Since writing about my 1973 Freshman Lightweight Crew during the last two chapters of this memoir, I have heard from several team members.
First, Susan and I will be spending more time with Pete and Sarah Holding during our next trip to Henley. Hooray!
And here is what Ron Hendrickson had to say:
Many thanks for recording your memories on row2K, especially Chapters 31 and 32 which strike particularly close to home. I was transported mentally into the audience by Peter Holding's eloquent introduction while simultaneously having flashback visions of puddle chains on a glassy Schuylkill surface trailing behind an old wooden boat moved by old wooden oars. And many thanks for remembering me, my son Andrew, and the Moorestown Rowing Club.
In 2011, Andrew stroked the MRC Boys Junior Coxed-Four to victory among 55 entries at the Stotesbury Regatta. After Moorestown, he rowed four years at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.
Thank you for the memories and for indulging a father's excess. Happy Thanksgiving!
And from Tom Compernolle:
First of all, thank you for your contributions to rowing history and culture. I have an early version of your memoir, God is a Rower and He Rows Like Me! and I have been reading the latest version on row2k. I also saw you in the Boys in the Boat documentary on PBS. You not only appreciate the legacy of greatness behind the sport but effectively promote it. Rowing wrote the greatest chapter of my life and set the course for the good life that followed.
Here are some sweet details behind our Class of '76 victory. According to a Harvard heavyweight friend of mine, that 1973 Harvard Lightweight Freshman crew that won the Sprints by 8 seconds (I was never aware of the Cooper crab till I read your entry) went on to dominate the Varsity their sophomore year (perfect season), junior year (perfect season minus one disqualification) and senior year (perfect season going into the Sprints), so at the '76 Sprints we beat a boat with six seniors who had never been beaten across the line in their entire college varsity rowing careers till that day. In a way it was delayed payback for what they did to us that May of 1973, and that's one of many reasons why we all called you that night.
Indeed, in 1976, three years after I had left the East Coast, traveling west to seek my fortune, I got a phone call a couple of hours after the Lightweight Varsity final. Six members of my 1973 Freshman Lightweight Crew, the guys who began their Sprints careers in a line squall, were drunk with victory . . . and, truth be told, drunk with alcohol in various forms as well. They had tracked me down in California to tell me they had won the Sprints, the first Penn Lightweight Varsity to do so since 1955 when I was 9 years old and before several of these guys were even born, and now they were going to Henley Royal Regatta. They remembered me, were grateful to me.
And I was grateful to them. They cried. I cried.
A brief update about me after you went west. I started to take rowing more seriously and put down the partying. Making Varsity senior year was an excruciating effort (seat race after seat race). After finally earning the Varsity seat, I heard a rumor that Fred intended to bounce me back to Jayvee in the instance of our first loss. Well, we never lost.
Pete, much more to say, but let me just join the Pete Holdings of the world in thanking you for driving the transformation of my early life. I do look forward to any chance to reconnect someday, and I do intend to read all your entries going forward. Till then, please know you made a big difference in my life's journey.
At Henley, incidentally, the Penn Lightweights made it all the way to the semi-finals of the Thames Challenge Cup by defeating Trinity College Hartford and Quinton Boat Club before succumbing to Henley Rowing Club. It took the Harvard Heavies to beat Henley RC by a canvas in the final.
I got to row in the '76 Penn Henley boat at their 10th Reunion in 1986. They were terrific. They represent my best early work as a young coach. I basked in their reflected glory.
As I sit here today and reflect, their 40th Reunion in 2016 has now come and gone. Unfortunately, Sam Lamar wasn't there. He was already in Heaven and was in a Hell of a hurry to get there, I'm sad to say.
R.I.P., my friend.
Lastly, I confused a couple of names in the team photo in Chapter 32. Here is the corrected caption.
1976 Penn Lightweight Varsity, Eastern Sprints Champion Stroke Bruce Konopka '78, 2 Bob Wilson '77, 6 Dave Farwell '76, 3 Sam Lamar '76, Coach Fred Leonard, Coxswain Jay Rechter '77, 5 Mark Davison '76, 7 Dick Henriques '78, 4 Brian Keane '76, Bow Tom Compernolle '76 (from my second boat in 1973)
To be continued . . .