×

The Boys in the Boat / (by Daniel James Brown, 2017) -

The Boys in the Boat /    (by Daniel James Brown, 2017) -

The Boys in the Boat / (by Daniel James Brown, 2017) -

, . , . - , , , . , , , , , . , , , . . , , . , , . , .

:
: 2 027
:
The Boys in the Boat / (by Daniel James Brown, 2017) -
:
2017
:
Daniel James Brown
:
Edward Herrmann
:
:
,
:
upper-intermediate
:
14:26:43
:
49 kbps
:
mp3, pdf, doc

The Boys in the Boat / :

.doc (Word) daniel_james_brown_-_the_boys_in_the_boat.doc [13.03 Mb] (c: 16) .
.pdf daniel_james_brown_-_the_boys_in_the_boat.pdf [9.17 Mb] (c: 9) .
audiobook (MP3) .


: The Boys in the Boat

:

( , ).


Its a great art, is rowing. Its the finest art there is. Its a symphony of motion. And when youre rowing well, why its nearing perfection. And when you near perfection, youre touching the Divine. It touches the you of yous. Which is your soul. George Yeoman Pocock (But I desire and I long every day to go home and to look upon the day of my return . . . for already I have suffered and labored at so many things on the waves.) Homer Dawn row on Lake Washington PROLOGUE In a sport like thishard work, not much glory, but still popular in every centurywell, there must be some beauty which ordinary men cant see, but extraordinary men do. George Yeoman Pocock T his book was born on a cold, drizzly, late spring day when I clambered over the split-rail cedar fence that surrounds my pasture and made my way through wet woods to the modest frame house where Joe Rantz lay dying. I knew only two things about Joe when I knocked on his daughter Judys door that day. I knew that in his midseventies he had single-handedly hauled a number of cedar logs down a mountain, then hand-split the rails and cut the posts and installed all 2,224 linear feet of the pasture fence I had just climbed overa task so herculean I shake my head in wonderment whenever I think about it. And I knew that he had been one of nine young men from the state of Washingtonfarm boys, fishermen, and loggerswho shocked both the rowing world and Adolf Hitler by winning the gold medal in eight-oared rowing at the 1936 Olympics. When Judy opened the door and ushered me into her cozy living room, Joe was stretched out in a recliner with his feet up, all six foot three of him. He was wearing a gray sweat suit and bright red, down-filled booties. He had a thin white beard. His skin was sallow, his eyes puffyresults of the congestive heart failure from which he was dying. An oxygen tank stood nearby. A fire was popping and hissing in the woodstove. The walls were covered with old family photos. A glass display case crammed with dolls and porcelain horses and rose-patterned china stood against the far wall. Rain flecked a window that looked out into the woods. Jazz tunes from the thirties and forties were playing quietly on the stereo. Judy introduced me, and Joe offered me an extraordinarily long, thin hand. Judy had been reading one of my books aloud to Joe, and he wanted to meet me and talk about it. As a young man, he had, by extraordinary coincidence, been a friend of Angus Hay Jr.the son of a person central to the story of that book. So we talked about that for a while. Then the conversation began to turn to his own life. His voice was reedy, fragile, and attenuated almost to the breaking point. From time to time he faded into silence. Slowly, though, with cautious prompting from his daughter, he began to spin out some of the threads of his life story. Recalling his childhood and his young adulthood during the Great Depression, he spoke haltingly but resolutely about a series of hardships he had endured and obstacles he had overcome, a tale that, as I sat taking notes, at first surprised and then astonished me. But it wasnt until he began to talk about his rowing career at the University of Washington that he started, from time to time, to cry. He talked about learning the art of rowing, about shells and oars, about tactics and technique. He reminisced about long, cold hours on the water under steel-gray skies, about smashing victories and defeats narrowly averted, about traveling to Germany and marching under Hitlers eyes into the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, and about his crewmates. None of these recollections brought him to tears, though. It was when he tried to talk about the boat that his words began to falter and tears welled up in his bright eyes. At first I thought he meant the Husky Clipper, the racing shell in which he had rowed his way to glory. Or did he mean his teammates, the improbable assemblage of young men who had pulled off one of rowings greatest achievements? Finally, watching Joe struggle for composure over and over, I realized that the boat was something more than just the shell or its crew. To Joe, it encompassed but transcended bothit was something mysterious and almost beyond definition. It was a shared experiencea singular thing that had unfolded in a golden sliver of time long gone, when nine good-hearted young men strove together, pulled together as one, gave everything they had for one another, bound together forever by pride and respect and love. Joe was crying, at least in part, for the loss of that vanished moment but much more, I think, for the sheer beauty of it. As I was preparing to leave that afternoon, Judy removed Joes gold medal from the glass case against the wall and handed it to me. While I was admiring it, she told me that it had vanished years before. The family had searched Joes house high and low but had finally given it up as lost. Only many years later, when they were remodeling the house, had they finally found it concealed in some insulating material in the attic. A squirrel had apparently taken a liking to the glimmer of the gold and hidden the medal away in its nest as a personal treasure. As Judy was telling me this, it occurred to me that Joes story, like the medal, had been squirreled away out of sight for too long. I shook Joes hand again and told him I would like to come back and talk to him some more, and that Id like to write a book about his rowing days. Joe grasped my hand again and said hed like that, but then his voice broke once more and he admonished me gently, But not just about me. It has to be about the boat. PART ONE 18991933 What Seasons They Have Been Through The Washington shell house, 1930s CHAPTER ONE Having rowed myself since the tender age of twelve and having been around rowing ever since, I believe I can speak authoritatively on what we may call the unseen values of rowingthe social, moral, and spiritual values of this oldest of chronicled sports in the world. No didactic teaching will place these values in a young mans soul. He has to get them by his own observation and lessons. George Yeoman Pocock M onday, October 9, 1933, began as a gray day in Seattle. A gray day in a gray time. Along the waterfront, seaplanes from the Gorst Air Transport company rose slowly from the surface of Puget Sound and droned westward, flying low under the cloud cover, beginning their short hops over to the naval shipyard at Bremerton. Ferries crawled away from Colman Dock on water as flat and dull as old pewter. Downtown, the Smith Tower pointed, like an upraised finger, toward somber skies. On the streets below the tower, men in fraying suit coats, worn-out shoes, and battered felt fedoras wheeled wooden carts toward the street corners where they would spend the day selling apples and oranges and packages of gum for a few pennies apiece. Around the corner, on the steep incline of Yesler Way, Seattles old, original Skid Road, more men stood in long lines, heads bent, regarding the wet sidewalks and talking softly among themselves as they waited for the soup kitchens to open. Trucks from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer rattled along cobblestone streets, dropping off bundles of newspapers. Newsboys in woolen caps lugged the bundles to busy intersections, to trolley stops, and to hotel entrances, where they held the papers aloft, hawking them for two cents a copy, shouting out the days headline: 15,000,000 to Get U.S. Relief. A few blocks south of Yesler, in a shantytown sprawling along the edge of Elliott Bay, children awoke in damp cardboard boxes that served as beds. Their parents crawled out of tin-and-tar-paper shacks and into the stench of sewage and rotting seaweed from the mudflats to the west. They broke apart wooden crates and stooped over smoky campfires, feeding the flames. They looked up at the uniform gray skies and, seeing in them tokens of much colder weather ahead, wondered how they would make it through another winter. Seattles Hooverville Northwest of downtown, in the old Scandinavian neighborhood of Ballard, tugboats belching plumes of black smoke nosed long rafts of logs into the locks that would raise them to the level of Lake Washington. But the gritty shipyards and boat works clustered around the locks were largely quiet, nearly abandoned in fact. In Salmon Bay, just to the east, dozens of fishing boats, unused for months, sat bobbing at moorage, the paint peeling from their weathered hulls. On Phinney Ridge, looming above Ballard, wood smoke curled up from the stovepipes and chimneys of hundreds of modest homes and dissolved into the mist overhead. It was the fourth year of the Great Depression. One in four working Americansten million peoplehad no job and no prospects of finding one, and only a quarter of them were receiving any kind of relief. Industrial production had fallen by half in those four years. At least one million, and perhaps as many as two million, were homeless, living on the streets or in shantytowns like Seattles Hooverville. In many American towns, it was impossible to find a bank whose doors werent permanently shuttered; behind those doors the savings of countless American families had disappeared forever. Nobody could say when, or if, the hard times would ever end. And perhaps that was the worst of it. Whether you were a banker or a baker, a homemaker or homeless, it was with you night and daya terrible, unrelenting uncertainty about the future, a feeling that the ground could drop out from under you for good at any moment. In March an oddly appropriate movie had come out and quickly become a smash hit: King Kong. Long lines formed in front of movie theaters around the country, people of all ages shelling out precious quarters and dimes to see the story of a huge, irrational beast that had invaded the civilized world, taken its inhabitants into its clutches, and left them dangling over the abyss. There were glimmers of better times to come, but they were just glimmers. The stock market had rebounded earlier in the year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbing an all-time record of 15.34 percent in one day on March 15 to close at 62.10. But Americans had seen so much capital destroyed between 1929 and the end of 1932 that almost everyone believed, correctly as it would turn out, that it might take the better part of a generationtwenty-five yearsbefore the Dow once again saw its previous high of 381 points. And, at any rate, the price of a share of General Electric didnt mean a thing to the vast majority of Americans, who owned no stock at all. What mattered to them was that the strongboxes and mason jars under their beds, in which they now kept what remained of their life savings, were often perilously close to empty. A new president was in the White House, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a distant cousin of that most upbeat and energetic of presidents, Teddy Roosevelt. FDR had come into office brimming with optimism and trumpeting a raft of slogans and programs. But Herbert Hoover had come in spouting equal optimism, buoyantly predicting that a day would soon come when poverty would be washed out of American life forever. Ours is a land rich in resources; stimulating in its glorious beauty; filled with millions of happy homes; blessed with comfort and opportunity, Hoover had said at his inaugural, before adding words that would soon prove particularly ironic: In no nation are the fruits of accomplishment more secure. At any rate, it was hard to know what to make of the new President Roosevelt. As he began putting programs into place over the summer, a rising chorus of hostile voices had begun to call him a radical, a socialist, even a Bolshevik. It was unnerving to hear: as bad as things were, few Americans wanted to go down the Russian path. There was a new man in Germany too, brought into power in January by the National Socialist German Workers Party, a group with a reputation for thuggish behavior. It was even harder to know what that meant. But Adolf Hitler was hell-bent on rearming his country despite the Treaty of Versailles. And while most Americans were distinctly uninterested in European affairs, the British were increasingly worked up about it all, and one had to wonder whether the horrors of the Great War were about to be replayed. It seemed unlikely, but the possibility hung there, a persistent and troubling cloud. The day before, October 8, 1933, the American Weekly, a Sunday supplement in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and dozens of other American newspapers, had run a single-frame, half-page cartoon, one in a series titled City Shadows. Dark, drawn in charcoal, chiaroscuro in style, it depicted a man in a derby sitting dejectedly on a sidewalk by his candy stand with his wife, behind him, dressed in rags and his son, beside him, holding some newspapers. The caption read Ah dont give up, Pop. Maybe ya didnt make a sale all week, but it aint as if I didnt have my paper route. But it was the expression on the mans face that was most arresting. Haunted, haggard, somewhere beyond hopeless, it suggested starkly that he no longer believed in himself. For many of the millions of Americans who read the American Weekly every Sunday, it was an all too familiar expressionone they saw every morning when they glanced in the mirror. But the overcast didnt last, nor did the gloom, in Seattle that day. By late morning, seams began to open in the cloud cover. The still waters of Lake Washington, stretched out at the citys back, slowly shifted from gray to green to blue. On the campus of the University of Washington, perched on a bluff overlooking the lake, slanting rays of sunlight began to warm the shoulders of students lounging on a wide quadrangle of grass in front of the universitys massive new stone library, eating their lunches, poring over books, chatting idly. Sleek black crows strutted among the students, hoping for a morsel of bologna or cheese left unguarded. High above the librarys stained-glass windows and soaring neo-Gothic spires, screeching seagulls whirled in white loops against the slowly bluing sky. For the most part, the young men and women sat in separate groups. The men wore pressed slacks and freshly shined oxfords and cardigan sweaters. As they ate, they talked earnestly about classes, about the big upcoming football game with the University of Oregon, and about the improbable ending of the World Series two days before, when little Mel Ott had come to the plate for the New York Giants with two out in the tenth inning. Ott had run the count out to two and two, and then smashed a long line drive into the center field seats to score the series-winning run over the Washington Senators. It was the kind of thing that showed you that a little guy could still make all the difference, and it reminded you how suddenly events could turn around in this world, for better or for worse. Some of the young men sucked lazily on briar pipes, and the sweet smell of Prince Albert tobacco smoke drifted among them. Others dangled cigarettes from their lips, and as they paged through the days Seattle Post-Intelligencer they could take satisfaction in a half-page ad that trumpeted the latest proof of the health benefits of smoking: 21 of 23 Giants Worlds Champions Smoke Camels. It Takes Healthy Nerves to Win the World Series. The young women, sitting in their own clusters on the lawn, wore short-heeled pumps and rayon hose, calf-length skirts, and loose-fitting blouses with ruffles and flounces on the sleeves and at the necklines. Their hair was sculpted into a wide variety of shapes and styles. Like the young men, the women talked about classes and sometimes about baseball too. Those who had had dates over the weekend talked about the new movies in townGary Cooper in One Sunday Afternoon, at the Paramount, and a Frank Capra film, Lady for a Day, at the Roxy. Like the boys, some of them smoked cigarettes. By midafternoon the sun had broken through, unfurling a warm, translucent day of golden light. Two young men, taller than most, loped across the grassy quad in front of the library, in a hurry. One of them, a six-foot-three freshman named Roger Morris, had a loose, gangly build; a tousle of dark hair with a forelock that perpetually threatened to fall over his long face; and heavy black eyebrows that lent him, at first glance, a bit of a glowering look. The other young man, Joe Rantz, also a freshman, was nearly as tall, at six foot two and a half, but more tautly built, with broad shoulders and solid, powerful legs. He wore his blond hair in a crew cut. He had a strong jawline, fine, regular features, gray eyes verging into blue, and he drew covert glances from many of the young women sitting on the grass. The two young men were taking the same engineering class and had a common and audacious objective that radiant afternoon. They rounded a corner of the library, skirted the concrete circle of Frosh Pond, descended a long grassy slope, and then crossed Montlake Boulevard, dodging a steady stream of black coupes, sedans, and roadsters. The pair made their way eastward between the basketball pavilion and the horseshoe-shaped excavation that served as the campus football stadium. Then they turned south again, following a dirt road through open woods and into a marshy area fringing Lake Washington. As they walked they began to overtake other boys heading in the same direction. They finally came to a point of land located just where the canal known as the Montlake Cutsimply the Cut, in local parlanceentered Union Bay on the west side of Lake Washington. Perched on the point was an odd-looking building. Its sidesclad in weather-beaten shingles and inset with a series of large windowsslanted obliquely inward, rising toward a gambrel roof. When the boys moved around to the front of the building, they found an enormous pair of sliding doors, the upper halves of which consisted almost entirely of windowpanes. A wide wooden ramp ran from the sliding doors down to a long dock floating parallel to the shore of the Cut. It was an old airplane hangar built by the U.S. Navy in 1918 to house seaplanes for the Naval Aviation Training Corps during the Great War. The war had ended before the building could actually be used, so it had been turned over to the University of Washington in the fall of 1919. Ever since, it had served as the shell house for the schools rowing team. Now both the wide wooden ramp leading down to the water and a narrow ledge of land to the east of the building were crowded with boys milling about nervously, 175 of them, mostly tall and lean, though a dozen or so of them were notably short and slight. A handful of older boys were there too, leaning against the building in white jerseys emblazoned with large purple Ws, their arms crossed, sizing up the newcomers. Joe Rantz and Roger Morris stepped into the building. Along each side of the cavernous room, long, sleek racing shells were stacked four high on wooden racks. With their burnished wooden hulls turned upward, they gleamed in white shafts of light that fell from the windows overhead, giving the place the feel of a cathedral. The air was dry and still. It smelled sweetly of varnish and freshly sawn cedar. Collegiate banners, faded but still colorful, hung from the high rafters: California, Yale, Princeton, Navy, Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, Syracuse, MIT. In the corners of the room, dozens of yellow-spruce oars stood on end, each ten to twelve feet long and tipped with a white blade. At the back of the room, up in a loft, could be heard someone at work with a wood rasp. Joe and Roger signed the freshman crew registration book, then returned to the bright light outside and sat on a bench, waiting for instructions. Joe glanced at Roger, who seemed relaxed and confident. Arent you nervous? Joe whispered. Roger glanced back at him. Im panicked. I just look like this to demoralize the competition. Joe smiled briefly, too close to panic himself to hold the smile for long. For Joe Rantz, perhaps more than for any of the other young men sitting by the Montlake Cut, something hung in the balance that afternoon, and he was all too aware of it. The girls on the library lawn who had glanced appreciatively his way had had to overlook what was painfully obvious to him: that his clothes were not like those of most of the other studentshis trousers not neatly creased, his oxfords neither new nor freshly polished, his sweater neither crisp nor clean but rather an old and rumpled hand-me-down. Joe understood cold reality. He knew he might not belong here at all, and he certainly couldnt stay long in this world of pressed trousers, of briar pipes and cardigan sweaters, of interesting ideas, sophisticated conversation, and intriguing opportunities, if things did not go well in the shell house. He would never be a chemical engineer, and he would not be able to marry his high school sweetheart, who had followed him to Seattle so they could begin to build a life together. To fail at this rowing business would mean, at best, returning to a small, bleak town on the Olympic Peninsula with nothing ahead of him but the prospect of living alone in a cold, empty, half-built house, surviving as best he could on odd jobs, foraging for food, and maybe, if he was very lucky, finding another highway construction job with the Civilian Conservation Corps. At worst it would mean joining a long line of broken men standing outside a soup kitchen like the one down on Yesler Way. A spot on the freshman crew would not mean a rowing scholarship, for there was no such thing at Washington in 1933, but it would mean the guarantee of a part-time job somewhere on campus, and thatcombined with the little Joe had been able to save during the long year of hard manual labor he had endured since graduating from high schooljust might get him through college. But he knew that within a few short weeks only a handful of the crowd of boys gathered around him would still be contenders for the freshman crew. In the end, there were only nine seats in the first freshman shell. The rest of the afternoon was largely consumed by the collection of facts and figures. Joe Rantz and Roger Morris and all the other hopefuls were told to step onto scales, to stand next to measuring sticks, to fill out forms detailing their medical backgrounds. Assistant coaches and older students carrying clipboards stood by eyeing them and recording the information. Thirty of the freshmen, it turned out, were six feet or taller, twenty-five were six one or more, fourteen were six two or more, six were six three or more, one was six four, and two reached six feet five into the atmosphere, as one of the sportswriters present noted. Directing the proceedings was a slim young man toting a large megaphone. Tom Bolles, the freshman coach, was a former Washington oarsman himself. With a bland, pleasant face, a bit lean in the jowls, and given to wearing wire-rimmed glasses, Bolles had been a history major, was working on a masters degree, and had a distinctly scholarly look about hima look that had spurred some of Seattles sportswriters to begin referring to him as the professor. And in many ways, the role that lay ahead of him that fall, as it did every fall, was that of an educator. When his colleagues in the basketball pavilion or on the football field first encountered their freshman prospects each fall, they could assume that the boys had played the sport in high school and knew at least the rudiments of their respective games. But almost none of the young men assembled outside the shell house that afternoon had ever rowed a stroke in his life, certainly not in a vessel as delicate and unforgiving as a racing shell, pulling oars twice as long as the young men were tall. Most of them were city boys like the boys lounging up on the quadthe sons of lawyers and businessmendressed neatly in woolen slacks and cardigan sweaters. A few, like Joe, were farm boys or lumberjacks or fishermen, the products of foggy coastal villages, damp dairy farms, and smoky lumber towns all over the state. Growing up, they had wielded axes and fishing gaffs and pitchforks expertly, and they had built up strong arms and broad shoulders doing so. Their strength would be an asset, Bolles knew, but rowinghe understood as well as anyonewas at least as much art as brawn, and a keen intelligence was just as important as brute strength. There were a thousand and one small things that had to be learned, mastered, and brought to bear in precisely the right way to propel a twenty-four-inch-wide cedar shell, carrying three-quarters of a ton of human flesh and bone, through the water with any semblance of speed and grace. Over the next few months, he would need to teach these boys, or those few among them who made the freshman team, every last one of those thousand and one small things. And some big ones as well: Would the farm boys be able to keep up with the intellectual side of the sport? Would the city boys have the toughness simply to survive? Most of them, Bolles knew, would not. Another tall man stood watching quietly from the broad doorway of the shell house, dressed impeccably, as he always was, in a dark three-piece business suit, a crisp white shirt, a tie, and a fedora, spinning a Phi Beta Kappa key on a lanyard he held in one hand. Al Ulbrickson, head coach of the University of Washington rowing program, was a stickler for detail, and his style of dress sent a simple message: that he was the boss, and that he was all business. He was just thirtyyoung enough that he needed to draw a line of demarcation between himself and the boys he commanded. The suit and the Phi Beta Kappa key helped in that regard. It also helped that he was strikingly good-looking and built like the oarsman he had been, the former stroke oar of a Washington crew that had won national championships in 1924 and 1926. He was tall, muscular, broad shouldered, and distinctly Nordic in his features, with high cheekbones, a chiseled jawline, and cold slate-gray eyes. They were the kind of eyes that shut you up fast if you were a young man inclined to challenge something he had just said. He had been born right here in the Montlake district of Seattle, not far from the shell house. And he had grown up just a few miles down Lake Washington on Mercer Island, long before it became an enclave for the wealthy. His family, in fact, had been of very modest means, straining to make ends meet. In order to attend Franklin High School, he had had to row a small boat two miles over to Seattle and back every day for four years. He had excelled at Franklin, but he never really felt challenged by his teachers. It wasnt until he arrived at the University of Washington and turned out for crew that he came into his own. Finally challenged in the classroom and on the water, he excelled in both areas, and when he graduated in 1926, Washington quickly hired him as the freshman crew coach, and then as head coach. Now he lived and breathed Washington rowing. The university, and rowing, had made him who he was. Now they were almost a religion to him. His job was to win converts. Al Ulbrickson Ulbrickson was also the least talkative man on campus, perhaps in the state, legendary for his reticence and the inscrutability of his countenance. He was half Danish and half Welsh by ancestry, and New York sportswriters, both frustrated and somewhat charmed by how hard they had to work to get a decent quote out of him, had taken to calling him the Dour Dane. His oarsmen also found the name apt, but none of them was likely to call him it to his face. He commanded enormous respect among his boys, but he did so almost entirely without raising his voice, almost, in fact, without speaking to them. His few words were so carefully chosen and so effectively delivered that every one of them fell like a blade or a balm on the boy to whom they were delivered. He strictly forbade his boys from smoking, cursing, or drinking, though he was known occasionally to do all three himself when safely out of sight or earshot of his crews. To the boys, he seemed at times almost devoid of emotion, yet year after year he somehow managed to stir the deepest and most affirmative emotions many of them had ever known. As Ulbrickson stood watching the new crop of freshmen that afternoon, Royal Brougham, the sports editor at the Post-Intelligencer, edged close to him. Brougham was a slight man, whom many years later ABCs Keith Jackson would call a jolly little elf. But if he was jolly, he was also crafty. He was well acquainted with Ulbricksons perpetual solemnity, and he had his own names for the coach: sometimes he was the Deadpan Kid, sometimes the Man with the Stone Face. Now he peered up at Ulbricksons granitic face and began to pepper him with questionsprobing, pestering questionsdetermined to find out what the Husky coach thought about the new crop of freshmen, all this tall timber, as Brougham put it. Ulbrickson remained quiet a long while, gazing at the boys on the ramp and squinting at the sunlight on the Cut. The temperature had climbed into the high seventies, unusually warm for an October afternoon in Seattle, and some of the new boys had taken off their shirts to soak up the sun. A few of them sauntered along the dock, bending over to hoist long, yellow-spruce oars, getting the feel of them, contemplating their considerable heft. In the golden afternoon light, the boys moved gracefullylithe and fit, ready to take something on. When Ulbrickson finally turned to Brougham and replied, it was with a single, none-too-helpful word: Pleasing. Royal Brougham had come to know Al Ulbrickson pretty well, and he did a quick double take. There was something about the way Ulbrickson delivered the response, a note in his voice or a glint in his eye or a twitch at the corner of his mouth, that arrested Broughams attention. The following day he offered his readers this translation of Ulbricksons reply: which in less guarded terms means . . . very good indeed. Royal Broughams interest in what Al Ulbrickson was thinking was far from casualmuch more than just a desire to fill out his daily column with yet another terse Ulbrickson quote. Brougham was on a questone of many he would launch in his sixty-eight-year career with the Post-Intelligencer. Since he had started at the paper in 1910, Brougham had become something of a local