It's funny how one little off-hand comment about Lee’s trust fund can spark a story - also never underestimate what you find out doing research....
Thanks to Helen H. and Linda E.
My Alternate Universe stories are posted on Seaview Stories – start with Deathwish and go from there – on Diane’s author page.
By Diane Kachmar
Aboard Submarine Seaview -- late 1984 --
in my Alternate Universe…
Chip Morton always tried to do some of his evening paperwork in the wardroom, so the junior officers had him available - for their questions and reports and studies. He didn't mind being interrupted there; most of what he was doing was routine. He had done it so many times in the last decade; he could almost cruise on auto-pilot through it.
Morton looked up when a khaki-clad pair of pants came into his side field of vision. Getting started early tonight...
Dr. William Jamieson; coffee cup in hand - stood in front of him, a familiar furrow across his forehead.
Chip smiled, acknowledging him. "Problem, Will?" he asked quietly, putting down his pen.
Jamieson swirled the coffee in his cup. "I don't know yet. Who's that eager beaver civilian Lee has in tow?"
Chip smiled wider. Will hardly ever left his Sick bay, but the other Lt. Commander knew what was going on with the boat almost as well as he did. Morton had yet to figure out how Will managed that.
Jamieson's furrow deepened. "That man is older than Captain Crane."
"Actually, he's two years younger. It’s the hairline. You should know better than to be misled by that.”
Jamieson scowled. “Another one of Lee’s way too many genetic blessings.”
Morton rolled his eyes in sympathy. “His mother Cathy is Captain's Crane's adopted sister," Chip explained, then leaned back into his chair to watch the penny drop.
Jamieson lowered his coffee cup to the table, slowly. "What are you not telling me...?"
Morton shrugged. "There is nothing to tell, Will. But if you really want the nickel tour of the Crane family tree, I'd suggest you refill that cup and pull up a chair, because it will take me a while."
Jamieson walked over to the urn, filled his cup and then sat down. "So ... two Cathy Cranes at the family reunion. That must have been fun!"
"Lee did come back looking rather frazzled..." Chip raised a hand. "Kidding aside, his family was very happy he brought his new bride, short-lived as it was. Lee has a very interesting family. His great-grandfather invented the indoor toilet. And most of the valves on this boat."
"So his nephew wanted a tour of the "family valves?" Will raised an eyebrow.
"No, he has a script for a spy
movie. He asked for Lee's input, you know, the voice of experience… He almost
didn’t get on board.
In fact, his co-star flat out flunked the security check and is currently being “entertained” by Riley. They were going to hit the commissary and then Stu was to give him the standard PR walk-about. Ski went with them, to make sure there is no trouble.
Al was going to boot this one as well, but Lee vouched for him. Less ears to listen in here – for what they talk about. You know Actors; he’s lapping up anything Lee can tell him. No one knows better than Lee what parts of the boat he’s not to see.”
Jamieson slapped the table. "I knew that man looked familiar! He's that actor who is always falling down..." Will trailed off as he realized what he was saying.
"Must run in the family!"
Jamieson lifted his coffee cup. "No comment!"
"It gets worse," Chip continued. "Do you know who the only patriot to get injured during the Boston Tea Party was?"
"Let me guess... Benjamin Crane?"
"Close. His name was John Crane.
He moved to
"They have that luck," Will muttered.
"Not always. Try having to live that down when you are a Crane - from Boston."
"I thought Lee was from
"He lived both places. The cousins
Lee has left on his father's side are Russian princes and princesses. Why do
you think Lee speaks Russian so well? Serge taught him. He took me to their Russian
New Year's Eve Ball in
Jamieson raised his eyebrow again. "I knew Lee came from money – he has a trust fund that he doesn't like to talk about, but Russian princes?"
"Exiled. His father remarried when
Lee was fourteen. She is from
Lee still kids him about that, but he's grateful
Chevy got stuck with the "family" name instead of him. Chevy has a
half-brother named Christopher Robinson. Everyone kept asking him where
his bear was when he was little and when he got older, they kept mistaking him
for an actor on
It was Jamieson’s turn to roll his eyes. “So why isn’t Lee named Cornelius or Vanderbilt?”
