The Mystery of Little Ty

The Walker canvas had optimism—“Will be back Aug. 68. See you at the Blue Sal!”

The soldier, identified only as “Little Ty from 1-2 Poplar St. Tenderlions North Philly,” inscribed the graffiti on August 12, 1967. He noted too he “Slept Here on His Way to the War.”

An effort was made to find Little Ty, but the address doesn’t exist. The Philadelphia Inquirer even ran a feature story, on June 27, 2004, headlined “On a ship to Vietnam, the mystery of ‘Little Ty,’” but he did not come forward, nor did anyone who knew him.

A longtime Philadelphia resident helped decipher the graffiti’s real meaning. The address “1-2 Poplar Street,” according to John P. Buchanan, a detective in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, was actually the corner of 12th and Poplar Streets, a dangerous 1960s gang location.

“Tenderlions,” ,” was pronounced “Tender-Lines,” and was the name of an area gang, the detective explained. The “Blue Sal” could have been a bar or a candy store painted blue. It may also refer to a popular 1960s Philadelphia boxing venue. “The Blue Sal,” the detective said, “was most likely a location where Little Ty would ‘hang.’”

We continue to look for him.

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Exhibit Schedules

    Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam is currently at Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs California. It will be there November 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016,

    Part of the Marking Tiime: Voyage to Vienam exhibit will be travelling to New York City whre it will be part of the New York Historical Society"s major Vietnam exhibit openning in 2017.