legend, renowned for his uncanny ability to extract information from storied figures like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey. His opinion, his connections, and his tenacity were so well regarded that he was quickly becoming something of a ringmaster of civic life in Seattle, sought out by grandees of all stripespoliticians, star athletes, university presidents, fight promoters, coaches, even bookies. But above all, Brougham was a masterful promoter. Part poet, part P. T. Barnum, Emmett Watson, another legendary Seattle scribe, called him. What he wanted to promote above all else was Seattle. He wanted to transform the worlds view of his gray, sleepy, logging-and-fishing town into something far grander and more sophisticated. When Brougham first arrived at the Post-Intelligencer, Washingtons crew program had consisted of little more than a handful of rough-and-tumble country boys lurching around Lake Washington in leaky, tublike shells, coached by what appeared to many to be a red-haired lunatic named Hiram Conibear. In the intervening years, the program had advanced a great deal, but it still got little respect beyond the West Coast. Brougham figured the time was right to change all that. After all, for grandness and sophistication nothing could match a world-class rowing team. The sport reeked of classiness. And crew was a good way for a school, or a city, to get noticed. In the 1920s and 1930s, collegiate crew was wildly popular, often ranking right up there with baseball and collegiate football in the amount of press it received and the crowds it drew. Outstanding oarsmen were lionized in the national press, even in the era of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio. Top sportswriters like Grantland Rice and the New York Timess Robert Kelley covered all the major regattas. Millions of fans diligently followed their crews progress throughout the training and racing seasons, particularly in the East, where something as minor as a coxswains sore throat could make headlines. Eastern private schools, modeling themselves after elite British institutions like Eton, taught rowing as a gentlemans sport and fed their young-gentlemen oarsmen into the nations most prestigious universities, places like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. The most devoted fans even collected trading cards of their favorite crews. By the 1920s western fans had begun to take a similar interest in their own crewsspurred on by a heated rivalry, which dated back to 1903, between two large public universities, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Washington. After years of struggling for funding and recognition even on their own campuses, the crew programs at both schools had finally begun to have occasional successes competing with their eastern counterparts. Recently crews from California had even won Olympic gold twice. Both schools could now count on tens of thousands of students, alumni, and excited citizens to turn out for their annual dual regattas in April, when they battled for preeminence in West Coast rowing. But western coaches were paid a fraction of what eastern coaches made, and western crews still rowed mostly against one another. Neither school had a penny for recruitment, nor virtually anything in the way of well-heeled patrons. Everyone knew that the center of gravity in American collegiate rowing still lay somewhere between Cambridge, New Haven, Princeton, Ithaca, and Annapolis. Royal Brougham figured if it could somehow be shifted west, it might land squarely in Seattle and bring the city a lot of much-needed respect. He also knew that, given the way things were going, it might very well land in California instead. As Al Ulbrickson studied his new freshmen at the shell house in Seattle that afternoon, five thousand miles to the east, a thirty-nine-year-old architect named Werner March worked late into the night, hunched over a drafting table in an office somewhere in Berlin. A few days before, on October 5, he and Adolf Hitler had stepped out of a black, armored Mercedes-Benz in the countryside west of Berlin. They were accompanied by Dr. Theodor Lewald, president of the German Olympic Organizing Committee, and Wilhelm Frick, Reich minister of the interior. The spot where they emerged from the car was slightly elevated, about a hundred feet higher than the heart of the city. To the west lay the ancient Grunewald forest, where sixteenth-century German princes hunted stags and wild boars and where Berliners of all classes nowadays enjoyed hiking, picnicking, and foraging for mushrooms. To the east, the ancient church spires and peaked rooflines of central Berlin rose above a sea of trees turned red and gold in the crisp autumn air. They had come to inspect the old Deutsches Stadion, built in 1916 for the ill-fated Olympic Games of that year. Werner Marchs father, Otto, had designed and overseen construction of the structurethe largest stadium in the world at the timebut the games had been canceled because of the Great War, the war that had so humiliated Germany. Now, under the younger Marchs direction, the stadium was undergoing renovations in preparation for the 1936 Olympics, which Germany was to host. Hitler had not originally wanted to host the games at all. Almost everything about the idea, in fact, had offended him. The year before, he had damned the games as the invention of Jews and Freemasons. The very heart of the Olympic idealthat athletes of all nations and all races should commingle and compete on equal termswas antithetical to his National Socialist Partys core belief: that the Aryan people were manifestly superior to all others. And he was filled with revulsion by the notion that Jews, Negroes, and other vagabond races from around the world would come traipsing through Germany. But in the eight months since he had come to power in January, Hitler had begun to change his mind. The man who, more than any other, was responsible for this transformation was Dr. Joseph Goebbels, minister of public enlightenment and propaganda. Goebbelsa particularly vicious anti-Semite who had engineered much of Hitlers political risewas now systematically dismantling what remained of a free press in Germany. Just over five feet tall, with a deformed and shortened right leg, a club foot, and an oddly shaped head that seemed too large for his small body, Goebbels did not look the part of a powerbroker, but he in fact was among the most important and influential members of Hitlers inner circle. He was intelligent, articulate, and remarkably cunning. Many who knew him in social settingsamong them, the American ambassador to Germany, William Dodd; his wife, Mattie; and his daughter, Marthafound him delightful, infectious, one of the few men in Germany with a sense of humor. He had a surprisingly compelling speaking voice for so small a man, an instrument that he wielded like a rapier when he addressed large crowds in person or spoke on the radio. That very week he had assembled three hundred Berlin journalists to instruct them on the provisions of the Nazis new National Press Law. First and foremost, he had announced, to practice journalism in Germany one would henceforth have to do so as a licensed member of his press organization, the Reichsverband der Deutschen Presse, and no one would be licensed who had, or was married to someone who had, so much as one Jewish grandparent. As for editorial content, no one was to publish anything that was not consecrated by the party. Specifically, nothing was to be published that was calculated to weaken the power of the Reich at home or abroad, the community will of the German people, its military spirit, or its culture and economy. None of this should be any problem, Goebbels had calmly assured his audience of dumbstruck journalists that day: I dont see why you should have the slightest difficulty in adjusting the trend of what you write to the interests of the State. It is possible that the Government may sometimes be mistakenas to individual measuresbut it is absurd to suggest that anything superior to the Government might take its place. What is the use, therefore, of editorial skepticism? It can only make people uneasy. But just to make sure, the same week, the new Nazi government had enacted a separate measure imposing the death penalty on those who published treasonable articles. Goebbels had his sights set on far more than controlling the German press, however. Always attentive to new and better opportunities to shape the larger message emanating from Berlin, he had seen at once that hosting the Olympics would offer the Nazis a singular opportunity to portray Germany to the world as a civilized and modern state, a friendly but powerful nation that the larger world would do well to recognize and respect. And Hitler, as he listened to Goebbels, and knowing full well what he had planned for Germany in the days, months, and years ahead, had slowly begun to recognize the value in presenting a more attractive face to the world than his brown-shirted storm troopers and his black-shirted security forces had displayed thus far. At the very least, an Olympic interlude would help buy him timetime to convince the world of his peaceful intentions, even as he began to rebuild Germanys military and industrial power for the titanic struggle to come. Hitler had stood hatless at the Olympic site that afternoon, listening quietly as Werner March explained that the horse-racing track adjoining the old stadium prevented a major expansion. Glancing for a moment at the racetrack, Hitler made an announcement that astonished March. The racetrack must disappear. A vastly larger stadium was to be built, one that would hold at least a hundred thousand people. And more than that, there must be a massive surrounding sports complex to provide venues for a wide variety of competitions, a single, unified Reichssportfeld. It will be the task of the nation, Hitler said. It was to be a testament to German ingenuity, to its cultural superiority, and to its growing power. When the world assembled here, on this elevated ground overlooking Berlin, in 1936, it would behold the future not just of Germany but of Western civilization. Five days later, Werner March, stooping over his drafting table, had only until morning before he must lay preliminary plans in front of Hitler. In Seattle, at about the same hour, Tom Bolles and his assistant coaches released the freshmen. The days were already beginning to grow short, and at 5:30 p.m. the sun sank behind Montlake Bridge just to the west of the shell house. The boys began to straggle back up the hill toward the main campus in small groups, shaking their heads, talking softly among themselves about their chances of making the team. Al Ulbrickson stood on the floating dock, listening to the lake water lap at the shore, watching them go. Behind his implacable gaze, wheels were turning at an even faster rate than usual. To some extent he remained haunted by the more or less disastrous season of 1932. More than one hundred thousand people had turned out to view the annual contest between California and Washington, crowding along the shores of the lake. A strong wind was blowing by the time the main event, the varsity race, was set to start, and the lake was frothy with whitecaps. Almost as soon as the race got under way, the Washington boat had begun to ship water. By the halfway mark, the oarsmen in their sliding seats were sloshing back and forth in several inches of it. When the Washington boat neared the finish line, it was eighteen lengths behind Cal, and the only real question was whether it would sink before crossing. It stayed more or less afloat, but the outcome was the worst defeat in Washingtons history. In June of that year, Ulbricksons varsity had attempted to redeem itself at the annual Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta in Poughkeepsie, New York, but Cal had trounced them again, by five lengths this time. Later in the summer, the Washington varsity had ventured to the Olympic trials at Lake Quinsigamond in Massachusetts, to try once more. This time they were eliminated in a preliminary contest. And to top things off, in August, in Los Angeles, Ulbrickson had watched his counterpart at Cal, Ky Ebright, win the sports most coveted award, an Olympic gold medal. Ulbricksons boys had regrouped quickly. In April of 1933, a fresh and reconstituted varsity crew promptly exacted its revenge, sweeping the Olympic champion Cal Bears from their home waters on the Oakland Estuary. A week later, they did it again, defeating Cal and UCLA on a two-thousand-meter course in Long Beach, California. The 1933 Poughkeepsie Regatta had been canceled due to the Depression, but Washington returned to Long Beach that summer to race against the best crews the East had to offer: Yale, Cornell, and Harvard. Washington edged second-place Yale by eight feet to emerge as de facto national champion. That varsity crew, Ulbrickson told Esquire magazine, was by far the best he had ever put together. It had what newspapermen called plenty of swift. Given that recent history, and the promising look of some of the freshmen walking away from the shell house that evening, Ulbrickson had plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming season. But there remained one particularly galling fact of life. No Washington coach had ever even come close to going to the Olympics. With the bad blood that had lately arisen between the Washington and California crew programs, Cals two gold medals had been bitter pills to swallow. Ulbrickson was already looking forward to 1936. He wanted to bring gold home to Seattle more than he could saycertainly more than he would say. To pull it off, Ulbrickson knew, he was going to have to clear a series of imposing hurdles. Despite his setbacks the previous year, Cals head coach Ky Ebright remained an extraordinarily wily opponent, widely regarded as the intellectual master of the sport. He possessed an uncanny knack for winning the big races, the ones that really counted. Ulbrickson needed to find a crew that could beat Ebrights best and keep them beat in an Olympic year. Then he was going to have to find a way to again beat the elite eastern schoolsparticularly Cornell, Syracuse, Pennsylvania, and Columbiaat the Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta in Poughkeepsie in 1936. Then he might well have to face Yale, Harvard, or Princetonschools that did not even deign to row at Poughkeepsieat the Olympic trials. Yale, after all, had won gold in 1924. The eastern private rowing clubs, particularly the Pennsylvania Athletic Club and the New York Athletic Club, would also likely be in the mix at the 1936 trials. Finally, if he made it to Berlin, he would have to beat the best oarsmen in the worldprobably British boys from Oxford and Cambridge, though the Germans were said to be building extraordinarily powerful and disciplined crews under the new Nazi system, and the Italians had very nearly taken the gold in 1932. All that, Ulbrickson knew, had to start here on this dock, with the boys who were now wandering off into the waning light. Somewhere among themthose green and untested boyslay much of the stock from which he would have to select a crew capable of going all the way. The trick would be to find which few of them had the potential for raw power, the nearly superhuman stamina, the indomitable willpower, and the intellectual capacity necessary to master the details of technique. And which of them, coupled improbably with all those other qualities, had the most important one: the ability to disregard his own ambitions, to throw his ego over the gunwales, to leave it swirling in the wake of his shell, and to pull, not just for himself, not just for glory, but for the other boys in the boat. Harry, Fred, Nellie, and Joe Rantz, circa 1917 CHAPTER TWO These giants of the forest are something to behold. Some have been growing for a thousand years, and each tree contains its own story of the centuries long struggle for survival. Looking at the annular rings of the wood, you can tell what seasons they have been through. In some drought years they almost perished, as growth is barely perceptible. In others, the growth was far greater. George Yeoman Pocock T he path Joe Rantz followed across the quad and down to the shell house that afternoon in 1933 was only the last few hundred yards of a much longer, harder, and at times darker path he had traveled for much of his young life. His beginnings had been auspicious enough. He was the second son of Harry Rantz and Nellie Maxwell. Harry was a big man, well over six feet tall, large in the hands and feet, heavy in the bones. His face was open and ordinary, its features unremarkable but pleasant and regular. Women found him attractive. He looked you straight in the eye with a simple, earnest expression. But the placidity of his face belied an unusually active mind. He was an inveterate tinkerer and inventor, a lover of gadgetry and mechanical devices, a designer of machines and contraptions of all sorts, a dreamer of big dreams. He thrived on solving complex problems, prided himself on coming up with novel solutions, the kinds of things other people would never think of in a million years. Harrys was an age that spawned bold dreams and audacious dreamers. In 1903 a pair of tinkerers not unlike Harry, Wilbur and Orville Wright, climbed aboard a device of their own invention near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and flew ten feet above the sand for twelve full seconds. In the same year, a Californian named George Adams Wyman rode into New York City aboard a motorcycle that had carried him all the way from San Francisco. He was the first person to cross the continent on a motorized vehicle, and he had done it in only fifty days. Twenty days later, Horatio Nelson Jackson and his bulldog, Bud, arrived from San Francisco in their battered and muddy Winton, becoming the first to accomplish the feat in an automobile. In Milwaukee twenty-one-year-old Bill Harley and twenty-year-old Arthur Davidson attached an engine of their own design to a modified bicycle, hung a sign on the front of their workshop, and went into business selling production motorcycles. And on July 23 of that same year, Henry Ford sold Dr. Ernst Pfenning a shiny red Model A, the first of 1,750 that he would sell in the next year and a half. In an age of such technological triumphs, it seemed clear to Harry that a man with enough ingenuity and gumption could accomplish almost anything, and he did not intend to be left out of the new gold rush. Before the end of the year, he had designed and built from scratch his own version of an automobile and, to the astonishment of his neighbors, proudly maneuvered it down the street, using a tiller rather than a wheel for steering. He had gotten married over the telephone in 1899, just for the novelty and wonderment of exchanging vows in two different cities by means of such an exciting new invention. Nellie Maxwell was a piano teacher, the daughter of a no-nonsense Disciples of Christ minister. The couples first son, Fred, was born later in 1899. In 1906, looking for a place where Harry could make his mark on the world, the young family had left Williamsport, Pennsylvania, headed west, and settled down in Spokane, Washington. In many ways Spokane was not then far removed from the rough-and-tumble lumber town it had been in the nineteenth century. Located where the cold, clear Spokane River tumbled in a white froth over a series of low falls, the town was surrounded by ponderosa pine forest and open range country. The summers were crackling hot, the air dry and perfumed with the vanilla scent of ponderosa bark. In the autumn towering brown dust storms sometimes blew in from the rolling wheat country to the west. The winters were bitter cold, the springs stingy and slow in coming. And on Saturday nights all year round, cowboys and lumberjacks crowded the downtown bars and honky-tonks, swilled whiskey, and tumbled, brawling, out into the citys streets. But since the Northern Pacific Railway had arrived, late in the nineteenth century, bringing tens of thousands of Americans to the Northwest for the first time, Spokanes population had quickly soared past a hundred thousand, and a newer, more genteel community had begun to sprout alongside the old lumber town. A thriving commercial center had taken root on the south side of the river, replete with stately brick hotels, sturdy limestone banks, and a wide variety of fine emporiums and reputable mercantile establishments. On the north side of the river, tidy neighborhoods of small frame houses now perched on neat squares of lawn. Harry and Nellie and Fred Rantz moved into one of those houses, at 1023 East Nora Avenue, and Joe was born there in March of 1914. Harry immediately opened an automobile manufacturing and repair shop. He could fix pretty much any sort of car that sputtered or was dragged by a mule up to his garage door. He specialized, though, in making new ones, sometimes assembling the popular one-cylinder McIntyre Imp cycle-cars, sometimes fabricating new vehicles entirely of his own contrivance. Soon he and his partner, Charles Halstead, also secured the local sales agency for much more substantial carsbrand-new Franklinsand with the town booming they quickly had as much business as they could handle, both in the repair shop and in the sales office. Harry arose at four thirty each morning to go to the shop, and often he didnt return home until well after seven in the evening. Nellie taught piano to neighborhood children and tended to Joe on weekdays. She doted on her sons, watched over them carefully, and made it her business to keep them away from sin and foolishness. Fred went to school and helped out at the shop on Saturdays. On Sunday mornings the whole family attended Central Christian Church, where Nellie was the principal pianist and Harry sang in the choir. On Sunday afternoons they took their ease, sometimes walking downtown for ice cream, or driving out to Medical Lake, west of town, for a picnic, or strolling through the cool and shady refuge of Natatorium Park, among cottonwood trees down by the river. There they could take in entertainment as lazy and familiar as a semiprofessional baseball game, as carefree as a ride on the dazzling new Looff Carousel, or as stirring as a John Philip Sousa concert at the bandstand. All in all it was a most satisfactory lifea slice, at least, of the dream Harry had come west to live. But that wasnt at all the way Joe remembered his early childhood. Instead he had a kaleidoscope of broken images, starting in the spring of 1918, when he was just about to turn four, with a memory of his mother standing by his side, in an overgrown field, coughing violently into a handkerchief, and the handkerchief turning bright red with blood. He remembered a doctor with a black leather bag, and the lingering smell of camphor in the house. He remembered sitting on a hard church pew swinging his legs while his mother lay in a box at the front of the church and would not get up. He remembered lying on a bed with his big brother, Fred, perched on the edge, in the upstairs room on Nora Avenue, as the spring winds rattled the windows and Fred spoke softly, talking about dying and about angels and about college and why he couldnt go east to Pennsylvania with Joe. He remembered sitting quietly alone on a train for long days and nights, with blue mountains and green muddy fields and rusty rail yards and dark cities full of smokestacks all flashing past the window by his seat. He remembered a rotund black man, with a bald head and a crisp blue uniform, watching over him on the train, bringing him sandwiches, and tucking him into his berth at night. He remembered meeting the woman who said she was his aunt Alma. And then, almost immediately, a rash on his face and chest, a sore throat, a high fever, and another doctor with another black leather bag. Then, for days stretching into weeks, nothing but lying in a bed in an unfamiliar attic room with the shades always pulled downno light, no movement, no sound except occasionally the lonely moaning of a train in the distance. No Ma, no Pa, no Fred. Only the sound of a train now and then, and a strange room spinning round him. Plus the beginnings of something elsea new heaviness, a dull sense of apprehension, a burden of doubt and fear pressing down on his small shoulders and his perpetually congested chest. As he lay ill with scarlet fever in the attic of a woman he did not really know, the last remnants of his former world were dissolving in Spokane. His mother lay in an untended grave, a victim of throat cancer. Fred had gone off to finish college. His father, Harry, his dreams shattered, had fled for the wilds of Canada, unable to cope with what he had seen in his wifes last moments. He could only say that there had been more blood than he had imagined a body could hold and more than he would ever be able to wash from his memory. A little more than a year later, in the summer of 1919, five-year-old Joe found himself on a train for the second time in his life. He was heading back west this time, summoned by Fred. Since Joe had been sent to Pennsylvania, Fred had graduated from college and, though only twenty-one, secured a job as superintendent of schools in Nezperce, Idaho. Fred had also acquired a wife, Thelma LaFollette, one of a pair of twin sisters from a prosperous eastern Washington wheat-farming family. Now he hoped to provide his little brother with something like the safe and secure home they had both known before their mother had died and their grief-stricken father had fled north. When a porter helped Joe off the train in Nezperce and set him down on the platform, though, he could barely remember Fred, and he knew not what to make of Thelma. He thought, in fact, that she was his mother and ran to her and threw his arms around her legs. That fall Harry Rantz abruptly returned from Canada, bought a lot in Spokane, and began to construct a new house, trying to piece his life back together. Like his older son, he needed a wife to make the new house a home, and like his son he found just what he was looking for in the other LaFollette twin. Thelmas sister, Thula, at twenty-two, was a lovely, slender, elfin-faced girl with a whimsical pile of black curls and a fetching smile. Harry was seventeen years her senior, but that was not about to stop him, or her. The basis of Harrys attraction was obvious. The basis of Thulas was less so, and somewhat mysterious to her family. The elder Rantz must have seemed a romantic figure to her. She had lived thus far in an isolated farmhouse surrounded by vast fields of wheat, with little to entertain her beyond the sound of the wind rustling the bone-dry stalks each autumn. Harry was tall and good-looking, he had a glint in his eye, he was relatively worldly, he was full of restless energy, he was abundantly creative in a mechanical sense, and most of all he seemed to be a kind of visionary. Just by talking about them he could make you see things off in the future, things nobody else had even thought of. Matters proceeded apace. Harry completed the house in Spokane. He and Thula slipped across the state line and married on the shores of Lake Coeur dAlene, Idaho, in April 1921, to the great displeasure of Thulas parents. In a stroke Thula became her twin sisters mother-in-law. For Joe, all this marrying meant another new home and another adjustment. He left Nezperce and moved in with a father he hardly knew, and a young stepmother he knew not at all. For a time, it seemed as if something like normalcy was returning to his life. The house his father had built was spacious and well lit and smelled sweetly of fresh-sawn wood. Out back there was a swing with a seat wide enough for him and his father and Thula to ride three at a time on warm summer nights. He could walk to school, cutting through a field where he would sometimes filch a ripe melon for an after-school snack. On some vacant land nearby, he could while away long summer days by digging elaborate underground tunnelscool, dark, subterranean retreats from Spokanes sometimes searing dry heat. And as the old house had been when his mother was alive, the new house was always filled with music. Harry had kept Nellies most precious possession, her parlor grand piano, and he delighted in sitting at it with Joe, belting out popular tunes, as Joe gleefully sang along: Aint We Got Fun or Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula or Mighty Lak a Rose or Harrys favorite, Yes! We Have No Bananas. Thula considered the music that Harry and Joe enjoyed coarse, she was not particularly happy to have Nellies piano in her house, and she disdained to join in. She was an accomplished violinist, far out of the ordinary in fact, her talent so highly valued in her home that growing up she had never had to do the dishes for fear that her fingers would be damaged by soap and water. She and her parents all harbored the conviction that someday she would play in a major orchestra, in New York or Los Angeles perhaps, or even in Berlin or Vienna. Now in the afternoons, when Joe was at school and Harry was at work, she practiced for hours on endlovely classical pieces that rose and fell and floated out through the screened windows and drifted across the dusty, dry city of Spokane. In January 1922, Harry and Thula had their first child together, Harry Junior, and in April 1923, they had a second son, Mike. By the time Mike was born, though, family life had begun to fray in the Rantz household. The age of the big dreamer was passing into history before Harrys eyes. Henry Ford had figured out how to manufacture his automobiles on a moving assembly line, and soon others were following suit. Mass production, cheap labor, and big capital were the watchwords of the day now. Harry found himself on the cheap-labor side of the equation. For the past year, he had been living and working weekdays at a gold mine in Idaho, then traveling 140 miles on twisting mountain roads home to Spokane each Friday in his long, black four-door Franklin touring convertible, returning to Idaho again each Sunday afternoon. Harry was glad to have the work. It meant a steady income, and it made use of his mechanical skills. For Thula, though, the change meant long, dismal weeks alone in the house, with nobody to help out, nobody to talk to at night, nobody to sit down to dinner with except for three clamoring boysan infant, a toddler, and a strangely guarded and watchful young stepson. Then, not long after Mike was born, during one of Harrys weekend visits, in the middle of a dark, moonless night, Joe suddenly awoke to the smell of smoke and the sound of flames crackling somewhere in the house. He snatched up the baby and grabbed Harry Junior by the arm, yanking him out of bed and stumbling out of the house with his little half brothers. A few moments later, his father and Thula also emerged from the house in