Rare original 1972 photo found of Jackie Robinson and wife, Rachel, in front of New Haven’s City Hall

By Joel Alderman

Following our recent article (Jackie Robinson once came to New Haven to lead a parade), I was loaned an old slide consisting of the above picture. It was taken when the New Haven Freddie Fixer Parade of 1972 reached the reviewing stand in front of City Hall. It features Jackie Robinson, who was its Grand Marshal, and his wife, Rachel.

The slide was uncovered by Janette Parker, whose husband, Henry (popularly known as Hank), als0 in the photo, was then soon to begin 11 years as the Connecticut state treasurer.

After our article appeared, Mrs. Parker found the slide among the family possessions. Neither she nor her husband can recall its origin or how they ended up with it.  Fortunately the Parkers, who currently reside at the Bella Vista complex in the city, still had it. We thank them for making it available to the readers of SportzEdge and to researchers on the internet.

Ed Grant, who was a prominent civil rights and environmental activist of the time, is on the left. Hank Parker is to his right. The Robinsons are in the middle and to the extreme right is Bartholomew (Bart) Guida. He was then in the second of three terms as the New Haven Mayor.

The group is shown  on the reviewing stand in front of New Haven’s City Hall on Church Street, where a presentation was made by Guida to Robinson of the “key to the city.” He said  that it represented “a symbol of not only the key to the city, but what is in our hearts today, a welcome of love in the hearts of all New Haveners.”

Hank Parker and Rachel Robinson are the sole survivors of this picture. Jackie Robinson died less than six months after it was taken, on October 24, 1972, at the young age of 53; Ed Grant on Jan. 1, 2010, at 87; and Bart Guida, who met a tragic death, on April 26, 1978, when he was 64.

This year marks the anniversary of the passing of Jackie Robinson 42 years ago, oddly the same number he wore on his Brooklyn Dodger uniform and which is now retired by Major League Baseball.

I anticipate that the photo, also taken 42 years ago, will prove to be of great interest to New Haven archivists and those of the immortal Jackie Robinson,  as a valuable addition to their  memorabilia.

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