Back from wartime hell, a life well lived and the photos to prove it
(Marlboro, NJ) – Ed Manley wears his Purple Heart cap proudly as he thumbs through photos that document a life that allowed him to witness a number of truly amazing things. You wouldn’t think, right off the bat, that someone who worked for the phone company would have had that much to talk about.
“I was a photographer for New York Telephone for 42 years,” he recalls. “I had many opportunities and I enjoyed them all.”
While his principle task was to make sure the company president’s movements were well documented, the company loaned him out to the city of New York for various projects. One resulted in the shutdown of many of the adult stores that once inhabited 42nd Street.
“A cop and I went store to store, posing as tourists from Montreal,” he says. “I took photographs inside the stores, telling the owners that I wanted to show everyone back home.”
The photographs ended up as evidence to back up a major crackdown during the 60’s.
There was also the day he was doing a job at Tavern on the Green when a friend told him the actor’s union was playing in a benefit game at the nearby ballfield. He hustled over and captured photos of Lucille Ball and Julie Andrews. Other luminaries he photographed during the 60’s included astronauts Alan Shepherd and John Glenn during their tickertape parades, actor Joe E. Brown, renowned clown Emmett Kelly and various political figures.
He also has photos that are a rarity of the early construction of the World Trade Center.
“The New York Telephone building was right there,” he says. “I took a bunch of pictures as they began construction.” Those photos show the outline of the site, construction vehicles and random steel beams lying around.
Years later, a friend who owned a boat invited him out into the harbor to see the spectacular view of lower Manhattan and the soaring towers he had watched being built. Seeing then fall in 2011 left him speechless.
“Oh, I couldn’t believe it,” he recalled.
Manley is proud of his service in the Navy. From 1942-1946, he was assigned to Landing Craft Infantry rocket boat LCI(G)-34 in the South Pacific. He was severely wounded when his boat took a direct hit from a 20mm rocket.
“It blew off my coccyx,” he said as he showed photos of his lower back and legs stitched up almost beyond recognition. Despite the horrendous wounds, he recovered to work at NY Telephone and later, for 12 years, as a citizen observer with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department in Florida.
Today at 93, Manley’s memory is sharp and he beams when talking about his four daughters, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
“Someone is always visiting me,” he says. “They take great care of me and care about me. I have no complaints.”