Sunday, February 1, 2009
N C Wyeth and Grandson Both Die on Tracks
When do you know a train is approaching? Amazingly, the time between when you hear, see, or feel a train's approach and when it crosses your path can be so short that you don't have the time to react. Whatever happened that sunlit morning in Pennsylvania, both N C Wyeth and his grandson Newell, who had yet to turn four, died in the crash. Newell was Nathaniel (N C's son) and Caroline Wyeth's second born child. The first had also died but in that child's case shortly after birth. Newell had become the cornerstone of N C's life when he wasn't painting. Every morning N C would pick Newell up and take him on his round of errands. They had stopped at least one other time that morning to look at the beauty of the countryside.
The happenings of that morning and the intrigue going on in the Wyeth family at the time make Wyeth's life loom large as do his canvases. It's all very gothic and well documented in David Michaelis' biography of N C published in 1998. Having been "trapped" in a car myself when a locomotive has approached, I can only hope that young Newell was unaware of the steam engine as it hurtled towards the car.
Caroline Wyeth had written many poems in her life including this one sometime after the death of her first baby.
A Child Is Born
The mind cannot accept a wound
too deep upon the heart.
When tragedy with cutting knife
descends, the two must part.
The heart to stagger on alone,
unsuccored and unseen,
'Till time at last comes to her side
her painful wound to clean.
Perhaps those words were of comfort to her with this second tragedy, the death of both her young son and her father-in-law/confidant, N C. Wyeth.