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The Nearby Pied-à-Terre

July 28, 2013 Leave a comment
Sant Ambroeus, West Village

Sant Ambroeus, West Village

One consequence of my bad blogging month (or will it turn out to be a longer stretch of bad blogging?) is that I didn’t get around to commenting three weeks ago on the astonishing NYT article about the discovery by upper east siders of lower Manhattan real estate. What’s astonishing is that we’re not talking about people moving from the upper east side to lower Manhattan. We’re talking about people buying second (or third or fourth or whatever) homes there. Yes, a coop just four or five miles away from their principal residence.

There are so many rich quotes. Let’s start with this one, which opens the article:

Many uptown adherents now [embrace] downtown neighborhoods that would once have been considered unthinkable.

“Downtown is livelier — we feel as though we have been in Milan for the weekend,” said Brooke Garber Neidich, a chairwoman of the Whitney Museum, a founder and chairwoman of the Child Mind Institute and a trustee of Lincoln Center Theater.

Ms. Neidich, who owns the Chicago-based jeweler Sidney Garber, has spent much of her married life living on exclusive East End Avenue. But a few years ago, she stunned her well-heeled friends by buying a pied-à-terre on West 12th Street in the Village. “When we come home at 10:30 in the evening,” she said, “we can sit outside at Sant Ambroeus and the streets are crowded and it’s not even a Saturday.”

It’s perhaps worth noting that one doesn’t need to go down to the Village to eat at Sant Ambroeus. A Sant Ambroeus sibling is conveniently located in the heart of the upper east side, on Madison between 77th and 78th. I’ve written about it several times, most recently here.

Some have gone beyond the pied-à-terre stage and made the move.

“I think there is a big romance about living downtown,” [developer] Mr. Senbahar said. “It is much more diverse, it isn’t all fund managers, but artists, literary people, then some Wall Street sprinkled in.” For those fortunate 1-percenters, “you can live in a building downtown now that has Upper East Side amenities, and still put on your flats, walk into small shops and live that easygoing lifestyle.”

Linda Lambert agrees. “You can go out to dinner and you don’t have to be dressed,” she said; “you don’t have to wear jewelry.” Ms. Lambert lives with her husband … in a loft on Laight Street in TriBeCa. The couple had lived in a town house on 82nd Street between Park and Madison Avenues for decades before moving into the loft …

For Suzanne Cochran and her husband, Robert, … it was a downtown soiree some years ago that persuaded them to buy a pied-à-terre in TriBeCa. “We were at a friend’s party,” Ms. Cochran recalled. “She is a very downtown girl, and it was all my favorite kind of people: artists — cool, hip people. And we were the only ones who lived on the Upper East Side.” At the time they were living on 84th Street and Park Avenue.

The couple … soon bought a 5,500-square-foot loft and began alternating on the weekends between the loft and their home on Long Island. Last year, they sold their uptown home to move downtown full time.

As the article draws to a close, we are warned that this all may pass.

But while it is fast becoming the latest fad for uptowners to dip a toe into downtown, the trend is still largely untested. “I am not sure that once they get down there, they are all going to love it,” Ms. Kleier said. “They may find themselves constantly going uptown to get their nails and hair done. It could be that the excitement wears off.”

I’m glad the NYT is on this.

Now a small confession. Here in Seattle, I’ve imagined life with a downtown pied-à-terre. Not that I seriously think we have need of a place to stay after the symphony, rather than making the four-mile drive home, though the parking space that would come with our condo sure would be handy.

The point is, when I get to thinking what would happen if Jessica were to vacate her Belltown condo just blocks from the symphony and art museum and surrounded by many fine restaurants, that’s when I imagine life with our very own pied-à-terre. Until last month, those imaginings would end the moment I remembered our dear sweet Emma, who wouldn’t enjoy spending the night without us. Now that she’s gone, why adopt a new cat when we can have a condo?

Am I right?

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Categories: Life

Cashing In

July 28, 2013 Leave a comment

coinstar

I haven’t carried coins in years. If I get change while I’m out, I just drop it on the kitchen counter. And it’s a rare day that I get change anyway, since it’s rare that I spend cash for anything.

