The nine hale and hearty Harvard oarsmen shown here have been getting together annually for a brisk row on the Charles River for close to half a century. All prominent citizens whose professions range from doctor to U.S. Senator, they earned their first fame back in 1914 as the first American crew to win the Grand Challenge Cup at Britain's famed Henley Regatta.
Only an average of 19 pounds heavier now than they were then, the nine oldsters were in fine fettle last week during their 45th reunion. Their oars bit the water neatly and their bodies moved in rhythmic unison, a little slower than in the past but still smooth and supple. After covering about 600 yards of water ("The course gets shorter every year," said the Senator) they pulled briskly up to the float. On the barked command of Coxswain Henry Kreger, they lifted the 300-pound boat from the river with a clean heave and swung it overhead. Not a bone creaked or strain-plucked muscle twinged. Perhaps the shell wavered a bit before it settled to carrying position, and admittedly a few undergrads reached out to bear a hand, but the spontaneous applause that broke out among onlookers at the boathouse swept all such imperfections aside. Pride showed plainly on the faces of the oldsters as they marched along the ramp bearing their burden to its berth.
At Henley on the day of their victory the nine had been warned by their doctor not to drink the champagne offered by their vanquished foe. It was bad after strenuous exercise, said the doc. Captain Leverett Saltonstall, a man with a future in legislation, ruled otherwise, arguing that not to drink the champagne would be unsporting. Indeed, legend has it that next day the Harvards threw a party for two defeated British crews which emptied 102 bottles of the stuff, left their guests (with Harvard still upright) laid out stiff on the green lawn in perfect bow-to-stroke order.
Championship smiles light the faces of reunited Harvard oarsmen David Morgan chemist, No. 6 oar (left, rear); Charles Lund, doctor, stroke; Louis Curtis, banker, No. 7; Henry Meyer, lawyer, No. 3; James Talcott, banker, No. 2; Harry Middendorf, banker, No. 4; Leverett Saltonstall, U.S. Senator, bow and captain; John Middendorf, banker, No. 5; Henry Kreger, lawyer, coxswain; and the team manager Robert Cobb.
May 31, 1959
Champagne like that served at a Thames River dock 45 years earlier sparks ragging in the boathouse locker room after reunion spin.
News vendor's placard from England recounting the ancient Harvard triumph sets mood as oarsmen relax with reminiscences.