singed nightshirts, bewildered, calling out for their children. When Harry saw that his family was intact, he dashed back into the smoke and flames. Several long minutes passed before he reappeared, silhouetted against the fire at the garage entrance to the house. He was pushing Nellies pianothe only thing of hers he had left from their marriage. His sweat-slick face was a mask of anguish, his every muscle straining as he leaned into the big piano, moving it by brute strength inch by inch through the wide doorway. When the piano was finally out of harms way, Harry Rantz and his family gathered around it and watched, awestruck, as their house burned to the ground. Standing in the glare of the flickering light, as the last remnants of the roof tumbled into the fire, Thula Rantz must have wondered why in Gods name Harry had chosen an old piano as the one thing he would risk his life to save. Joe, now nine, standing by her side, felt again what he had first felt in his aunts attic in Pennsylvania five years beforethe same coldness, fear, and insecurity. Home, it was beginning to seem, was something you couldnt necessarily count on. With no place else to go, Harry Rantz packed his family into his Franklin touring car and headed northeast, to the mining camp where he had been working as a master mechanic for the past year. Founded in 1910 by a character named John M. Schnatterly, the mine was located in the far northern panhandle of Idaho, squarely on the Idaho-Montana border, where the Kootenai River flowed south out of British Columbia. Originally the business had been named the Idaho Gold and Radium Mining Company, after Schnatterly claimed to have found a vein of radium worth millions. When none materialized, the government ordered Schnatterly to stop calling it a radium mine, so he blithely renamed the concern the Idaho Gold and Ruby Mining Company, the rubies apparently being small garnets that were occasionally found among the mines tailings. By the early twenties, the mine still had not produced much, if anything, in the way of gold, or rubies, or even garnets for that matter. That, however, did not keep Schnatterly from importing a steady stream of well-heeled eastern investors, feting them on his luxury yacht as he transported them up the Kootenai to his mining camp and ultimately bilking them out of millions of investment dollars. Along the way he alienated more than a few people, managed to get into three gunfights, and collected three gunshot wounds for his efforts before finally dying a fiery death when an explosion rocked his yacht. Nobody could say for sure whether it was an accident or revenge, but it had the smell of the latter. Virtually all of the companys three dozen employees and their families lived in Schnatterlys mining camp, Boulder City. Its various ramshackle buildingsthirty-five small, identical, rough-hewn cabins with attached outhouses, a blacksmith shop, a machine shop, a bunkhouse for single men, a church, a water-powered sawmill, and a modest homemade hydroelectric plantclung to the mountainside along Boulder Creek, linked together by a network of wooden sidewalks. A one-room schoolhouse sided with cedar shingles stood among pines on a flat piece of land above the camp, but there were few children, and the school was sparsely and irregularly attended. A rutted dirt wagon road plunged from the schoolhouse down the mountainside through a long series of tortuous switchbacks before straightening out and crossing a bridge over the Kootenai to the Montana side of the river, where stood the company store and a cook shack. It was a dismal settlement, but to Harry it was a tinkerers paradise and the perfect place to try to forget Spokane. With his prodigious mechanical aptitude, he happily set about repairing and maintaining the water-driven sawmill, an electrically driven rock-crushing plant, a forty-five-ton Marion steam shovel, and the mines many assorted vehicles and odd pieces of machinery. For nine-year-old Joe, Boulder City offered an astounding cornucopia of delights. When his father operated the huge steam shovel, Joe perched happily on the rear end of the machine and took merry-go-round rides as Harry spun the steam-belching behemoth around and around. When Joe tired of this, Harry spent a long evening in the company shop constructing a go-cart. The next afternoon Joe laboriously dragged it all the way up the wagon road, to the top of the mountain, pointed the contraption downhill, climbed in, and released the brake. He raced down the road at breakneck speed, careening around the hairpin turns, whooping at the top of his lungs all the way to the river and across the bridge. Then he climbed out and began the long trek back to the top of the mountain and did it again and again until it was finally too dark to see the road. Being in motion, outdoors, with wind in his face made him feel aliveit brushed away the anxiety that since his mothers death had seemed to be nibbling continuously at the corners of his mind. Joe with Harry, Thula, Mike, and Harry Jr. at the Gold and Ruby mine When winter closed in and the mountainside was deep in powdery snow, his father got out the welding equipment and built Joe a sled on which he could sluice down the wagon road at even more terrifying speeds. And eventually Joe discovered that when no one was watching he could take Harry Junior up the mountain, help him into an ore car at the top of a rickety trestle that ran alongside Boulder Creek, give the car a shove, hop in himself, and again rattle down the mountain at terrifying speeds with his little half brother in front of him, shrieking in delight. When he wasnt hurtling down the mountain, helping out at the mill, or attending the one-room school above the camp, Joe could explore the woods or climb among the 6,400-foot-tall mountains in the Kaniksu National Forest just to the west. He could hunt for deer antlers and other treasures in the woods, swim in the Kootenai, or tend the vegetable garden he nurtured on a small plot of ground inside the picket fence surrounding his familys cabin. For Thula, however, Boulder City was about as forlorn a place as could be found on earth. It was unbearably hot and dusty in the summer, wet and muddy in spring and fall, and filthy pretty much all year round. Winter brought the worst of it. Come December, bitterly cold air flowed down the Kootenai Valley from British Columbia, made its way through every crack and crevice in the walls of her flimsy cabin, and sliced through whatever layers of clothing or bedding she tried to take refuge in. She was still saddled with a screaming infant, a bored and complaining toddler, and a stepson whom, as he grew older and more difficult to control, she was starting to think of as an unwanted reminder of her husbands previous and all too precious marriage. It did not help that to pass the time Joe plucked incessantly at a ukulele, singing and whistling the campy tunes that he and his father enjoyed so much. Nor did it help that when Harry came home from work he often tracked grease and sawdust into the cabin. That came abruptly to an end one chilly mountain evening when Harry came trudging up the hill in his greasy overalls at the end of the day. When he entered the cabin, Thula took one look at him, shrieked, and pushed him back out through the front door. Take those filthy things off, go down to the creek, and wash yourself off, she commanded. Sheepishly, Harry sat down on a log, took off his boots, stripped down to a pair of white cotton long johns, and hobbled barefoot down a rocky trail toward Boulder Creek. From then on, regardless of temperature or time of year, Harry dutifully bathed in the creek and came into the house carrying his boots, with his overalls draped over his arm. Growing up, Thula had always been treasured by her family, not only for her beautywhich exceeded that of her twin, Thelma, by a wide marginand for her extraordinary talent with the violin, but also for the refinement of her taste and the sensitivity of her nature. She was so exquisitely sensitive, in fact, that everyone in her family believed her to possess second sight, an idea that was dramatically reinforced when they read the newspaper on the morning of April 15, 1912. The night before, Thula had awakened suddenly, screaming about icebergs and a huge ship sinking and people calling out for help. Thula was educated and artistic and determined to seek finer things than a wheat farm had to offer. Now that she was marooned in Boulder City, her few social companions consisted of the ill-educated and hardscrabble wives of sawyers and miners. Increasingly, she was painfully aware that she was about as far as she could imagine from any means of fulfilling her dream of sitting proudly front and center, as first violin in a major symphony orchestra. She could hardly even practice. In the winter her fingers were too cold to dance up and down the fingerboard; in the summer they were so cracked and sore from the dry Idaho air that she could hardly hold the bow. Her violin mostly sat on a shelf these days, calling out to her, almost mocking her as she washed endless piles of dishes and dirty diapers. This was the kind of thing her sister, Thelma, had been raised to do, not her. Yet Thelma now lived comfortably in a nice house in Seattle. The more she thought about the unfairness of it, the more tensions mounted in the cabin. Finally one warm summer afternoon, those tensions boiled over. Thula was pregnant with her third child. She had spent much of the afternoon on her hands and knees, scrubbing the cabins pinewood floor, and her back was throbbing with pain. As dinnertime approached she began the nightly routine of laboring over the hot woodstove, feeding kindling into the firebox, trying to get enough flame to draw a draft up the chimney. Smoke billowed out from under the cooktop and clawed at her eyes. When she finally got a fire going, she set about trying to cobble together an evening meal for Harry and the boys. Between her limited budget and the scant selection of foods available at the company store, it was hard to put a decent meal on the table every night. It was even harder to keep it on the table long enough for her children to eat a square meal. Joe was growing like a weed, and he inhaled food as fast as Thula could make it. She worried constantly that her own boys wouldnt get enough. She began shoving pans around on the stovetop angrily, trying to make room, not sure what she was going to cook. Then suddenly she heard a shout from outside the cabin, followed by a long, painful wailing soundlittle Mikes voice. Thula dropped a pot on the stove and bolted for the front door. Joe was outside, down on his hands and knees, tending his vegetable garden that afternoon. The garden was a kind of sanctuary for him, a place where he, not Thula, was in charge, and it was a source of enormous pride. When he brought a basket of fresh tomatoes or an armful of sweet corn into the cabin, and then saw them on the dinner table that night, it made him feel that he was making a contribution to the family, helping Thula, maybe making up for whatever he might have done most recently to annoy her. Working his way down a row in the garden that afternoon, pulling weeds, he had turned around to find eighteen-month-old Mike following him, imitating him, happily plucking half-grown carrots out of the ground. Joe turned and bellowed at him in rage, and Mike unleashed a heart-rending scream. A moment later Joe looked up at the porch and saw Thula, red faced and seething. She ran down the steps, snatched Mike up from the ground, whisked him into the cabin, and slammed the door behind her. When Harry came home from work later that evening, Thula was waiting for him in the doorway. She demanded that Harry take Joe out back, out of her sight, and give him a good hiding. Instead Harry merely took Joe upstairs, sat him down, and gave him a good talking-to. Thula exploded in the face of what she saw as lax discipline. Feeling trapped, growing desperate, she finally declared that she would not live under the same roof with Joe, that it was him or her, that Joe had to move out if she were to stay in such a godforsaken place. Harry could not calm her down, and he could not abide the thought of losing a second wife, certainly not one as lovely as Thula. He went back upstairs and told his son he would have to move out of the house. Joe was ten. Early the next morning, his father led him up the wagon road to the shingle-sided schoolhouse at the top of the hill. He left Joe sitting outside on the steps and went in to talk to the male schoolteacher. Joe sat and waited in the morning sunlight, drawing circles in the dust with a stick and staring morosely at a Stellers jay that had perched on a nearby branch and begun screeching at him as if scolding him. After a long while, his father and the teacher emerged from the schoolhouse and shook hands. They had struck a deal. In return for a place to sleep in the building, Joe was to chop enough kindling and split enough wood to keep the schools huge stone fireplace stoked day and night. So began Joes life in exile. Thula would no longer cook for him, so every morning before school and again every evening he trudged down the wagon road to the cookhouse at the bottom of the mountain to work for the company cook, Mother Cleveland, in exchange for breakfast and dinner. His job was to carry heavy trays of foodplates heaped high with hotcakes and bacon in the morning and with slabs of meat and steaming potatoes in the eveningsfrom the cookhouse to the adjoining dining hall, where miners and sawyers in dirty coveralls sat at long tables covered with white butcher paper, talking loudly and eating ravenously. As the men finished their meals, Joe hauled their dirty dishes back to the cookhouse. In the evenings he trudged back up the mountain to the schoolhouse to chop more wood, do his schoolwork, and sleep as best he could. He fed himself and made his way, but his world had grown dark, narrow, and lonely. There were no boys his age whom he could befriend in the camp. His closest companionshis only companions since moving to Boulder Cityhad always been his father and Harry Junior. Now, living in the schoolhouse, he pined for the times when the three of them had formed a kind of confederation of resistance to Thulas increasing sourness, sneaking out behind the cabin to toss a ball around among the pine trees or to roughhouse in the dust, or sitting at the piano, pounding out their favorite songs whenever she was safely out of earshot. Even more he missed the times hed spent alone with his father, sitting and playing gin rummy at the kitchen table while Thula practiced on her violin, or poking around under the hood of the Franklin, tightening and adjusting all the parts of the engine as his father explained the purpose and function of each of them. Most of all he missed the times he and his father would sit out at night on the cabins porch and stare up into the astonishing swirls of stars shimmering in the black vault of the Idaho night sky, saying nothing, just being together, breathing in the cold air, waiting for a falling star to wish upon. Keep on watching, his father would say. Keep your eyes peeled. You never know when one is going to fall. The only time you dont see them is when you stop watching for them. Joe missed that, something terrible. Sitting alone on the schoolhouse steps at night and watching the sky alone just didnt seem the same. Joe grew rapidly that summer, mostly vertically, though the treks up and down the mountain quickly built up muscle mass in his legs and thighs, and the constant swinging of an axe at the schoolhouse and the hoisting of trays in the cookhouse began to sculpt his upper body. He ate ravenously at Mother Clevelands table. Yet he still always seemed to be hungry for more, and food was seldom far from his thoughts. One autumn day the schoolteacher took Joe and the rest of his students on a natural-history field trip into the woods. He led them to an old, rotten stump on which a large white fungus was growinga rounded, convoluted mass of creamy folds and wrinkles. The teacher plucked the fungus off the stump, held it aloft, and proclaimed it a cauliflower mushroom, Sparassis radicata. Not only was it edible, the teacher exclaimed, but it was delicious when stewed slowly. The revelation that one could find free food just sitting on a stump in the woods landed on Joe like a thunderbolt. That night he lay in his bunk in the schoolhouse, staring into the dark rafters above, thinking. There seemed to be more than a schoolroom science lesson in the discovery of the fungus. If you simply kept your eyes open, it seemed, you just might find something valuable in the most unlikely of places. The trick was to recognize a good thing when you saw it, no matter how odd or worthless it might at first appear, no matter who else might just walk away and leave it behind. George Pocock, Rusty Callow, Ky Ebright, and Al Ulbrickson CHAPTER THREE Every good rowing coach, in his own way, imparts to his men the kind of self-discipline required to achieve the ultimate from mind, heart, and body. Which is why most ex-oarsmen will tell you they learned more fundamentally important lessons in the racing shell than in the classroom. George Yeoman Pocock C ompetitive rowing is an undertaking of extraordinary beauty preceded by brutal punishment. Unlike most sports, which draw primarily on particular muscle groups, rowing makes heavy and repeated use of virtually every muscle in the body, despite the fact that a rower, as Al Ulbrickson liked to put it, scrimmages on his posterior annex. And rowing makes these muscular demands not at odd intervals but in rapid sequence, over a protracted period of time, repeatedly and without respite. On one occasion, after watching the Washington freshmen practice, the Seattle Post-Intelligencers Royal Brougham marveled at the relentlessness of the sport: Nobody ever took time out in a boat race, he noted. Theres no place to stop and get a satisfying drink of water or a lungful of cool, invigorating air. You just keep your eyes glued on the red, perspiring neck of the fellow ahead of you and row until they tell you its all over . . . Neighbor, its no game for a softy. When you row, the major muscles in your arms, legs, and backparticularly the quadriceps, triceps, biceps, deltoids, latissimus dorsi, abdominals, hamstrings, and gluteal musclesdo most of the grunt work, propelling the boat forward against the unrelenting resistance of water and wind. At the same time, scores of smaller muscles in the neck, wrists, hands, and even feet continually fine-tune your efforts, holding the body in constant equipoise in order to maintain the exquisite balance necessary to keep a twenty-four-inch-wide vesselroughly the width of a mans waiston an even keel. The result of all this muscular effort, on both the larger scale and the smaller, is that your body burns calories and consumes oxygen at a rate that is unmatched in almost any other human endeavor. Physiologists, in fact, have calculated that rowing a two-thousand-meter racethe Olympic standardtakes the same physiological toll as playing two basketball games back-to-back. And it exacts that toll in about six minutes. A well-conditioned oarsman or oarswoman competing at the highest levels must be able to take in and consume as much as eight liters of oxygen per minute; an average male is capable of taking in roughly four to five liters at most. Pound for pound, Olympic oarsmen may take in and process as much oxygen as a thoroughbred racehorse. This extraordinary rate of oxygen intake is of only so much value, it should be noted. While 7580 percent of the energy a rower produces in a two-thousand-meter race is aerobic energy fueled by oxygen, races always begin, and usually end, with hard sprints. These sprints require levels of energy production that far exceed the bodys capacity to produce aerobic energy, regardless of oxygen intake. Instead the body must immediately produce anaerobic energy. This, in turn, produces large quantities of lactic acid, and that acid rapidly builds up in the tissue of the muscles. The consequence is that the muscles often begin to scream in agony almost from the outset of a race and continue screaming until the very end. And its not only the muscles that scream. The skeletal system to which all those muscles are attached also undergoes tremendous strains and stresses. Without proper training and conditioningand sometimes even with themcompetitive rowers are apt to experience a wide variety of ills in the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, ribs, neck, and above all the spine. These injuries and complaints range from blisters to severe tendonitis, bursitis, slipped vertebrae, rotator cuff dysfunction, and stress fractures, particularly fractures of the ribs. The common denominator in all these conditionswhether in the lungs, the muscles, or the bonesis overwhelming pain. And that is perhaps the first and most fundamental thing that all novice oarsmen must learn about competitive rowing in the upper echelons of the sport: that pain is part and parcel of the deal. Its not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; its a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you. All this soon became potently evident to Joe Rantz and the other boys trying out for the University of Washingtons freshman crew in the fall of 1933. Every afternoon, after classes, Joe made the long trek down to the shell house. He donned his jersey and shorts. He weighed in, a daily ritual. The weigh-ins were designed, on the one hand, to remind the boys that every extra ounce that went into the boat needed to be justified in terms of power produced and, on the other hand, to make sure the boys werent overtraining and dropping below their optimal weight. Joe checked a chalkboard to see which crew he was assigned to for the day and then joined the crowd of boys gathered on the wooden ramp in front of the shell house, to hear what Coach Bolles had to say before practice began. In those first weeks, Bolless topic varied each day, depending on factors as unpredictable as the Seattle weather or what particular infelicities of technique he had noticed in the previous practice. Joe soon noted that two larger and intertwined themes inevitably came up in these talks. The boys heard time and again that the course they had chosen to embark on was difficult almost beyond imagining, that both their bodies and their moral characters would be tested in the months ahead, that only a very few of them who possessed near superhuman physical endurance and mental toughness would prove good enough to wear a W on their chests, and that by Christmas break most of them would have given up, perhaps to play something less physically and intellectually demanding, like football. But Bolles sometimes spoke of life-transforming experiences. He held out the prospect of becoming part of something larger than themselves, of finding in themselves something they did not yet know they possessed, of growing from boyhood to manhood. At times he dropped his voice a bit and shifted his tone and cadence and talked of near mystical moments on the watermoments of pride, elation, and deep affection for ones fellow oarsmen, moments they would remember, cherish, and recount to their grandchildren when they were old men. Moments, even, that would bring them nearer to God. Occasionally, as Bolles spoke with them, the boys noticed a figure standing in the background, watching quietly and listening intently. A man in his early forties, tall like nearly everyone on the boat ramp, he wore horn-rimmed spectacles behind which lurked sharp, penetrating eyes. His forehead was high and he sported an odd haircuthis dark, wavy hair was long on top but cropped high over his ears and around behind his head so his ears looked overlarge and he seemed to be wearing a bowl atop his head. Almost invariably he wore a carpenters apron covered with red sawdust and curls of cedar shavings. He spoke with a crisp British accent, an upper-crust accent, the kind of voice you might hear at Oxford or Cambridge. Many of the boys knew that his name was George Pocock and that he built racing shells in the loft of their shell house, not just for Washington, but for rowing programs across the country. None of them, though, yet knew that much of what they had just heard Bolles saythe very heart and soul of ithad its origins in the quiet philosophy and deep musings of the Briton. George Yeoman Pocock was all but born with an oar in his hands. He came into the world at Kingston upon Thames on March 23, 1891, within sight of some of the finest rowing water in the world. He was descended from a long line of boatbuilders. His paternal grandfather had made his living handcrafting rowboats for the professional watermen who plied the Thames in London, providing water-taxi and ferry services as their predecessors had done for centuries. Since early in the eighteenth century, the London watermen had also made a sport of racing their dories in impromptu competitions. They were rough-and-tumble events. The friends of competitors sometimes maneuvered large boats or barges into their opponents paths or positioned themselves on bridges over the racecourse in order to drop heavy stones into their opponents boats as they passed underneath. Since 1715, the most skilled of the watermen had also held a much more genteel event, an annual race from London Bridge to Chelsea, in which the prize was the right to wear a spectacularly colorful and utterly British bit of regalia: a bright-crimson coat with a silver badge nearly the size of a dinner plate sewn on the left arm, matching crimson knee britches, and white knee-high hosiery. To this day, the race, Doggetts Coat and Badge, is still rowed on the Thames each July amid much ceremony and grandeur. Pococks maternal grandfather also worked in the boatbuilding trade, designing and constructing a wide variety of small craft, among them the Lady Alice, the custom-built sectional boat that Sir Henry Stanley used to search for Dr. David Livingstone in Central Africa in 1874. His uncle Bill had built the first keel-less shell, in his boatbuilding shop under London Bridge. His father, Aaron, had taken up the trade as well, building racing shells for Eton College, where gentlemens sons had been rowing competitively since the 1790s. And it was in Etons ancient boathouse, just across the river from the looming eminence of Windsor Castle, that George had grown up. At the age of fifteen, he signed papers formally apprenticing himself to his father, and for the next six years he worked side by side with him, laboring with hand tools to maintain and add to Etons prodigious fleet of racing shells. But George didnt just build boats; he also learned to row them, and to row them very well. He carefully studied the rowing style of the Thames watermena style characterized by short but powerful strokes with a quick catch and a quick releaseand adapted it to the purpose of racing in a shell. The style he developed soon proved to be in many ways superior to the traditional longer stroke taught at Eton. Messing about on the Thames after formal practice, the aristocratic Eton boys discovered that George and his brother, Dick, although their social inferiors, could be counted on to leave them in their wakes time and again. It wasnt long before the Pocock boys found themselves giving informal rowing lessons to the likes of the young Anthony Eden, to Prince Prajadipok of Siam, and to Lord Grosvenor, son of the Duke of Westminster. George Pocock, in turn, learned something from the highborn Eton lads. He was inclined by nature to do whatever he attempted on the highest possible levelto master each and every tool he laid hands on in his fathers shop, to learn how to row the most efficient stroke, to build the most elegant and best-performing racing shells possible. Now, feeling the sting of British class distinctions, pondering the difference between how he and his father spoke and how they were spoken to, he decided to put in the effort to learn to speak, not with his natural cockney accent, but with the crisp educated accent of the boys they served. And, to almost everyones amazement, he did it. His crisp voice soon stood out in the boathouse, not as an affectation but as a point of pride and a demonstration of his deep commitment to grace, precision, and what would turn out to be a lifelong pursuit of the ideal. Impressed by Georges perseverance, and by his ability on the water, Aaron Pocock entered him in a professional race, the Sportsman Handicap, at Putney on the Thames, when he was seventeen. He told his son he could build his own boat for the contest from scrap lumber in the Eton boathouse and gave him some advice that George never forgot: No one will ask you how long it took to build; they will only ask who built it. So George took his time, carefully and meticulously handcrafting a single sculling shell from Norwegian pine and mahogany. At Putney he slipped his boat into the water, leaned deep into his oars, and over the course of three heats defeated a field of fifty-eight oarsmen. He came home with a small fortune: fifty pounds in prize money. Shortly thereafter, Georges brother, Dick, one-upped him, winning the biggest of rowing prizes, the nearly two-hundred-year-old Doggetts Coat and Badge itself. George was just going into training for his own shot at the Doggetts Coat and Badge when, late in 1910, his father abruptly lost his job at Eton, discharged because he had developed a reputation for being too easy on the men who worked for him. Suddenly without means, his father began casting around for boatbuilding work on the London waterfront. George and Dick, not wanting to be a burden on their father, abruptly decided to emigrate to western Canada, where they had heard it was possible to make as much as ten pounds a week working in the woods. They packed their clothes and a few boatbuilding tools, used their winnings from their races to book passage in steerage to Halifax, aboard the steamship Tunisian, and set sail from Liverpool. Two weeks later, on March 11, 1911, after crossing Canada by rail, the Pococks arrived in Vancouver, with forty Canadian dollars between them. Filthy, dazed, and hungry, they wandered on foot from the train station to Vancouvers brick downtown in a cold, dismal rain. It was Georges twentieth birthday. Dick was a year older. Set suddenly and unexpectedly adrift in the world, uncertain of what they would do next, both were ill at ease in what seemed to them a primitive frontier town utterly unlike the staid but comfortable environs of Eton. Though still in the Kings dominions, they felt as if they had landed on another planet. They finally found a dingy room in a building downtown, rented it for eighteen dollars a week, and immediately went out looking for work. With only two weeks rent money in their pockets, they tried their hands at whatever they