Years ago, Gail got an array of containers in which to put our coins. One was reserved for quarters from the State Quarters series that began in 1999, with Gail determined to collect them all. Another took all other non-penny change. And a big cookie tin took the pennies, or whatever else I threw in out of inattention.

If you let enough years go by, you’re talking real money, money that’s doing us no good. Once, probably twenty years ago, Gail rolled some coins and brought them to the bank, a painful chore. But now there’s Coinstar, the maker of machines that let you pour all your coins in and get money back.

When Coinstar’s machines first showed up in local supermarkets, I was suspicious. At the time, I believe, you got 93 cents back on the dollar. Why pay a 7% fee? The answer, of course, was that 93 cents is better than 0 cents, and 0 cents is effectively what we had as long as we let the coins sit in the house. Four years ago, Gail convinced me that the system had changed and you could now get full value back, at least if you poured in the coins and chose to get a credit with one of a long list of companies. We went to a nearby QFC and poured away. All those quarters Gail didn’t need for her state collection went in, and a lot more, $278 worth, which we then converted into a gift certificate at Amazon.

It took another four years to return, which we did two weeks ago. Our kitchen remodel forced our hands, with coin containers arrayed around the living room for weeks. I believe we had more coins this time, but not as much value, due to the predominance of pennies.

Thanks to Coinstar, we have a complete accounting. Here are the numbers:

Pennies 2072
Nickels 133
Dimes 224
Quarters 292

Value: $122.77

Not that big a haul this time. But real money nonetheless, money I applied immediately to discount the price of the camera I had on order from Amazon since early June.

And no wonder carrying all those coins in from the car, a good 150 yards away, was getting to my wrists. Let’s see. A penny weighs 2.5 grams. (Mint webpage on coin specs here.) A couple thousand of those: 5000 grams. 5000 grams: just over 11 pounds.

Well, that doesn’t sound so much, does it? The whole load couldn’t have been more than 20 pounds. But that tin was flexing and wobbling.

No matter. The coins are out of the house. My new camera is in the house. And the US Mint has 2721 coins back in circulation. Good deal for everyone.

Categories: Money

The Washington Thing

July 28, 2013 Leave a comment

There’s a big cover story on Caroline Kennedy today in the weekly fluff section of the Sunday NYT, with flattering accompanying photo. When I awoke yesterday morning, it was featured online and I couldn’t resist reading it. Not that I’m a big Kennedy family fan, or a fan of the proliferation of family dynasties in American politics—I’ll sit out the Chelsea Clinton-Jenna Bush 2032 presidential race, thanks—but for anyone around back in the day, it’s difficult to resist reading about Caroline.

Which makes the closing of the article that much more distasteful, as theater and film great Mike Nichols gives us a lesson in “the Washington thing.”

Mr. Nichols described going over to Ms. Kennedy’s apartment last November to watch the election returns come in. “I walked in, and she said, ‘Oh, go find Rupert, he’s in the library. It’s quiet in there.’ ”

She was referring, of course, to Rupert Murdoch, head of the News Corporation.

“It’s the Washington thing: who you work for, what your beliefs are entirely beside the point,” he said of Ms. Kennedy’s attitude. “Everybody is with everybody.”

And that’s part of what he thinks will serve Mrs. Kennedy well in her position in Japan, where she would likely do everything from entertaining at the embassy to meeting with foreign dignitaries and politicians with a variety of ideological persuasions. “If anybody knows those rules,” Mr. Nichols said, “it’s her.”

Ah, yes, beliefs are entirely beside the point. No bad blood between the rich and famous. Fast friends all. Not that Caroline Kennedy hasn’t earned the right to be friends with whoever she pleases. But Rupert Murdoch? Geez.

Categories: Politics, Society

Dahlia

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

dahlia

I got a new camera two nights ago. It’s been a long wait. I first read about it in March 2011. It was great, but had some defects. And it’s expensive. So I waited. Two years later, this past March, in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Augusta and the Masters, I figured this might be the right time to buy it. No way was I going to lug my Nikon DSLR around, both because it’s heavy and because it has become unreliable. It has a habit of deciding that the memory card is unreadable. I reformat, get a few shots, then a renewed error message. The camera is nine years old. Clearly the time has come to replace it. With a new Nikon, I could use all my lenses. But still I wasn’t going to drag the new Nikon around the golf course. Time for that camera I had put off buying two years ago. And when I looked it up, I saw that the price had dropped $400. Plus, it was available. No two month wait.

