If you’re searching to place the accent, he was in the Italian Boy Scouts.
John Henderson passed away at 74 this week, at his home near Las Vegas, Nevada. He was something of a loon, a wildman, a gambler and an adventurer. In short — a duke in the kingdom of the Borderline Sociopathic Boys.
He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.
He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there, and because the lure of sea, spray and sinew, and the history-making chance to traverse two oceans without steam or sail, proved irresistible.
In 1969, after six months alone on the Atlantic battling storms, sharks and encroaching madness, John Fairfax, who died this month at 74, became the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.
In 1972, he and his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook, sharing a boat, became the first people to row across the Pacific, a yearlong ordeal during which their craft was thought lost. (The couple survived the voyage, and so, for quite some time, did their romance.)(read more here)
You have to love a guy smoking a cigarette while telling you about rowing across an ocean. Insouciant is the word, I think. He was just sort of a free-spirit knockabout waif, but at the same time deadly serious about everything he was doing, while laughing and joking about it. He is the Dos Equis man for real.
Seeking to give her son structure, his mother enrolled him at 6 in the Italian Boy Scouts. It was there, Mr. Fairfax said, that he acquired his love of nature — and his determination to bend it to his will.
On a camping trip when he was 9, John concluded a fight with another boy by filching the scoutmaster’s pistol and shooting up the campsite. No one was injured, but his scouting career was over.
His parents’ marriage dissolved soon afterward, and he moved with his mother to Buenos Aires. A bright, impassioned dreamer, he devoured tales of adventure, including an account of the voyage of Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo, Norwegians who in 1896 were the first to row across the Atlantic. John vowed that he would one day make the crossing alone.
At 13, in thrall to Tarzan, he ran away from home to live in the jungle. He survived there as a trapper with the aid of local peasants, returning to town periodically to sell the jaguar and ocelot skins he had collected. (read the rest here)
God rest ye, merry gentleman, whether he exists or not. After hearing about you, I’m not sure I believe in you, either.
(Thanks to Sam in Astoria for sending that one along)