NOTES - The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics - Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics - Daniel James Brown (2013)


The original manuscript for this book contained well over a thousand endnotes. What follows is a much condensed and incomplete version of those notes. The full notes can be found at In this condensed version, I use the following abbreviations: ST (Seattle Times), PI (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), WD (University of Washington Daily), NYT (New York Times), DH (New York Daily Herald), HT (New York Herald Tribune), and NYP (New York Post).


The Pocock quote is from Gordon Newell’s excellent biography, Ready All!: George Yeoman Pocock and Crew Racing (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1987), 159. The Pocock quotes taken from Newell, throughout the book, are used with permission of the University of Washington Press. The Greek epigraph is from Homer’s Odyssey, 5.219-20 and 5.223-24. The translation is by Emi C. Brown.

The Pocock quote serving as an epigraph to the prologue is from Newell (154).


The chapter epigraph here is from a letter Pocock wrote to C. Leverich Brett, printed in the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen’s Rowing News Bulletin, no. 3 (Season 1944), printed in Philadelphia, June 15, 1944. My descriptions of weather conditions in the Seattle area, throughout the book, are drawn from daily Cooperative Observers meteorological records taken at various stations around Seattle and reported to the U.S. Weather Bureau. For more statistics on the effects of the Depression, see Piers Brendon, The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s (New York: Vintage, 2002), p. 86, and Joyce Bryant’s “The Great Depression and New Deal” in American Political Thought, vol. 4 (New Haven: Yale-New Haven Teachers’ Institute, 1998). Interestingly, according to Erik Larson, in his excellent book In the Garden of Beasts (New York: Crown, 2012), 375, King Kong was also a particular favorite of Adolf Hitler. More on the performance of the stock market through this period can be found in the Wall Street Journal’s table of “Dow Jones Industrial Average All-Time Largest One-Day Gains and Losses,” which is available at The Dow next passed 381 on November 23, 1954. At its low in 1932, the Dow had lost 89.19 percent of its value. See Harold Bierman, The Causes of the 1929 Stock Market Crash (Portsmouth, NH: Greenwood Publishing, 1998). Hoover’s full remarks are available in U.S. Presidential Inaugural Addresses (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing Company, 2004), 211.

Descriptions of the students’ appearance and mode of dress are derived from photographs taken on the Washington campus that fall. My account of Joe’s and Roger’s first day at the shell house is based in part on my interview with Roger Morris on October 2, 2008. For more about Royal Brougham, see Dan Raley, “The Life and Times of Royal Brougham,” PI, October 29, 2003. The description of the shell house is based partly on my own observations and partly on Al Ulbrickson’s description in “Row, Damit, Row,” Esquire, April 1934. Facts and figures on the boys assembled on the dock that day are from WD, “New Crew Men Board Old Nero,” October 12, 1933. Years later, Ulbrickson would turn out to be one of three men on the shell house dock that afternoon—along with Royal Brougham and Johnny White—to be inducted into Franklin High’s Hall of Fame.

An enormous amount of information about the construction of the Olympic facilities in Berlin can be found in Organisationskomitee für die XI Olympiade Berlin 1936, The XIth Olympic Games Berlin, 1936: Official Report, vol. 1 (Berlin: Wilhelm Limpert, 1937). For more about Hitler’s initial attitude regarding the Olympics, see Paul Taylor, Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics (Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2004), 51. The Dodd family’s impressions of Goebbels are documented in Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. See “Foreign News: Consecrated Press,” in Time, October 16, 1933, for a telling story about Goebbels and the press.

Astronomical data—references to sunrise, sunset, moonrise, etc.—throughout are drawn from the U.S. Naval Observatory’s website. The best single source of information about the history of the Washington crew program is Eric Cohen’s marvelous online compendium, “Washington Rowing: 100+ Year History,” available at Among the eight Yale oarsmen who crewed the gold-medal-winning shell in 1924 was the future Dr. Benjamin Spock.


The epigraph is from Pocock, quoted in Newell (94-95). The facts regarding the Wright brothers’ flight are derived from “A Century of Flight,” Atlantic Monthly, December 17, 2003. For more about George Wyman’s motorcycle odyssey, see the entry on him at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame website: More interesting facts and figures about the rather remarkable year of 1903 can be found in Kevin Maney’s article “1903 Exploded with Tech Innovation, Social Change,” USA Today, May 1, 2003. Confusingly, the first Model A was an entirely different automobile from the well-known Model A of 1927-31, which followed the wildly successful Model T.

Some of the details of this phase of Joe’s life are derived from an unpublished typescript, “Autobiography of Fred Rantz.” The names and dates of Thula LaFollette’s parents are from monument inscriptions at the LaFollette Cemetery in Lincoln County, Washington. I gleaned many facts about Thula’s life from my interview with Harry Rantz Jr. on July 11, 2009. For an overview of the history of the Gold and Ruby mine, I consulted “It’s No Longer Riches That Draw Folks to Boulder City,” in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, September 28, 1990, and “John M. Schnatterly” in N. N. Durham, Spokane and the Inland Empire, vol. 3 (Spokane, WA: S. J. Clarke, 1912), 566. The anecdote regarding Thula’s “second sight” is drawn from an unpublished monograph, “Remembrance,” authored by one of Thula’s daughters, Rose Kennebeck.


The Pocock epigraph is quoted in Newell (144). Royal Brougham’s colorful description of the rigors of rowing is from “The Morning After: Toughest Grind of Them All?” PI, May 32, 1934. My discussion of the physiology of rowing and rowing injuries is drawn in part from the following sources: “Rowing Quick Facts” at the U.S. Rowing website:; Alison McConnell, Breathe Strong, Perform Better (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2011), 10; and J. S. Rumball, C. M. Lebrun, S. R. Di Ciacca, and K. Orlando, “Rowing Injuries,” Sports Medicine 35, no. 6 (2005): 537-55.

Pocock studied and emulated the rowing style of one of the greatest of the Thames watermen, Ernest Barry, who won the Doggett’s Coat and Badge in 1903 and was the world’s sculling champion in 1912, 1913, 1914, and 1920. For much more on the history of the Pocock family, see Newell, on whom I have relied heavily here, though many details also come from my two interviews with Stan Pocock and some from Clarence Dirks, “One-Man Navy Yard,” Saturday Evening Post, June 25, 1938, 16, as well as an unpublished typescript, “Memories,” written by Pocock himself in 1972. Many years later Rusty Callow, who coached at Washington before Ulbrickson, would say of Pocock, “Honesty of effort and pride in his work are a religion with him.”

