Photograph: Werner Schmidt

Friday, September 9, 2011

On The Day Of The Race

In 1903, Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly published a rowing story by Edwin Oviatt, "Atkinson No. 7 - A Story of the Yale-Harvard Race" with illustrations by Howard Giles. Oviatt was at a time the editor of Yale Alumni Weekly, and wrote the book The Beginnings of Yale (1701-1726) (1916). The 12-page story in Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly is typical for it's time. It is about 'old' Ted Atkinson, who is studying at Yale and suddenly finds himself in the crew who is going to meet Harvard. Although a spare, Ted practice hard at seven-seat. On race day, the coach picks him to row behind the stroke. Of course, thanks to Ted, the Yale crew wins the honour, if not the race.

Giles made five marvellous illustrations for this story. In the illustration above, we can see how lively the Thames River was on Race Day with steamboats, sailing yachts, and smaller sailing boats. At the Race these days, very few boats are on the river, and certainly not any spectator vessels. It's a pity, really...

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