Ben Spock On 1924 Olympic Eight: Part 4 – In France

Here follows part 4 in the story about the letter by Ben Spock, seven-seat in Yale’s eight, which took a gold medal at the Olympic rowing regatta in Paris. The letter recipient was Richard Rusty‘ Wailes, the seven-seat man in Yale’s Olympic eight of 1956. The bold text parts are Spock’s text, while the italicized text parts are my comments.

10. Living in France – On arrival in France the Olympic village in which the Americans were housed was filled and there was no room for us. The only place we could get in were some huts right near the track and field stadium where we were with the extras of the various teams who had come in late. They were miserable quarters. Our nearest and dearest neighbors were Esthonian weight lifters. The beds were uncomfortable and the mosquitoes terrific. The representative of the Yale Rowing Committee, however, was very nearly murdered in trying to make us feel better by referring to the noise of the taxi horns outside his accommodations at the Ritz Hotel. The boat landed on June 28th and we were in these quarters for four nights. We then moved to some quarters in the suburb of Paris where we were superbly housed and fed and where we went by motorbus to the boathouse where our shells were kept and two workouts a day except on Sundays.

11. Rowing in France – Our shells were late in getting to Paris and our first turnout in our own craft was on the 30th. A Yale graduate in Paris (first owner of Handsome Dan [probably the Englishman Andrew Graves] ) had actually bought a coaching launch. It was a good deal like a cabin cruiser and could not keep up to a crew rowing at about 20. Leader’s frustration at this was beautiful to behold. They then acquired a “glisseur” which was a little flat scow with seats across for six people and driven by an aircraft propeller about five feet in the air with a radial engine and no muffler. It made an ungodly noise but went plenty fast enough. The coach couldn’t hear what we said even had he wanted to. Of course, it had no reverse and no way of slowing down except by stopping the motor.

Our substitute four rowed in a borrowed shell and I think might well have won their event in the Olympics had they been permitted to compete. The only time there was any question of substitution was the first day on the boat going abroad when one of the regular crew had some food poisoning.

See also:
“Ben Spock On 1924 Olympic Eight: Part 1 – Prelude”
“Ben Spock On 1924 Olympic Eight: Part 2 – Comparisons”
“Ben Spock On 1924 Olympic Eight: Part 3 – The Trials”

Spock’s letter is posted on HTBS with the permission of the NRF, which is the owner of the letter! Ben Spock’s letter, Part 5, will continue tomorrow.

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