Much of the information regarding Hiram Conibear is derived from an unpublished 1923 typescript by Broussais C. Beck, “Rowing at Washington,” available in the Beck Papers in the University of Washington Archives, accession number 0155-003. Additional information is from “Compton Cup and Conibear,” Time, May 3, 1937; David Eskenazi, “Wayback Machine: Hiram Conibear’s Rowing Legacy,” Sports Press Northwest, May 6, 2011, available at; and Eric Cohen’s website cited above. Bob Moch’s remark about the reverence with which oarsmen regarded Pocock can be found in Christopher Dodd, The Story of World Rowing (London: Stanley Paul, 1992).

Apparently there was an earlier version of Old Nero, with seats for only ten oarsmen, as described by Beck. Al Ulbrickson refers to sixteen seats in “Row, Damit, Row.” Some details of Roger Morris’s early life are drawn from my interview with him. My description of the basic stroke taught by Ulbrickson in the 1930s is based on his own description of it in “Row, Damit, Row.” Over time the stroke used at the University of Washington has continued to evolve in various ways. The golf ball analogy is from Pocock himself, in his “Memories” (110).


The epigraph is from the already cited letter Pocock wrote to C. Leverich Brett, printed in the Rowing News Bulletin. Many of the details of life in Sequim are from Joe Rantz’s memory, some from Harry Rantz Jr.’s recollection, and some from Doug McInnes, Sequim Yesterday: Local History Through the Eyes of Sequim Old-Timers, self-published in May 2005. A few additional facts are from Michael Dashiell, “An Olympic Hero,” Sequim Gazette, January 18, 2006. A discussion of the role farm prices played in the Depression can be found in Piers Brendon’s The Dark Valley (87) and also in Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time (Boston: Mariner, 2006), 79. Joe recounted his abandonment in Sequim and his subsequent efforts to survive in great detail many times over his lifetime, and my account is based on his own telling to me as well as on details gleaned from my interviews with Judy Willman and with Harry Rantz Junior. Some of the facts concerning Charlie McDonald and his horses, as well as other details about the McDonald household, were outlined in an e-mail from Pearlie McDonald to Judy Willman, June 1, 2009.

The biographical material on Joyce Simdars, here and throughout, is drawn from my interviews with Judy Willman, Joyce’s daughter, as well as from photos and documents that Judy shared with me. Ulbrickson’s discovery of Joe in the gym at Roosevelt High School was one of the first things that Joe talked about when I began to interview him.


The epigraph is Pocock, quoted in Newell (144). The biographical information about Roger Morris is largely from my interview with him on October 2, 2008. For more on home foreclosures early in the Depression, see David C. Wheelock, “The Federal Response to Home Mortgage Distress: Lessons from the Great Depression,” Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis Review, available online at See also Brian Albrecht, “Cleveland Eviction Riot of 1933 Bears Similarities to Current Woes,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 8, 2009.

A scrapbook that Joe kept for much of his rowing career is the source of many of the small details of his life at the shell house, his job, his living conditions, and the things he and Joyce did together throughout their college years. The sketch of life on the UW campus in the fall of 1933 is drawn from various issues of WD from that fall.

My account of the dust storms of 1933 is derived largely from “Dust Storm at Albany,” NYT, November 14, 1933. Facts pertaining to the state of affairs in Germany that fall are from Edwin L. James, “Germany Quits League; Hitler Asks ‘Plebiscite,’” NYT, October 15, 1933; “Peace Periled When Germany Quits League,” ST, October 14, 1933; Larson, Garden of Beasts (152); Samuel W. Mitcham Jr., The Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and Their Commanders (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2006), 8; and “U.S. Warns Germany,” ST, October 12, 1933. The reference to nitrates passing through the Panama Canal is from “Munitions Men,” Time, March 5, 1934. The Will Rogers quote is from “Mr. Rogers Takes a Stand on New European Dispute,” in Will Rogers’ Daily Telegrams, vol. 4, The Roosevelt Years, edited by James M. Smallwood and Steven K. Gragert (Stillwater: Oklahoma State University Press), 1997.

Some meteorologists argue that November 2006 eclipsed the December 1933 record, but the official rainfall measurements in 2006 were taken at Sea-Tac Airport, eight miles south of Seattle, where rainfall tends to be higher. See Sandi Doughton, “Weather Watchdogs Track Every Drop,” ST, December 3, 2006. Also Melanie Connor, “City That Takes Rain in Stride Puts on Hip Boots,” NYT, November 27, 2006.


The epigraph appears in Newell (88). The freshmen can be seen rowing under the bowsprits of an old schooner in a photograph from the ST, February 18, 1934. “Tolo” refers, in western Washington and British Columbia, to what most of the country knows as a Sadie Hawkins dance—one in which the girl asks the boy to the event. The term apparently derives from tulu (to win) in Chinook, the jargon spoken in the nineteenth century by many Northwest Indians.

Ulbrickson’s running commentary on the performance of different boys and different crews, here and throughout, is taken from his “Daily Turnout Log of University of Washington Crew,” vol. 4 (1926; 1931-43), housed in the Alvin Edmund Ulbrickson Papers in the University of Washington’s Special Collections, accession number 2941-001. Hereafter referred to as “Ulbrickson’s logbook.”

One of Ebright’s later oarsmen and devoted disciples was Gregory Peck. The Buzz Schulte quote is from Gary Fishgall, Gregory Peck: A Biography (New York: Scribner, 2001), 41. The Don Blessing quote is from a newspaper clipping, “Ebright: Friend, Tough Coach,” Daily Californian, November 3, 1999. Much of the information on Ebright’s early years at Cal and the rivalry with Washington—including the “vicious and bloody” quote—comes from an interview with Ebright conducted by Arthur M. Arlett in 1968, housed in the Regional Oral History office of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. The testy exchange of letters between Ebright and Pocock took place between October 1931 and February 1933. The letters are also housed in the Bancroft Library. Pocock states in “Memories” (63) that it was he who first suggested Ebright for the job at Cal.

The principal sources of my account of the lead-up to the 1934 Cal-Washington race are “Freshmen Win, Bear Navy Here,” ST, April 1934; “Bear Oarsmen Set for Test with Huskies,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 5, 1934; “Bear Oarsmen to Invade North,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 6, 1934; “Huskies Have Won Four Out of Six Races,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 6, 1934; and “California Oarsmen in Washington Race Today,” Associated Press, April 13, 1934.

