from readers in search of information about Max Gerlach
November 20, 2002
Thank you for including my request for information on F. Scott Fitzgerald
17 and Max Gerlach in your publication.
I have received two phone calls that are helping me delve into the Princeton/Fitzgerald/Gerlach
post WWI era. One call came from the grandson of Fitzgerald's best friend,
Ludlow Fowler. The other call came from a woman whose family has deep
Princetin ties dating back to the Class of 1911. Her aunt dated Fitzgerald
during his Princeton years.
On another side of my investigation the N.Y.P.D. commissioner's office
has agreed to help in my search. We are meeting a detective in December
who will go through the 1939 suicide-attempt files of Max Gerlach in the
hopes that we can get leads on Max Gerlach's next of kin. If I find the
next of kin I am sure I can unlock the Max Gerlach mystery.
Howard Gerald Comen
Charleston, S. Carolina
Brucolli, Kruse, and Comen seem to be off on a fruitless search for the
prototype of Gatsby. Surely these literary critics have read the book
and therefore must recognize that the inspiration came from Fitzgerald's
imagination. Gatsby has entranced readers for three-quarters of a century
because F.S.F.'s words captured a vital archetypal bit of American experience.
Von Gerlach or some other bootlegger may have supplied a few random details,
but not the spirit of Gatsby. Anyway Gerlach was pretty much disposed
of by Mizner, Piper '39 and other Fitzgerald scholars a long time ago.
I am helping
two F. Scott Fitzgerald 17 scholars, Dr. Matthew Bruccoli of the
University of South Carolina and Dr. Horst Kruse of the University of
Meunster, track down the inspiration for Fitzgerald's character Jay Gatsby.
I believe that
person was Max Gerlach, who operated a garage in New York City at 24 E.
40th St., around the corner from the old Princeton Club.
and Dr. Kruse and I believe Gerlach was a bootlegger, and we are investigating
the possibility that Gerlach supplied the Princeton Club's alcoholic needs
and met Fitzgerald at the Princeton Club.
I would like
to hear from any alumni who might have some family stories or information
on the Princeton Club, Fitzgerald, or a Max S. Gerlach (aka Max Von Gerlach)
during the 20s.
I can be reached on-line at comendetec-pi.com
or through my Charleston offices 800-270-4170 or my New York office
Charleston, S. Carolina