could find. Dick worked as a carpenter at the local bughouse, a mental hospital in nearby Coquitlam. George went to work in a logging camp on the Adams River outside Vancouver, where he soon found himself scrambling madly up and down a mountain, trying to satisfy a steam donkeys mechanically relentless appetite for firewood and water. After a month of frantically sawing wood and lugging tin pails of water up from the river two at a time, he quit and returned to Vancouver, where he got a relatively cushy job working in the shipyardsone in which he did not have to work quite at the pace of a steam engine. But it was grim, dangerous work that soon cost him two of his fingers. In 1912 things started looking up for the Pocock boys. The Vancouver Rowing Club, hearing of their reputation in England, commissioned them to build two single sculls for one hundred dollars apiece. The Pococks set up shop in an old, derelict shed floating on timbers fifty yards offshore in Coal Harbour and then finally resumed what would be their lifes workcrafting fine racing shells. They set to work tirelessly in their shop downstairs, stopping only at night, to sleep in an unheated room above the shop. Conditions were not ideal. Daylight showed through the roof, and wind and rain shuddered through wide gaps between the wallboards. To bathe, they had to dive out their bedroom window and into the cold salt chuck of the harbor. For drinking water, they had to row over to a public fountain in Stanley Park. From time to time, the shed slipped its anchor and drifted aimlessly among inbound and outbound ocean liners while the Pococks slept. At low tide the shed sat on a sloping mud bank, listing twenty-five degrees from bow to stern. When the tide surged back in, the waterlogged timbers on which the structure was built weighed it down and held it fast to the mud. George later described the daily routine: The water would rise in the shop while we took refuge in the room above and tried to estimate when the next act of the drama would occur. Eventually, with a swish and a roar, the logs would break the muds hold, and up would come the building, like a surfacing submarine, with the water rushing out the doors at each end. Then we could start working again, until the next change of tide. The brothers completed the work nonetheless, and as word of their craftsmanship spread across Canada they began to get new commissions. By mid-1912 the two of themjust twenty and twenty-onewere beginning to feel that they had their feet under them. One blustery gray day, George Pocock looked out the window of the floating workshop and saw a gangly and awkward man with a shock of reddish but graying hair flying in the wind, rowing as if he were all elbows and knees. He flailed at his oars, George noted, like a bewildered crab. The fellow was apparently trying to reach them, though he seemed to be making little progress in that direction. The rowing was so awkward and ineffective, in fact, that the Pococks concluded the man must be drunk. Eventually they found a boathook, snagged the mans boat, and dragged it alongside the workshop. When they warily helped him aboard, he grinned, stuck out a large hand, and boomed out, My name is Hiram Conibear. I am the rowing coach at the University of Washington. Conibearwho would come to be called the father of Washington rowinghad become Washingtons coach because nobody else was available to take the job, not because he knew the first thing about rowing. He had been a professional bicycle rider at a time when as many as eight men might mount a single multiseated bicycle and careen around rough dirt racetracks in wild melees that often ended in spectacular and bloody collisions. He had moved on to become an athletic trainer for collegiate football and track-and-field teams and, most recently, the athletic trainer for the world champion Chicago White Sox in 1906. When he arrived at Washington in 1907, as coach of the track team and athletic trainer for the football team, his only rowing experience was four weeks in the summer of 1905 when he had trained on a four-oared barge on Lake Chautauqua in New York. Nevertheless, in 1908 he stepped into the position of crew coach more or less by default, replacing a pair of part-time volunteers. Conibear was, according to those who knew him well, simple, direct, and fearless. He attacked his new job with characteristic gustowhat George Pocock later called inflammable enthusiasm. Lacking a coachs launch, he ran up and down the shores of Lake Washington, yelling at his boys through his megaphone, freely mixing baseball slang with rowing terminology and a wide variety of exuberant profanity. He cussed so loudly, so frequently, and so colorfully that offended lakeside residents soon began complaining to the university. Convinced that rowing instruction needed to be more scientific, he pored over anatomy books and physics texts. Then he appropriated a human skeleton from the biology lab, strapped it in a rowing seat, wired its hands to a broom handle, and carefully observed its movements as his student-assistants manipulated it to simulate various rowing strokes. Once he was convinced that he was on the right track with the mechanics of the sport, he turned his focus to the boats themselves. Washington had relied on home-built shells, many of which were notably tubby and slow, some of which had a tendency to fall apart when rowed hard, and one of which was so round bottomed and prone to tip over that Homer Kirby, stroke oar of the 1908 crew, said if you wanted to keep her on an even keel, you had to part your hair in the middle and divide your chewing tobacco evenly between your cheeks. What Conibear wanted now was the kind of shells they made in England: long, sleek, elegant shells. Fast shells. When he learned that a pair of English boatbuilders had taken up residence just to the north, in Vancouver, he set out in search of them. When he found their floating shop in Coal Harbour, he told the Pococks that he planned to establish a veritable rowing navy. He needed to purchase a fleet, perhaps as many as fifty, but certainly no fewer than twelve, eight-oared shells. He wanted the Pococks to move down to Seattle forthwith, where he would provide them with a shop on campusa dry shop on terra firmain which to build the fleet. Stunned, but delighted at the size of the potential order, the Pococks visited Seattle, and then wired their father in England, telling him to make haste to Washington, as they had found work enough for the three of them. Only after Aaron was on his way across the Atlantic did George and Dick receive a sobering letter from Conibear. He had spoken a bit prematurely, it seemed. He had only enough funds, it turned out, to buy one shell, not twelve. When told of the setback, Aaron responded to his sons dryly, You must remember that Mr. Conibear is an American. Despite the radically lowered expectations, the Pococks were soon ensconced on the Washington campus, and Hiram Conibear began to realize that he had hired much more than a skilled boatbuilder in George Pocock. When George began to watch the Washington oarsmen on the water, he quickly spotted inefficiencies and deficiencies in the mechanics of their stroke that no amount of fiddling with a skeleton could fix. At first he held his peace, not inclined by nature to offer unsolicited advice. But when Conibear began to ask the Pococks for their opinion about his boys rowing, George gradually spoke up. He began to teach Conibear elements of the stroke that he had learned from Thames watermen in his boyhood and taught to the boys at Eton. Conibear listened eagerly, learned quickly, and what came to be called the Conibear stroke soon evolved from those discussions. It featured a shorter layback, a quicker catch, and a shorter but more powerful pull in the water. It left the oarsmen sitting more upright at the end of the stroke, ready to slide forward and begin the next stroke more quickly and with less fuss and bother. It differed conspicuously from the rowing stroke long used by the eastern schools (and Eton), with its exaggerated layback and long recovery, and it began almost immediately to result in Washingtons first significant victories. Before long, even the eastern schools were taking note of the Conibear stroke, trying to figure out how something so unorthodox could be so successful. Conibear died just a few years later, in 1917, when he climbed too far out on a limb, while reaching for a plum in a tree in his backyard, and plunged headfirst to the ground. By then, however, Washington had become a serious contender in crew on the West Coast, a worthy opponent for Stanford and California and British Columbia, if not yet quite what Conibear had dreamed of making the program: the Cornell of the Pacific. After the Great War, Dick Pocock moved east to build shells for Yale University, while George remained in Seattle and orders for his exquisitely crafted shells began to pour in from around the country. Over the next several decades, a succession of Washington coaches and crews came to learn that the Englishman quietly at work up in the loft of their shell house had much to teach them about rowing. They came to see him as something new under the sun, what in modern parlance might be termed a rowing geek. His understanding of the details of the sportthe physics of water, wood, and wind; the biomechanics of muscle and bonewas unmatched. But Pococks influence didnt end with his command of the technical side of the sport. It really only began there. Over the years, as he saw successive classes of oarsmen come and go, as he watched immensely powerful and proud boys strive to master the vexing subtleties of their sport, as he studied them and worked with them and counseled them and heard them declare their dreams and confess their shortcomings, George Pocock learned much about the hearts and souls of young men. He learned to see hope where a boy thought there was no hope, to see skill where skill was obscured by ego or by anxiety. He observed the fragility of confidence and the redemptive power of trust. He detected the strength of the gossamer threads of affection that sometimes grew between a pair of young men or among a boatload of them striving honestly to do their best. And he came to understand how those almost mystical bonds of trust and affection, if nurtured correctly, might lift a crew above the ordinary sphere, transport it to a place where nine boys somehow became one thinga thing that could not quite be defined, a thing that was so in tune with the water and the earth and the sky above that, as they rowed, effort was replaced by ecstasy. It was a rare thing, a sacred thing, a thing devoutly to be hoped for. And in the years since coming to Washington, George Pocock had quietly become its high priest. Years later a Washington coxswain would sum up the sentiment of hundreds of boys who felt his influence: In his presence Washington crewmen always stood, for he symbolized that for which Gods children always stand. Each day, after Tom Bolles finished talking and George Pocock made his way back up into his shop, the boys wrestled the long, white-bladed oars from their racks, carried them down to the water, and prepared to row. They were not remotely ready to step into the delicate confines of a racing shell, so they waited turns to board the schools venerable training barge, Old Nero. The vessela wide, flat-bottomed scow with a long walkway running down the middle and seats for sixteen novice oarsmenhad served as an initial proving ground for freshmen since 1907, virtually the whole of the thirty years that Washington had maintained a crew program. As the freshmen of 1933 flailed at their oars in the first few days, Tom Bolles and Al Ulbrickson strode up and down Old Neros walkway in gray flannel suits and fedoras. Ulbrickson mostly just watched the boys quietly, still sizing them up. Bolles, however, barked at them continuouslyto grip the oar this way and not that, to square their blades to the water, to straighten their backs, to bend their knees, to straighten their knees, to pull harder one moment, to ease up another. It was bewildering and backbreaking. Old Nero was designed, in part, to drive boys who, by temperament, werent cut out for crewmollycoddles, Ulbrickson called themto an early realization of that fact, before they could break expensive oars and racing shells. The boys strained and heaved and gasped for breath, but for all their efforts they moved Old Nero only slowly and erratically out of the Cut and onto the ruffled expanse of Lake Washington. As they tried to absorb their lessons and experience, and to synchronize their efforts, they lived in constant fear of making any of the many egregious errors Bolles kept pointing out to them. One error in particular required no scolding. They soon learned that if the blades of their oars entered the water too deeply, at the wrong angle, or out of time with the others, or if they remained in the water a fraction of a second too long at the end of a stroke, they were apt to catch a crab: the oar would suddenly and irretrievably become stuck in the water, immobilized as surely as if some sort of gargantuan crustacean had reached up from the depths and seized the blade, holding it fast. Old Nero would keep going but the oar would not. The boy holding the oar would either be smacked hard in the chest and knocked out of his seat or, if he held on to the oar too long, be catapulted unceremoniously into the water. Every stroke he took thus offered each boy the possibility of a wet, cold, and spectacularly public form of humiliation. Of the whole freshman lot, the only one who had ever rowed a lick in his life was Roger Morris. Before the Depression, the Morris family had maintained a small, rustic cabin on the western side of Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound. As a boy Roger had idled away his summers rowing lazily about in Manzanita Bay, a lovely blue cove lying in the lee of the Olympic Mountains. But he was tall and strong and, when he wished to, Roger could go pretty much as far as he wanted to in that rowboat, a fact he had demonstrated one day when he was twelve. Suffering from a toothache and wanting to return to the comforts of his family home in Seattles Fremont neighborhood, he rowed some fifteen milesnorth through Agate Passage, six miles southeast across the relatively open water of Puget Sound, among freighters and ferries, then east through the Ballard Locks, where he wedged his small rowboat in among salmon trawlers and tugboats and rafts of logs, and finally through Salmon Baybefore walking into the house to the utter astonishment of his mother. But aboard Old Nero, Roger quickly found that his freewheeling rowing style was more hindrance than help when it came to mastering the racing stroke that Tom Bolles and Al Ulbrickson taught in the 1930s. None of the freshmen, in fact, found it easy to master it. To achieve even a reasonably smooth and powerful stroke, they had to learn to execute a series of precisely timed and carefully coordinated moves. Facing the stern of the boat, each boy began with his chest bent over his knees, his arms stretched out in front of him, and both hands gripping the handle of his one long oar. At the beginning of the stroke, the catch, he dropped the blade of his oar into the water and leaned his torso back hard, toward the bow, keeping his back ramrod straight. As his shoulders came vertical over the center of his body, he began the leg drive by propelling his legs forward, his seat sliding toward the bow on greased runners beneath him. Simultaneously, he pulled the oar toward his chest against the resistance of the water, throwing all the strength of his combined arm, back, and leg muscles into the stroke. As the oar came to his chest, and with his back inclined about fifteen degrees toward the bow, he reached the full extent of his layback. Then he began the release. He dropped his hands toward his waist and pulled the blade quickly and decisively from the water while at the same time rolling the wrist of the hand nearest the water in order to feather the blade parallel to the surface of the water. Next, to begin the recovery, he rotated his shoulders forward and pushed his arms sternward against the oar while pulling his knees up toward his chest, thus propelling his body forward on the sliders back into the crouched position in which he had begun. Finally, as the boat moved forward beneath him, he again rotated the oar to bring the blade perpendicular to the surface for the next catch, dropped it cleanly back into the water at precisely the same moment as the other boys, and immediately repeated the entire procedure over and over again at whatever rate the coxswain was calling for through the small megaphone strapped on his head. Done correctly, this process levered the boat forward in the water smoothly and powerfully. But it had to be done in one continuous and unbroken cycle of uncoiling and coiling the body. It had to be done rapidly, and it had to be done in precisely the same mannerat the same rate and with the same amount of applied poweras everyone else in the boat was doing it. It was maddeningly difficult, as if eight men standing on a floating log that threatened to roll over whenever they moved had to hit eight golf balls at exactly the same moment, with exactly the same amount of force, directing the ball to exactly the same point on a green, and doing so over and over, every two or three seconds. The workouts went on for three hours every afternoon, and as the days grew shorter they stretched into the dark and increasingly chilly October evenings. By the time the boys came in off the water each night, their hands were blistered and bleeding, their arms and legs throbbed, their backs ached, and they were soaked through and through with a clammy mixture of sweat and lake water. They racked their oars, hung their rowing clothes up to dry in a steam-heated locker in the shell house, dressed, and began the long trudge back up the hill to campus. Each evening, Joe Rantz noted with mounting satisfaction, there were fewer boys making the climb. And he noted something else. The first to drop out had been the boys with impeccably creased trousers and freshly polished oxfords. At a time when images of successful oarsmen appeared on the covers of Life and the Saturday Evening Post, varsity crew had seemed to many of them to be a way to build up their social status, to become big men on campus. But they had not reckoned on the sports extreme physical and psychological demands. As Joe made his way down to the shell house every afternoon, he saw more and more familiar boysboys who had abandoned their boatslounging on the grass in front of Suzzallo Library, casting him quick glances as he passed. The hurting was taking its toll, and that was just fine with Joe. Hurting was nothing new to him. Downtown Sequim CHAPTER FOUR It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them. George Yeoman Pocock O n a stormy night in November 1924, Thula Rantz went into labor in her cabin at the Gold and Ruby mine. As she lay moaning in her bed, Harry set off for Bonners Ferry, Idaho, eighteen miles away on twisting mountain roads, to fetch a doctor. He promptly came to a washed-out bridge on the only road out of town. With help from some of the miners, he rebuilt the bridge, made it to Bonners Ferry, and returned just in time for the doctor to deliver his first daughter, Rose. But it had taken all night. That was the last straw for Thula. She was done with the cabin, done with the mine, done with Idaho. A few weeks later, they packed up the Franklin, picked up Joe from the schoolhouse, drove to Seattle, and moved into the basement of Thulas parents home on Alki Point. For the first time in a year, they all lived under one roof. It didnt go well. Thula, with yet another infant to tend to, was no happier in their cramped quarters in the basement than she had been in the cabin. Once again Joe in particular seemed to be always underfoot. So when Harry got a job as a mechanic with the Hama Hama Logging Company out on the Hood Canala half days journey west of Seattle by car and ferryJoe had to leave too. Harry took his son, still ten, to live with a family, named Schwartz, near the logging camp. By 1925 Harry had saved up a bit of money from the Hama Hama job and used it to put a down payment on an auto repair and tire shop in Sequim, on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula. The shop was located right downtown on Washington Street, the main thoroughfare through town, squarely on the route of anyone traveling from Seattle to Port Angeles or farther out onto the peninsula. It seemed a good location, and it got Harry back to doing what he loved most, tinkering with cars. The whole family moved into a small apartment over the shop. Joe enrolled at the Sequim school. He spent his weekends helping his father work on cars, tinkering with carburetors and learning to vulcanize rubber, partly out of eagerness to exercise his own expanding mechanical aptitude and partly out of eagerness to stay out of Thulas way upstairs. When the mayor of Sequim smashed up Harrys Franklin while ogling a passing girlbreaking its wooden framehe bought Harry a newer model, and Harry gave Joe the older Franklin so he could learn by repairing it. A second daughter, Polly, was born that year, and as his business took root Harry bought a stump farm160 acres of recently logged land southwest of town. There he began to build, with his own hands, a large farmhouse. Sequim sat on a wide expanse of prairie between the snowcapped Olympic Mountains to the south and the broad, blue Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north. Vancouver Island was just visible on the horizon. Nestled in the lee of the mountains, sheltered from the storms that rotated in off the Pacific from the southwest, the area was far less rainy than most of western Washington, and the skies were blue more often than gray. The weather was so dry, in fact, that early settlers had found cacti growing in places. It was the kind of town where people got together on weekends to build a new church, to hold Sunday-afternoon ice cream socials, or to kick up their heels at Saturday-night square dances. In Sequim your butcher might also be the volunteer firefighter who saved your house or barn, as well as the neighbor who helped you rebuild it. It was a place where native women from the nearby Jamestown SKlallam tribe might share recipes with a Protestant ministers wife over a cup of coffee at Drykes Caf?, where old men sat in front of the post office on Saturday afternoon spitting brown arcs of tobacco juice into strategically arranged spittoons, where boys could sell melons purloined from local vegetable patches to Honolulu Pete at his fruit truck parked on Seal Street, where children could wander into Lehmans Meat Market and be given a free hot dog in a bun just because they looked hungry, or where they might stop by Brayton Drug Store and be handed a piece of candy just because they said please. The farmhouse that Harry set about building amid the tree stumps outside of town became a work perpetually in progress. With Joes help, he dug a ditch to divert water, illegally, from an irrigation canal flowing out of the nearby Dungeness River. He rigged up a sawmill powered by the water he had diverted. He felled the few crooked trees left behind by the lumber company that had recently logged off the property, and then milled enough rough-cut lumber to frame the two-story house and apply cedar siding to part of it. He and Joe collected smooth river rocks from the Dungeness and laboriously erected an enormous stone fireplace. The house was still only half completed when he decided to sell the car repair shop and move his family out to the stump farm. Over the next few years, Harry and Joe kept pounding nails when they had the time. They built a wide front porch and a woodshed, a ramshackle henhouse that soon became home to more than four hundred chickens, and a rickety milking barn for half a dozen dairy cows that grazed among the stumps. Harry rigged a flywheel and generator to the waterwheel that powered his sawmill, ran electrical wire into the house, and dangled lightbulbs from the rafters. As the supply of water from the irrigation ditch waxed and waned, the lights flickered on and off and glowed with varying degrees of intensity. But he never quite got around to finishing the house. To Joe the condition of the house made little difference. Once again he had the semblance of a home and a new world to explore. Behind the house there was a meadow of nearly an acre, carpeted in summer with sweet wild strawberries. During the spring, water flowed over his fathers waterwheel with such force that it excavated a pool nearly ten feet deep and twenty-five feet long. Soon salmon and steelhead and trout from the Dungeness made their way up the irrigation ditch and gathered in schools in the pond. Joe rigged up a net on a long pole, and whenever he wanted fish for dinner he simply took the net out behind the house, picked out a fish, and hauled it in. The woods just beyond the property were full of bears and cougars. That troubled Thula and made her understandably nervous about her flock of small children, but Joe thrilled at night when he heard the bears splashing as they fished in the pond or the cougars screeching as they met their mates in the dark. Joe was a good and popular student. His classmates found him outgoing, freewheeling, handy with a joke, and fun to be around. A few who got to know him better found that he could suddenly and unexpectedly turn sombernever nasty or hostile, but guarded, as if there was a part of him he didnt want you to touch. He was a particular favorite of Miss Flatebo, the music teacher. Through barter and the generosity of a few friends, he soon owned a ragged collection of old stringed instrumentsa mandolin, several guitars, an old ukulele, and two banjos. Sitting on the front porch every day after school, working at it again at night when his schoolwork was finished, he patiently and painstakingly taught himself to play each instrument proficiently. He took to carrying one of the guitars onto the school bus every day. He sat in the back, playing and singing the songs he lovedboisterous tunes from vaudeville acts he had heard on the radio, long comical ballads, and sad, lilting cowboy songsentertaining the other students, drawing groups of them toward the rear of the bus to listen and sing along with him. It wasnt long before he found that he had one particular devotee, a pretty slip of a girl named Joyce Simdarswith blond curls, a button nose, and a fetching smilewho more and more often sat next to him, singing along in perfect two-part harmony. To Joe, Sequim was shaping up to be near paradise. For Thula, though, it was yet another disappointment, not much of an improvement over Boulder City, her parents basement, or the apartment over the tire shop. Stuck in a half-finished house surrounded by rotting stumps and wild animals of all sorts, she felt as far removed as ever from the sophisticated life that she envisioned for herself. Everything about farm life appalled herthe daily milking of cows, the ever-present stench of manure, the relentless collecting of eggs, the daily cleaning of the cream separator, the always flickering light fixtures hung from the rafters. She despised the endless chopping of kindling to feed the woodstove, the early mornings and the late nights. And she was perpetually irritated by Joe and his teenaged friends and their makeshift bands, out on the wide front porch, making a racket day and night. All these miseries seemed compounded into a single horrific moment one misty winter morning when she turned from the woodstove with an iron skillet full of hot bacon grease, potatoes, and onions and tripped over Harry Junior, who was lying on his back on the floor. She dropped the skillet and its contents directly onto the boys neck and chest. She and her son screamed simultaneously. Harry ran out the door, tore off his shirt, and threw himself into a snowbank, but the damage was donehis chest was hideously burned and blistered. He survived, but only after contracting pneumonia, spending weeks in a nearby hospital, and missing a full year of school. After that, things began to sour once more for the whole family. In the fall of 1929, a hole opened up in Joes life. Joyce Simdars family home burned to the ground on the night of September 29, while the family was away. Joyce was sent off to live with an aunt in Great Falls, Montana, until the house could be rebuilt. All at once, the bus ride to school was not what it had been. A month later came a much more serious calamity. The rural economy of the United States had already been in desperate straits for some time by that fall. Huge surpluses of wheat, corn, milk, pork, and beef produced in the Midwest had caused the price of farm commodities to crash. Wheat brought in only a tenth of what it had nine or ten years before. In Iowa a bushel of corn fetched less than the price of a packet of gum. And the price collapse began to spread to the Far West. Things in Sequim were not yet as hard as on the Great Plains, but they were hard enough. The Rantz farm, like countless others across the country, had so far barely managed to remain profitable. But when they picked up the Sequim Press on October 30 and read what had happened in New York over the last several days, Harry and Thula Rantz knew with cold certainty that the world had utterly changed, that they would not long be sheltered from the storm on Wall Street, not even in Sequim, out in the far northwestern corner of the whole country. Over the next few weeks, things continued to unravel at the Rantz house on Silberhorn Road. A week after the financial crash, wild dogs began to appear daily on the farm. Dozens of families had simply walked away from their homes and farms in Sequim that fall, many leaving dogs behind to fend for themselves. Now packs of them began chasing the cows all over the Rantz property, relentlessly nipping at their legs. The bellowing, distressed cows lumbered among the stumps until they were exhausted and stopped giving the milk that was the farms principal cash product. Two weeks later, minks stole into the henhouse and slaughtered dozens of chickens, leaving their bloody corpses piled up in the corners. A few nights later, they did it again, almost as if for sport, and now the egg money dwindled away. Harry Junior would later say of events that fall, Everything just stopped dead in the water. It was almost as if someone said to God, Go after them! Then late one rainy afternoon in November, the school bus dropped off Joe just as darkness was enveloping the house. Walking up the driveway to the house, stepping over potholes full of rainwater, Joe noticed his fathers Franklin, its engine running, plumes of white exhaust billowing from the tailpipe. Something was