Joyce’s experience watching from the ferry as Joe raced for the first time was something she remembered well, and my account of her feelings and thoughts comes from her many conversations with her daughter Judy. The reference to John Dillinger is from “John Dillinger Sends U.S. Agents to San Jose Area,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1936. The estimate of 300-plus strokes in two miles is based on Susan Saint Sing’s figure of 200 strokes in 2,000 meters, or one stroke every 10 meters, in her The Wonder Crew (New York: St Martin’s, 2008), 88. Two miles is 3,218 meters, which would yield a result of 321 strokes; however, the stroke rate is inevitably lower in a two-mile race than in a 2,000-meter sprint. My account of the 1934 Cal-Washington freshman races is based primarily on Frank G. Gorrie, “Husky Shell Triumphs by ¼ Length,” Associated Press, April 13, 1934; and Royal Brougham, “U.W. Varsity and Freshmen Defeat California Crews,” PI, April 14, 1934.

For much more on Joseph Goebbels’s family life, see Anja Klabunde, Magda Goebbels (London: Time Warner, 2003). The additional facts presented here about the Reichssportfeld are drawn from The XIth Olympic Games: Official Report; Duff Hart-Davis, Hitler’s Games (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 49; and Christopher Hilton, Hitler’s Olympics (Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2006), 17. The torch-relay idea is often credited to Dr. Carl Diem, chief organizer of the 1936 Olympics, but according to The XIth Olympic Games: Official Report (58), the proposal originally came from within the Ministry of Propaganda.

For an up-to-date assessment of Leni Riefenstahl’s relationship with Nazi Party leaders, I highly recommend Steven Bach, Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (New York: Abacus, 2007). See also Ralf Georg Reuth, Goebbels (New York: Harvest, 1994), 194; and Jurgen Trimborn, Leni Riefenstahl: A Life (New York: Faber and Faber, 2002). After the war, Riefenstahl would deny that she had been on social terms with the Goebbels family and other top Nazis, but Goebbels’s diary from 1933 and other documents that have come to light since make clear that she was, in fact, very much a part of their social circle.


The Pocock quote that opens this chapter is, interestingly, from a note he sent wrapped around an oar to a Washington crew rowing at Henley in 1958; see Newell (81). My account of the 1934 varsity race here is, like the freshman race, based largely on Gorrie, “Husky Shell Triumphs by ¼ Length,” and Brougham, “U.W. Varsity and Freshmen Defeat California Crews,” cited above, as well as Ulbrickson’s logbook.

Joe’s unease mixed with excitement as he boarded the train to Poughkeepsie for the first time was one of the things he often brought up with Judy, as were other details of the trip east, particularly his moment of humiliation when he began to sing.

For much more about the history of the Poughkeepsie Regatta, see the many resources available at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association’s Poughkeepsie Regatta website, at The account of Washington’s first win at Poughkeepsie is based on my interviews with Stan Pocock; George Pocock, quoted in “One-Man Navy Yard” (49); “From Puget Sound,” Time, July 9, 1923; Saint Sing, Wonder Crew (228); and Newell (73). The mention of Ulbrickson’s injury in the 1926 regatta is from “Unstarred Rowing Crew Champions: They Require Weak But Intelligent Minds, Plus Strong Backs,” Literary Digest 122:33-34. For more on the East versus West theme, see Saint Sing (232-34).

Many elements of my description of Poughkeepsie on the day of the 1934 regatta are drawn from a wonderful piece by Robert F. Kelley, “75,000 See California Win Classic on Hudson,” NYT, June 17, 1934. The reference to Jim Ten Eyck having rowed in 1863 comes from Brougham, “The Morning After,” PI, May 27, 1937. In that piece Ten Eyck also proclaimed the 1936-37 University of Washington varsity crew the greatest he ever saw.

My description of the 1934 Poughkeepsie races is based on the Robert F. Kelley piece cited above, as well as “Washington Crew Beats California,” NYT, April 13, 1934; “Ebright Praises Washington Eight,” NYT, June 17, 1934; George Varnell, “Bolles’ Boys Happy,” ST (a clipping in Joe Rantz’s scrapbook with no date); “U.W. Frosh Win” (no date, Joe Rantz’s scrapbook); and “Syracuse Jayvees Win Exciting Race,” NYT, June 17, 1934.

Weather data for the spring and summer of 1934 is, in part, from Joe Sheehan, “May 1934: The Hottest May on Record,” available at the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office website,; W. R. Gregg and Henry A. Wallace, Report of the Chief of the Weather Bureau, 1934 (Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture, 1935); “Summer 1934: Statewide Heat Wave,” available at; and “Grass from Gobi,” Time, August 20, 1934. For more on the dust storms that year, see Egan, Worst Hard Time (particularly 5 and 152).

A great deal more information about the 1934 West Coast labor disputes is available on Rod Palmquist’s Waterfront Workers’ History Project website: A small sampling of the rhetorical assaults on Roosevelt can be found in “New Deal Declared 3-Ring Circus by Chairman of Republican Party,” PI, July 3, 1934; and “American Liberty Threatened by New Deal, Borah Warns,” PI, July 5, 1934. The full text of Roosevelt’s remarks at Ephrata are recorded in “Remarks at the Site of the Grand Coulee Dam, Washington,” August 4, 1934, on the American Presidency Project website:


The Pocock quote is from Newell (156). My description of working with a mallet and froe to split cedar is based in part on lessons given to me by Joe’s daughter Judy, to whom he taught the skills. Ulbrickson’s speech to the boys on the shell house ramp is derived from assorted press accounts of it as well as his own description of such speeches as told to Clarence Dirks in Esquire a few months earlier. The boat assignments in this section are taken from Al Ulbrickson’s logbook for the spring of 1935 and from articles in the WD.

Details of the Rantz family’s years in Seattle are drawn primarily from my interview with Harry Rantz Jr. and from his unpublished typescript, “Memories of My Mother.” For more on the commissaries and the socialist movement in Seattle, see “Communism in Washington State,” at For more about the Golden Rule labor dispute, see The Great Depression in Washington State website, “Labor Events Yearbook: 1936,” at Joe’s encounter with Thula at her house on Bagley was seared in his memory, as it was in Joyce’s, and both of them recalled it and their conversation in the car afterward in considerable detail. The respect that was paid to Pocock, especially when he was at work in his shop, was made emphatically clear to me in a discussion I had with Jim Ojala, February 22, 2011. I am indebted to Jim—author, publisher, oarsman, and friend of the Pococks—for a number of other insights into what Pocock’s shop was like, as well as for his help in obtaining some of the photographs in this book. The correspondence between Pocock and Ebright quoted here took place between September 1 and October 30, 1934.

I learned much about how Pocock crafted his shells from the following: Stan Pocock’s Way Enough! (Seattle: Blabla, 2000); my own interviews with Stan; Newell (95-97, 149); “George Pocock: A Washington Tradition,” WD, May 6, 1937; and George Pocock’s “Memories.”