Why such a price drop? The answer, of course, is that the updated version had just come out. No availability yet in the US, but I could order it and get on the waiting list–at the old price. The defects, of both hardware and software, had been fixed. It was perfect. Lightweight, fantastic fixed lens, takes incredible photos. But I couldn’t have it in time for our trip, so I put off ordering it.

Seven weeks ago, I finally did order it, and Tuesday it came. I couldn’t wait to get home. Yes, there was the huge backlog of blog posts to write, and Tuesday would be my first free evening for blogging in many days. But the camera won out.

Except, it had a crucial defect. One of its best features was supposed to be the dual optical/electronic viewfinder with the simple way to switch between the two. In retro style–retro style being one of the camera’s charms–the switch to the side of the lens that traditionally would be the timer was the toggle between the two viewfinder modes. But as often as I switched it, I couldn’t get out of electronic mode. Boy was I disappointed.

First thing yesterday morning, I called Fuji’s help desk to see what my options were. Send it to them for repair under warranty, paying shipping no less, or see if Amazon would want it back, which presumably would have led to another 1-2 month wait for a replacement. Disheartening. The guy asked if I had tried something, which of course I had–I’m no idiot–but to humor him, I tried again. And suddenly the switch worked! I’m still wary. Will it keep working? I don’t know. But it works for now.

All I need is some time to try out the camera’s many features, time that will take me away from Ron’s View, time I took earlier this evening. You can see one result above. More to come.

Categories: Photography

Still Down

July 25, 2013 Leave a comment

skagitbridge

[Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times]

A week ago, in my post Down But Not Out, I offered some of the reasons for my worst month of blogging (by far) in the almost five years of Ron’s View. I then intended to provide one more post, but it didn’t happen.

And then we had a weekend typical of why blogging has been on hold most of the month. Friday we packed up and headed north to Oak Harbor, on Whidbey Island. Gail had a sharp deadline for being there, in time for the rehearsal of a wedding she would be performing the next day. This meant we dare not risk taking the ferry over to Clinton on the south side of the island. Instead we drove north on I-5, the dullest stretch of road imaginable (though it did mean that we got to cross the newly opened bridge over the Skagit River in Mt. Vernon, the one that collapsed two months ago), then west to Fidalgo Island, over to the magnificent Deception Pass Bridge that connects Fidalgo to Whidbey on Whidbey’s north end, and down to Oak Harbor (home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island). Just over 90 miles to Oak Harbor’s Candlewood Suites.

A short break, and then on to the wedding rehearsal and post-rehearsal dinner. No blogging that night. I admit, Saturday morning was free, but hey, that meant I could watch as dramatic a stage of the Tour de France as I can remember, the final day in the Alps, culminating in the climb up Annecy Semnoz. And after that, round three of the Open golf championship in Muirfield. It ended just in time for us to get to the wedding.

Wedding, reception, and south the length of the island to the ferry. Saturday late afternoon. No chance, I imagined, that there would be ferry traffic. Boy was I ever wrong. An hour and a half wait, which we got to share with what must have been a dozen vans filled with cyclists who had just competed in Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage. I hadn’t heard of Ragnar before. I know about it now. Click the link and find out for yourself.

ragnar

Long though the wait was, the ride across the sound to Mukilteo was beautiful, with mountain and water views and perfect weather. We were home by 7:00. A night of blogging! No, I just wasn’t up to it. And Sunday morning, well, we had to watch the final round of the Open. Phil! The subject of another post. And the final stage of the Tour. Paris at night! The first nighttime finish, celebrating 100 Tours, and magnificent it was.

No sooner had the Tour ended than we hit the road again, 45 miles south to Orting for wedding number two of the weekend. One of Gail’s cousins lives in Orting, and we’d been down to her house, but not the extra 2 miles to the center of town, and the two hundred yards more that brings you to the south end, with as magnificent a view of Mt. Rainier, looming less than 30 miles away, as I’ve ever had. When we arrived at 2:15, there was still some marine air around and all you could see was the bottom 2/3 or so, with the huge base. Two hours later, in utterly clear skies, the mountain rose in its full majesty, so much more dramatic than up here in Seattle.

