The Boys in the Boat

A friend recently told me, “You have to read this book!” And she was referring to The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. It’s a work of nonfiction and both this friend and I are crazy about this genre. We inhale the stuff- I might have mentioned this ad nauseum in other posts, sorry about repetition.

From internet

From internet

Anyway, Brown recently wrote about Seattle’s opening day tradition, where the boats take to the water and celebrate the beginning of the boating season. I was inspired by his little snippet of information about the UW rowing crew who made it to the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany (which his book is based on). These boys could not afford to fly over to Germany and would have had to cede their place to the second-ranked (and wealthier) Pennsylvania University.

Brown writes:

But that night, phones began to ring all over Seattle. Ulbrickson [the UW coach] and the Washington press contingent — Royal Brougham of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and George Varnell of The Seattle Times — began placing calls back home and composing headlines for the morning editions of their papers. By the next morning, committees had been formed. By that afternoon hundreds of students and citizens were out on the streets of Seattle selling paper badges for 50 cents apiece. Donations began to come in from businesses and individuals: $1 from a donor who wished to remain anonymous, $5 from the Hide-Away-Beer Parlor; $500 from The Seattle Times.

By the time another 24 hours passed, the effort had raised $5,000 and the boys were good to go to Germany. But only because the citizens of Seattle stood up and said, “Yes they will go.”

It was, as someone pointed out to me recently, an example of Seattle’s 12th Man in action before Seattle even had a professional football team. Or, perhaps more aptly, as there are nine men or women in an eight-oar shell, it was Seattle’s 10th Man in action.  Whatever you care to call it, it was a sterling moment in Seattle’s history, an extraordinary outpouring of civic pride.

Now that’s philanthropy in action!

I can’t wait to read his book!


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