My account of the great windstorm of 1934 is based largely on “15 Killed, 3 Ships Wrecked As 70-Mile Hurricane Hits Seattle,” PI, October 22, 1934. Some figures from this source, such as the ultimate death toll, were later updated. Some facts are from Wolf Read, “The Major Windstorm of October 21, 1934,” available at, and from the WD for October 23, 1934. I am indebted to Bob Ernst, director of rowing at the University of Washington, for his colorful description of the rowing tanks used by eastern schools.

My discussion of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will is based on Trimborn, Bach, and Brendon, cited above, but also in part on Riefenstahl’s own autobiography, Leni Riefenstahl: A Memoir (New York: St. Martins Press, 1993). One has to be very cautious in relying on Riefenstahl’s own account of many of these events. I have tried to point out areas where she may be unreliable.

Joe kept the “Senior Men Face Life with Debts” clipping in his scrapbook and still recalled near the end of his life the feelings that reading it had provoked in him.


The epigraph is from a letter Pocock wrote to the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen, reprinted in the Rowing News Bulletin for 1944. I have reassembled Ulbrickson’s remarks based on the press coverage in Clarence Dirks, “Husky Mentor Sees New Era for Oarsmen: Crews Adopt ‘On to Olympics’ Program as They Launch 1935 Campaign,” PI, January 15, 1935, and “Husky Crew Can Be Best Husky Oarsmen,” WD, January 15, 1935. For more on Broussais Beck Sr., see the “Broussais C. Beck labor spy reports and ephemera” in the Beck Papers at the University of Washington Library’s Special Collections, accession number 0155-001. The unusually cold weather that January is documented in a series of articles in the Seattle press. See my online notes for full citations. The anecdote about the interaction between Moch and Green is based in part on my interview with Marilynn Moch and in part on Moch himself in his interview with Michael J. Socolow, November 2004, as recorded in a transcript from the Moch family collection. The attendees at Ulbrickson’s “chat” with the sophomore boys are listed in his logbook entry for February 13, 1935.

Some of the details of my sketch of Shorty Hunt are based on my interview with his daughters, Kristin Cheney and Kathy Grogan. The character sketch of Don Hume is drawn in part from Royal Brougham, “Varsity Crew to Poughkeepsie,” ST, June 1936. The brief characterization of Chuck Day is based in part on my interview with Kris Day.

Ulbrickson’s experimentations with different boatings are chronicled in his logbook as well as in coverage by the ST and PI. Their canoe ride on the first warm day that spring was something that stuck in the minds of both Joe and Joyce and they often shared details of it fondly with Judy. Joe’s conversation with his father in the car at the Golden Rule bakery was another of those key moments that he shared in detail with me as he had with Judy over a lifetime. My description of “the swing” is based on conversations with a number of oarsmen; however, Eric Cohen’s input on this question was particularly valuable. Ulbrickson’s equivocations over who should row as varsity against California are documented in a series of articles in the ST, PI, and NYT throughout April 1935, all cited in my online notes. Some facts are from Ulbrickson’s logbook for that month. Bob Moch, as quoted in Michael Socolow’s 2004 interview with him, is the source of Ulbrickson’s “I’m sorry” comment on April 12, 1935. My account of the races on the Oakland Estuary is based on Bill Leiser, “Who Won?” San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, 1935; “Husky Crews Make Clean Sweep,” ST, April 14, 1935; Bruce Helberg, “Second Guesses,” WD (no date, clipping from Bob Moch’s scrapbook); “Husky Crews Win Three Races,” ST, April 14, 1935; and “Washington Sweeps Regatta with Bears: Husky Varsity Crew Spurts to Turn Back U.C. Shell by 6 Feet,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 14, 1935.

The homecoming parade in Seattle is documented in George Varnell, “Crew, Swim Team Welcomed Home,” ST, April 19, 1935, and “City Greets Champions,” PI, April 19, 1935. Jack Medica was himself destined for the 1936 Olympics, where he would earn a gold medal in the four-hundred-meter freestyle, as well as two silver medals. Joe’s moment of surprise and pride as he basked in applause still brought tears to his eyes as he talked about it with me years later.


The Pocock quote is from Newell (85). The iron shoulder pads incident is mentioned in Pocock, Way Enough (51). My brief overview of early sports in Seattle is based on the following: Dan Raley, “From Reds to Ruth to Rainiers: City’s History Has Its Hits, Misses,” PI, June 13, 2011; C. J. Bowles, “Baseball Has a Long History in Seattle,” available on at; “A Short History of Seattle Baseball,” available at; Dan Raley, “Edo Vanni, 1918-2007: As player, manager, promoter, he was ‘100 percent baseball,’” PI, April 30, 2007; “Seattle Indians: A Forgotten Chapter in Seattle Baseball,” available at; and Jeff Obermeyer, “Seattle Metropolitans,” at It wasn’t until 1969—with the arrival of the Seattle Pilots—that Seattle finally got a major-league baseball team. And they went bankrupt within a year.

My discussion of Black Sunday is based on Egan, Worst Hard Time (8); “Black Sunday Remembered,” April 13, 2010, on the Oklahoma Climatological Survey website:; and Sean Potter, “Retrospect: April 14, 1935: Black Sunday,” available at The effect on Seattle of the subsequent exodus from the Plains states is based, in part, on “Great Migration Westward About to Begin,” PI, May 4, 1935. The anonymous “Rowing is like a beautiful duck …” has been floating around for years, though no one seems to know its source. Al Ulbrickson discussed the complexities caused by oarsmen with different physical abilities rowing together in the International Olympic Committee’s Olympische Rundschau (Olympic Review) 7 (October 1939). I am indebted to Bob Ernst for the essential idea that great crews require a blend of both physical abilities and personality types.

The continuing struggle between Joe’s all-sophomore boat and the JV boat ultimately chosen as varsity for the Poughkeepsie Regatta is chronicled in a series of articles in the PI, ST, NYT, and New York American between early May and early June 1935. See full notes online for specific references. I found Bobby Moch’s table of codes in his scrapbook, kindly made available by Marilynn Moch.

Descriptive details in my account of the 1935 Poughkeepsie Regatta are drawn largely from the following: “Huge Throng Will See Regatta,” ST, June 17, 1935; “California Varsity Wins, U.W. Gets Third,” PI, June 19, 1935; “Western Crews Supreme Today,” ST, June 19, 1935; Robert F. Kelley, “California Varsity Crew Victor on Hudson for 3rd Successive Time,” NYT, June 19, 1935; “Sport: Crews,” Time, July 1, 1935; Hugh Bradley, “Bradley Says: ‘Keepsie’s Regatta Society Fete, With Dash of Coney, Too,’” New York Post, June 25, 1935; and Brougham, “The Morning After,” PI, June 20, 1935.


