Thursday, November 3, 2016

Prince Albert does this because Prince Albert Can

Sometimes, the lives of us common people and those of royalty cross paths, and it's interesting.

You may recall Grace Kelly if you're of a certain age.  She was a Philadelphia girl of such incandescent beauty that she won great acclaim as a model and actress...and the heart of Prince Rainier III of Monaco.  It was a true fairytale story of the 1950s when the lovely Grace gave up her movie career to marry a prince.

Whether she truly found happiness is anyone's guess. She married the guy and produced a male heir for him, which was critically important to the tiny nation of Monaco.  I always think of Monaco when I watch the movie "Arthur" and Dudley Moore speaks of a country that's so small, a taxi ride from border to border would cost 65 cents.   But she left, had the kids, and lived a life of luxury in Monaco, a life that ended in 1982 when she was killed in a car crash there.

Now, her son, Prince Albert, has bought the house in the East Falls section of Philly where his mom grew up, and where his father proposed marriage to her, for $754,000.

Grace's father, John Kelly, made a huge fortune as a bricklaying contractor, and built the house in 1935. It had fallen out of family hands in recent years, being sold in 1973 to a woman who, at age 81 in 2014, pleaded "no contest" to animal cruelty charges for keeping cats and dogs in unsanitary conditions. There were 15 live cats in the house at the time, and several others whose lives had ended.

Albert, or "Al," as he likes to be called, says the house is "very special to our family" and he is happy to have saved it "from a near certain death or development."

"We're still trying to figure out what we're going to do with it," he said. "We're looking at having it contain some museum exhibit space and maybe use part of it for offices for some of our foundation work."

Once a year in summer, Peggy and I visit the little seaside town of Stone Harbor, NJ, where the Kellys, Taylor Swift, Ed McMahon and other Philadelphia luminaries have traditionally summered.  As I tread along the sidewalk, I like to think of walking in the path once trod by a movie queen and a late-night sidekick.  Maybe we don't have their money, but on the other hand, we have a great ravioli dinner there.

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