Reader’s Question: The Five ‘W’s and One ‘H’

7 October 2020

By Göran R Buckhorn

Henry Law, of Manchester, England, sent a question to HTBS about an old photograph. Law is a member of a group on FaceBook called the Masters Rowing International. One of the group’s American members was wondering about the photo on top, which the members have been discussing on Facebook, when and where could this picture have been taken? Who is in the photograph, etc.?

Now Henry Law is turning to HTBS and its readers. Does anyone have any clue of the five ‘w’s + one ‘h’ (who, when, where, why, what, how)?

Please leave your answers/comments below.

Thank you!


  1. Stab in the dark: San Diego Rowing Club. When I sculled with that club as a college student in the late 1980s I remember seeing photos around the boathouse that looked similar, with women and coed crews in shells like the one pictured. I guess the bright lighting also reminds me of Southern California. The clothing seems like 1920s or 1930s era. Again, just conjecture. Good luck. And please share any solid findings.

  2. I have followed up on Raoul’s suggestion and passed the question on to a friend at SDRC.
    HE replied,that SDRC was all male until 1990, (Wouldn’t young Raoul have notice that in the eighties? 😉
    But he may be right with Southern California. My firend passed the question on to ZLAC, a women’s rowing club in SD since 1872 and still exclusiively all female. His contact could not help directly, but mentioned the club’s providing the young women for the 1934 film “Eight Girls in a Boat”.
    Greg Denieffe’s “Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady”.

    Maybe someone would like to peruse the faces in Greg’s article and see if óne or more of them is that of a girl in the photo. The film is also on yotube. Good luck, happy hunting.

  3. Even though SDRC was male-only for years, there may be have limited-time, special opportunities for women to get out in shells. I wondered about the photo possibly being a ZLAC crew, too, but because there are men and a dock in the photo, I figured is wasn’t ZLAC; I believe ZLAC always launched from the sandy beach of Mission Bay rather than a dock, and probably capably on their own without men lending a hand. It did occur to me the photo could have been from a ZLAC v limited-time SDRC women’s crew show-down on San Diego Bay. I believe SDRC for some years was located on San Diego Bay before relocating to Mission Bay. Some sporting events, such as the Dipsea Race in Marin County (California), were men-only events for many years but women sometimes ‘competed’ informally in counterpart events such as the “Women’s Dipsea Hike” that followed the same route as the official male-only Race. Probably other sports had similar workarounds so that women could participate in something that some at the time might have insensitively referred to as ‘separate but equal,’ a representation that would not stand today. Thanks for the tip on the 1934 film; I look forward to seeing that sometime. Take care. –Raoul

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