The Pocock quote is from Newell (85-87). Joe’s trip out to Grand Coulee and his subsequent experiences there were favorite topics of conversation for him, and he shared countless details with Judy, Joyce, and later me. In places here I have supplemented his description of the physical environment with my own observations, drawn while driving his route and exploring the site myself; however, the specifics of his experiences and his feelings during that summer are all his as conveyed directly to me or conveyed to me through Judy. For more about Lake Missoula and the epic prehistoric floods, see “Ice Age Floods: Study of Alternatives,” section D: “Background,” available at; William Dietrich, “Trailing an Apocalypse,” ST, September 30, 2007; and “Description: Glacial Lake Missoula and the Missoula Floods,” available on the USGS website at

Facts pertaining to the two-thousand-meter race at Long Beach are from “Crew Goes West,” ST, June 20, 1935, and Theon Wright, “Four Boats Beat Olympic Record,” United Press, June 30, 1935.

The statistics regarding food consumption at Mason City are from “Here’s Where Some Surplus Food Goes,” Washington Farm News, November 29, 1935. For much more about Grand Coulee and B Street, see Roy Bottenberg, Grand Coulee Dam (Charleston: Arcadia Press, 2008), and Lawney L. Reyes, B Street: The Notorious Playground of Coulee Dam (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008).

Many details of the biographical sketch of Johnny White are from my interview with his sister, Mary Helen Tarbox. Others are from her unpublished typescript, “Mary Helen Tarbox, Born November 11, 1918 in Seattle, Washington.” Aspects of my characterization of Chuck Day are based on my conversation with his daughter, Kris Day.


The epigraph is from Newell (78). Some of the details about construction of the Olympic Stadium are from Berlin Olympic Stadium website: Others are from Dana Rice, “Germany’s Olympic Plans,” NYT, November 24, 1935, and from The XIth Olympic Games: Official Report. The reference to Nazi officers executing German boys is from David Large, Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007), 324. My discussion of the history of rowing at Grünau is drawn in part from a translation, helpfully provided by Isabell Schober, of “Geschichte des Wassersports” on the website of the Wassersportmuseum at Grünau, available at Other facts about the facility are from my interview with Werner Phillip at the museum.

Much of the information about Harry and Thula Rantz’s excursions to eastern Washington comes from my interviews with Harry Rantz Jr. The anecdote regarding Ulbrickson’s determination to win gold at Berlin is based in large part on a video interview with Hazel Ulbrickson, “U of W Crew—The Early Years,” produced by American Motion Pictures Video Laboratory, Seattle, 1987. Joe only learned about the conversation between Ulbrickson and Pocock, and Pocock’s mission to “fix” him, years later. Pocock’s several subsequent talks with him left an enormous impression on Joe, and he recounted them in vivid detail to me as he had earlier to Judy. Pocock took “only God can make a tree” from Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees,” in Trees and Other Poems (New York: George H. Doran, 1914). An English translation of the Nuremberg Laws is available on the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s website: I also consulted Tom Kuntz, “Word for Word/The Nuremberg Laws: On Display in Los Angeles: Legal Foreshadowing of Nazi Horror,” NYT, July 4, 1999. For more on their immediate effect in Germany, see William Shirer’s classic The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 233-34. The banning of the Jewish Helvetia Rowing Club in 1933 is mentioned in “Geschichte des Wassersports.”

My sketch of McMillin working in the shell house is drawn primarily from Joe’s memory, along with details provided by McMillin himself in transcripts of his interview with Michael Socolow on November 2004, from the Moch family collection as well as an obituary, “Legendary U.W. Rower Jim McMillin Dies at Age 91,” August 31, 2005, available at The details of Thula’s death are from my interview with Harry Rantz Jr.; Charlie McDonald’s, from Pearlie McDonald’s e-mail, cited above. Joe’s first conversation with his father following Thula’s passing was another of these moments that stuck with Joe throughout his lifetime.

The pro-boycott demonstration in New York is described in “10,000 in Parade Against Hitlerism,” NYT, November 22, 1935. The final demise of the boycott is documented in “A.A.U. Backs Team in Berlin Olympic; Rejects Boycott,” NYT, December 9, 1935. For my discussion of the boycott movement, and particularly the forces arrayed around Avery Brundage to oppose it, I have relied on Susan D. Bachrach, The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936 (Boston: Little, Brown, 2000), 47-48; Guy Walters, Berlin Games: How the Nazis Stole the Olympic Dream (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007), 24; “U.S. Olympic Chief Brands Boycotters as Communists,” PI, October 25, 1935; Stephen R. Wenn, “A Tale of Two Diplomats: George S. Messersmith and Charles H. Sherrill on Proposed American Participation in the 1936 Olympics,” Journal of Sport History 16, no. 1 (Spring 1989); “Sport: Olympic Wrath,” Time, November 4, 1935; and “Brundage Demands U.S. Entry,” ST, October 24, 1935.


The epigraph is again taken from Newell (85). Ulbrickson’s frustration is evident in his logbook, from mid-January into February. Emmett Watson quotes Ulbrickson—“George, tell them what I’m trying to teach them …”—in his Once Upon a Time in Seattle (Seattle: Lesser Seattle, 1992), 109. The “typical coxswain abuse” remark is from Eric Cohen, as are a number of details related to coxes in this section of the book. The Don Blessing quote is reprinted in Benjamin Ivry, Regatta: A Celebration of Oarsmanship (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), 75. My biographical sketch of Bobby Moch is based on interviews with Marilynn and Michael Moch, with some additional details from Amy Jennings, “Bob Moch: Monte’s Olympian,” Vidette, January 1, 1998. Joe’s second shell house encounter with Pocock is again based on Joe’s own recollection of it.

Joe’s moment of reflection and insight as he stood on the dock in front of his father’s house was a key memory for him—a momet things began to turn around in his personal life. The details of that moment are drawn from his own telling to me and from Judy’s recollection of earlier accounts.

Some biographical facts about Gordy Adam and Don Hume are from Wayne Cody’s KIRO Radio interview with Adam, Hume, Hunt, and White, August 1, 1986. More about Gordy is from George A. Hodak’s interview with Gordon B. Adam, May 1988, published by the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and available at More about Hume is from Wallie Funk, “Hume Rowed from Guemes to Berlin in ’36,” Anacortes American, August 7, 1996, and “The Laurel Wreath to Don Hume,” WD, April 21, 1936.

