The Oakland Women's Rowing Club has a little joke that goes like this: "Some ladies bend over their knitting; we bend over our oars." And, as may be seen above, that's exactly what the ladies of the OWRC do every Wednesday—after first saluting the flag and singing God Bless America on the shore of Oakland's Lake Merritt.
The ladies row cumbersome whale-boats, quite an accomplishment considering their average age is 58, with one member "right around 80." The club itself is 40 years old. "We proceed two miles at a leisurely pace," says President Ida Holmes, "and we stop occasionally and salute each other by crossing oars. We gab about missing members and what's for lunch. We spend the afternoon playing whist."
The club is fiercely competitive—or would like to be. "Only we can't find any competition," says Mrs. Holmes. "Maybe in New York some ladies would like to race us up the Hudson. Maybe in New Orleans some ladies would like to race us up the Mississippi. All our members are lovely people. We'd go almost anywhere for a good race."
Once on a routine outing on Lake Merritt the ladies did find themselves in a race—a race against fate. Fortunately they reached a capsized boat in time to save the life of a hapless young man who could not swim. He was a sailor in the U.S. Navy.