tied to the roof of the car, with a tarpaulin over it. As he drew nearer, he saw that the younger kids were sitting in the backseat, among suitcases, and peering out at him through steamy windows. Thula was sitting in the front seat, staring straight ahead, looking at the house, where Harry stood on the porch, watching Joe approach. Joe mounted the porch steps. His fathers face was drawn and white. Whats up, Pop? Where are we going? Joe murmured. Harry looked down at the boards planking the porch, then raised his eyes and gazed off into the dark, wet woods over Joes shoulder. We cant make it here, Joe. Theres nothing else for it. Thula wont stay, at any rate. Shes insisting. Where are we going to go? Harry turned to meet Joes eyes. Im not sure. Seattle, for now, then California maybe. But, Son, the thing is, Thula wants you to stay here. I would stay with you, but I cant. The little kids are going to need a father more than you are. Youre pretty much all grown up now anyway. Joe froze. His gray-blue eyes locked onto his fathers face, suddenly blank and expressionless, like stone. Stunned, trying to take in what he had just heard, unable to speak, Joe reached out a hand and laid it on the rough-hewn cedar railing, steadying himself. Rainwater dripping from the roof splattered in the mud below. Joes stomach lurched. Finally he sputtered, But cant I just come along? No. That wont work. Look, Son, if theres one thing Ive figured out about life, its that if you want to be happy, you have to learn how to be happy on your own. With that, Harry strode back to the car, climbed in, closed the door, and started down the driveway. In the backseat, Mike and Harry Junior peered through the oval rearview window. Joe watched the red taillights recede and disappear into a dark shroud of rain. He turned and walked into the house and closed the door behind him. The whole thing had taken less than five minutes. The rain was thundering on the roof now. The house was cold and damp. The lightbulbs hanging from the rafters flickered on for a moment. Then they flickered off and stayed off. Rain was still pounding the roof of the half-finished house in Sequim when Joe woke up the next morning. A wind had come up during the night, and it moaned in the tops of the fir trees behind the house. Joe lay in bed for a long time, listening, remembering the days he had spent lying in bed in his aunts attic in Pennsylvania listening to the mournful sound of trains in the distance, with fear and aloneness weighing on him, pressing down on his chest, pushing him into the mattress. The feeling was back. He did not want to get up, did not really care if he ever got up. Finally, though, he did get up. He made a fire in the woodstove, put water on to boil, fried some bacon, and made some coffee. Very slowly, as he ate the bacon and the coffee cleared his mind, the spinning in his head began to diminish and he found himself creeping up on a new realization. He opened his eyes and seized it, took it in, comprehended it all at once, and found that it came accompanied by a fierce determination, a sense of rising resolution. He was sick and tired of finding himself in this positionscared and hurt and abandoned and endlessly asking himself why. Whatever else came his way, he wasnt going to let anything like this happen again. From now on, he would make his own way, find his own route to happiness, as his father had said. Hed prove to his father and to himself that he could do it. He wouldnt become a hermit. He liked other people too much for that, and friends could help push away the loneliness. He would never again let himself depend on them, though, nor on his family, nor on anyone else, for his sense of who he was. He would survive, and he would do it on his own. The smell and taste of the bacon had stimulated his appetite mightily, and he was still hungry. He got up and rummaged through the kitchen to take inventory. There wasnt much to be founda few boxes of oatmeal, a jar of pickles, some eggs from the chickens that had survived the mink attacks, a half a head of cabbage and some bologna in the icebox. Not much for a fifteen-year-old boy already approaching six feet. He made some oatmeal and sat back down to think further. His father had always taught him that there was a solution to every problem. But he had always stressed that sometimes the solution wasnt where people would ordinarily expect it to be, that you might have to look in unexpected places and think in new and creative ways to find the answers you were looking for. He remembered the mushrooms on the rotten logs in Boulder City. He could survive on his own, he figured, if he just kept his wits about him, if he kept his eyes open for opportunities, and if he didnt allow his life to be dictated by other peoples notions of what he should do. Over the next few weeks and months, Joe began to learn to fend entirely for himself. He drove iron stakes into the ground to fortify the chicken coop against future mink attacks and treasured the few eggs he gathered every morning. He foraged in the dripping woods for mushrooms, and with all the recent rain he found basketfuls of thembeautiful, fluted, orange chanterelles and fat, meaty king boletes that he fried in some bacon grease Thula had saved in a tin can. He gathered the last of the autumns blackberries, netted the last of the fish from the pool behind the waterwheel, picked watercress and added the berries and made salads of them. Berries and watercress would only go so far, though. It was clear that he was going to need some money in his pocket. He drove downtown in the old Franklin his father had left behind and parked on Washington Street, where he sat on the hood and played his banjo and sang, hoping for spare change. He soon found that there was no such thing as spare change in 1929. The crash had started on Wall Street, but it quickly brought down communities from coast to coast. Downtown Sequim was desolate. The State Bank of Sequim was still afloat but would fail within months. More and more storefronts were boarded up every day. As Joe sang, dogs sat on their haunches on the wooden sidewalks watching him idly, scratching their fleas in the rain. Black cars bounced down the unpaved street, splashing through muddy potholes, sending up jets of brown water, but the drivers paid Joe little heed. About the only audience he could count on was a bearded character everyone called the Mad Russian, who had been wandering Sequims streets barefoot and muttering to himself for as long as anyone could remember. Joe dug deeper into his imagination. Months before, he and his friend Harry Secor had discovered a spot on the Dungeness River where huge chinook salmonsome as much as four feet longlay in a deep, green, swirling pool, waiting to spawn. Joe found a gaff hook in the barn and began to carry it secreted in his pocket. Early one misty Saturday morning, he and Harry worked their way through a dripping tangle of cottonwoods and alders lining the Dungeness, evading the game warden who regularly patrolled the river during salmon-spawning season. They cut a stout pole from a young alder, lashed the gaff hook to it, and then stealthily approached the swift, cold river. Joe took off his shoes, rolled up his pants, and waded quietly into the shallow riffles upstream from the pool. When Joe was in position, Harry started throwing large river rocks into the pool and beating the surface with a stick. In a panic, the fish dashed upstream toward Joe in the shallows. As they flashed by, Joe aimed the gaff at one of the largest of them, thrust the pole into the water, and deftly snagged the fish under the gills, where the hook would leave no telltale marks. Then, amid much shouting and splashing, he stumbled out of the water and dragged the thrashing salmon up onto the gravel bank. Joe feasted on salmon that night, alone in the house. Then he set about turning the poaching of salmon into a business. Each Saturday afternoon Joe hiked the three miles into town with one or more of the enormous salmon slung over his shoulder on a willow switch, their tails dragging in the dust behind him. He delivered his catch to the back door of Lehmans Meat Market and to the back doors of various households around Sequim, where he sold them for cash or bartered them for butter or meat or gas for the Franklin or whatever else he needed that week, solemnly and good-naturedly assuring his customers that, yes, indeed, he had caught the fish on a hook and line, fair and square. Later that winter he found another entrepreneurial opportunity. With Prohibition in full swing and Canada just fifteen miles across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Sequim was a lively port of entry for hard spirits of all sorts. Much of it made its way to the speakeasies of Seattle, but one bootlegger specialized in local customers. Byron Noble roared into the outskirts of town every Friday night in a long, sleek black Chrysler, depositing hip flasks full of gin, rum, or whiskey behind particular fence posts where his customers knew to look for them. Soon Joe and Harry Secor also knew where to look for them. Dressed in dark, heavy clothes on frosty nights, they followed Noble around on his nocturnal route, pouring the contents of selected flasks into fruit jars and replacing the liquor with dandelion wine that they brewed themselves in Joes barn. That way, they figured, rather than seeming as if someone had stolen the goods, it would seem to Nobles customers that they had simply gotten a bad batch of hooch. But they were careful not to purloin too often from the same location, fearful that Noble or his customers might be lying in the weeds, waiting for them with a shotgun. After a nights work, Joe silently delivered the fruit jars full of the good stuff to the fence posts of his own discreetly cultivated clients. When he wasnt poaching fish or stealing booze, Joe worked at any kind of legitimate work he could find. He dug tunnels under stumps in his neighbors pastures and pried them out of the earth with long iron bars. When prying didnt work, he stuffed sticks of dynamite under them, lit a fuse, and ran like hell as the dynamite sent the stumps and a black plume of dirt and rocks high into the air. He stooped and scraped with a shovel, digging irrigation ditches by hand. With a long-handled, double-edged axe, he split fence rails from massive cedar logs that washed down the Dungeness in the spring. He dug wells. He built barns, crawling around in the rafters and pounding nails. He hand-cranked cream separators and lugged 120-pound cans of milk and sweet cream around dairy farms, loading them onto trucks for delivery to the Dungeness-Sequim Cooperative Creamery. As summer came on, he labored under pale blue skies in the dry fields surrounding Sequim, cutting hay with a scythe, forking it onto wagons, and hoisting it by the ton into the lofts of his neighbors barns. In all of this Joe grew continually stronger and ever more self-reliant. Through it all he stayed in school and earned good grades. At the end of the day, though, he remained stoically alone, returning each night to the empty, half-finished house. He ate solitary meals, sitting at one end of the large dining table where his family had previously gathered for boisterous dinners. Each night he washed the one plate he used and wiped it dry and set it back in its place on top of the stack of dishes Thula had left behind in a kitchen cabinet. He sat down at his mothers old piano in the front room and plinked at the keys and floated simple melodies through the dark, empty spaces of the house. He sat on the front steps and played his banjo and sang quietly to himself. In the months that followed, Joe hunted for new opportunities in Sequim. Just down Silberhorn Road, he found part-time work helping his older neighbor, Charlie McDonald. McDonald made his living loggingharvesting enormous cottonwood trees that grew in the gravelly bottomlands along the Dungeness River. The work was backbreaking. The cottonwoods were so immensetheir diameters so greatthat it sometimes took an hour or more for Joe and Charlie to fell just one, pulling an eighty-four-inch two-man saw back and forth through the soft white heartwood. In the spring, when the sap was running, it jetted up out of the stumps three or four feet into the air after the trees finally toppled over. Then Joe and Charlie lopped off all the branches with axes, pried the bark from the logs with long iron bars, and harnessed them to Charlies draft horses, Fritz and Dick, so they could be dragged out of the woods and sent off to a pulp mill in Port Angeles. Charlie had been gassed in the Great War, his vocal cords all but destroyed. At best he could manage croaks and whispers. As they worked together, Joe marveled at how Charlie could command the ponderous draft horses to do his bidding with a barely audible gee or haw or, as often as not, simply a whistle and nod of his head. Charlie would give a signal, and in unison Fritz and Dick would squat down on their haunches while he chained them up. Hed give another signal, and the two would rise and pull as if they were one horse, their movements crisply synchronized. And they pulled with all their hearts. When horses pulled like that, Charlie told Joe, they could pull far more than twice what each could pull alone. Theyd pull, he said, till the log moved, the harness broke, or their hearts gave out. In time Joe began to take some of his evening meals with the McDonald family, in exchange for his labor. He quickly became enormously popular with their preteen daughtersMargaret and Pearliestaying after dinner and late into the evenings most nights, strumming his banjo and singing for the girls, or lying on the braided carpet in the front parlor, playing dominos, mah-jongg, or pickup sticks with them. He soon found another way to make a few dollars, while entertaining himself as well. He and two of his school friends, Eddie Blake and Angus Hay Jr., formed a three-man band, with Joe on banjo, Eddie on drums, and Angus on saxophone. The trio played jazz tunes during intermissions at the Olympic movie theater in Sequim in exchange for an opportunity to watch the films. They played for square dances at the Grange Hall in Carlsborg. On Saturday nights they played at a dance hall in nearby Blyn, where a farmer had turned, with the addition of some strings of electric lights, his chicken coop into Sequims most popular dance venue. Girls were admitted to the Chicken Coop free of charge, boys for twenty-five cents, but Joe and his bandmates paid no admission when they performed. That meant a lot to Joe; several weeks earlier, Joyce Simdars had returned from Montana, and free admission meant that he could afford to bring her along on dates. He soon found, to his chagrin, though, that she was allowed to go only rarelyonly when her mother was available to accompany her, riding primly and vigilantly in the wide, plush backseat of the Franklin, taking control of the dangerous territory. If there was one thing in the world Joyce Simdars wanted, it was for her mother to be less vigilant. The Simdars household was austere, Joyces upbringing severe. Descended from German and Scottish immigrants who had settled in Sequim as pioneers, her parents both believed that work was an end in itself, that it straightened a wayward soul, and that no amount of it was too much. Joyces father, in fact, was well on his way to working himself to death. Suffering from an enlarged heart and inflammatory rheumatism, he nevertheless continued to plow his fields the old-fashioned waybehind a team of mules. By the end of his life, the mules would be more or less dragging him across the field from shortly after dawn till evening, sometimes six days a week during planting season. Joyce Simdars at sixteen But it was Joyces mother, and in particular her mothers religious views, that most oppressed Joyce. Enid Simdars embraced the strictures of Christian Science, a faith that taught that the material world and all the evil that attended it were illusory, that the only reality was spiritual. This meant, among other things, that prayer and only prayer could heal afflictions like the rheumatism that afflicted Joyces father, and that doctors were a waste of time. It also meant something that affected Joyce even more personally as she was growing up. Enid believed there was only a good Joyce, that a bad Joyce was a theological impossibility, that any such person who might appear was by definition an imposter in the guise of her daughter. When Joyce misbehaved, she simply ceased to exist for her mother. The bad Joyce was made to sit on a chair and was not acknowledged in any way, or allowed to leave the chair until the good Joyce spontaneously reappeared. As a result, Joyce had spent much of her childhood wrestling with the notion that any wicked thought or misbehavior on her part meant that she was not worthy of love and, in fact, was in imminent danger of ceasing to exist. Years later she remembered sitting in the chair, sobbing and checking on herself over and over again, thinking, But Im still here. Im still here. If she had a refuge, it was in working out of doors rather than in the house. She detested housework, in part because it had no end in the Simdars household and in part because it held her under the bell jar of her mothers watchful eye. And it did not help that since her midteens Joyce had begun to suffer from arthritis, apparently a genetic gift from her father. The endless washing of dishes and scrubbing of floors and wiping of windows was the kind of repetitious work that aggravated the pain in her hands and wrists. Whenever she had a chance, she slipped outdoors to work in the vegetable garden or to tend to the animals with her father. He was hardly effusive with his affection, more apt to cuddle the family dog than one of his children, but at least he always seemed vaguely glad to have her around, and Joyce found the farmwork he did more interesting than housework. It often involved solving practical problems or making something new, and that appealed to her considerable and burgeoning intellectual curiositya curiosity that had already made her an unusually proficient student at school, scholarly even. She was always eager to delve deeply into whatever piqued her interest, everything from photography to Latin. She loved logic, loved to take things apart and put them back together, whether it was a speech by Cicero or a windmill. At the end of the day, though, dishes and more housework and her mothers vigilant eye always waited for Joyce in the dark and close confines of the house. And so when Joyce had first laid eyes on Joe Rantz, sitting in the back of the school bus strumming a guitar, singing some funny old song and flashing his big white toothy grin, when she had first heard his boisterous laugh and seen mirth in his eyes as he glanced up the aisle at her, she had been drawn to him, seen in him at once a window to a wider and sunnier world. He seemed the very embodiment of freedom. She knew what his circumstances were, knew how marginal his existence was, how poor his prospects. She knew that many girls would turn away from a boy like this, and that perhaps she should as well. And yet the more she observed how he handled those circumstances, how strong he was, how resourceful he could be, how he, like she, enjoyed the challenge of solving practical problems, the more she came to admire him. In time she also came to understand that he, like she, lived with self-doubt gnawing continually at his heart. Most of all, she marveled at and exulted in the simple and undeniable fact that he seemed to care for her just as she was, good or bad. Slowly she resolved that someday she would find a way to compensate for the way the world had so far treated Joe Rantz. In the summer of 1931, Joe received a letter from his brother Fred, now a chemistry teacher at Roosevelt High School in Seattle. Fred wanted Joe to come to Seattle, to live with him and Thelma and take his senior year at Roosevelt. If Joe graduated from a school as highly regarded as Roosevelt, Fred said, he just might be able to get into the University of Washington. From there, anything might be possible. Joe was wary. Since Fred had first taken him in, back in Nezperce when he was five, Joe had always felt that Fred was a bit overbearing, bent perhaps as much on directing Joes life as helping him out. Fred had long seemed to think that his little brother was just a bit inept, and that he needed to set him straight on any number of things. Now, just as Joe was finally beginning to get his feet under himself, to make it on his own, he wasnt at all sure he wanted Fred, or anyone else for that matter, telling him how to live his life. He wasnt sure he wanted to live with Thulas twin sister either. And he had not really contemplated going to the university before. Still, as he pondered Freds letter, the notion began to work on him. Hed always done well in his classes, he was insatiably curious about any number of subjects, and he liked the idea of testing his intellectual abilities. More than that, though, he knew that Sequim was never likely to offer him a path to the future he was starting to imagine, a future that centered on Joyce Simdars and a family of his own. To get there, he knew, he would have to leave Joyce behind, at least for now. In the end he boarded up the house in Sequim, told Joyce hed be back at the end of the school year, took the ferry to Seattle, moved in with Fred and Thelma, and started attending Roosevelt. It was a strange turn: for the first time in as long as he could remember, he found himself with three square meals a day and little to do except attend school and explore his interests. He threw himself into both. Again he excelled in the classroom and quickly worked his way onto the deans honor roll. He joined the glee club and relished the opportunity it gave him to sing and perform in plays and make music. He signed up for the mens gymnastics team, where his prodigious upper-body strength made him a standout on the rings, the high bars, and the parallel bars. At the end of the day, he sometimes went out on the town with Fred and Thelma, eating in real restaurants, taking in Hollywood movies, even going to musicals at the 5th Avenue Theatre. It seemed, to Joe, a life of extraordinary ease and privilege, and it confirmed what he had been thinkinghe did want something more out of life than what Sequim could offer. One spring day in 1932, as Joe was practicing giants on the high bar in the gym, he noticed a tall man in a dark gray suit and a fedora, standing in the doorway and watching him intently. The man disappeared, but a few minutes later Fred walked into the gym and called Joe over to the door. A fellow just came into my classroom and asked who you were, Fred said. Said he was from the university. He gave me this. Said you should look him up when you get to the U. That he might be able to use a fellow like you. Fred handed Joe a card, and Joe glanced down at it: ALVIN M. ULBRICKSON HEAD COACH, CREW UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT Joe pondered the card for a moment, then walked to his locker and put it in his wallet. It couldnt hurt to give it a try. Rowing couldnt be any harder than cutting cottonwoods. By the summer of 1932, Joe had graduated from Roosevelt with honors and was back in Sequim. If he was really going to attend the university, he was going to need to scrape together enough money for rent and books and tuition. It would take him a year just to earn enough for his freshman year. Hed worry about the second year, and the third, and the fourth, later. Joe was glad to be home. As he had feared, in Seattle Fred had directed his every move. It had been with the best of intentions, Joe was sure, but he had felt suffocated by the ceaseless rejoinders and adviceon everything from what classes to take to how to tie his necktie. Fred had even suggested that he date particular girls at Roosevelt, suggesting that the Simdars girl out in Sequim might be a bit of a country bumpkin, and that perhaps he should set his sights a little higher, on a city girl. And there had been something else. As the year went by, Joe had gradually begun to suspect and then to believe that Fred and Thelma knew exactly where his father, stepmother, and half siblings were, and that they were not far away. There had been bits of conversation overheard, topics abruptly dropped, glances hastily averted, phone calls carried out with muffled voices. Joe had thought about confronting them, but hed always reconsidered, pushed the subject out of his mind. The last thing he wanted to know was that his father was nearby and making no effort to reach out to him. In Sequim, Joe worked continuously. He counted himself lucky when he landed a summer job with the Civilian Conservation Corps, laying asphalt for the new Olympic Highway for fifty cents an hour. The money was decent, the work brutal. For eight hours a day, he shoveled steaming asphalt out of trucks and raked it out flat in advance of the steamrollers, the unrelenting heat rising from the black asphalt melding with the heat from the sun overhead, as if the two sources were competing to see which would kill him first. On weekends he cut hay again with Harry Secor and dug irrigation ditches for local farmers. By winter he was back in the woods with Charlie McDonald, cutting cottonwoods, chaining them to the draft horses, and skidding them out of the woods in snow and sleet. But there was a saving grace. Almost every afternoon now, Joyce got off the school bus on Silberhorn, down by the river, rather than at her home in Happy Valley. She rushed through the woods looking for Joe. When she found him, he always hugged her tight, smelling, as she would remember seventy years later on her deathbed, of wet wood and sweat and the sweet wildness of the outdoors. One radiant day in late April, she hurried to Joe as usual. When she found him, he took her hand and led her to a small meadow among the cottonwoods on the south bank of the Dungeness. Joe sat her down in the grass and asked her to wait a moment. He wandered a few feet off and sat down and began to inspect the ground carefully, pawing through the grass. Joyce knew what he was doing. He had always had an uncanny knack for finding four-leaf clovers, and he loved to present them to her as small tokens of his affection. How he found them so easily mystified her, but he always told her that it wasnt a matter of luck at all, that it was just a matter of keeping your eyes open. The only time you dont find a four-leaf clover, he liked to say, is when you stop looking for one. She loved that. It summed up in a few words what she most loved about him. She lay back in the grass and closed her eyes, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her face and legs. After a short while, shorter than usual, she heard Joe approaching. She sat up and smiled at him. Found one, he said, beaming. He held out a closed fist, and she reached out to receive the clover. But as he slowly unfolded his hand, she saw that it held not a clover but a golden ring with a small but perfect diamond sparkling in the rare spring sunshine. Freshmen on Old Nero CHAPTER FIVE Rowing is perhaps the toughest of sports. Once the race starts, there are no time-outs, no substitutions. It calls upon the limits of human endurance. The coach must therefore impart the secrets of the special kind of endurance that comes from mind, heart, and body. George Yeoman Pocock A s the autumn of 1933 began to wane, daytime temperatures in Seattle sagged into the low forties, evening temperatures into the twenties. The perpetually somber skies began to drizzle relentlessly. Biting winds blew in from the southwest, kicking up legions of whitecaps on Lake Washington. On October 22 gale winds ripped display signs from buildings downtown, tossed houseboats around on Lake Union, and necessitated the rescue of thirty-three people from various storm-tossed pleasure craft on Puget Sound. For the boys still competing for a spot on the freshman crew, the deteriorating weather meant new forms of misery as they labored at their oars aboard Old Nero. Rain pelted their bare heads and shoulders. Their oars slapped against wind-tossed waves, sending up plumes of icy spray that blew back into their faces and stung their eyes. Their hands grew so numb that they could never be sure they had a proper hold on their oars. They could not feel their ears or noses. The icy water of the lake beneath them seemed to suck warmth and energy out of them more quickly than they could produce it. Their aching muscles cramped up the moment they stopped moving them. And they dropped like flies. By October 30 the original 175 had been whittled down to 80 boys competing for a seat in the first two freshman boats. There would be a third boat and a fourth boat too, but nobody sitting in them would be likely to find himself racing in the spring or having a shot at eventually making the varsity crew. Tom Bolles decided it was time to move the best of them out of Old Nero and into shell barges. Both Joe Rantz and Roger Morris were among those he chose. The shell barges were much like the racing shells the boys aspired to sit in, but they were a few inches broader in the beam, with flatter bottoms and keels. Considerably more stable than racing shells, they were nevertheless eccentric craft, easy to capsize and difficult to maneuver. What had been true before was true all over again: they would have to master an entirely new set of skills simply to remain upright in them. For now, though, it was enough simply to be out of Old Nero and in something resembling a shell, and Joe for one was bursting with pride as he first sat down in one and laced his feet into the foot stretchers. For both Joe and Roger, making it into the shell barges was sweet recompense for days that had been, ever since school began, brutally long and demanding. Every weekday Roger slogged on foot the two and a half miles from his parents house in Fremont to school, labored at his engineering classes until crew practice, and when practice was over, walked back home again to help out with family chores and do his homework. On Friday and Saturday nights, to pay his tuition and help with the home finances, he played saxophone and clarinet in a swing band, the Blue Lyres, he had started in high school. On weekends he worked for his familys moving business, the Franklin Transfer Company, hoisting sofas and bed sets and pianos in and out of homes all over town. With almost half the mortgages in America delinquent that fall, and a thousand foreclosures occurring every day, it was often sad work as he moved families out of homes they had worked a lifetime to acquire. Too often men stood hollow-eyed and women wept in doorways as Roger loaded onto a truck the last of their possessions, destined not for another home but for an auction house. Each time it happened, Roger whispered a little prayer of gratitude