Ulbrickson noted Joe’s addition to the boat and its immediate effect in his logbook on March 21, 1936. Entries over the following days confirm his growing confidence in the new arrangement. The various greetings that Joe’s new crewmates gave him meant a great deal to Joe and he delighted in recalling them after some prompting from Judy. The sauerkraut christening of the Husky Clipper is described in Newell (137). Ebright’s pulling names out of a hat is revealed in Sam Jackson, “Ky Ebright Pulls Crew Champions Out of His Hat,” Niagara Falls Gazette, February 22, 1936. Jim Lemmon discusses Ebright’s use of a training table in his Log of Rowing at the University of California Berkeley, 1870-1987 (Berkeley: Western Heritage Press, 1989), 97-98. Paul Simdars, who later rowed for Ulbrickson, described Ulbrickson’s alternative—a calcium solution and liquid gelatin. Laura Hillenbrand mentions Tom Smith’s search for high-calcium hay, and his awareness of the Washington crew’s supplements, in Seabiscuit: An American Legend (New York: Ballantine, 2001).

Royal Brougham asserts that the 1936 regatta drew the largest crowd ever to see a crew race in “U.W. Crews Win All Three Races: California Crushed,” PI (an undated clipping in John White’s collection of materials). Joyce recalled, in a conversation she had with Judy late in life, how nervous both she and Joe were that day as they awaited the race. My descriptions of the races that day are drawn both from that article and from the following: “75,000 Will See Crews Battle,” WD, April 17, 1936; Clarence Dirks, “U.W. Varsity Boat Wins by 3 Lengths,” PI, April 19, 1936; George Varnell, “U.W. Crews in Clean Sweep,” ST, April 19, 1936; “Coaches Happy, Proud, Says Al, Grand, Says Tom,” ST, April 19,1936; and Ulbrickson’s logbook entry for April 18, 1936.


The Pocock quote is from Newell (106). An interesting and chilling contemporaneous overview of Berlin in this time frame can be found in “Changing Berlin,” National Geographic, February 1937. More about the state of affairs in Germany at this time can be found in “Hitler’s Commemorative Timepiece,” Daily Mail Reporter, March 7, 2011; Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 102; and Walters, Berlin Games (90-92). The precise mechanism by which Riefenstahl, Goebbels, and the Nazi government concealed the source of Riefenstahl’s funding for Olympia is documented at length in Bach, Leni (174-76).

The crisis over some of the boys’ eligibility is recounted in George Varnell, “Varsity Quartet to Make Up Work Before Leaving,” ST (a clipping without date in Roger Morris’s scrapbook), and mentioned in Ulbrickson’s logbook on May 18, 1936. Their increasingly impressive times are also noted in the logbook throughout this period.

Beginning with their departure for Poughkeepsie, we begin to get firsthand accounts of events in the journals of three of the boys: Johnny White, Chuck Day, and, later, Roger Morris. The race strategy for Poughkeepsie, hatched on the train trip east and reported by George Varnell in “Varnell Says: New Tactics for U.W. Plan,” ST, June 13, 1936, is important partly for how little regard Bobby Moch paid to it in the actual event. Details of the atmosphere in the shell house at Poughkeepsie and other events leading up to the regatta are drawn from a wide variety of news reports, cited individually in the online version of the notes. Bob Moch describes the almost mystical night row on the Hudson in “Washington Rowing: 100+ Year History,” on Eric Cohen’s website:

Facts pertaining to the Louis-Schmeling fight are drawn from James P. Dawson, “Schmeling Stops Louis in Twelfth as 45,000 Look On,” NYT, June 20, 1936, and “Germany Acclaims Schmeling as National Hero for Victory Over Louis,” NYT, June 21, 1936. The trouble in Harlem that night is reported in “Harlem Disorders Mark Louis Defeat,” NYT, June 20, 1936, as is the celebrating in German American neighborhoods. Goebbels’s “the white man prevailed” is quoted from his diary entry for June 20, 1936.

The account of the visit to Hyde Park is derived mostly from a letter from Shorty Hunt to his family, published in the Puyallup Press, June 25, 1936, under the title “Local Youth Meets Son of President on Visit to Hyde Park.”

Washington’s 1936 varsity win at Poughkeepsie was one of the great crew races of all time. My account of it is drawn from a large number of sources, of which these are the most important: Robert F. Kelley’s “Rowing Fans Pour into Poughkeepsie for Today’s Regatta,” NYT, June 22, 1936, and “Washington Gains Sweep in Regatta at Poughkeepsie,” NYT, June 23, 1936; Ed Alley, “Ulbrickson’s Mighty Western Crew Defeats Defending Golden Bears,” Poughkeepsie Star-Enterprise, June 23, 1936; Hugh Bradley, “Bradley Says: ’Keepsie Regatta Society Fete with Dash of Coney Too,” NYP, June 23, 1936; Harry Cross, “Washington Sweeps Poughkeepsie Regatta as Varsity Beats California by One Length,” HT, June 23, 1936; “Husky Crews Take Three Races at Poughkeepsie,” PI, June 23, 1936; James A. Burchard, “Varsity Coxswain Hero of Huskies’ Sweep of Hudson,” New York World-Telegram, June 23, 1936; “Huskies Sweep All Three Races on Hudson,” PI, June 23, 1936; Malcolm Roy, “Washington Sweeps Hudson,” New York Sun, June 23, 1936; Herbert Allan, “Moch Brains Enable Husky Brawn to Score First ’Keepsie Sweep,” NYP, June 23, 1936; and Royal Brougham, “U.W. Varsity Boat Faces Games Test,” PI, June 23, 1936. Jim McMillin is the source of his comment about breathing through his nose, as recorded in his November 2004 interview with Michael Socolow; Hazel Ulbrickson’s account is from the video “U of W Crew—The Early Years,” cited above, as is Bob Moch’s “Go to hell, Syracuse” remark. A few additional details are from Johnny White’s journal.


The Pocock quote can be found in Newell (156). The first mention of Don Hume fighting some kind of “nasty cold” appears in George Varnell, “Shells Late in Arriving; Drill Due Tomorrow,” ST, July 1, 1936, six full weeks before the gold medal race in Berlin. The boys’ mounting anxiety and difficulty sleeping are chronicled in White’s and Day’s journals beginning on July 4. Their victory in the final race at Princeton is chronicled in “Washington’s Huskies Berlin Bound After Crew Win at Princeton,” Trenton Evening Times, July 6, 1936; Harry Cross, “Washington Crew Beats Penn by Sixty Feet and Wins Olympic Final on Lake Carnegie,” New York Herald Tribune, July 6, 1936; Robert F. Kelley, “Splendid Race Establishes Washington Crew as U.S. Olympic Standard Bearer,” NYT, July 6, 1936; George Varnell, “Huskies Win with Ease Over Penn, Bears, and N.Y.A.C,” ST, July 6, 1936; and Royal Brougham, “Huskies Win Olympic Tryouts in Record Time,” PI, July 6, 1936. Additional details are from Johnny White’s journal, George A. Hodak’s 1988 interview with Gordon Adam cited above, and one of several letters Shorty Hunt began to write home at this time, reprinted in the Puyallup Valley Tribune, July 10, 1936. Joyce took great delight in reliving for Judy her memories of listening to the Princeton race that day and her pride at the moment when she realized that Joe would be going to the Olympics. Bob Moch is the source of the mention of a tug-of-war over the silver cup in his November 2004 interview with Michael Socolow. George Pocock’s “Coming from Al” comment can be found in Newell (101).