Sunday evening is peak blogging time for me, but not this past Sunday. We were home around 8:00, with no energy. And no time Monday to make up for it, because Monday I attended the annual basketball game and barbecue of the summer program I run. Tuesday was new camera night (subject of another post), last night the weekly pizza dinner with my summer program. I tell you, this month just isn’t meant for blogging. Which is too bad, because I have no shortage of topics. Sorry.

Categories: Life, Travel

Down But Not Out

July 18, 2013 Leave a comment
Chris Froome and Richie Porte finishing in Alpe d'Huez

Chris Froome and Richie Porte finishing in Alpe d’Huez

[Bryn Lennon/Getty Images]

Ron’s View seems to have vanished. Sorry about that. In the four years and ten months of its existence, there’s never been a month of such limited activity like this. Where have I been?

Right here. Doing what I always do in July. Getting up early every morning for the last twenty days to watch live coverage of the Tour de France. Sitting outside in the evenings enjoying our beautiful Pacific Northwest evenings.

But a few other duties seem to be getting in the way. For instance:

1. If I haven’t blogged much all week, I usually do some catching up on Sunday evenings. Not the last few weeks. Three Sundays ago, I spent the late afternoon and evening on campus hosting the opening of a summer program I run. Last Sunday we were at a friend’s 60th birthday party. This weekend won’t be much better, with a wedding rehearsal and dinner tomorrow, a wedding Saturday, and still another wedding Sunday.

2. I began the month by assuming new job duties, duties that are keeping me busy all those hours between the end of the day’s Tour de France coverage and the beginning of my evenings outside. In past summers, I might get some blog posts written outside using my laptop, but now I sit outside catching up on all the days news and other people’s blogs.

3. And then there’s our remodel. What are we in now? Month four? Plans to review, products to look at, emails to write, contractor and subs and architect to talk to.

4. I already mentioned the Tour, but perhaps I haven’t been sufficiently clear about how much mental space it occupies. If I had had more success writing posts this month, they would all have been about the Tour. And you don’t need my daily reports. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re better off heading to the Guardian’s sports pages and turning to William Fotheringham’s daily piece. Or follow him on Twitter, as I’m doing.

Oh, and that crucial first week of the month, when Ron’s View went quiet, there wasn’t just the Tour to watch. There was Wimbledon. I mean really, what is one supposed to do on a day like Saturday, July 8, when Chris Froome is tearing up Ax 3 Domaines in the Pyrenees to grab the yellow jersey while Marion Bartoli is winning the women’s championship at Wimbledon? Is there a better week in sports?

As it turns out, the answer is yes. This week. Just today the Tour featured a historic double climb of Alpe d’Huez and the men’s golf Open Championship began at Muirfield, just outside Edinburgh. It’s impossible to watch both simultaneously. Cycling won. I couldn’t take my eyes off the race for 2 1/2 hours, at the end of which I had no interest in watching golf. What a day!

What happened? William Fotheringham explains, though no short article can do the day justice. Ever since we rented a car in Grenoble in 2009 in order to drive up Alpe d’Huez ourselves, when the Tour returns there, I have an added sense of familiarity on seeing the sites.

Meanwhile, the blog isn’t the only victim of the shift in my attention to other matters. My book reading has gone to hell as well. It’s almost a month since I wrote about The Blackhouse, the first book in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy. I wrote at the time that its “portraits of island life are marvelously rendered gems, lifting the book well above whatever expectations one may have of crime novels.” A few days later, I anticipated writing a second post about how the book had stopped being a crime novel at all. The precipitating crime had faded into the background as we focused with steadily increasing intensity on Fin’s past on the Isle of Lewis before moving away to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Increasing intensity indeed. So much that I had to take a breather, and once I did, I stopped reading the book altogether. Just as with Ron’s View, I return home each day feeling pressure to get back into the book, The more pressure I feel, the more stubbornly I resist. Hence, no new posts and no progress in the book, which I’m beginning to resent, since it’s keeping me from moving on to all the other books I hoped to read this summer.

