Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Open Letter

Crew Captain, Oarsman
Annapolis, USA

Dear H.A. Bolles,
Well, here you are on 20th March, 1923. A Tuesday, I believe. Eyes slitted against the bright sun, oar in your hand. Don't you look the picture of fine health and handsomeness! Maybe it's a coldish day, I mean it looks like you have a swimming costume of some sort on and rolled down, with a windcheater thrown on for warmth.

Henry, is that your name? Harold? Hank? (I think Henry suits you.) How old are you here Henry? 20, 21 maybe? I'd like to think you are still alive today, but you'd be well over 100 and so I guess it's unlikely.

I hope you had a long wonderful life Henry. Did you love well, and were well loved in return? Or were you a bit of a handsome cad, leaving a string of broken hearts (and maybe the unrequited love of a certain young doe eyed cox) in your wake? Were you moneyed and privileged, or hardworking and funded by scholarships and sheer hard graft? Drove a sharpish motor with a flapper alongside, all boyish figure, bobbed hair and rolled down stockings?

You have beautiful hands, which I guess the weather and the oars roughened up a bit over time. I like your hair too, and just looking at it makes me think about running my fingers through its lushness. Did you smell good Henry? Like liniment, or Bay Rum and Jamaican Limes maybe? Like soap, and sometimes like good clean sweat?

I hope you were a kind man. Beloved of your mates, and good to those around you. Strong and fair. Loving to your family. Maybe you had a family of your own? Did you leave your mark, in a big way or small? Is there a plaque somewhere with your name on it, or was your legacy written in smaller deeds and the respect and love of others?

One thing's for sure, I'll bet you were a pretty good rower. It's my guess that you cut a fine figure with those oars in your lovely hands.



[Pic via]


Michael said...


Over him AND you, doll.

Michael said...

So I had to google him, right? It doesn't lessen to romance of this post to do that, does it?

Dr. H.A. Bolles?

The Other Andrew said...

Thanks sweetie!

1876 though... maybe Henry's actually H.A. Bolles Jr?

Michael said...


Tom said...

I had a go at google too... and guess what popped up in number two spot... your blog!

Why wasn't teh interwebz around in the 1920's? How did people stalk each other then?

Anyway, there are a couple of sites mentioning an HA Bolles being in the Navy, winning the Thompson Trophy for football and crew (which fits with your rowing pic). He was in an aircrash in 1943 but no mention of whether he survived or not.

Michael said...

I was on the crew team (not a varsity sport) in undergrad for a year. No one quite like Henry. I can't recall all the faces now, possibly because I spent so much time staring at LEGS.

ilduce said...

Sadly, Commander Harry A. Bolles died July 18, 1943, when his Coast Guard plane crashed into a mountain in Alaska. The Navy named a drydock in Puerto Rico in his memory.

jason said...

wow....that's quite a romantic but sad postscript.

The Other Andrew said...

Sad yes, but I'm glad we have that postscript. It turns out he does have a plaque with his name on it somewhere.

Cathy said...

I love your post. I work at an RSL, and sadly witness a steady stream of tired, bent old men come and go, and then not turn up again.
We organize an RSL representative to speak at their funerals, and we are sent copies of their remembrance booklets. Photos of young, handsome, virile devilish men in uniform. So bittersweet.