“Boys in the Boat” (1936 Berlin Olympics)

February 6, 2014

     …it wasn’t until he began to talk about his rowing career at the University of Washington that he started, from time to time, to cry….None of [his] 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 rowing’s greatest achievements?  Finally,…I realized that ‘the boat’ was something more than just the shell or its crew.  To Joe, it encompassed but transcended both–it was something mysterious and almost beyond definition.  It was a shared experience–a 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.      (Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown, 2013, p. 2)

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