At least I’m doing my job. And at least the remodel is progressing. And at least the Tour continues, though I suspect it might do so even without my daily devotion.

Maybe I’ll yet produce a post on life without Google Reader. (Another change in my life this month.) The posts I had in mind on the Supreme Court’s closing decisions last month are probably a lost cause.

What else? I was halfway through a second post on the book I first wrote about in early June, Lucas Mann’s Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere. Just as The Blackhouse isn’t about crime, this isn’t about baseball. I was going to say a few words about its depiction of the decline of an economic way of life in Iowa, and its reflections on fandom. This in turn was to lead to a post on the pain of fandom, as most recently experienced in Phil Mickelson’s crushing loss at the US Open and Mark Cavendish’s surprising failures at the Tour. But then Phil went and won the Scottish Open and Mark picked up another stage win the day after a shocking loss at the line.

Several other items have piled up in addition to these. But other duties call. I don’t know when I’ll write all the missing posts. I hope I do.

Categories: Life

Harry Parker

July 4, 2013 Leave a comment

harryparker

[Harvard]

Rowing great Harry Parker died nine days ago at the age of 77. Not knowing he had been ill, I was stunned to learn the news (via a tweet by WSJ sportswriter Jason Gay that night linking to Harvard’s news release), all the more since Harry always seemed ageless.

Like so many others, I view him as a major influence on my life, although I’ve had no contact with him for decades. As it happens, this week marks forty years since I accompanied him to the famed Henley regatta, where a Harvard crew won the Ladies’ Challenge Plate. That brought to an end my days as a member of Harvard crew.

Some facts, from the Harvard release:

Parker began his storied coaching career in 1960 as Harvard’s freshman coach. After the sudden death of head coach Harvey Love, Parker was promoted to the role which he would go on to hold for 51 seasons. Parker’s efforts also reached outside the Harvard rowing community, as evidenced by the 2008 dedication of Community Rowing, Inc.’s new boathouse in his honor.

During Parker’s tenure, Harvard crews enjoyed spectacular success at the Henley Royal Regatta in England. It began with the 1973 JV win of the Ladies’ Plate followed by the 1985 varsity win of the Grand Challenge Cup, its fifth and most recent title in Henley’s most prestigious race. Harvard went on to six more varsity victories in the Ladies’ Plate. The victory in 2012, beating Leander by one foot, was one of the most thrilling victories of his career as the crew overcame a three-seat deficit over the final 50 meters. Harvard also won three times in the Britannia and Prince Albert fours events. The Crimson owns three course records at Henley, more than any other university.

The Crimson also won the 1965 Lucerne International Regatta, took second at the 1967 world championships, captured the 1967 Pan American Games and claimed the 1968 U.S. Olympic trials before taking sixth in the Games at Mexico City. Additionally, a total of 52 Parker-coached Harvard oarsmen have rowed at the Olympic Games over the past six decades.

From 1964 in Tokyo until 1984 in Los Angeles, Parker regularly coached U.S. Olympic crews, leading both men’s and women’s entries to strong finishes in the eights and handling the sculling at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. He coached the 1972 Olympic men’s eight, which featured five Harvard oarsmen, to a silver medal and led the first U.S. women’s national team to compete in the world championships, earning a bronze in 1975. Parker later coached the U.S. women’s eight to a bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal.

In 1980, Parker coached the U.S. men’s Olympic eight, which ranked second in the world prior to the boycott of the Moscow Olympics. In 1985, he coached single sculler Andy Sudduth ’83-85 to an astonishing performance in the World Rowing Championships, during which Sudduth finished second and defeated four-time world champion Peter Michael Kolbe of Germany.

Parker began rowing as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was part of victorious crews in 1955 at Sprints and the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley. After graduating, he took up single sculling and won the gold medal at the 1959 Pan American Games. He then placed fifth in the single at the 1960 Olympics.

The most prestigious event in rowing is the Olympic eights competition. For much of the twentieth century, the US entry was our best collegiate crew, and it would win the gold medal. (There’s a current bestselling book, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown, about the University of Washington crew that won the eights that year.) But in 1960 a German crew won, suggesting that the rest of the world had caught up and we couldn’t continue to win with college kids. In 1964, we reclaimed the gold with a crew of older rowers from Philadelphia’s Vesper Boat Club. Harry’s 1968 Harvard crew was the last college crew to represent the US. They won the Olympic trials, went to Mexico City, qualified for the final, came down with intestinal illnesses, and finished sixth.