that so far his own family had managed to hang on to their house. Like so many, they had slipped, in a few short years, from a comfortable, secure middle-class existence to one in which every dime seemed harder to come by than the one before. But at least they still had their home. Roger was a funny sort of fellowkind of gruff, apt to speak bluntly, almost rudely. He wasnt easy to buddy up to, but sometimes Joe sat with him in the cafeteria. They talked sporadically, mostly chatting awkwardly about their engineering classes. As often as not, they ate in silence. There seemed to be a tenuous, if unspoken, strand of affection and respect growing between them, but otherwise Joe didnt feel much kinship with most of the boys in the shell house. Even with the most nattily dressed boys now gone, he still felt that he stuck out among the survivors. He showed up every day in the same rumpled sweater, the only one he owned, and almost every day there were snide remarks about it in the locker room. Hobo Joe, the boys snickered. Hows life down in Hooverville? You trying to catch moths with that thing, Rantz? Joe took to arriving early to change into his rowing clothes before the others showed up. Every afternoon he hurried from his engineering classes to crew practice. Directly afterward he rushed again, this time to his job in the student athletic store, where he worked until midnight selling everything from candy bars to what an ad for the store euphemistically termed those guardians of the vital zone. After work he trudged up University Avenue in the rain and the dark to the YMCA, where he worked as a janitor in exchange for a small, cell-like room just big enough for a desk and a bed. It was just one in a warren of such rooms that had been partitioned off in a converted coal storage basement. The dank, dingy rooms housed an eclectic collection of students, both male and female. Among them was a precocious and stunning young drama student named Frances Farmer, who less than two years later the rest of them would be watching on the silver screen. But there was little in the way of socializing among the denizens of the basement, and for Joe his room represented little more than a place to do his homework and stretch out his aching frame for a few hours before heading off to classes again in the morning. It was not like anything one could call a home. As grueling as the fall of 1933 was for Joe, it wasnt quite all work and loneliness. Joyce was nearby, and that was a consolation. She had come to Seattle to be with Joe, but also to pursue her own dreams. Her academic success set her on a course that was different from those of most of the farm girls with whom she had gone to high school in Sequim. She didnt seek a career outside her home; she wanted to raise a family and to do it very well. But she had no intention of living a life like her mothers, in which housework defined and limited the horizon of her worldview. She wanted to live a life of the mind, and the university was her ticket to that life. Ironically, though, the only route to her goal lay through still more housework. She walked off a ferry and arrived in downtown Seattle that September desperately needing a place to live and a way to pay for her tuition, her food, and her books. She enrolled at the university and moved in briefly with her aunt Laura, but it was soon clear that, what with the hard times, another mouth to feed was an unwelcome burden on her aunts already crimped budget. For the next two weeks, Joyce arose every morning at dawn and hurriedly scanned the all too meager offerings of the help-wanted ads in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Many days fewer than half a dozen ads appeared, alongside long columns of work-wanted ads. Aside from a bright mind, all Joyce could reasonably offer the world of employers was her skill at doing what she least liked to do, cleaning and cooking. So she focused on ads for domestic service. Unwilling to pay for bus fare, dressed in her Sunday best, she walked miles each time she found an ad for a maid, trekking far out into the fashionable Laurelhurst neighborhood east of the campus or climbing the steep incline up to the crest of Capitol Hill, where stately Victorian houses stood on quiet, shady side streets. Time and again, she was met at the door by the haughty wives of the citys elite, who ushered her into stuffy front rooms, perched her on ornate sofas, and then demanded references and evidence of her employment experience, neither of which Joyce could offer. Finally, one hot afternoon, after another disheartening interview in Laurelhurst, Joyce decided simply to start knocking on doors. The houses here were massive and elegant. Perhaps someone needed help and hadnt gotten around to placing an ad. She walked up and down the street, her swollen and arthritic feet aching, sweat building up under her arms, her hair growing damp and disheveled as she traipsed up long walkways to formidable front doors and rapped gently. Late that day a gaunt-looking elderly gentleman, a prominent local judge, came to his door, heard her out, cocked his head, studied her carefully, but asked no difficult questions about references or experience. There was a long, awkward silence as the judge contemplated her. Finally he croaked, Come back in the morning, and well see if you fit in the last maids uniform. The uniform fit, and with that Joyce had landed a job. Now on weekend evenings, when she could get some time off, she and Joe could board a streetcar for a few cents and go downtown to catch a Charlie Chan or Mae West movie for forty cents more. Friday nights were college nights at Club Victor, which meant no cover charge and a chance to dance to the offerings of a local bandmaster, Vic Meyers. Saturdays often brought a football game, and every football game called for a dance afterward in the womens gym. Joe and Joyce went to nearly all of them, Joe springing for the twenty-five-cent admission. But dancing on a basketball court to the blaring of the school band wasnt particularly romantic, wasnt really much better than dancing in the close, sweaty confines of the Chicken Coop back in Sequim. Joe couldnt do what he most wanted to do, to take Joyce out to the swank places downtown that many of her friends frequented. They were the kinds of places where Joyce might have worn a chiffon gown, and Joe a suit, if either had had such a thingplaces like the Trianon Ballroom at Third and Wall, with its vast polished-maple dance floor capable of holding five thousand at a time, its glittering chandeliers, its pink walls painted with tropical scenes, and its silver clamshell hood suspended over the bandstand. At places like that, you could dance all night to the likes of the Dorsey Brothers and Guy Lombardo. Joyce professed not to care, but it pained Joe that he could not take her there. In mid-November the campus crackled with excitement and anticipation as the annual homecoming game with the University of Oregon approached. As a prelude Joe and his freshman crewmates took on the varsity crew in a football game of their own and were unceremoniously crushed by the older boys. It was a loss the freshmen wouldnt forget, and they swore they would have their revenge on the water. In the meantime, though, tradition demanded that the losers prepare a banquet for the victors, and the student paper, the University of Washington Daily, seized on the opportunity to gibe the freshman crew: their menu should be easy to select for they caught plenty of crabs on Sunday. On November 17 a pall fell over the campus when, just at the height of the festivities, tragedy struck. A freshman, Willis Thompson, attempting to start a bonfire for a rally, splashed gasoline on his clothes and set himself afire. After lingering in great pain for several days, Thompson died the following week. A pall of another, quite literal, sort continued to hang over the larger world as well that month. On November 11 farmers in the Dakotas awoke after a windy night to find something they had never seen beforedaytime skies turned black by topsoil scoured from their fields and carried aloft by the wind. The next day the skies over Chicago grew dark as the dust cloud traveled eastward, and a few days later people in upstate New York looked up, astonished, into skies the color of rust. Nobody knew it yet, but the dust that month, that first black blizzard, was merely a harbinger of what would come to be called the Dust Bowl, the second great act in the long tragedy of the 1930s and early 1940s. The winds of November 1933 would soon be followed by others, even stronger, that would blow away much of the topsoil of the American plains and send hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming westward across the continent in search of jobs that did not existadrift, rootless, homeless, dispossessed in their own land, their confidence as well as their livelihoods carried away on the wind. And increasingly there were distant but dark rumblings from Germany, intimations of the third and most tragic act. On October 14, Hitler had abruptly quit the League of Nations and discontinued Germanys ongoing disarmament talks with France and her allies. It was a deeply disturbing turn of events, essentially abrogating the Treaty of Versailles and undermining the foundations on which European peace had been built since 1919. Krupp, Germanys legendary armament and munitions manufacturer, had begun secretly working on an initial order of 135 Panzer I tanks. Observers in Panama had recently noted an enormous surge in the number of shipments of nitratesused in the manufacturing of munitionspassing through the canal under blind sailing orders, en route from Chile to the Azores, heading in the direction of Europe, ultimate destination unknown. On the streets of German cities that fall, Americans and other foreign nationals were assaulted by storm troopers when they refused to give Nazi salutes, prompting the United States, Britain, and Holland to issue warnings to Berlin of most serious consequences should the attacks continue. By late fall reports were reaching as far as Seattle. Richard Tyler, dean of engineering at the University of Washington, just back from Germany himself, reported his observations in an article in the Daily: The people of Germany today are afraid to express opinions even on trivial matters, he said, before going on to observe that anyone saying anything that could be interpreted as unflattering to the Nazis was liable to be arrested and incarcerated without trial. And though neither Tyler nor any of his readers yet knew it, the Nazis had in fact already imprisoned thousands of political dissidents in a camp they had opened in March near the charming little medieval village of Dachau. Tylers account and scores of others even more sinister, particularly those by Jewish emigrants from Germany, fell almost entirely on deaf ears in America that fall. When the student body at Washington was polled on the question of whether the United States should ally itself with France and Britain to oppose Germany, the results were the same as they had been in similar polls nearly everywhere else in the country: 99 percent said no. On November 15, Will Rogers neatly and characteristically summed up the American attitude toward the prospect of a second French-German conflict with a simple, homespun image. The United States, he said, ought to just let those two old tomcats whose tails are tied together over the fence alone and try to cure the scratches we got the last time we tried to untie em. On the afternoon of November 28, the last practice day of the fall term, the freshmen took one final, frigid workout. When the last of them had returned to the shell house, Coach Bolles told the boys to stick around, that it was time to announce who had made the first and second boats. Then he ducked into Al Ulbricksons office. The boys glanced at one another. Through the steamy panes of the glassed-in cubbyhole that served as the coaches office, they could see Ulbrickson and Bolles hunched over a desk in their flannel suits, studying a piece of paper. The shell house reeked sourly of sweat and damp socks and mildew, as it did every afternoon now that the rainy season had begun. The afternoons last feeble light filtered down from the windows above. Occasional gusts of wind buffeted the massive sliding door. As the two coaches lingered in the office, the boys usual post-practice banter and joshing faded away and was replaced by an uncomfortable silence. The only sound was a soft tapping. Up in the loft at the back of the room, Pocock was nailing together the frame for a new shell. Roger Morris drifted over and stood quietly next to Joe, toweling his hair dry. Bolles emerged from the office and climbed up onto a bench, clutching the piece of paper. The boys shuffled into a semicircle around him. He began by saying that this was just a preliminary selection, that all of them could continue to compete for the seats he was about to announce, that he encouraged them to do so, that nobody should get all swell headed just because he heard his name called out now. Nobody should think he was a sure thing. There wasnt any such animal. Then he began to read off the names on the list, moving first through the assignments for the second boat, announcing the names of boys who would make up the primary challengers to the presumptive favorites in the first freshman boat. When Bolles finished announcing the second boat, Joe glanced at Roger, who was staring morosely down at the floor. Neither of them had been called. But neither had long to wait. Bolles began calling out the first-boat assignments: Bow seat, Roger Morris. Number two seat, Shorty Hunt. Number three seat, Joe Rantz . . . As Bolles continued, Joe clenched his fist at his side and gave it a subtle little pump, unwilling to celebrate any more demonstrably than that in front of the boys who had not been selected. Next to him, Roger began to exhale softly. As the rest of the boys headed toward the showers, those selected for the first boat took a shell barge off its rack, hoisted it over their heads, and marched it down to the darkening lake for a celebratory row. A light but cutting wind ruffled the water. As the sun set, they laced their feet into the stretchers and began to row westward through the Cut and Portage Bay and out onto Lake Union, seeking calmer water than could be found on the open expanse of Lake Washington. The temperatures had fallen into the upper thirties, and it felt even colder out on the water. Joe hardly noticed. As the boat slipped onto the surface of Lake Union, the noise of city traffic fell away, and he entered into a world completely silent except for the rhythmic barking of the coxswain in the stern. Joes seat slid methodically and silently back and forth on the greased runners beneath him. His arms and legs pulled and pushed smoothly, almost easily. When the white blade of his oar entered the black water, it merely murmured. At the north end of the lake, the coxswain called out, Way . . . nuff! The boys stopped rowing and the shell glided to a stop, the long oars trailing in the water alongside them. Dark clouds fringed with silver moonlight scudded by overhead, carried briskly along by the winds aloft. The boys sat without talking, breathing heavily, exhaling plumes of white breath. Even now that they had stopped rowing, their breathing was synchronized, and for a brief, fragile moment it seemed to Joe as if all of them were part of a single thing, something alive with breath and spirit of its own. To the west, silver headlights crawled slowly across the spidery steel arch of the new Aurora Bridge. To the south, the amber lights of downtown Seattle danced on the waves. Atop Queen Anne Hill, ruby-red lights on radio towers winked on and off. Joe gulped huge drafts of the frigid air and sat staring at the scene, watching it turn into a soft blur of colors as, for the first time since his family had left him, tears filled his eyes. He turned his face to the water, fiddling with his oarlock so the others would not see. He didnt know where the tears had come from, what they were all about. But something inside him had shifted, if only for a few moments. The boys had caught their breaths, and they were talking softly, not joking for a change, not horsing around, just talking quietly about the lights and what lay before them. Then the coxswain called out, Ready all! Joe turned and faced the rear of the boat, slid his seat forward, sank the white blade of his oar into the oil-black water, tensed his muscles, and waited for the command that would propel him forward into the glimmering darkness. On the second day of December 1933, it began to rain in Seattle as it had never rained before and has never rained since. Over the next thirty days, there was only one day when the skies were not leaden with clouds, only four when it did not rain. By the end of the month, fourteen and a quarter inches of rain had fallen at the University of Washington. Fifteen and a third inches had fallen downtown, still the all-time record for any month of the year. Some days it drizzled; some days it poured. Either way, it just kept coming. Rivers all across western Washingtonthe Chehalis, the Snoqualmie, the Duwamish, the Skykomish, the Stillaguamish, the Skokomish, the Snohomishoverflowed their banks, sweeping away farmhouses, washing millions of tons of topsoil into Puget Sound, flooding the commercial districts of riverside communities from the Canadian border all the way south to the Columbia. North of Seattle the swollen Skagit River sliced though earthen dikes near its mouth and sent tidal salt water spilling across twenty thousand acres of the richest farmland in the state. In many of Seattles nicest hillside neighborhoodsplaces like Alki and Madrona and Magnoliahomes slid from eroding bluffs and tumbled into Lake Washington or Puget Sound. Roadways cracked and followed the homes downhill. Downtown, storm water overwhelmed the sewers, bubbled up through manholes, and flooded the streets and businesses of the low-lying International District. In the miserable shantytown spread out along the shore of Elliott Bay, unrelenting rain dissolved newspaper that had been wadded into chinks in flimsy walls, worked its way through the weather-beaten fabric of old tents, and dripped through rusty corrugated steel roofs, soaking old mattresses lying on muddy floors and chilling to the bone those who tried to sleep on them. In the midst of this onslaught, as soon as final exams were over for the fall quarter, Joyce took some time off from her job, and she and Joe went home to Sequim for Christmas break. Joe visited with the McDonalds and checked on the house on Silberhorn, but he stayed at Joyces parents house, sleeping in a bed in the attic. When he had settled in, Joyces mother pulled out a clipping from the local newspaper and showed him the headline: Joe Rantz Makes First Crew. He was, she told him, becoming quite the talk of the town. PART TWO 1934 Resiliency Tom Bolles CHAPTER SIX My ambition has always been to be the greatest shell builder in the world; and without false modesty, I believe I have attained that goal. If I were to sell the [Boeing] stock, I fear I would lose my incentive and become a wealthy man, but a second-rate artisan. I prefer to remain a first-class artisan. George Yeoman Pocock I n January, Joe and Joyce returned to Seattle, where rain continued to fall almost every day. When crew practice started up again on January 8, Joe and the seventeen other boys in the first and second freshman boats learned that they were now entitled to abandon the shell barges and step for the first time into proper racing shells, the sleek and lovely cedar craft built by George Pocock in his loft workshop at the back of the Washington shell house. They also learned that what had seemed a brutal workout schedule in the fall was merely a whisper of what Al Ulbrickson and Tom Bolles had in mind for them now. In the next few months, they were told, they would mostly race against one another and their junior varsity and varsity counterparts. After that they might race against the University of British Columbia or a handful of other Northwest crews. But the real racing season was short and the stakes high: In mid-April just one boatload of freshmenwhichever emerged as the first freshman boatwould face their primary rival, the University of California at Berkeley, right here on Lake Washington, in the annual Pacific Coast Regatta. If they prevailed in that raceand only if they did sothey could claim supremacy in the West. That would likely earn them a chance to race against Navy and the elite eastern schools for the national freshman championship in Poughkeepsie in June. And that was it. The whole seasonnine months of preparationcame down to just two major races. In his six years as freshman coach, Bolles had never coached a crew that had lost a race to California, or anyone else, on Lake Washington. Bolles didnt intend for this bunch to be the first, no matter how good the Cal freshmen were reputed to be, and he happened to know that they were reputed to be very good indeed. Bolles knew, in fact, that Ky Ebrights boys had been rowing since late August, and that he had been racing them against one another in real shells since late October, when the Washington freshmen had begun tentatively trying out the shell barges. Ebright, Bolles noticed, had been making more than the usual amount of noise in the Bay Area press lately about how thoroughly his freshmen were going to shellac Washington. From now until race day, Bolles told his boys, they would row six days a week, rain or shine. It rained, and they rowed. They rowed through cutting wind, bitter sleet, and occasional snow, well into the dark of night every evening. They rowed with cold rainwater running down their backs, pooling in the bottom of the boat, and sloshing back and forth under their sliding seats. A local sportswriter who watched them work out that month observed that it rained and rained and rained. Then it rained and rained and rained. Another commented that they could have turned their shells upside down and rowed without making much difference in their progress. It was nearly as wet above the surface of the lake as it was below. Through it all, Bolles followed them doggedly back and forth across Lake Washington and down the Montlake Cut into Lake Union, where they rowed past the wet, black hulls and dripping bowsprits of old lumber schooners. Riding through the slop and the chop in the open cockpit of his brass-trimmed, mahogany-planked motor launch, the Alumnus, wearing a bright yellow rain slicker, he bellowed commands at them through his megaphone until his voice grew hoarse and his throat sore. Once again boys who had endured the bitter cold workouts in October and November now placed their oars in racks at the end of the day, climbed wearily back up the hill, and refused to come back for more. Four boatloads soon became three, and by the end of the month Bolles sometimes had a hard time filling the third boat. All the boys in Joes boat stuck it out, but the easy camaraderie they had briefly felt the first time they went out together on Lake Union in November quickly evaporated. Anxiety, self-doubt, and bickering replaced that nights buoyant optimism as Bolles scrutinized each of them anew, trying to figure out who to keep in the boat and who to demote. Al Ulbrickson was working his upperclassmen just as hard, trying to settle on a first junior varsity and a first varsity boat to race against Cal in April and the eastern schools in June. But as soggy January wore on and gave way to a blustery February, he was decidedly unhappy with what he was seeing out on the water, particularly with his varsity. After every workout it was Ulbricksons habit to sit down in his office and make notations in a logbook. These private comments were more often far more expressive than those his reticent public persona allowed. Amid many entries grumbling about the weather, he grumbled even more about the lack of spirit in the older boys as he raced boatloads of them against one another. Increasingly, he littered the log with stinging commentary: too many TOLO dates, too many gripers, not enough pepper, They could have been closer by wishing hard. On February 16, Ulbrickson finally found something he liked, but not where hed been looking. Returning to the shell house that evening, the first varsity boat fell in alongside Tom Bolless first freshman boat, which was also returning. Still two miles out, the two crews began, on an impulse, to race for home. At first the freshmen stayed even with the varsity, rowing at the same stroke count. Ulbrickson wasnt terribly surprised. He knew Bolles was working his freshmen hard. But both crews had been rowing for hours, and as he trailed them in his launch Ulbrickson waited for the younger, less experienced boys to fade. Instead of fading, though, a half mile from the shell house the freshmen suddenly began to pull ahead, grabbing a quarter-length lead. That got Ulbricksons attention. It also got the attention of Harvey Love, the coxswain in the varsity boat, who frantically called for a higher stroke rate. The varsity poured it on for the last thirty seconds, just managing to pull even with the freshmen as they reached the floating dock at the shell house. Ulbricksons acrid entry in his logbook that night read First real work the varsity has done. Six hundred and seventy miles to the south, on the Oakland Estuarythe University of Californias home waterKy Ebright was facing remarkably similar problems. Only one of his 1932 Olympic gold medal crew still rowed for California, and his varsity lineup was turning in indifferent times at best. Ebright couldnt quite figure out what was wrong. They are just the right size and they have lots of power, but I just cant see them winning, he complained to the San Francisco Chronicle. To top things off, in recent weeks his freshmen had begun to beat his varsity in time trials and head-to-head races. In a number of ways, Ky Ebright was the opposite of Al Ulbrickson. Ulbrickson, a former stroke oarone of the best Washington had ever knownwas tall, well built, and notably handsome. Ebright, a former coxswain, was short, skinny, bespectacled, and sharp of feature, with a prominent nose and a receding chin. Ulbrickson dressed conservatively, usually in his fedora and a three-piece flannel suit; Ebright wore flannel suits as well, but he was apt to pair them improbably with an old oilskin souwester or a wide-brimmed hat, the front of which he pushed up, making him look something like Gene Autrys comedic sidekick, Smiley Burnette, or a younger version of Hopalong Cassidys equally comic sidekick, Gabby Hayes. Ulbrickson was reticent, often to the point of rudeness; Ebright was expressive, often also to the point of rudeness. One of his oarsmen, Buzz Schulte, recalled, He yelled, goaded, teased, whatever it took to motivate his boys. Prone to pounding his megaphone on the gunwales of his coaching launch in exasperation, he once hurled it at an oarsman who had caught a crab. The megaphone, not being particularly aerodynamic, missed its mark by a wide margin and landed in the lap of the coxswain, Don Blessing, who, irritated by the assault on his crewmate, nudged the megaphone over the side of the boat with his knee. As it sank into the depths, an enraged Ebright exploded, Blessing! God damn you! That was an expensive megaphone. Why did you destroy it like that? As difficult as he could sometimes be, though, Ky Ebright, like Al Ulbrickson, was a remarkable coachdestined, like Ulbrickson, for rowings hall of fameand he cared deeply for the young men in his charge. The night California won Olympic gold in Amsterdam in 1928, an emotional Ebright came to Blessing, put his arm around the younger man, and said with a cracking voice, You know, Don, I cussed you a lot of times and made you mad a lot of times, but youve been the greatest coxswain, the greatest student, Ive ever had, and I want you to know how much I appreciate that. It made me cry, Blessing later said. I mean, he was God to me. It was a feeling shared by most of the boys Ebright coached, among them Robert McNamara, later the U.S. secretary of defense, and the movie star Gregory Peck, who in 1997 donated twenty-five thousand dollars to the Cal crew in Ebrights memory. Like Ulbrickson, Ebright grew up in Seattle, attended the University of Washington, and began his rowing life there in 1915, as coxswain. He once coxed a Washington crew to a humiliating fifteen-length shellacking of California. After graduating, he continued to hang around the Washington shell house, informally advising students and coaches and generally helping out. In 1923, when Washingtons head coach, Ed Leader, left to coach at Yale, Ebright was among the candidates eager to replace him, but Washington passed him over in favor of Russell Rusty Callow. Shortly after that, Washington learned that Californias coach, Ben Wallis, was leaving Berkeley and that the school was on the verge of abandoning its crew program after years of less than stellar results. The board of stewards for rowing at Washington quickly took note. California had had a rowing team since 1868, making it one of the oldest crew programs in the country. Stanford had abandoned the sport in 1920. If Cal gave it up too, the stewards feared that Washington would have little justification for perpetuating its own program without a serious West Coast rival. But a solution seemed to be at hand: California wanted an effective coach, Ebright wanted a coaching job, Washington wanted a rival, and the upshot was that Ky Ebright became the head coach at California in February 1924, with the mission of rebuilding the schools program. And that he did with a vengeance. By 1927 the Cal program had improved to the point that Berkeley could reasonably contend with Washington for West Coast supremacy. Friction began to grow between the two programs. From the outset, some in the Washington shell house felt that by agreeing to go to Cal, Ebright had betrayed the institution that had nurtured him. Others felt, rightly or wrongly, that Ebright was bitter about not getting the job at Washington and was bent on evening a personal score. As California continued to improve, other issues surfaced, new resentments arose, and the relationship between the two programs deteriorated further. Before long, the rivalry between them had become, as Ebright later put it bluntly, vicious and bloody. Some of the bad blood centered, improbably, on the most gentlemanly of individuals in either shell house. Ky Ebright knew from his own days at Washington what the presence of George Pocock meant to the Washington crew program. And as he built his own program, he began to brood on it. Part of his resentment involved suspicions about equipment. Like nearly every other crew coach in the country, Ebright was by the late 1920s buying almost all his equipment