McAdoo Clan

This McAdoo genealogy blog has been created to share family information. It will be used to record genealogy data as well as to communicate family news.

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Location: Metuchen, New Jersey, United States

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

"Jimmy" Manuscript Outline


The book is about my dad-how I remember him and how others remember him.
It is the story of a kid who wanted to swim, a man who wanted to coach, a husband and father who struggled with both roles, and a dad who became my best friend.
It is about the continuing journey to discover my roots and complete the story.

“Jimmy” written by William D. Ehrhart, Swarthmore College, Class of 1973

Chapter One: The McAdoo Family
My earliest memories and what I have learned through searching for my family roots.

Chapter Two: Jimmy-Growing up in Germantown
Swimming at the Germantown Boys Club.
Philadelphia Gas Works News article, “Looking Back With Jimmy” and other stories.

Chapter Three: 1927 to 1935-Events in Jimmy’s Life
Swimming for Turners.
Playing water polo for Crystal Pool.
My grandmother died.
The Great Depression, 1929-1941.
Jimmy turned down a scholarship to Rider College.
Jimmy and Grace.
Jimmy and his brother Howard-more stories.
My parents start a family.

Chapter Four: The Coach
Northeast Catholic High School
Germantown Y
The American Red Cross-Europe 1945
Swarthmore College
LaSalle College
Swimmers’ recollections of Jimmy at the time of his retirement and today.

Chapter Five: Nicknames
Jimmy had nicknames for his swimmers and they had nicknames for him.

Chapter Six: My Family’s Legacy-Their Memories

Monday, July 04, 2005

Memories of Jimmy-continued

I just received the following comments from two Swarthmore swimmers. Alden Bennett swam on my dad's first team and Colin Barnett on his last team.

I swam on the Swarthmore swim team from 68 to 72. My memories of your father are among the more vivid ones I have of life at Swarthmore. What I remember most about him is his concern for the swimmers and his ability to hold the team together through humor, cajoling, and understanding.

Coach McAdoo was not a man of the "sixties", a time when sex, drugs, and rock and roll dominated the campuses. He was understandably old-fashioned, but commanded great respect from his swimmers. After college, I eventually started swimming at the Masters level. The coaching I received there made me realize that your father's coaching on swim and racing techniques was just average. His real contribution was his wisdom, integrity, and devotion to the team.

Colin Barnett '72

Dear Jim, I only hope this reply will due justice to your father and the very fond memories I have of him.
I swam for him at Swarthmore during the winters of 1938-39 and 1939-40. I was certainly the
worst 440-yard swimmer he had during that time, maybe during his whole coaching career. I didn't really deserve my nickname then of "a-point-a-meet Bennett". (Maybe they averaged in the 5 points I won (just once, by default) when the other team had no entry in the 440.)But, God bless him, he never gave up on me. Near the end of our first season together, he took me aside and said, "Alden, I think your problem is that you let yourself get too far behind too soon in the race."
So we tried a new strategy for me at the next meet, - keeping up with the leaders. The 440 took 17 and 3/5 laps in Swarthmore's 25-yard pool. I stayed up with them for the first 12 laps and then had to quit and upchuck in the scuppers. Jimmy congratulated me as if I had won the race.
What a wonderful guy! And how often I've thought of him when trying to encourage younger colleagues to get up to speed. In fondest memory of Jimmy and with very best regards, - Alden Bennett, Class of 1940.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Jimmy's Swimming Career

It is difficult to accurately trace my dad’s development as a swimmer because so few records remain and those that do have deteriorated considerably. Most of what remains are write-ups of his swimming days at the Germantown Boys Club and the Philadelphia Turners. I have no information about him swimming at Tome School or Germantown High School.

Jimmy began swimming competitively at the GBC when he was 10 or 12 years old. By 1924, at the age of 15, he had become recognized as a potential star. Some years later a writer wrote, “. . . and it is of a present day champion that we intend to speak of, no other than James McAdoo, the present “220” champion and a member of Turners since 1927. Back in 1924 the Germantown Boys’ Club found a representative capable of holding his own in almost any aquatic event he chose to enter, a swimmer with great possibilities, needing only training in the school of experience.” The writer continued, “Came the Sesqui-Centennial year, and with it the National Championships at the League Island pool. A second place in the “440” open fell to his lot, showing that the longer sprints were his best bet.” I checked the records and the winner of the race was Johnny Weissmuller, probably the greatest swimmer of that era. Later in the same article, “Then in 1927, PGT (Turners) acquired a new member, a swimmer needing only polish to rank with the sectional champions,” and about the 1928 season he wrote, “ . . . and it is only giving credit in the right place to say that McAdoo was to the Turner team what a keystone is to an arch.” The article goes on to point out his accomplishments during the 1929 season and it concluded with, “And in recognition of his splendid work he received the captaincy of the Turner team for 1930, which year gives promise of even greater success than the season just past.”

His outstanding career continued until 1933 or maybe 1934. Jimmy’s greatest achievements were swimming in the Schuylkill River at the Philadelphia Swimming Club. He retired three of the oldest and most prestigious trophies of that time, winning each one three times. They were the James H. Sterrett Trophy, 200 yard freestyle, the William Post Sackett Trophy, 100 yard freestyle, and the Sydney S. Asher Trophy, 440 yard freestyle. One year he won the Sackett race and 20 minutes later the Asher race, both in record setting times.

Jimmy did not go to college although he was offered a scholarship to Rider College in 1930 at the age of twenty-one, but he turned it down. My grandmother had died a few months earlier, the country was in the midst of the Depression and my grandfather was struggling to keep the family together. Here’s what William E. Moore (perhaps the athletic director) wrote when he heard of my dad’s decision. “While I do not, of course, know the inner reasons for your decision, I can understand that it must concern your immediate future to influence you to take such action. But it is as you say, better to “get together” with your dad on matters so as to share that united and common interest cooperation that is so vital to the success and harmony of families. As it stands now, I want to wish you, Jimmy, all the success in the World—I know it sounds trite—but I sincerely mean it, because you deserve to win out. If you should ever have reason to change your mind over coming to Rider, our offer is open to you, because you’re the kind of a fellow Rider wants in its student body.” He added a handwritten postscript, “Sure hope you change your plans and come back--- your books will be saved and waiting for you,”

Jimmy went on to play softball water polo for several years before the rules changed to make it a less dangerous sport. He began his coaching career in 1935 at Northeast Catholic High School where he developed a number of nationally ranked swimmers. During that period, he also coached at Germantown Y. Many of these young swimmers became life-long friends.

In 1938, Jimmy became the coach at Swarthmore College where he established a reputation as a fiercely competitive coach, a teacher, motivator, and friend to so many student athletes. After retiring in 1972, he joined his friend Jack Lumsden at LaSalle College and continued coaching there until his death in 1975.