The crisis over the shortage of funds for Berlin and the subsequent drive to raise money in Seattle are documented in a series of articles in the Seattle press over the next few days; see the online notes. Statistics regarding the terrible heat wave of 1936 are primarily from “Mercury Hits 120, No Rain in Sight as Crops Burn in the Drought Area,” NYT, July 8, 1936, and “130 Dead in Canada as Heat Continues,” NYT, July 12, 1936. The boys’ stay at Travers Island and their excursions are chronicled in the journals of Johnny White and Chuck Day, as well as in the continuing series of letters that Shorty Hunt wrote home. Joe’s trip to the top of the Empire State Building made a large impression on him, and the feelings he had there about the upcoming trip were something he shared often with Judy, who in turn shared them with me. Marilynn Moch explained the contents of the letter Bob Moch received from his father, and his reaction to it, in my interviews with her. Much of the description of loading the Husky Clipper onto the Manhattan is from George Pocock’s “Memories.” Other details of those final hours in New York are from Day’s and White’s journals.

The 1936 U.S. Olympic team consisted of 382 individuals, but not all were aboard the Manhattan. Some of the details concerning the history and construction of the Manhattan are from “S.S. Manhattan & S.S. Washington,” Shipping Wonders of the World, no. 22 (1936). My account of the departure is based in part on “United States Olympic Team Sails for Games Amid Rousing Send-Off,” NYT, July 16, 1936.


The epigraph is from Newell (79). For more on the Olympic preparations in Berlin, see Walters, Berlin Games (164-65); Brendon, Dark Valley (522); Bach, Leni (177); and Richard D. Mandell, The Nazi Olympics (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 143-44. Additional details are from The XIth Olympic Games: Official Report. For Riefenstahl’s preparations, I have relied primarily on her own account in her memoir, cited above.

For my description of life on the Manhattan, I have drawn from Joe’s recollections and a letter Shorty Hunt wrote home, published in the Puyallup Press, July 31, 1936. Day’s and White’s journals also offered many interesting tidbits. Other facts are from George Pocock’s “Memories”; Arthur J. Daley, “Athletes Give Pledge to Keep Fit,” NYT, July 16, 1936; and M. W. Torbet, “United States Lines Liner S.S. Manhattan: Description and Trials,” Journal of the American Society for Naval Engineers 44, no. 4 (November 1932): 480-519. Al Ulbrickson tells the anecdote about Jim McMillin and the pancakes in “Now! Now! Now!” Collier’s, June 26, 1937.

My sources for the Eleanor Holm incident include The Report of the American Olympic Committee: Games of the XIth Olympiad (New York: American Olympic Committee, 1937), 33; Day’s and White’s journals; “Mrs. Jarrett Back, Does Not Plan Any Legal Action Against A.A.U.,” NYT, August 21, 1936; Richard Goldstein, “Eleanor Holm Whalen, 30’s Swimming Champion, Dies,” NYT, February 2, 2004; and Walters, Berlin Games (157).

I have drawn mostly from Day’s and White’s journals to recount the boys’ arrival in Europe, with additional information from Shorty Hunt’s letter home, cited above. Their reception in Hamburg and Berlin is chronicled in Arthur J. Daley, “Tens of Thousands Line Streets to Welcome U.S. Team to Berlin,” NYT, July 25, 1936, and “Olympic Squad Receives Warm Nazi Welcome,” Associated Press, July 24, 1936. Richard Wingate’s response to Brundage’s triumphant arrival in Berlin appears in “Olympic Games Comment,” NYT, July 24, 1936.

The crew’s impressions of Köpenick, Grünau, and the German crew are derived from Roger Morris’s journal; George Pocock’s impressions recorded in Newell (104) and “Memories”; and Lewis Burton, “Husky Crew Gets Lengthy Workout,” Associated Press, July 27, 1936. The boys’ ramblings in Berlin and Köpenick are chronicled in all three journals—Day, White, and Morris—and Gordon Adam’s interview with Hodak, cited above. Peter Mallory discusses the Italian crew in his Sport of Rowing (Henley on Thames: River Rowing Museum, 2011), 735-38. Pocock’s tale of the outraged Australians at Henley is recounted in Newell (104).

My account of the opening ceremonies draws from Albion Ross, “Nazis Start Olympics as Gigantic Spectacle,” NYT, July 26, 1936; Shorty Hunt’s letter home published in the Puyallup Press, August 21, 1936; Riefenstahl in her memoir (191-92); Goebbels’s diary quoted in Trimborn, Leni Riefenstahl (141); Christopher Hudson, “Nazi Demons Laid to Rest in World Cup Stadium,” Daily Mail, July 6, 2006; the Day, White, and Morris journals; my 2011 interview with Mike and Marilynn Moch; Bob Moch’s account as given in Michael Socolow’s November 2004 interview with him; Frederick T. Birchall, “100,000 Hail Hitler; U. S. Athletes Avoid Nazi Salute to Him,” NYT, August 2, 1936; Royal Brougham, “120,000 Witness Olympic Opening,” PI, August 2, 1936; John Kiernan, “Sports of the Times,” NYT, August 2, 1936; “Olympic Games,” Time, August 10, 1936; Bethlehem Steel, “John White Rowed for the Gold … and Won It,” Bottom Line 6, no. 2 (1984); and Pocock’s “Memories.”


The Pocock quote is from Newell (79). The boys’ adventures in Berlin, Köpenick, and Grünau are drawn, again, primarily from the journals of the three who kept them. Throughout this time, press reports surfaced concerning the ongoing worries about Don Hume’s health. For more on Noel Duckworth, see Julia Smyth’s brief biographical sketch on the Churchill College Boat Club website, available at Also of interest is the transcript of a radio broadcast from Singapore to London, September 12, 1945, available at An article about the 1936 Boat Race, featuring Ran Laurie and Duckworth, “Beer Scores Over Milk,” NYT, April 5, 1936, is the source of some of my information about Laurie. Laurie was so modest, it is said, that his son Hugh did not know that his father had won an Olympic gold medal (in 1948) until he happened across it in his father’s sock drawer many years later. The drenching of the police cadets and the near brawl with the Yugoslavians are documented in the journals and mentioned in Newell (105).