from Pocock, who ran an independent business from his shop in the Washington shell house. Pococks cedar shells and spruce oars were by now understood across America to be unsurpassed for craftsmanship, durability, and, most important, speed on the water. They were state-of-the-art, so elegant and streamlined that people liked to say they seemed to be in motion while still on the racks. By the mid-1930s, a Pocock eight-man shell would have the same market price as a brand-new LaSalle built by General Motors Cadillac division. But Ebright, reacting to rumors his father had heard, had come to suspect that Pocock was sending him second-rate or defective equipment in order to hobble Washingtons principal rival. He wrote angrily to Pocock about it: He heard that you said the shell you hoped Washington would use was a great deal better than the one you made California this year. Over the next few months, a series of increasingly unpleasant and accusatory letters from Berkeley arrived in Pococks mailbox. Each time, the Englishman responded politely and diplomatically, declaring that the equipment he sent to Cal was identical to that which he provided to Washington or anyone else on his list of customers: You can take it from me that Washington would gladly swap boats with you, he wrote. Stamp out any thought among your men that they are getting shells from the enemy. Far from it. My work is absolutely first, then comes the broadening of the rowing game. But Ebright remained suspicious, and he continued to lash out at Pocock: It is the most natural thing in the world for our men to feel as I say they dothat they are getting their equipment from the enemy. It injures their morale and makes it hard for us to compete on even terms. In trying to deal with Ebright, Pocock found himself in a quandary. By 1931 the effects of the Depression had caused crew programs across the country to go out of existence or to cut back drastically on the purchase of equipment. As coveted as his shells were, Pocock had begun to find himself struggling to stay in business, reduced to writing plaintive letters to coaches around the country, pleading for orders. Ebright seemed eager to seize the opportunity to exact revenge for the wrongs he had imputed to Pocock. In his correspondence with the boatbuilder, he threatened to buy his equipment from an English supplier, demanded price concessions, and insisted on design modifications if he were to buy. Time and again Pocock explained that he was desperate for business but could not reduce prices: No one who has ordered a boat this year has asked for it. They know they are worth it. But Ebright only hardened his position: You will not be able to get your old prices much longer, it will just be impossible to pay them . . . the goose that laid the golden egg is gone. What most seemed to get Ebrights goat, though, when he thought about the Washington program, wasnt the quality or price of the equipment he was receiving from Pocock; it was the quality of advice the Washington boys were receiving and his boys were not. Ebright knew that Pocock possessed deep insights into every aspect of the sport, into specific elements of technique as well as into the psychology of winning and losing at it, and he didnt think Washington should have a monopoly on Pococks wisdom. When the two schools got together, it griped him to see the Englishman squatting on the dock and talking with the Washington boys or riding along in Ulbricksons launch, leaning over to him, whispering things in his ears. Somewhat bizarrely, given the geographical situation, he lashed out at Pocock, I repeat that you have never gone out with our crew in a workout . . . you should ride with us and give us suggestions about rowing the same as you do for Washington. Pococks integrity, his craftsmanship, and above all his honor were his lifeblood. The letters stung. There was no logical reason why he owed California anything more than the quality equipment he continued to send them. And there was something else. When California had first approached Washington about a new head coach in the fall of 1923, it was George Pocock to whom they had first offered the job. Pocock thought he would be more valuable to the sport if he continued to build shells. It was he who had first recommended Ky Ebright. Nonetheless, Pocock tried to smooth things out. Whenever the two schools met, he took to going out of his way to talk with the Cal boys. He helped them rig their shells before races. He made a point of chatting with the Cal coaching staff, offering tips. But Ebrights lashing out at Pocock had not gone unnoticed in the Washington shell house, and by 1934 relations between the two programs could not have been any more strained. By mid-spring Tom Bolles found himself struggling daily with the freshmen, and the trend seemed to be going the wrong way. They seem to be getting slower every day, a dour and subdued Bolles complained. One of the fundamental challenges in rowing is that when any one member of a crew goes into a slump the entire crew goes with him. A baseball team or a basketball team may very well triumph even if its star player is off his game. But the demands of rowing are such that every man or woman in a racing shell depends on his or her crewmates to perform almost flawlessly with each and every pull of the oar. The movements of each rower are so intimately intertwined, so precisely synchronized with the movements of all the others, that any one rowers mistake or subpar performance can throw off the tempo of the stroke, the balance of the boat, and ultimately the success of the whole crew. More often than not, it comes down to a lack of concentration on one persons part. For just this reason, as they struggled to regain their form the Washington freshmen came up with a mantra that their coxswain, George Morry, chanted as they rowed. Morry shouted, M-I-B, M-I-B, M-I-B! over and over to the rhythm of their stroke. The initialism stood for mind in boat. It was meant as a reminder that from the time an oarsman steps into a racing shell until the moment that the boat crosses the finish line, he must keep his mind focused on what is happening inside the boat. His whole world must shrink down to the small space within the gunwales. He must maintain a singular focus on the rower just ahead of him and the voice of the coxswain calling out commands. Nothing outside the boatnot the boat in the next lane over, not the cheering of a crowd of spectators, not last nights datecan enter the successful oarsmans mind. But no amount of chanting M-I-B seemed to be working for the freshmen. Bolles decided he needed to tinker with the fundamentals of the boat, the mechanics of what made it goor not go. By and large, every rower in an eight-oared shell does the same thingpull an oar through the water as smoothly as possible, as hard and as frequently as requested by the coxswain. But there are subtle differences in what is expected of individual rowers depending on which seat they occupy. Because the rest of the boat necessarily goes where the bow goes, any deflection or irregularity in the stroke of the oarsman in the bow seat has the greatest potential to disrupt the course, speed, and stability of the boat. So while the bow oarsman must be strong, like all the others, its most important that he or she be technically proficient: capable of pulling a perfect oar, stroke after stroke, without fail. The same is true to a lesser extent of the rowers in the number two and three seats. The four, five, and six seats are often called the engine room of the crew, and the rowers who occupy these seats are typically the biggest and strongest in the boat. While technique is still important in those seats, the speed of the boat ultimately depends on the raw power of these rowers and how efficiently they transmit it through their oars and into the water. The rower in the number seven seat is something of a hybrid. He or she must be nearly as strong as the rowers in the engine room but must also be particularly alert, constantly aware of and in tune with what is happening in the rest of the boat. He or she must precisely match both the timing and the degree of power set by the rower in the number eight seat, the stroke oar, and must transmit that information efficiently back into the boats engine room. The stroke sits directly in front of and face-to-face with the coxswain, who faces the bow and steers the shell. Theoretically the stroke oar always rows at the rate and with the degree of power called for by the coxswain, but in the end it is the stroke who ultimately controls these things. Everyone else in the boat rows at the rate and power at which the stroke rows. When working well, the entire boat operates like a well-lubricated machine, with every rower serving as a vital link in a chain that powers that machine forward, somewhat like a bicycle chain. To break the freshmens slump, Bolles had to search vigilantly for and repair weak links in the chain. One potential weak link that spring seemed to be Joe Rantz. Bolles had tried moving Joe back and forth between the number three seat and number seven, but with no effect. The problem looked to be technical. From the beginning of freshman tryouts the previous fall, Bolles had not been able to get Joe to square up consistentlyto rotate his oar so that the blade was perpendicular to the surface just before inserting it into the water on the catch, the beginning of each stroke. If the blade entered the water at any angle other than ninety degrees, the amount of power generated by the subsequent stroke would be compromised and the efficiency of the whole boat reduced. Squaring up required strong wrists and a fine degree of motor control, and Joe just couldnt seem to get the hang of it. Beyond that, his stroke was generally eccentric. He rowed powerfully but decidedly in his own way, and by any conventional measure his own way looked to be largely ineffective. In exasperation, Bolles yanked Joe out of the first boat one afternoon before the outbound trip down Lake Washington. The boat slowed down perceptibly. Perplexed, Bolles put Joe back into the boat for the return run. Racing for home, Joe and the reconstituted first boat beat the second boat by a decisive margin. Bolles was flummoxed. Maybe the problem wasnt in Rantzs wrist. Maybe it was in his head. For Joe, the incident, brief as it was, provided a sudden and cold reminder of how precarious his position on the crew, and therefore his attendance at the university, really was. A few days later, on March 20, when a Post-Intelligencer article proclaimed, Rantz is getting the call at number 3, Joe cut out the article, pasted it in a scrapbook he had just begun keeping, and penned in next to it, Am I a sure bet? Look what the PI says. Cant be too sure, though. Everything he had worked for could be over on any given afternoon. It didnt help that he continued to feel like everyones poor cousin. With the weather remaining cool, he still had to wear his ragged sweater to practice almost every day, and the boys still teased him continuously for it. They found new and fertile grounds for mirth at his expense one evening when a group of them noticed Joe eating a meal in the cafeteria. Joe had piled his plate high with meat loaf and potatoes and creamed corn. He attacked the food with his knife and fork, working at it vigorously, shoveling it into his mouth. The moment he had cleared his plate he turned to the boy next to him, asked him for his leftover meat loaf, and devoured it just as rapidly. Over the noise of the cafeteria, he didnt notice that someone had come up behind him. Nor did he hear the snickering. When he finally paused and looked up, he saw a smirk on the face of the boy across the table from him. Following his gaze, he turned around to find half a dozen fellows from the shell house standing in a semicircle, holding their dirty plates out to him, grins smeared across their faces. Joe paused, startled and humiliated, but then, with his ears growing red, he turned around, put his head down, and resumed eatingforking the food into his mouth like hay into a barn, his jaw working methodically, his eyes set and cold and defiant. He was hungry nearly all the time, and he wasnt about to walk away from perfectly good food because of a bunch of jackasses in jerseys. Hed dug too many ditches, cut down too many cottonwoods, foraged in the cold, wet woods for too many berries and mushrooms. By the end of March, the slump appeared to be over. The freshman time trials were improving again as Bolles finally seemed to be zeroing in on the right mix of boys and seating assignments. On April 2, with Joe still sitting in the number three seat, Bolles put the clock to them. That night Joe went home and wrote in his scrapbook, Two miles: 10:36. Gotta take eight seconds off to be the fastest frosh crew ever!!! For much of the rest of that week, it was too windy to row, but on April 6 the winds died down, and Ulbrickson decided to pit the varsity, junior varsity, and freshman crews against one another on Lake Washington. It was the perfect opportunity to get all three crews out on the water and see whether the wind delay had affected their performance. As a handicap, Ulbrickson positioned the junior varsity, which had not thus far shown much promise, three boat lengths out in front of the other two boats at the start. He told the freshman crew to pull up and end its race at the two-mile mark, the standard distance for freshman races. That would allow the coaches to get a final and accurate readout on their time under racing conditions before the confrontation with Cal. The varsity and junior varsity were to continue racing to the three-mile mark. Ulbrickson lined the boats up and barked, Ready all . . . row! through his megaphone. Harvey Love, the varsity coxswain, was talking and missed the signal. The freshmen immediately leapt out a half boat length ahead of the older boys. All three boats fell into a moderately high stroke rate, and for a mile they all held their rates and their relative positionsthe junior varsity still three lengths out in front in their handicap position, the freshmen second, and the bow of the varsity boat locked in place, half a length back, alongside the freshman boats number five seat. Then, slowly, the varsitys bow fell back to the six seat, the seven seat, the stroke seat, and finally the coxswains seat. By the mile-and-a-half mark, the freshmen had opened a sliver of water between the rear of their boat and the varsitys bow, and they were beginning to close on the junior varsity out front. They had not raised their stroke rate a bit. With a quarter mile to go, sensing he had both boats where he wanted them, knowing his crew had plenty left in the tank, coxswain George Morry told the freshmen to kick the stroke rate up a couple of notches, and they surged past the junior varsity and into the overall lead. At the two-mile mark, Morry barked out, Way nuff, and now two full lengths ahead of both other boats, the freshmen pulled up, let their oars ride the water, and coasted to a stop. As the other two boats finally passed them, the freshman boys raised a lusty cheer and pumped their fists in the air. Bolles looked down at his stopwatch, saw the freshmens two-mile time, and looked again. He had known they were getting sharp, but now he knew in no uncertain terms that he had the makings of something exceptional in his boat. What he didnt know was whether California had something even more exceptional, as Ky Ebright seemed to be hinting in the press. That would be revealed a week hence, on April 13. In the meantime, he resolved to keep the time on his stopwatch to himself. There are certain laws of physics by which all crew coaches live and die. The speed of a racing shell is determined primarily by two factors: the power produced by the combined strokes of the oars, and the stroke rate, the number of strokes the crew takes each minute. So if two boats carrying the same weight have the exact same stroke rate, the one producing more power per stroke will pull ahead. If those two boats have the exact same power per stroke but one has a higher stroke rate, the one with the higher rate will pull ahead. A boat with both a very high stroke rate and very powerful strokes will beat a boat that cant match it on both counts. But, of course, oarsmen are human and no crew can maintain both powerful strokes and a very high rate indefinitely. And, critically, the higher the stroke rate, the harder it is to keep all the many individual movements of the crew synchronized. So every race is a balancing act, a series of delicate and deliberate adjustments of power on one hand and stroke rate on the other. It may be that nobody ever achieves absolutely optimal performance, but what Bolles had seen that dayhis crew rowing so comfortably at a high but sustainable rate and with such great powergave him every reason to think that someday these freshmen just might pull it off. And it wasnt just their physical prowess. He liked the character of these particular freshmen. The boys who had made it this far were rugged and optimistic in a way that seemed emblematic of their western roots. They were the genuine article, mostly the products of lumber towns, dairy farms, mining camps, fishing boats, and shipyards. They looked, they walked, and they talked as if they had spent most of their lives out of doors. Despite the hard times and their pinched circumstances, they smiled easily and openly. They extended calloused hands eagerly to strangers. They looked you in the eye, not as a challenge, but as an invitation. They joshed you at the drop of a hat. They looked at impediments and saw opportunities. All that, Bolles knew, added up to a lot of potential in a crew, particularly if that crew got a chance to row in the East. That same evening, at the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot in Oakland, Ky Ebright loaded his crews and his racing shells aboard the Cascade and headed north to Seattle. Ebright knew that it had been windy in the Northwest, and he had been fretting to the Bay Area press about his boys lack of experience with rough water. He was all too familiar with the whims of Lake Washington, from his coxswain days, and the weather on the Oakland Estuary had been typically but frustratingly calm and pleasant. So when windy conditions resumed shortly after California arrived in Seattle, Ebright wasted no time. On April 10 he hustled all three of his crews out onto the frothy lake to see what they could do among the whitecaps. As it turned out, they could do plenty, particularly the freshmen. The Cal frosh fairly skimmed over the water, their oars coming well clear of the waves between strokes and digging cleanly into them on the catch at the beginning of each stroke. They turned in a series of fine time trials, though Ebright declined to make those times available to the press. The outing confirmed what Ebright and his freshman coach, Russ Nagler, another former Washington coxswain, had been hinting for some time now: that their freshmen might be the best they had ever coached, better even than the boys who had gone on to produce an Olympic gold medal in 1932. When a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle asked him, on April 6, what he thought of his freshmens prospects, the Cal coach answered with surprising candor: Ebright took on a radiant look and boomed out, Our frosh boat will beat the stuffing out of the Husky yearlings. Tom Bolles and Al Ulbrickson had read that account, and now they watched Californias workout from shore with apparent concern. They had taken their own boys out the same day, with the press and Ebright looking on, only to have the freshmen turn back after a mile, their rowing conspicuously lethargic and their shell half full of water from the heavy chop. Bolles had returned gloomily to the dock and gone atypically out of his way to approach the sportswriters assembled at the shell house, giving them a terse but bleak forecast for the freshmen: It looks as if well be rowing from behind. Misdirection was part of the game. It was easy enough to rig a shell so the oars sat a little too close to the water and easy enough to pull a leisurely oar but make it look hard. When Bolless quote appeared in the newspaper the next day, Joe cut it out, pasted it in his scrapbook, and wrote next to it, Coach said Cal had their necks out a foot. He is giving out pessimistic reports so that they will stick them out farther. Makes them easier to cut off. Race day, Friday, April 13, was one of those rare spring days in Seattle when cotton-puff clouds drift across robins-egg-blue skies and afternoon temperatures climb into the midseventies. At 11:00 a.m. a student-chartered ferry left Colman Dock in downtown Seattle and headed through the locks in Ballard en route to Lake Washington. Early in the afternoon, it arrived at the universitys Oceanographic Dock, where Joyce Simdars joined fourteen hundred other boisterous students dressed in purple and gold as they piled aboard, accompanied by the blaring brass and rattling drums of the universitys varsity band playing fight songs. As the ferry pulled away from the dock, the band switched over to jazz tunes and some of the students poured out onto an upper deck and began to dance. Joyce settled down on a bench on the foredeck, sipping coffee in the sun, looking forward to watching Joe race and seeing him afterward, however it turned out. She couldnt help but be nervous, though. She knew how much Joe wanted to succeed at crew, how much depended on it for the two of them. In order to root him on, she had taken a rare afternoon off from her live-in job at the judges house in Laurelhurst. She detested the job as much as she had expected. It was the kind of housework she had always loathed. She was required to wear a ridiculous uniform and creep around the house as quietly as a mouse, lest she disturb the judge in his seemingly endless and sacrosanct deliberations. Between that, studying for her classes, and the unusually long, wet winter, she had grown wan and pale and sometimes depressed, so she luxuriated in the fresh air and bright sunlight on the ferry. As the boat rounded the Laurelhurst light and headed north, it hugged the west shore of the lake. People on private docks, backyard decks, and grassy slopes all along the western lakeshore spread out blankets, popped open bottles of cold beer or Coca-Cola, pulled lunches out of picnic hampers, snapped open peanuts and popped them in their mouths, and tested out their binoculars. Here and there, on slender patches of beach, shirtless young men tossed footballs back and forth. Young women in modest one-piece bathing suits with frilled skirts splashed in the water or stretched out on warm sand, waiting. At the northern end of the lake, hundreds of pleasure craft were converging on the same spot. Sleek white sailboats, burnished mahogany-hulled launches, stately yachts trimmed in teak and brass, and humble skiffs and rowboats were already crowding together and dropping anchor, forming an enormous semicircle of boats off Sheridan Beach, just past the barge on which the finish line for the races was marked by a large black arrow pointing down at the water. A coast guard vessel patrolled the racing lanes, her crew sounding a siren and barking orders through megaphones, keeping the lanes clear of small craft. Joyce got up from her bench and maneuvered herself to a position along the railing, crowding in among other students. She was, she resolved, going to stay calm no matter what. A few miles to the south, another two thousand fans dressed in purple and gold clambered aboard an observation train at the Northern Pacific Railways University Station. More than seven hundred of them shelled out two dollars apiece to sit in nine special open-sided viewing cars; the rest paid a dollar fifty for regular coach seats. As each race of the day went off, the train would run north along the western shore of Lake Washington, paralleling the racecourse all the way from Sand Point to the finish line at Sheridan Beach, then returning to the starting line before the next race. All told, nearly eighty thousand Seattleitesfar more than Washingtons football stadium could holdhad taken an early start to a gorgeous weekend and come out to watch the races. Farther to the south, in the Bay Area, much of the publics attention was focused that afternoon on a massive federal manhunt for the fugitive John Dillinger, whom someone claimed to have seen, eating lunch in a San Jose caf?, the day before. But shortly before 3:00 p.m., thousands of fans around the bay spun their radio dials away from the news broadcasts to listen to coverage of the race up in Seattle, on the Columbia Broadcasting Systems radio network. The Washington and California freshman crews paddled briskly out toward the starting line off Sand Point. They would race first, for a distance of two miles, followed at hourly intervals by the junior varsity and the varsity, each racing for three miles. Joe Rantz sat in the number three seat of Washingtons boat; Roger Morris sat in the number seven seat. Both were nervous, as were all the boys. Warm as it was onshore, a moderately stiff north breeze had sprung up out in midlake, and they would be rowing directly into it. That would slow their time and perhaps cramp their style. More than that, though, they were hard up against the fact that a few minutes of extreme exertion were about to tell them whether five and a half months of training had been worthwhile. During those few minutes, each of them would take more than three hundred strokes. With eight oarsmen in the boat, oars would have to enter and exit the water cleanly more than twenty-four hundred times. If just one boy muffed just one of those strokesif just one of them caught one crabthe race would effectively be over, and none of them would have a chance to travel to New York in June to race against the best crews in the East for the national championship. Joe surveyed the crowd assembled along the shoreline. He wondered whether Joyce was half as nervous as he was. At 3:00 p.m., in a light chop, the freshmen maneuvered their shell parallel to Californias, did their best to settle their minds into the boat, and waited for the start signal. Tom Bolles maneuvered his coaching launch up behind his boys boat. He was wearing an unusually battered fedorathe brim drooping, the crown riddled with moth holes. Hed picked it up secondhand back in 1930, had come to think of it as his lucky hat, and wore it now for every race. The band on the ferryboat stopped playing. The students stopped dancing and crowded the near rails, the great boat listing slightly toward the racing lanes. The engineer on the observation train laid a hand on the throttle. Thousands along the shoreline raised binoculars to their eyes. The starter called out, Ready all! The Washington boys slid their seats forward, sank their white blades into the water, hunched over their oars, and stared straight ahead. George Morry, Washingtons coxswain, raised his right arm to signal that his boat was ready. Grover Clark, the Cal coxswain, clenching a whistle between his teeth, did the same. The starter barked, Row! California exploded off the line, lashing the water at a furious thirty-eight strokes per minute. The silver prow of their shell immediately surged a quarter length ahead of Washingtons. Having seized the lead, Cal dropped its rate down a bit, to a more sustainable thirty-two, and Grover Clark began blowing his whistle in time with the stroke count. Washington settled in at thirty but held its position at a quarter length back. The two boats churned up the lake for almost a quarter of a mile, locked together in that configurationWashingtons white blades glinting in the sunlight, Cals flashing shards of blue. Sitting in the number three seat, Joe Rantz was parallel with roughly the six or seven seat in the California boat; in the seven seat, Roger Morris was parallel with nothing but open water. All the boys had their minds fully in the boat now. Facing the stern, the only thing any of them could see was the heaving back of the man in front of him. None had any idea how far ahead Cals initial surge might have carried them. George Morry, facing forward, knew exactly. He could see Grover Clarks backside in front of him, but he continued to hold Washington steady at thirty strokes per minute. As they passed the quarter-mile mark, the two boats slowly came even. Then Washington began to overtake California, methodically, seat by seat, the boys still rowing at a remarkably low thirty. By the one-mile mark, Washington had open water on Cal. As the California boat fell into the field of view of the Washington boys, their confidence surged. The pain that had been building in their arms and legs and chests did not abate, but it fled to the backs of their minds, chased there by a sense, almost, of invulnerability. In the Cal boat, Grover Clark pulled the whistle from his mouth and screamed out, Gimme ten big ones!the standard call in rowing for ten mammoth strokes, strokes as hard and powerful as each oarsman can muster. The California oars bent like bows with the strain, and for those ten strokes the boys from Cal held their position. But Washington remained out in front, their leadalmost two lengths nowessentially undiminished. At the mile-and-a-half mark, Clark called for another big ten, but by now Cals boys had given everything they had to give, and Washingtons boys hadnt. As they entered the last half mile and came into the lee of the hills at the north end of the lake, the headwind died down. Cheers began to rise from the semicircle of boats ahead, from the beaches, from the observation train working its way along the shore, andloudest of allfrom the ferryboat chock-full of students. The California boat labored to catch up, Grover Clarks whistle now shrieking like an out-of-control steam locomotive. Approaching the line and already ahead by four lengths, George Morry finally called for a higher stroke rate. The Washington boys stepped it up to thirty-two and then all the way to thirty-six, just because they knew they could. Washington sliced across the finish line four and a half lengths ahead of California, and almost twenty seconds ahead of the freshman course record, despite the headwind. Shrill horns and cheers resounded all along the shores of Lake Washington. The Washington freshmen paddled over to the California boat and collected the traditional trophy of victorious crews everywherethe shirts off the backs of their vanquished rivals. They shook hands with the crestfallen and shirtless Cal boys and then, exultant, paddled off the course to stow their shell. Tom Bolles cheerily loaded them onto the Alumnus, then transported them to the student ferry. Joe, clutching a California jersey, bounded up the steps to the upper deck, beaming, looking around for Joyce. At five foot four, she was hard to find in the crowd that surged forward to