The time had come to send not our best crew among competing boats but our best oarsmen. Harry was picked to run the 1972 Olympic team alluded to in the quote above. He established the model, setting up a camp, inviting the top oarsmen in the country, and selecting the eight best for the Olympic boat. At its heart was two pairs of brothers who had been the heart of Harvard’s best crews in the preceding years. The boat won the silver medal, behind New Zealand.

It’s during this period that I showed up, going out for the freshman crew in the fall of 1969. My father had rowed at Penn, like Harry some years later, and I loved the sport, but I wasn’t very good. Sophomore year, by happenstance, I returned to the boathouse as a manager. Junior year I became what Harvard called the “varsity manager”, the #2 staff member, assisting the “undergraduate manager” in arranging trips and attending to other needs. Senior year, I was the undergraduate manager. In that role, I spent countless hours around Harry.

Harry coached until the end. Just a month ago, his crew finished second to Washington in the IRA Regatta, the unofficial national championship, and beat Yale a week later in the Harvard-Yale Regatta, the oldest intercollegiate event among all sports.

The Harvard-Yale race is distinctive because it continues to be rowed at its traditional distance of 4 miles, on the Thames River in New London, Connecticut. The standard distance for international and intercollegiate rowing now is 2000 meters, or about a mile and a quarter. The switch from this to 4 miles is challenging. To prepare, the Harvard and Yale crews built separate camps decades ago on the Thames upstream of New London, each complete with boathouse, primitive housing, a cafeteria, and a small house for the coach. It falls to the undergraduate manager to run the camp, which I did for two weeks in 1973.

In those days, Harvard and Yale never competed in the IRA, because it conflicted with their race. I don’t know the arrangements now, but I’m guessing they have shortened the time they spend at the camps. Indeed, in 1974, the year after I graduated, Yale moved its own graduation date up and decided not to compete with Harvard, since doing so on the usual date would have forced the oarsmen to stick around for weeks. (Harvard went instead to Madison to race Wisconsin and on to Seattle to race Washington, a rare dual race of crews representing two historic rowing traditions.)

The two weeks at Red Top—the Harvard camp—were an intense time. We would head down right after final exams. Or maybe it was even before finals ended, with finals proctored at the camp as needed. The race would be on a Saturday, with graduation on Thursday two days before. One consequence is that graduating seniors didn’t attend graduation. Not in Cambridge, that is. Instead, Harry would run an unofficial graduation ceremony after dinner on graduation day. The undergraduate manager would drive up to Cambridge in the morning to pick up the diplomas.

That’s me. And that’s what I did. Instead of attending morning graduation in Harvard Yard, I arrived at the boathouse to pick up some supplies, headed to the registrar’s office to pick up the diplomas, was told that they couldn’t release one diploma because one of the senior co-captains owed some funds, then dashed over to Mather House, my residential house, for the post-graduation lunch and house ceremony. My parents had flown up for that, so I got to spend a little time with them, then headed over to Quincy House to say goodbye to a good friend, and back to the registrar’s office to sort out the diploma problem. A well-timed emergency phone call to Red Top, the writing of a personal check to cover the balance, diploma in hand, I drove back to Red Top.

I missed a lot that day. But I had the honor of receiving my diploma from Harry, who spoke a few words about each of the graduating seniors. I had no doubt I was in the right place.

The NYT obituary gets close to capturing Harry’s mysterious essence and why receiving my diploma from him was an honor.

Beyond the innovations in equipment and training, Parker was known as a personality. Like Rockne and Wooden, he became legendary in his sport and something of a cult figure on campus. A taciturn but highly competitive figure, he imbued in his athletes a sense of purpose and dedication that helped his crews cohere and endure both the anticipated and experienced agony at the finish of a close race. And his influence was lasting, some of his former rowers say.

