Written by: Joseph P. Heenan, February 10th, 2019
On March 18th, 1935, the Philadelphia Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick held their 164th Annual Banquet. Their speaker was Olympic Champion John B. Kelly. The transcript of his speech was recently discovered in the historical records of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and has been digitized at Villanova University’s Falvey Library Special Collections.
MR. MELVIN :
Until recently, whenever any one in Philadelphia mentioned the name Kelly, he naturally thought of our distinguished District Attorney, Charlie Kelley, or, perhaps, of Councilman Edward Kelly, or one of the other nine Kellys who are members of this Society. Tonight we are thinking in terms of John B. Kelly. When I first met him fifteen years ago, he was the world’s champion oarsman. At that time the political party that he now adorns was locally a mere shell. Jack Kelly was then a shell rower. But in recent years that shell has developed, first, into a light cruiser and now, into a battleship. And instead of being champion sculler Kelly, we, as we view him on the deck of the young Democratic battleship, might today call him Admiral Kelly. I have great pleasure in introducing to you another outstanding Kelly, John B. Kelly, who will respond to the toast “Philadelphia” (applause).