“Apparently Lillian wouldn’t allow it – and they needed one good biblical name for his Armenian Church christening. They found a Benjamin in Cornelius’ tree… as for Lee… well; his father was a yachtsman and was determined to have some say in the matter! Lee says it could have been worse, at least he didn’t name him Jib or Spinnaker…”
Will raised his eyebrow a third time.
Morton shrugged. “You have to know his
family. The Navy is very lucky to have Lee. He could be defending the
Lee told his dad when he was fifteen, he
wanted to go to the Naval Academy, make his own way in life, and not live off
his trust fund like all the Vanderbilts he knew in Newport, RI, where Lee was
sent to go to private school. His Dad got Lee an appointment to the
Lee’s father is buried on
Lee tries to go whenever he can. It gives him a chance to visit his father's grave. I expect him to take his son there when Rick is old enough to travel. Remember that great-grandfather inventor I told you about – his name was Richard.”
“But Lee’s son’s middle name is definitely not Vanderbilt…” Jamieson replied with a smile.
“Grandpa Harry wouldn’t have it any other way,” Chip answered. “Have you ever heard of Castle Hill? Lee’s grandfather built that."
"No, I can't say that I have.”
"Lee lived on that estate until he
was six, his father traveled a lot. Cornelius had a “job” gathering specimens
Lillian did not want to leave
Lillian moved to
But he did and then he married her – over the
family objection. He wanted Lee and
Lillian gave up her job with the Crane foundation when Lee was ten and asked Cornelius for a divorce. It wasn’t working out. The Grandmother had died two years earlier and the rest of the family always thought Lillian had trapped Cornelius – nothing was ever said, but it was always there as an undercurrent.
So she finally let the Cranes pay her off. Then she went to work for the Vanderbilts in much the same capacity. Lillian learned how to be quite the charity organizer and she became well known for her meticulously planned soirees. Cornelius was happy she had an avocation. Lee was doing really well in the private school he had chosen for him.
He went off to
Lee enjoyed growing up with the Vanderbilts of Newport. They taught him to sail, race and play tennis. He became part of their pack and they defended him fiercely. But in the end, he was still a Crane.
Lee wanted to make his own way. Lillian never
forgave Cornelius for getting Lee his
“Man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”
“That trust he hates let him be his own
man, too. Cornelius set it up so it was his and his alone when Lee turned
twenty-one. It’s the only thing he has left of his father. Cornelius’s father
cashed out the plumbing business long before Lee was born, and
Jamieson grinned. “Rick has his Father’s looks.”
“And his Mother’s eyes,” Chip added, “And seven mother hens … ahem, godfathers!”
“I don’t mind being a godfather,” Will stood up. “Do you?”
“Not at all,” Chip replied.
“Lee is going to have that civilian actor off our boat before we sail in the morning…?”
“That’s the plan.”
“Good. Thanks for telling me about his family. You’re right, they are interesting…”
“Any time, Will.”
has this idea that
She was adopted by Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane when he married her mother in 1929. They were divorced in 1940.
Note 2: Richard Teller Crane, Sr. is credited for inventing the indoor toilet. And many other things. Look up the history of Crane and Co.
on the Internet.
Note 3: Castle Hill was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.
You have seen Castle Hill - it’s the palatial estate Jack Nicholson’s character (the Devil) rents in the 1987 film, The Witches of Eastwick.
Note 4: David Hedison has always maintained that Lee B. Crane was raised on an estate and that his middle name should have been something odd – something he would be “embarrassed” about –
like “Vanderbilt!” Unquote!
Note 5: I have always maintained that Lee had a trust fund. One he was “embarrassed” about because he only had it because his great-grandfather invented the “indoor” toilet!
How did I know that? All the toilets at my University are emblazoned with the manufacturer’s logo – they all say Crane…
Real life can sometimes be even more fun than fiction!