“The standards Harry set were there long after you stopped rowing,” said Kip McDaniel, a financial writer who rowed varsity crew for Harvard from 2002 to 2004. “Before a race, you knew the pain was unavoidable. But one of Harry’s great gifts was for creating crews. They were communities where there was simply no doubt that everyone was going to live up to Harry’s expectations, and as a result you were probably going to win the race.”

As news of Parker’s death spread, similar sentiments were expressed by others from previous generations.

“Working with him, you saw that as you applied yourself, you could apply yourself a bit more,” said Dr. Paul G. Ramsey, who rowed for Harvard from 1967 to 1971. Now chief executive of UW Medicine, which operates hospitals and clinics in Washington State, and dean of the University of Washington medical school, Dr. Ramsey added, “He was the best teacher I ever had.”

Rockne and Wooden! That’s rarefied company. I overlapped with Paul Ramsey. Years later, i would find myself at the same university, and even joined him as a dean for a while. Small world and all that.

One of my favorite memories, from that 1973 stay at Red Top, was of an afternoon when everyone else was napping following morning practice and lunch, before the afternoon practice. It was hot and humid, a good time to be asleep. But I was up, as was Harry, so we started up a croquet game, soon to be joined by our varsity boat’s stroke, Al Shealy (later to stroke the 1975 world champion crew and 1976 Olympic silver medal crew). Harry was competitive as always. The focus was on winning, not chit chat.

A few weeks later, we were in Nottingham for a new international regatta, which we were using as a tuneup for the Henley regatta. Harry and I took an after-dinner walk, with a low sun shining in our eyes as we crossed the River Trent. A beautiful evening. And the first time that he asked what it was I planned to do now that I had graduated, despite all the time we spent together. It was all about crew. Nothing personal. But that made sense. We had work to do, races to win. That was the focus.

Another memory: the weekend in Annapolis that May for the Adams Cup, the annual race between Harvard, Penn, and Navy. Winds were expected, the races should have been moved up, but the admiral wanted to come out and watch, and the starting times went unchanged. That was the story anyway. The winds picked up after the freshmen rowed, the remaining races were postponed to the next day, and suddenly I had to re-book 50 people for either a later plane that day or a plane the next day, plus figure out how to feed them Saturday lunch and dinner and make meal arrangements for Sunday.

Won, the JV coxswain had been unable to make the trip because of a Saturday exam. In the pre-cell-phone era, I somehow got word to him while he was seated in a theater Saturday to get on an airplane to Baltimore. My varsity manager Bill and I dropped off the freshman crew, then awaited the incoming plane to see if Won made it. He did. Sunday morning his boat awoke to the surprise that he was there to race with them. That was fun.

When we got back to Logan Sunday evening, while Bill and I were handing everyone cash as they came off the plane so they could take the subway back to Cambridge (in lieu of the rented bus we had set up for Saturday), Harry walked up to us and said words I thought I would never forget. Alas, I have now, but I was sure then that they were the highest praise I would ever receive from anyone, given that until then I had never heard words of praise from him at all.

The next winter, Harry decided everyone on the crew should take up cross country skiing as cross training for rowing. I was in graduate school at that point, but still had some friends on the crew, especially Won and Bill. Prompted by Won, I went out to the suburbs with him to Harry’s house so we could go skiing with Harry at an adjacent golf course. A couple of days later, I went to Eastern Mountain Sports in Boston with Won to buy new skis, practicing around the boathouse and the athletic fields the next day. With that as my total experience on skis, I joined a caravan of crew members the next weekend to drive up to Vermont and compete in a Washington’s Birthday weekend race. That’s a story in its own right, and this isn’t the place. Suffice to say that my accomplishments were sufficiently notable that I led the NYT coverage of the race the day after.

I realize that none of what I’ve written conveys Harry’s essence. Sorry. I don’t know how. He was unique. When my parents came up to Red Top two days after flying to Boston for my abbreviated appearance at graduation, I was thrilled that I could introduce them to Harry, before abandoning them one more time to jump in the launch with Harry so that we could head downstream to the start of the four-mile race and follow the two boats up to the finish. It’s hard to believe now how much crew dominated my undergraduate years, but it did. Which means, inasmuch as Harry was the center of Harvard crew, he dominated my life. In some sense anyway. Which is why his death comes as such a shock.

Categories: Life, Obituary, Sports