The British assessment that the American eight was “perfect” appears in “Chances of British Oarsmen,” Manchester Guardian, August 11, 1936. Hume’s weight and condition are discussed again in “Hume Big Worry,” Associated Press, August 12, 1936. My account of the qualifying race is based on the boys’ journals, as well as Royal Brougham, “U.S. Crew Wins Olympic Trial,” PI, August 13, 1936; Arthur J. Daley, “Grünau Rowing Course Mark Smashed by Washington in Beating British Crew,” NYT, August 1936 (no specific date on clipping); and “Leander’s Great Effort,” Manchester Guardian, August 13, 1936.

For more on the Nazi atrocities in Köpenick, see “Nazi Tortures Told in ‘Blood Week’ Trial,” Stars and Stripes, June 14, 1950, and Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (New York: Penguin, 2005), 360. For more on the Sachsenhausen camp, see the entry in the Holocaust Encyclopedia at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website:, and the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation website: For a listing of firms complicit with the Nazis, see “German Firms That Used Slave or Forced Labor During the Nazi Era,” on the Jewish Virtual Library website, available at For a chilling firsthand account of what the forced labor camps were like, see “Record of Witness Testimony number 357,” Voices from Ravensbrück, Lund University Library website, available at My account of the ordeal of the Hirschhahn family is based primarily on a transcript of Eva Lauffer Deutschkron’s oral history in “Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust,” at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s website:

The new rules for lane selection are mentioned in The XIth Olympic Games: Official Report (1000). For a bit more on Germany’s lane assignments, see Albion Ross, “Germany Leads in Olympic Rowing as U.S. Fares Poorly in Consolation Round,” NYT, August 14, 1936. For the rest of their lives the boys and their coaches believed that Germany and Italy had been assigned the best lanes and they the worst—deliberately.

George Pocock describes his feelings upon hearing “God Save the King” in his “Memories.” Photographs taken before and after the gold medal race, as well as footage of the race itself, seem to confirm that the American boys were wearing mismatched outfits, not their official uniforms, during the race.

The psychological importance of having Don Hume in the boat can’t be overstated. All the boys brought it up when they talked about the race in later years. Al Ulbrickson is quoted as saying after the race, “When Don came back they simply decided nothing could stop them,” in Alan Gould’s “Huskies, It’s Revealed, All But Ready for Sick Beds Before Winning Race,” Associated Press, August 14, 1936.


The Pocock epigraph is again from Newell (81). My account of what was happening inside the Husky Clipper during the gold medal race is based to a large extent on the journals, along with Joe’s own recollections. Other sources include Hodak’s 1988 interview with Gordon Adam; my interviews with Marilynn and Michael Moch; a voice recording of Moch’s account, available at; Wayne Cody’s KIRO Radio interview with Adam, Hume, Hunt, and White, August 1, 1986; the video “U of W Crew—The Early Years,” cited above; and Pocock’s “Memories.” Bob Moch mentions counting down the remaining strokes in his November 2004 interview with Michael Socolow; Jim McMillin, in his November 2004 interview with Socolow, mentions shouting the F word.

Major sources for that day also include “Beresford’s Third Gold Medal,” Manchester Guardian, August 15, 1936; Arthur J. Daley, “Fifth Successive Eight-Oared Rowing Title Is Captured by U.S.,” NYT, August 15, 1936; Grantland Rice, “In the Sportlight,” Reading Eagle, January 21, 1937; J. F. Abramson, “Washington 8 Wins Title of World’s Greatest Crew,” HT, August 15, 1936; Tommy Lovett, “Went to Town as Bob Knocked” (an undated clipping in the John White materials, no source); Alan Gould, “U.W. Crew Noses Out Italians,” Associated Press, August 14, 1936; Al Ulbrickson’s already-cited “Now! Now! Now!” in Collier’s; and The XIth Olympic Games: Official Report. My descriptions of Hitler and his entourage are based on photographs and several contemporaneous newsreels shot that day.


The Pocock quote is from his previously cited letter to the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen, reprinted in Rowing News Bulletin. Royal Brougham’s firsthand account of the race was never published because of the news writers’ strike in Seattle; however, he hearkened back to it in “That Day Recalled,” PI, July 24, 1976. The comment about Moch’s shortness is from my interview with Marilynn Moch. The boys’ tears on the podium are documented in Gail Wood, “Olympians to Be Honored,” an undated clipping from the Olympian in Joe Rantz’s scrapbook. The all-night escapade in Berlin is documented in some detail in the three journals. Among other things, it involved many bottles of champagne, a visit to Berlin’s notorious Femina nightclub, and winding up on the wrong train and arriving far out in Potsdam as the sun rose the next morning.


The epigraph is once again Pocock, this time from a speech he gave to the University of Washington Varsity Boat Club in 1965. Audio is available on the Husky Crew website at McMillin mentions stopping to visit relatives in New York in his 2004 interview with Socolow. Johnny White’s journey home was explained to me in my interview with Mary Helen Tarbox. Shorty Hunt’s arrival home is celebrated in “When Olympic Athletes Were Honored by Valley,” Puyallup Valley Tribune, September 29, 1936. Pocock’s side trip to England is discussed in “One-Man Navy Yard” (49) and Newell (111). Bobby Moch’s post-Olympics experiences were explained to me in my interviews with Marilynn Moch, with some details also from the Montesano Vidette, November 11, 1999.

The boys’ extraordinary accomplishment in the 1937 Poughkeepsie Regatta is best chronicled in “Washington Crews Again Sweep Hudson Regatta,” NYT, June 23, 1937. Royal Brougham describes the evening the boys parted ways in “Ulbrickson Plans Arrival on July 5,” PI, June 23, 1937.

Göring’s “All that is lacking” proclamation can be found in Shirer, Rise and Fall (300). The unidentified American’s comment is from a chilling piece of prewar propaganda, Stanley McClatchie, Look to Germany: The Heart of Europe (Berlin: Heinrich Hoffmann, 1936). For much more on the reception Riefenstahl’s Olympia received, see Bach, Leni (196-213).

Many details of the boys’ subsequent lives are drawn from a series of obituaries. See the online notes for individual citations. Ulbrickson’s clear recollection of the day he first put Joe in the 1936 varsity boat is recounted in George Varnell, “Memories of Crew: Al Recalls the Highlights of a Long, Honored Career,” ST (no date, a clipping in Joe Rantz’s scrapbook). Some details of Ebright’s later career are from Arthur M. Arlett’s 1968 interview with him. The ten-year anniversary rows are chronicled in a series of news articles and local television broadcasts through these years.

It is a small but noteworthy irony that among the first Allied troops who crossed the Elbe River and met up with Russian troops in April of 1945—encircling Berlin and sealing Hitler’s fate—was a small band of resourceful American boys, rowing a captured German racing shell.