For years now I have been begging my family to find old pictures they might have of the Lady Jane! This was a boat, at 50 feet long, a small yacht, belonging to my maternal grandfather, Thomas Philip Kerse whom you may have read about in the post I just finished, or in the post regarding his first boat the Evelyn, apparently co-owned by him and his father James H. Kerse. My mother talked often and lovingly of the Lady Jane and her family’s adventures traveling on her– picnicking on the Chesapeake Bay– diving off her –swimming and playing with their large family and friends. My older sister and brother had at least both seen the boat of the many stories, but I never had, because the family had sold the boat when my grandfather died, long before I came along. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I came across a word press blog post about the Lady Jane! The post was written about 5 years ago by Preston Larus and I found it through a google search! I had been searching for photographs through newspaper archives for a long while, perhaps I had never just googled her, regardless, I was thrilled to find this picture and story! In fact, I was so thrilled, that I contacted the author Preston who could not have been more solicitous and friendly! We talked about Richmond and specifically the area where we had both lived as children! He was not aware of the “back story” of the Lady Jane–who had owned it before his grandfather, and that it had been as beloved by that family as by his own! Can you imagine the stories that boat could tell if it could talk!
My mother was one of six sisters and one brother who traveled with their police officer father Tom and nurse mother Katherine aboard the Lady Jane! In fact the Lady Jane was named after their youngest child, Janey Bell, b. 1923; as the Evelyn, their first boat had been named after their first child Evelyn, b. 1912 (or Katherine’s mother, Evelyn Langhorne). Mom often spoke of the friends they invited to travel with them on this remarkable boat! What I didn’t know was that my grandfather often captained the boat for chartered trips–to Albany, New York, Philadelphia, Pa., Washington, DC, Maryland, the Eastern Shore, Islands. He took day trips as well up and down the James River. He also held fundraisers for various groups especially for Sheltering Arms Hospital where my grandmother had graduated in the first class of nursing students! I can find all this in newspaper articles at genealogybank. It all seemed so romantic and adventurous–and it colored the dreams of this author as a child! Below, I am going to share with you a newspaper clipping I found about the Lady Jane, but more importantly, I am going to share part of the blog post by Preston Larus, with his permission!
Boats We Love
by Preston Larus
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The Lady Jane
My grandfather was a Chancery Court judge in Richmond, Virginia in the ’40s and ’50s, but every summer he took a month off and sailed the Chesapeake Bay. When he got too old to handle sail, he bought the Lady Jane, a 50-foot Chesapeake deadrise workboat hull fitted with a cruising boat cabin structure. By the time I was a boy, my uncle Brockenbrough Lamb Jr. owned the boat and visited us every summer for a weekend or so. In the eyes of a 10 year-old, there was nothing more grand, from her pilothouse trimmed in green leather, to the helsman’s seat (a huge green stool with a steel tractor seat atop it, to her massive Yachtsman-style anchor. Long and skinny, she got by with just around 80 horsepower, and tooled along at about 9 knots. She went to the wreckers a decade or so ago, but not before logging thousands of miles up and down the Bay and down the intercoastal to Florida.
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