Jeff Bartlett should have gone to Annapolis rather than to West Point because, although he had an outstanding record both as a cadet and as an Army officer, nevertheless his personality and his character were deeply imbued with his inheritance from the generations of Yankee mariners from which he was descended. There was salt in his blood!
Jeff came of New Bedford whaling stock and his father, Frederick C. Bartlett, although he graduated from Harvard and practiced law in New Bedford followed the Admiralty and shipping line. He died when Jeff was only three years old and Jeff’s mother later married Captain Worth G. Ross, who was in command of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, so that Jeff’s environment continued to be of the sea.
Jeff graduated in 1907, after an excellent record as a cadet, and chose the Coast Artillery, which was the nearest approach to salt water he could get in the Army.
When he was stationed at Panama he naturally gravitated to marine activities there; and when the war broke out in 1917 he was sent to Hoboken in charge of the Army embarkation activities, and was later sent to France to superintend disembarkation. After the war, he again was put in charge of embarkation in France and then sent to Hoboken as a lieutenant colonel to superintend the disembarkation.
After World War I, Jeff was reverted from lieutenant colonel to captain in accordance with the Army program, and I think the considerable reduction in income caused him some domestic distress. It was then that he began to listen to the offers of the steamship company which finally induced him to resign his command and work for them. At the time, he asked my advice and I strongly urged him not to give up the Army; but there was a great boom in shipping and there were many rosy forecasts of the future of the American Merchant Marine, and Jeff was tempted. He resigned.
It happened that the Cosmopolitan Shipping Company of New York operated a number of transports and freighters out of Hoboken and the executive ability of Colonel Bartlett so impressed them that in 1920 he was offered and accepted a position from them as vice-president and general manager. He continued to serve them and their successor corporation until the outbreak of World War II.
Later on, when the very grave shipping depression hit the North American Atlantic Lines, Jeff’s income and prospects were badly affected and, to supplement his salary, he taught mathematics at one of the local colleges, I believe it was New York University. There is no doubt that he should have stayed in the Army where he had an excellent record, and I did not feel that he ever adapted himself to civil commercial conditions. There was, however, that split personality in him, which made him responsive to the call of the sea, and I always felt that he would not have accepted any civilian position, no matter how remunerative, had not the appeal of salt water been felt.
In 1942, he was commissioned as a colonel in the Army and was sent first to England and later to Antwerp in charge of various large ports of debarkation. At the conclusion of the war, the American transatlantic field had greatly changed and Jeff decided not to return to civil employment but retired and moved to the State of Washington where his daughter Anne, and his son-in-law, Clifford J. Ruedy, were operating an attractive tourist hotel, called Log Cabin Inn, at Quilcene, Wash.
I first knew Jeff when we were candidates together at Lieutenant Braden's school at Highland Falls. Jeff and I were roommates and slept together in a big double bed. He was a steady student and a hard worker and I was lazy and a very poor student, although filled with good intentions. We would study together at night until we were too sleepy to continue and then we would agree to get up very early in the morning and would set the alarm accordingly.
Jeff was of an unbending character with an unswerving adherence to puritanical New England principles, tinctured by a certain amount of Harvard tradition. He possessed great equanimity and good humor and I never knew him to become irritable.
When he was a candidate he took things in his stride and cheerfully accepted the world as he found it, and was never critical of people or events. He possessed quite an artistic talent and during his plebe year was kept busy decorating hop cards.
Jeff was married in 1907 after graduation to Alice Orr Powers. Some time after joining the Cosmopolitan Shipping Company he was divorced and married Catherine Trenholm who was at the time a successful radio columnist for the New York Evening Telegram. Catherine died while Jeff was overseas in World War II and upon his return he remarried his first wife, Alice. In addition to his daughter Anne he has one son, Trenholm Bartlett, who also lives in Quilcene.
Jeff was an idealist and perhaps more of a dreamer than we realized, but his high sense of duty and his stern self-discipline obscured the fact that there probably were many discontents beneath his placid exterior.
His service record was as follows:
Coast Artillery 1907-17 World War I-1917-18 Capt. Battery “G” 8th Regt.
1920 resigned as Lt. Col. C.A.C.
World War II-1942-45 Col. Trans. Corps 1942-44 Ass’t. Sup. Army Trans. Service. N.Y. Port 1944-45 Ass’t. Chief Trans. European Theatre, Marine Div.
—Charles McKew Parr