t think there was any possibility that they would get married.
I remembered that when I was going through my mother’s things in Atlanta, I had found a letter that she had written to this man. Today, I spent three hours going through a Rubbermaid tub of my mother’s pictures and papers that I brought back with me from Georgia. And, at almost the very bottom of the pile, I found what I was looking for. I know have this man’s name: Ken A. Black. And I’ve decided that I want to find him if he’s still alive, or someone who was close to him if he isn’t. I mean, how hard could that be — how many Ken A. Blacks could there be in the world? (Excuse me a minute while I giggle uncontrollably.)
But seriously, I’ve got questions. I wouldn’t even go for the hard ones (like, just what the hell was he doing fooling around with my mother when he was already engaged?); I just want to know what was going on then. Did his fiancee ever know about Robert? Did they even ever get married? Did Ken have other children later — did Robert have half-siblings that he didn’t know about?
And, I assume that Ken and my mother we pretty close, at least for a while. Maybe he could tell me some things about her: Back then, was she the carefree person that I caught only the tiniest glimpses of when I was little? Was she a risk-taker (beyond not using condoms) or did she need to be in control (the latter was definitely the woman that I grew up with)? What happened when she found out she was pregnant — did she freak, or did she just suck it up and figure out what her “plan B” was?
I did figure out two things from reading the letter. In it, my mother writes, “I don’t know if you’ll ever get to see him again but I hope so.” That means that not only did my mother tell Ken about Robert, but Ken and Robert had also met. I wonder: How many times? And what was that like? Did Robert know Ken was his father, or was he just “Uncle Ken”?
I could go on forever, but I won’t. As you can see above, what I have is a name and an address that at some time before January 1, 1973 (that’s when my mother wrote the letter) was where Ken lived, in Balham, London, S.W. 12, England. If you lived in London in the 1950s, 1960s, or even possibly 1970s, and think you knew this Ken Black, tell me a story. Or if you live next door to some old man named Ken — he’s probably be in his 80s by now — ask him if he ever knew Barbara Hay (you don’t need to mention the whole illegitimate-son thing), and if he did, have him contact me.
I realize exactly how ridiculous this search for my brother’s father is after all these years. But this is the age of the internet — there’s nothing you can’t find, right? I say, let’s put that to the test. Reblog this or post it on your Facebook or Google+ page or, hell, if you have an uncle named Ken Black, ask him what he was doing the summer of 1956 (Robert was born in May 1957).