Mar 10 2020

Kleiner’s Korner: Mechanician Al Poole - Letters from Home

Included in the Peter Helck Family Collection is correspondence between Al Poole (chauffeur, mechanician and driver) and his father and brother between the years 1902 and 1906. Poole came to America sometime around 1902 from Coventry, England.   Many of these letters contained information about the auto industry in Europe and the goings on of Poole's brother Alex who worked for various auto manufacturers.  This first letter is between Alex and Al (Alfred) in 1902 concerning among other things the death of two of Willie K's relatives in France.   Future posts will feature additional letters. 

Art Kleiner

Al Poole Biographical Sketch

Noted mechanician,driver and friend.

Brother Alex' 1902 Letter

From Alex to Alf. Note that Alex addressed it to Poole c/o L. (Lawrence) Waterbury who employed Poole as chauffer.  Originally sent to NYC it was readdressed to Newport, RI, most likely a favorite spot for Waterbury. 

Larry Waterbury, as his friends called him, belonged to one of NY's oldest families and became a prominent sportsmen, including playing with LI's most prominent polo players.    After making a fortune as a stock broker in 1907, he became entangled in what was to become known as the Teapot Dome Scandal in the 1920s and lost much of it. 

Waterbury became a member of the Roosevelt family by marrying Eleanor Roosevelt's maternal aunt, Maude Livingston Hall, in 1900.

Al Poole often raced Waterbury's 40 H.P. Mercedes including in June of 1903 at the Empire Course near Yonkers, NY going up against his friend to come, Joe Tracey.   And our Motor Parkway friend, Arthur Pardington was there too, as referee.  (Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal)

The Automobile

In this event, Poole beat Tracey due to a weight limit default. (The Automobile)

Reporting on the Death of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Fair

The letter from Poole's brother Alex discusses the death of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Fair (relatives of Willie K.) in France while driving in their Mercedes Simplex at a speed of about 93 mph! 

Charles Fair was Willie K's brother-in-law, being the brother of Willie's wife, Virginia Graham Fair (Birdie).  (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 14, 1902)

Charles was 35 and his wife, Caroline, 37 at the time of their deaths.  (courtesy, Find A

Los Angeles  Herald, Aug. 15, 1902

The couple's death was reportedly going to impact the social scene.  (The New York Times, Aug. 15, 1902)

Willie K. accompanied the caskets when they arrived in the US. (courtesy

Next installments will provide additional letters written by and sent to  Al Poole.


Mar 11 2020 Ariejan Bos 11:38 AM

I read with interest the above post. The fatal accident of Mr and Mrs Fair apparently had slipped my memory, but I looked up some information in my archive. It includes a detailed description and comment of the accident in The Motor-Car Journal and in La Vie au Grand Air the last photo of Mr Fair was shown with him standing next to William Vanderbilt who had not long before broken the world speed record with the partly visible Mors. I hope this will be of interest!

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