congratulate the boys. Joyce had seen him, though. She worked her way through the mass of close-pressed bodies, slipping through small openings, pressing an elbow here, gently shoving against a hip there, until she finally emerged before Joe, who promptly leaned over, enveloped her in an exuberant and sweaty hug, and lifted her off her feet. A crowd of students ushered the crew into the boats galley and sat them down at a table piled with a mountain of ice cream, as much as they could eat, courtesy of the Associated Students of the University of Washington. Joe stuffed himself, as he always did when presented with free food, or any sort of food for that matter. When hed finally had his fill, he took Joyces hand and pulled her back out onto the deck where the band was again playing loud, brassy dance tunes. Joe, sun bronzed and barefoot in his jersey and shorts, took Joyce, slight and slender in a frilly white summer dress, and twirled her once under his long, outstretched arm. And then they danced, the two of them careening around the deck, swinging, smiling, laughing, giddy for now under a blue Seattle sky. That same day, in a posh Berlin neighborhood near the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph and Magda Goebbels welcomed a new daughter into the worlda little brown-haired girl they named Hildegard. They nicknamed her Hilde, but her father soon began to call her his little mouse. She was the second of what would become six Goebbels children, all of whom Magda Goebbels would order murdered with cyanide eleven years later. Life was going swimmingly for Reich minister Goebbels that spring. The old Olympic stadium was being torn down, and Werner March had drawn up elaborate plans for the vast complex that would replace it for the 1936 gamesplans that fit the scope of Hitlers ambitions and Goebbelss propaganda objectives. The Reichssportfeld would sprawl over more than 325 acres. In January and February, in anticipation of the games, Goebbels had formed organizing committees at the propaganda ministry. There were committees for the press, radio, film, transportation, public art, and the budget, each charged with separate responsibilities for extracting the maximum propaganda value from the games. No opportunity was to be overlooked, nothing taken for granted. Everything from how the foreign media would be treated to how the city would be decorated would be subject to rigorous planning. At one of those meetings, one of Goebbelss ministers had proposed an entirely new ideaa potent bit of imagery designed to underscore what the Third Reich saw as its ancestral roots in ancient Greecea torch relay to carry a flame from Olympia in Greece all the way to Berlin. Meanwhile Goebbelss work of eliminating any Jewish or otherwise objectionable influence from the cultural life of Germany continued inexorably. Since the great bonfires of May 10, 1933, when university students in Berlin, urged on by Goebbels himself, had burned some twenty thousand booksbooks by, among others, Albert Einstein, Erich Maria Remarque, Thomas Mann, Jack London, H. G. Wells, and Helen Kellerhe had been unrelenting in his drive to purify German art, music, theater, literature, radio, education, athletics, and film. Jewish actors, writers, performers, teachers, civil servants, lawyers, and doctors had all been forced from their occupations and deprived of their livelihoods, either by the enactment of new laws or by the application of terror at the hands of the Nazis brown-shirted paramilitary storm troopers, the Sturmabteilung, or SA. The German film industry had become one of Goebbelss particular interests. He was intrigued by the propaganda potential of motion pictures and ruthless in suppressing any ideas, images, or themes in them that did not conform to the emerging Nazi mythos. To ensure compliance, the film department of the propaganda ministry now directly oversaw the planning and production of all new German films. Goebbels himselfa failed novelist and playwright earlier in lifehad taken to reviewing the scripts of nearly all films personally, using a green pencil to strike out or rewrite offending lines or scenes. Beyond the pragmatic propaganda value of film, Goebbels was also personally enthralled by the glamour of the movie business, and particularly by the allure of German stars who lit up the silver screen in Berlins cinemas. Because German actors, actresses, producers, and directors were now all beholden to him for their careers, they began to flock around Goebbels, fawning over him and soliciting his favor. The previous June, Hitler had awarded Goebbels a sumptuous personal residence on the recently renamed Hermann-G?ring-Strasse, just a block south of the Brandenburg Gate. Goebbels had promptly remodeled and expanded the housethe hundred-year-old former palace of the marshals of the Prussian courtto make it even grander than it had been. He had added a second story, installed a private cinema, built heated greenhouses, and laid out formal gardens. With an essentially unlimited budget, Magda Goebbels had furnished and decorated it extravagantlycovering the walls with Gobelin tapestries and paintings appropriated from German museums, laying down luxurious carpets, even installing a commode previously owned by Frederick the Great. Thus brought up to the Goebbelss standards, the house served as a venue for both intimate soirees and grand dinner parties for the Nazi elite and those who basked in their light. Among those who flocked to the house at number 20 Hermann-G?ring-Strasse, certain young starlets were of particular interest to Goebbels. A number of them soon found that attending to his erotic desires, despite his dwarfish stature and misshapen physique, went a long way toward enhancing their career prospects. Others he cultivated for their genuine capabilities on the screen, and for the sense of aggrandizement that he derived from associating with them. One particular young woman who sometimes showed up at the Goebbels house that spring, and who belonged to the second category, was an increasingly close friend of Adolf Hitler and a force to be reckoned with in her own right. Before all was said and done, she would, in fact, become the woman in Germany who more than any other would materially shape the destiny of the Nazi movement. Leni Riefenstahl was beautiful and brilliant. She knew what she wanted and how to get it. And what she wanted above all was to be at the center of things, in the spotlight, basking in applause. From her earliest years, she displayed an indomitable will to succeed. When she decided to become a dancer at seventeen, she disregarded all conventional wisdom, which preached that dancers must begin their training as young children. By her early twenties, she was dancing professionally before packed houses all over Germany, drawing rave reviews. When an injury ended her dance career, she turned to acting. She quickly talked her way into a lead role and became an instant star with her first film, The Holy Mountain (Der heilige Berg). It was characteristic of Riefenstahl that even as she starred in a succession of similar films her ambitions continued to mount. Increasingly unwilling to cede creative control to anyone, in 1931 she founded her own production company and set aboutvery precociously for a woman in the 1930swriting, producing, directing, editing, and starring in a film of her own. Joseph Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl The Blue Light (Das blaue Licht), released in 1932, was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. A sort of mystical fairy tale, it romanticized and celebrated the simple life of German farmers living harmoniously with nature on their German soil. It condemned the corruption of the modern industrial world. By implication it also condemned intellectuals. It quickly won international acclaim and ran for weeks in London and Paris. In Germany the response was more tepid, but Adolf Hitler was transported by The Blue Light, seeing in it a visual and artistic representation of the very blood and soil ideology on which his Nazi Party had been foundedthe notion that the nations strength lay in its simple, pure native stock. Hitler had been aware of Riefenstahl for some time, but now he became her friend. In 1933, at his personal request, she directed a one-hour propaganda film, Victory of Faith (Der Sieg des Glaubens), documenting the Nazi Party rally that year in Nuremberg. She made the film on short notice, had technical difficulties, and was not pleased with the results, but Hitler remained impressed by her work nonetheless. Now he hoped that in the fall she would produce a more ambitious film about the 1934 Nuremberg Rally. As her star continued to rise in the months ahead, Riefenstahl and Goebbels frequently came into conflict. Goebbels would grow bitterly jealous of her influence with Hitler and the immunity it gave her from his own authority. And yet, by her account, he was also drawn to her and would pursue her romantically and sexually. In time this oddly matched pair would play a large role in defining how the world viewed the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and, by extension, the very nature of the new Nazi state. But for now hers was simply one of the swirl of glamorous faces who drifted in and out of Joseph and Magda Goebbelss stately home, popping the corks from champagne bottles, being feted by their host and hostess, celebrating one another and their youth and their good looks, dancing late into the night, singing, watching films, and talking of racial purity while little Hilde Goebbels lay asleep in a cradle in a darkened room upstairs. Joe with his banjo CHAPTER SEVEN Rowing a race is an art, not a frantic scramble. It must be rowed with head power as well as hand power. From the first stroke all thoughts of the other crew must be blocked out. Your thoughts must be directed to you and your own boat, always positive, never negative. George Yeoman Pocock J oe Rantz and his crewmates lined up along the ferrys railing and gazed out over the water, using their hands to shield their eyes against the glare of the late afternoon sun. It had been two hours since they had defeated the California freshmen. Now it was the varsitys turn to take on Ky Ebrights boys. What transpired over the next several minutes turned out to be one of the great varsity races in the history of the Cal-Washington rivalry. Immediately after the race, Frank G. Gorrie, writing for the Associated Press, wired an exuberant account back east for his national audience: The famous racing eights flashed down the sun-speckled waters as if they were hooked together. First one then another forged into the lead but never by more than a few feet. California had a shade at the start, lost ground at the mile, poked its bow out again at the mile-and-a-half mark, fell behind as Washington hit ten big ones three successive times at the two-mile mark, came back strong a moment later. Joe watched with fascination as the drama unfolded. Time and again the students on the ferry called out for Washington to take it up, to raise the stroke and put California away. Cal was pounding the water white at a vigorous rate of thirty-six strokes per minute, but for more than two and a half miles Washingtons coxswain, Harvey Love, kept the stroke steady at a relatively relaxed thirty-one, doing only as much as necessary to keep his boat in contention, sending his boys surging forward by calling for big tens when he was in danger of falling too far behind, but then settling in, holding steady, conserving his crew. It was only as they came within sight of the barge marking the finish line, after California had tried again and again to pull away and failed each time, that Love finally barked out, Now! Turn on the heat! The stroke rate went up to thirty-eight, then almost immediately to forty. The Washington boat leapt forward, the California boat hesitated for a moment, and Washington crossed the line a little more than a second ahead of California, with a new course record at 16:33.4. It was a stirring race, but, more than that, it was a primer for Joe and the other freshmen on how the man who would become their primary coach in the fall, Al Ulbrickson, went about winning. In some ways the lesson was one that Tom Bolles had already illustrated when he had concealed the freshmens best times from Ebright and explained to his boys the value of letting Cal stick its neck out too far. But watching the varsity race drove the lesson home for Joe. To defeat an adversary who was your equal, maybe even your superior, it wasnt necessarily enough just to give your all from start to finish. You had to master your opponent mentally. When the critical moment in a close race was upon you, you had to know something he did notthat down in your core you still had something in reserve, something you had not yet shown, something that once revealed would make him doubt himself, make him falter just when it counted the most. Like so much in life, crew was partly about confidence, partly about knowing your own heart. In the days following the 1934 California-Washington race, the freshmen promptly fell into another slump. Day after day they turned in discouraging times. Since beating California, they appeared to have lost all focus. The more Tom Bolles bellowed at them through his megaphone, the sloppier they seemed to get. One lazy day in early May, with a warm sun beating down on their bare backs, some of the boys rowed so lethargically that they failed to cross quickly in front of an oncoming tugboat pulling a barge. The tug bore down on their shell, belching black smoke, its whistle shrieking, its horn blaring. The coxswain, John Merrill, shouted, Back! Back! The boy in the number four seat panicked and threw himself awkwardly overboard, nearly capsizing the shell. The tug swerved hard to port, grazed the bow of the shell, and narrowly missed the boy in the water. Bolles, watching from his launch, was fit to be tied. He plucked the red-faced jumper from the water, gunned the motor on the launch, and headed for the shell house. The boys rowed back to campus in silence. Bolles was waiting for them. He rampaged up and down the dock, shaking his finger at the boys as they sat in their shell. He was going to rebuild the crew from scratch for the Poughkeepsie Regatta in June, he growled. Nobodys seat was safe just because he had rowed in the boat that had defeated California so impressively. Joes heart sank. What had seemed briefly like a sure bet was suddenly in jeopardy again. That same week he got a note from the administration announcing that he was failing PE, for which his rowing was supposed to substitute. Joe, who had just seen a Paramount movie short featuring a cartoon character new to the silver screen, Popeye the Sailor, wrote in his scrapbook that night, I yam disgusted. By mid-May the weather in Seattle, as it sometimes cruelly does in late spring, reverted from sunny to foul, and the freshmen found themselves once more struggling against headwinds, their hands numb with cold, whitecaps breaking over the bow. And yet to their own and their coaches surprise, the worse the weather got, the better they began to row. Rowing against a sharp north wind on one of those wet, gray days in late May, with spray flying off the oars at every release and water sloshing in the bottom of the boat, Joe and his crewmates in the first boat finished a time trial in 10:35, just four seconds off the record for that course. George Pocock watched the performance from aboard the Alumnus. When he got back ashore, he walked up to a reporter at the shell house, buttonholed him, and rendered a startling verdict: Tom Bolles has a fine rough-water boat, he said quietly but forcefully. It is as good as any I have seen. Coming from Pocock, a reserved and modest man who was not prone to exaggeration in regard to anything, and least of all in regard to the rowing ability of a boatload of freshmen, this was something akin to a divine proclamation. Tom Bolles stopped talking about rebuilding the crew from scratch. The nine freshman boys who had beaten California would go to Poughkeepsie to race for the national championship after all. On the evening of June 1, 1934, the University of Washingtons marching band and more than a thousand fans crammed into the ornate marble lobby of the King Street railroad station in Seattle, cheering and singing fight songs as the freshman and varsity crews boarded a Great Northern train, the Empire Builder, on their way to Poughkeepsie. The freshman boys, in particular, were in high spirits. Few of them had ever been outside of western Washington; most had never been on a train. Yet here they were, about to cross the entire continent. For boys who had been brought up milking cows and swinging axes and stacking lumber, who knew the first names of half the people in the towns they came from, whose parents could tell them about the first time they had seen an automobile or a house with electricity, this was heady stuff. As he sat in his plush seat, looking out through the green-tinted window of the Pullman coach, Joe could not quite believe the hubbub now spilling from the lobby out onto the platform. He had never been celebrated for anything, and yet here he was, a part of something that was the focus of not just admiration but a kind of adulation. It filled him with pride but also with a strained, churning unease. It brought up things he spent a lot of time trying not to think about these days. That evening, as the Empire Builder climbed over the Cascades at Stevens Pass and set out across the arid wheat country of eastern Washington, the boys were on a lark. They caroused late into the night, playing cards, telling off-color jokes, racing up and down the aisles of the Pullman coach, tossing a football back and forth, until they finally exhausted themselves and tumbled into their berths. The merriment resumed the next day when someone produced a package of balloons. They filled the balloons with water in the lavatory, positioned themselves on the clattering platforms between coaches, and as they rolled across Montana and into North Dakota, began gleefully lobbing the water balloons at any available targetcows grazing in fields, dusty cars waiting at clanging railroad crossings, sleeping dogs sprawled on platforms in small-town stationseach time breaking into a chorus of Bow Down to Washington as they rumbled past their astonished victims. Later Joe, emboldened by the water-balloon adventure, pulled from its case the guitar he had somewhat nervously brought along. Curious, some of the older boys gathered around him as he started twisting pegs and plucking at strings to tune the instrument. Looking at the frets, concentrating on his fingering, he began to strum chords and sing, launching into the kinds of songs that he had played in high schoolcamp tunes and cowboy songs hed learned at the Gold and Ruby mine or picked up listening to the radio back in Sequim. At first the boys just stared at him as he sang; then they began to glance at one another, then to snicker, and finally to hoot and holler. Lookee there at Cowboy Joe! one shouted. Another called down the aisle, Hey, boys, come and hear Rantz, the rowing troubadour! Joe looked up, startled, and stopped playing abruptly in the middle of The Yellow Rose of Texas. Red-faced but with his jaw set and his eyes stone cold, he quickly fumbled the guitar back into its case and retreated to another coach. Few things could have been more hurtful for Joe. His music was what had brightened the bleakest days of his boyhood. It had drawn people to him in high school, made him friends, and even helped him eke out a living in Sequim. It was his special talent, a particular point of pride. Now, suddenly and unexpectedly, it had turned on him, reminding him of how short he fell in matters of sophistication. Just when he had begun to feel that he was becoming part of something larger than himself, he was cast out again. When they arrived in New York, on June 6, the Washington crews moved their shells into a dilapidated old boathouse on the western, Highland, side of the Hudson River, across from Poughkeepsie. The boathouse was not much more than a shed, really. It was drafty, rickety, perched on thin stilts over the river, with showers that pumped foul-smelling water directly from the Hudson over the boys heads. Tom Bolles hustled his freshmen out onto the water that same day, anxious to see how they would handle the unfamiliar racecourse. This would be the first time they rowed on a river rather than a lake, the first time, in fact, that they rowed anywhere other than Lake Washington. The weather was unlike anything the boys had experienced back homeoppressively hot and sticky. By the time they had carried their shell, the City of Seattle, down to the water, they were already drenched in sweat. There was a bit of a breeze on the water, but even the wind seemed molten to them as they climbed into the shell. They stripped off their shirts, dragged them through the Hudsons foul water, and put them back on, but that only seemed to make the humidity more unbearable. Bolles told them to row upriver at a warm-up pace for a few minutes. He climbed into a launch and began to follow them. When he judged them ready, he lifted his megaphone and told them to take it up to a sprint. The boys leaned into their oars and took it up, but Bolles didnt even bother to look at his stopwatch. He could see at a glance that they were rowing well off their best pace. Worse, they looked ragged, clearly knackered by the heat, and were wandering from one side of the course to the other. They could handle almost any amount of wind and wave on Lake Washington, but the waves on the Hudson were differentlong, low waves that hit the boat from the side, leaving the blades of their oars flailing at air one moment, sunk too deep in the water the next. The effects of tide and current baffled them. The water itself was not supposed to move under their boat, was not supposed to take them places they did not intend to go. Bolles shouted, Way nuff! through his megaphone and waved the boys back to the shell house. He was going to need to talk to Pocock. The boys, discouraged, stowed their shell, showered in caustic river water, and made a long trek on foot up the railroad tracks running along the western shoreline before climbing the face of the Highland bluff to Florence Palmers boarding house, where they were to be lodged. Mrs. Palmers farmhouse was small, her fare light. The meager products of her kitchen could not begin to satisfy the appetites of two dozen tall, strapping boys and a handful of coaches and coxswains. The boys ate everything in sight and then climbed wearily up to attic bedrooms where, crammed six to a room, they tried to sleep in the wet, suffocating heat on cots that seemed more like torture racks than beds. The Intercollegiate Rowing Associations regatta at Poughkeepsie was a storied institution, with roots deep in the history of American rowing. The first great rowing spectacle in America was a dual match in New York Harbor in 1824, between a crew of four New York City watermen racing in a twenty-four-foot Whitehall boat, the American Star, taking on four sailors from a visiting British warship, manning a similar boat, the Certain Death. With the War of 1812 and the burning of the White House still a reasonably fresh memory, feelings were high, particularly on the American side. The Americans won the race, and the hefty thousand-dollar purse, rowing from the Battery to Hoboken and back before a wildly enthusiastic crowd of somewhere between fifty thousand and one hundred thousand spectators, at the time the largest assemblage of Americans ever to have watched a sporting event. In the 1830s, private rowing clubs began to appear in various American cities, and by the 1840s a few eastern colleges had assembled crews. The first collegiate crew race in Americaand in fact the first American intercollegiate athletic event of any kindtook place between Harvard and Yale in 1852, on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. With a few interruptionsmajor wars that have taken the young men at each school off to other, more hazardous occupationsthe Harvard-Yale Regatta has been raced every subsequent year since 1859. For much of that time, the regatta was one of the countrys premier sporting events. In 1869, Harvard met Britains most elite institution, Oxford, in a match on the Thames. Rowing before an immense crowd, Oxford defeated Harvard, but the event was so widely publicized in the United States that it produced an explosion of interest in rowing. It also imbued the sport with an aura of elitism that has lingered to this day. Other eastern colleges soon launched rowing programs, and many of them began to compete against one another in head-to-head regattas. But Harvard and Yale did not row in any kind of intercollegiate championship regatta beyond their own annual match, and there was no semblance of a national championship event until 1895. Then, spurred on by the New York Central Railroad, Cornell, Columbia, and Pennsylvania agreed to form the Intercollegiate Rowing Association and meet annually on a straight four-mile stretch of the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, where amateur and professional oarsmen had been racing since the 1860s. Almost immediately following that first meetingwon by Cornell on June 21, 1895other schools began to be invited to Poughkeepsie, and the regatta came to be seen as the most prestigious crew race in the country, eclipsing even the annual Harvard-Yale boat race and coming to represent the equivalent of a national championship. By the beginning of the twentieth century, rowing clubs flourished in the enclaves of the well-heeled. Luxury hotels and ocean linersamong them the Titanicinstalled batteries of rowing machines so their clients could stay in shape and emulate their rowing heroes. By the second decade of the new century, tens of thousands of fansas many as 125,000 in 1929came to Poughkeepsie to watch the annual regatta in person; millions more listened to the radio coverage; and the regatta came to rival the Kentucky Derby, the Rose Bowl, and the World Series as a major national sporting event. For most of the first quarter of the century, the eastern colleges thoroughly dominated the regatta. No western school even dared to compete until Stanford appeared in 1912, only to finish a distant sixth. The following year Hiram Conibear brought a Washington varsity crew east for the first time. Though his rural, homespun western boys did not win, they came in third, an outcome that shocked the eastern fans and press. In 1915 they were shocked again when Stanford came in second. One more or less appalled New York writer that year noted that if Stanford had not been using a clumsily-built Western shell they might have won. In fact, Stanford had used an Eastern-built boat, having left their sleek Pocock-built shell at home in Palo Alto. During the next ten years, though, the western schoolsCalifornia, Stanford, and Washingtononly occasionally ventured back to Poughkeepsie. It was hard to justify the trip. Transporting a crew and several delicate racing shells to the East was an expensive proposition, and the western boys were met each time with an uncomfortable mixture of gawking curiosity, subtle condescension, and occasional open derision. Eastern fans, alumni, and sportswriters, and the national press as well, were accustomed to seeing the sons of senators, governors, titans of industry, and even presidentsnot farmers and fishermen and lumberjackssitting in shells on the Hudson. Then, on a rainy June evening in 1923, Washingtons varsity crew returned to Poughkeepsie under their new head coach, Russell Rusty Callow. After pulling away from the rest of the field, Washington and an elite Navy crew entered the home stretch rowing bow to bow. With the roar of the crowd drowning out his commands, Washingtons coxswain, Don Grant, suddenly raised a red flag (cut hastily from a Cornell banner just before the race) over his head to signal his boys that this was the moment to give it their all. Washingtons stroke oar, Dow Walling, one of his legs grotesquely inflamed by three enormous boils, slid forward on his seat, drove both legs sternward, and took the rate up above the furious forty at which the Washington boys were already rowing. The boat shot forward and Washington narrowly eked out the Wests first IRA victory. The exuberant Husky crew gingerly hoisted Walling out of the shell and sent him off to the hospital. Astonished fans and journalists gathered around them on the dock, peppering them with questions: Was the University of Washington in the District of Columbia? Where exactly was Seattle, anyway? Were any of them really lumberjacks? The boys, flashing wide grins, said little but began handing out miniature totem poles. Watching the conclusion of the race from the coaches launch, George Pocock whooped and hollered uncharacteristically. Later the typically reserved Englishman confessed, I must have acted like a child. But he had good reason. He had built the Spanish cedar shell in which Washington had won. It was the first time easterners had had a chance to see his handiwork. Within a few days of returning to Seattle, orders for eight new eight-man shells had arrived at his shop. Less than a decade later, most of the shells in the Poughkeepsie Regatta would be Pococks. By 1943, all of themthirty shells in totalwould be his. Dr. Loyal Shoudy, a prominent and fanatically loyal Washington alumnus, was so impressed by the boys achievement that he took them into New York City that night and treated them to a stage show and a gala dinner. At the dinner, each boy found a ten-dollar bill at his plate, along with a purple tie. For decades afterward, Washington crewmembers were feted at the end of each rowing year with a Loyal Shoudy banquet, where each found a purple tie waiting at his plate. The next year, 1924, Washington returned, with a young Al Ulbrickson rowing at stroke, and won the varsity race again, decisively this time. In 1926 they did it yet again, this time with Ulbrickson rowing the final quarter of a mile with a torn muscle in one arm. In 1928, Ky Ebrights California Bears won their first Poughkeepsie title en route to winning the Olympics that year and again in 1932. By 1934 the western schools were finally beginning to be taken seriously. Still, for most who sailed their yachts up the Hudson to watch the races each June, whether from Manhattan or from the Hamptons, it remained a natural assumption that this year the East would once again resume its proper and long-established place atop the rowing world.

  • Atomic Habits /   (by James Clear, 2018) -   Atomic Habits /
  • The Universe in a Nutshell /     (by Stephen Hawking, 2001) -   The Universe in a Nutshell /
  • Love Story /   (by Erich Segal, 1996) -    Love Story /
  •   -  !  .. ( 2012, 224) + mp3 - !
  • .

  • ,