Boating through history toward… breakfast!

By John Owen | Jan 22, 2014

I spent formative years in Great Falls, Montana. So if somebody mentioned "The Boys in the Boat," I might have guessed they were talking about Lewis and Clark.

Different boys.  Different boat.

Yet when I was employed in the sports department of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer many years later, I had to admit that during my employment in three smaller newspapers, I had covered most of the major athletic events with the exception of boat racing.

Defying logic, I was almost immediately dispatched to the unlimited hydroplane pits and followed in the roostertails of sputtering, snarling creations with names like Slo-mo and Hawaii Kai.

As a break from the mechanical mayhem, sports editor Royal Brougham sent me to the other end of Lake Washington to learn about crew racing.  I froze my nether regions in a cruise across the lake with legendary coach Al Ulbrickson.

Two hours later I had reached a conclusion about the sport.  Not only was it a chilly experience, but it was also B-O-R-I-N-G.

Can I suggest a contrary conclusion?  All these years later I want to assure one and all that the recently published book, "The Boys in the Boat," is anything but boring. It is informative, involving and tremendously exciting.

Recently, almost everybody in Seattle has been involved in Seahawk hysteria.  "The Boys in the Boat" takes us back to an era when the Husky marching band and 1,000 boosters gathered at King Street Station to send the UW crews off to the Intercollegiate Rowing Regatta.

It was an era when a train full of rowing fans and a packed ferryboat followed the progress of the Husky and Cal crews for their dual meets on Lake Washington.

Fifty radio stations across the land carried the live broadcast of the Poughkeepsie Regatta in New York and Brougham was the on-the-scene radio reporter.

Brougham also followed the UW crew to Berlin when it represented the U.S. in the 1936 Olympics.  Adolph Hitler, Herman Goering and Heinrich Himmler occupied seats of honor at the eight-oared rowing finals when the German and Italian crews were given the most favorable lanes on a storm-tossed rowing course.  And when the Huskies had to recruit their stroke oarsman from sickbay for this most memorable event in the history of Husky sports.

It was the epic story of Brougham's career, but it never appeared the next morning in the Post-Intelligencer, due to a labor strike at the Seattle  newspaper plant.

Long-time Edmonds resident Bob Ernst is now director of rowing at the UW.  He is the only crew coach in history to lead both a men's and women's crew to national championships.

Daniel James Brown, author of "The Boys in the Boat," has a rural home in the Seattle area where he tends dogs, cats, chickens and honeybees.  For somebody in his location, I'd recommend a breakfast consisting of biscuits, honey and a:

Six-Egg Omelet


Six eggs

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt


1 can cheese soup

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350.

Separate the egg yolks and whites.

Beat the yolks and mix with the water, cornstarch, salt and a grinding of pepper.

Beat the egg whites until stiff then mix in the yolks.

Grease two single-layer cake pans.  Pour half the egg mixture in each one.  Shove both tins into the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the soup with the milk and mustard.

Flip one oven omelet out of the pan and onto a warm plate.  Spread some cheese sauce on it, then top with the other omelet.  Cut into wedges then serve, pouring the remainder of the cheese sauce over the top.

This should supply enough energy to propel an author out to the back yard, to chase a bear away from the beehives.


Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.