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.


Family Business


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.

         "His nephew." 

         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. MAA did not like the look of either one of them.

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 Rhode Island after that, but he survived the Revolutionary War, became a Brigadier General and died in bed of old age."

         "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 Rhode Island."

         "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 New York City once – when his aunt threw it - that was something!" 

         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 I said; it's that kind of family. His nephew Chevy’s real name is Cornelius Crane Chase. He was named after Lee’s father; Cornelius Vanderbilt Crane.

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 General Hospital!”

         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 America's Cup right now, if that was what Lee had wanted for his life. He also could have been a professional tennis player. 

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 Naval Academy. Unfortunately, Cornelius was too ill to come to our graduation in 1962 - he died about a month after, so the Admiral stood in for him. Nelson knew the family quite well, since he is also from Boston.

         Lee’s father is buried on Hog Island. Every June, the Massachusetts Trust celebrates his father's June 29 birthday with a huge party on Crane’s Beach. It’s holiday for the school children of Ipswich. It’s been celebrated every year since 1911.

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 for the Field Museum in Chicago, which basically entailed him sailing all over the world in his yacht; getting whatever they wanted.

Lillian did not want to leave New England after the marriage, much less live on a yacht. So after Lee was born, so they stayed on with Lee’s grandmother, Florence, in Ipswich.

Lillian moved to Newport, RI when Lee was old enough to be enrolled in private school there. She kept her “job” with the Cranes, looking after various philanthropic interests, after the marriage. Cornelius supposedly wasn’t able to father children.

But he did and then he married her – over the family objection. He wanted Lee and Florence wanted more grandchildren. So Cornelius went back to his job in Chicago and his new family stayed with her at Castle Hill. He would summer there, so Lee did see him while growing up. Summer break was always their time, either in Ipswich or later on during the regatta season at Newport.

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 Japan. When Cornelius came back in 1955, he was married to a Japanese woman that the remaining family didn’t like, either. That following summer at Castle Hill, Lee told his father he wanted to apply to the Naval Academy.

         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 Naval Academy appointment. She wanted him to stay close to home; go to an Ivy League college. Brown was her preference, over Harvard and Yale, but Lee didn’t want that. He went into the Academy right out of high school at seventeen and never looked back. I don’t think Lillian ever forgave him for cutting her apron strings so drastically, either.” 

         “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 Florence left Castle Hill to the state of Massachusetts in 1949. Lee hardly ever talks about it; I only know what know, because I’ve been with him and traveled with him since we were plebes. I don’t think Lillian will ever be told about ONI, even now Lee’s retired. All Lillian cares about is she finally has a grandchild, at long last.”

         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.”


The End?


Helen has this idea that Chevy Chase does not make it OFF the boat…So there may be a “sequel” down the road…  DK



Note 1:  Chevy Chase is a Crane and his mother’s name is Cathy.


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.


Crane and Co. were instrumental in the design of the Monsanto House of the Future at Disneyland in 1954. They also pioneered the use of titanium...


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!