More on Jim Mertz

 Posted by on 12 March 2006 at 6:29 am  Uncategorized
Mar 122006

Since my grandfather Jim Mertz’s death, I’ve found more than a few delightful letters about him in my e-mail inbox. (People find me via my previous blog entry about him.) For example, Bob Muggleston wrote:

I was lucky enough to sail to Bermuda with [Jim Mertz] twice, the first time being my first open-ocean sailing experience ever. What a treat. He was cool as the underside of the pillow, whether it was blowing 3 or 30 (and we saw both), and first and foremost concerned about the safety of the crew. In this world of achievement-oriented goals, this was rather refreshing.

He rarely came topside, mostly just to take a sextant sight (with three of us hanging on to him), but when there was a major decision to be made he’d stick his head out of the companionway, let people say their piece, and then weigh in with his own. We respected him tremendously, of course, and always did what he recommended. Even if it meant sailing undercanvased three hours after a squall. We just trusted him.

Since I ride horses rather than sail boats, I never went on the Bermuda race, nor even helped bring the boat back. So that was a real delight to hear.

My double-sister-in-law Diane Duffy took this fantastic photo of Jim sometime during the weekend of my sister Kimberly’s wedding this past December:

That is perhaps the best picture of Jim in his older years I’ve seen. (Click on it for a larger version.)

Corliss Engle was kind enough to send me this article from the New York Times of April 4th, 1932: Strong Wind Hits Frostbite Fleet. It’s a wonderfully dramatic account of my 19 year-old grandmother (Allegra Knapp) besting her brother (Arthur Knapp) at frostbiting in some frightful sailing conditions.

Corliss is the daughter of Arthur Knapp. As already mentioned, Arthur Knapp was the brother of Allegra Knapp (first Brickell, then) Mertz, my grandmother. So Corliss is my father’s cousin. I’m not sure what that makes us… second cousins perhaps?

I don’t have much in the way of pictures from Jim’s funeral, but here’s one of myself, my sister Meredith, my mother Susan, and my sister Kimberly before the service. It’s a bit blurry, unfortunately.

Here’s just some of the mourners outside the church after the service:

The reception was held at the clubhouse of the American Yacht Club in Rye, just about 100 feet from where Paul is standing. (When my grandmother was alive and healthy, many years ago, the three young Brickell girls spent much time at the club. We felt very grown up ordering ourselves Shirley Temples!)

Here’s an even more striking view from the point:

As you can see, it was a truly stunning day.

I might have some more pictures to post later, as I saw a more than a few fantastic early photos of my grandparents while in Rye. I do wish that I had taken a picture of Jim’s house while in Rye, as I’m sure that it won’t be around much longer. It was such an institution of my early childhood. (My parents must have pictures — or I could ask them to take a few when they’re next in Rye.)

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha