MarketInsight | What Would Tiger Do?
A Jacksonville legend passed away recently. His name was Rogers Baldwin “Tiger” Holmes. Holmes was a World War II veteran. He served in the Army Air Corps and retired, years later, as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve. Tiger flew planes. He wrote an account of his service entitled “The World’s Greatest Pilot,” something he admitted he was not, although it was his firm aspiration. After the war, Holmes owned a local hardware store. He was very successful.
Tiger is best known for swimming. He is a member of the University of Florida Sports Hall of Fame. He set swimming records throughout a long lifetime. In his 90s, Holmes and three other buddies with a combined age of more than 360 years were still setting records. Tiger loved the water and he was responsible for teaching more than 1,200 Jacksonville youths to swim.
I had the good fortune to interview Tiger earlier this year. His apartment was festooned with pictures of his accomplishments, both in and out of the water, including pictures of himself with five presidents. He told me a bunch of interesting stories, including the story I had come to hear. Tiger was on the beach the night that the U-123 sank the Gulfamerica a few miles off our coast in the spring of 1942. That was the story I wanted, the others were a bonus.
According to Tiger, he was working at the Inn & Club as a Cabana boy on that fateful Friday night in 1942. He was in the locker room, having finished work, when someone came in and announced, “The ocean is on fire.” Of course, they all ran out to look. When they got there, they found a man in his underwear, obviously a little inebriated. The man was from the North and on his honeymoon. He kept saying how he couldn’t just stand there and watch those poor men dying and not do something. He convinced the boys to help him drag a row boat from the lagoon to the surf. He then paddled out toward the burning wreck.
The ill-fated rescue went awry. His new bride was scared to death and more than a little angry. She consoled herself with room service gin and tonics. When her husband finally came home the next day, he was sunburnt and sore. Five days after the event, the local paper of record identified that man as R. McCollum, a “Winter visitor…with more gallantry than wisdom.” According to the reports, he was rescued 20 miles out to sea after noon of the next day, some 14 or 15 hours after setting out.
I guess that the moral of the story is that when you find yourself in troubled waters, just keep swimming (or rowing if that is the case.) When Gertrude Ederle was swimming across the English Channel, the waves kicked up. Someone in the chase boat suggested she get out of the water. Her classic response: “What for?” It takes some grit to keep going. The market has turned choppy and many of us might be getting a little seasick. The best advice is to stick to your plan and keep going. I’d like to think that’s what Tiger would do.
Scott A. Grant is President of Standfast Asset Management in Ponte Vedra Beach. He welcomes your comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.