"A Believers' View"

“A Believers’ View”

Gregory V. Boulware, Author of “FAIRMOUNT”

Suddenly, out of nowhere it lunged and snapped its jaws…another man was gone!

”I put the scope on him. I wanted to hit him in the chest, but all I could see was nothing but head!

The team continued following the creek upstream until they came to a small island ringed with thick brush in the middle of the Schuylkill River. Some end-of-season berries clung to the surrounding brush. In the middle of the island was a spruce tree larger than what Glenn or Genailia could fit their arms around. At the base of the tree were signs that something had tried to dig a hole…a large hole.

”We were sitting there concentrating when, a few seconds later, he pops up right in front of us, about 10 yards away and he was coming toward us,” A tracker said. ”I don’t know if the wind was in our favor or what. We were dressed in camouflage. It might not have seen us.”

One of the largest and most popular rowing regattas:
Is the Henley Royal Regatta held on the River Thames, England? One of the largest and oldest yachting regattas in the world is Cowes Week, which is held annually by the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England, and usually attracts over 900 sailboats. Cowes Week is predated by the Cumberland Cup (1775), Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta (1822) and Port of Plymouth Regatta (1823). North America’s oldest regatta is the Royal St. John’s Regatta held on Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s, Newfoundland every year since 1826.

The regatta has been held annually on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since 1953. The Dad Vail Regatta is the largest regular intercollegiate rowing event in the United States, drawing over a hundred colleges and universities from North America. It was renamed the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta in 2010 for new sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management, a Scottish investment firm whose U.S. operations are headquartered in Center City Philadelphia.

Although regattas are typically amateur competitions, they are usually formally structured events, with comprehensive rules describing the schedule and procedures of the event. Regattas may be organized as championships for a particular area or type of boat, but are often held just for the joy of competition, camaraderie, and general promotion of the sport.

The purposes of the Dad Vail Rowing Association are: “to perpetuate the ‘Dad’ Vail tradition, foster and encourage intercollegiate rowing among colleges new to the sport, and promote schedules for member schools.”

A regatta is a series of boat races. The term typically describes racing events of rowed or sailed water craft, although some powerboat race series are also called regattas. A regatta often includes social and promotional activities which surround the racing event, and except in the case of boat type (or “class”) championships, is usually named for the town or venue where the event takes place.

The April Spring brought about practices for the season’s upcoming round of the Regatta races, the river was swarming with sculls and other watercraft.

The police were called to a home on Ridge Avenue near 33rd and Dauphin Streets. The middle-aged woman complained that her mid-sized German Sheppard mix went missing.

“During our daily walk in the park, I usually let him run across the field. He’ll usually chase a squirrel of two, a rabbit, or he’ll check out what’s moving in the bushes. Then he’d turn and comeback with his tail wagging and a joyful looking pant. You know, like he’s having a real good time doing his thing. Well, this one time, I turned my head for a few moments while sitting on the bench. I may have nodded off for a couple of minutes, when I felt a lil’ chilly. I called for ‘Chauncey.’ I never had to do that before. He’d always be here waitin’ to go home. This time, he wasn’t. He didn’t answer my call. He was nowhere to be seen. I searched for him all around for nearly two hours. I went home and told my husband who called our two adult sons and a couple of their cousins to come help find ‘Chauncey.’ They didn’t find him.”

“Commissioner Talis, do you think the meeting was utilized for public safety or for personal gain?” Talis glared at the reporter who also attracted other reporters that were hanging about in the corridor. He thought carefully before answering, “I think the mayor knows what she is doing. However, I feel that it should have been handled a bit more privately – my concerns are public safety – public panic…especially with the upcoming walk-athons, regattas, and general park users. I’m afraid of public panic over this situation. Personal gain is not on my agenda…now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” The reporter fired back while pursuing the commissioner to the official user’s elevator, “what did you think about the professor’s presentation…what about the Black Kid?” The commissioner answered, “the presentation was informative…I could have gotten that stuff from the zoo people”…the elevator doors closed. The reporter, himself Black, wondered about today’s events as he double-checked his digital voice recorder. He also wondered, while walking down the stairwell of City Hall, how the family of Lindsey Irvin was dealing with the latest attack.

A heavy police presence saturated both sides of the Schuylkill River, from the East Falls Bridge to the Art Museum and Eakins Oval.

The choppers hovered over the grandstand bleachers. They are located just before the bend in the river, under the train trestle on East River Drive. People were walking, running, skating, and milling about. The area was closed off to vehicle traffic due to a championship regatta race and college alumni festival. The streets and sidewalks were filled with revelers. There were people in boats on the river as well. The swimming wasn’t condemned by the organizing committee but, it wasn’t frowned upon either. There was no issue of life guard protection because three quarters of the participants were registered and practicing life guards.

The helicopter use of heat sensitive tracking was virtually useless due to the thousands of heat source readings. The only difference it would probably make would be the difference in the size of the image. The pilots were subject to their standardized tracking and reconnaissance technology, sensors and binoculars.

Railway workers were busy carrying out their maintenance duties when one of them thought he saw something unusual. He thought he saw something on the island. His vantage point from the bridge allowed a direct and clear view of and beyond the Falls Bridge and in the opposite direction, beyond the Girard Avenue Bridge into the road’s bend at the club houses of Boat House Row and Lemon Hill Drive.

…Rapid fire from the front mounted Gatling-gun of ‘Eye-In-The-Sky One’ blazed away. The powerful sound of ‘ratta-tatta-tat,’ combined with the resounding ping and thud of target striking accuracy with an occasional cement strike, caused the beast to spin around into a defensive posture. The highly volatile slugs found their mark while only a couple or more missed the mark and drilled into the Earth.

Two or three festival attendees braved the danger of death and/or serious physical injury when they stepped forward. Two women and a man made an attempt to rescue the fallen ranger. The three brave souls grabbed the woman by both her arms and dragged her away from the killing zone. The officer didn’t know what was happening to her. Her delirious and maniacal screaming and tightly closed eyes prevented her from seeing all that had transpired. She truly believed that she was dead, but couldn’t believe that she was looking into the humanoid eyes of seraphim saviors. She thought she’d made it into Zion.

A reality check cleared her mind when she heard the thunderous roar of the beast.
Eye-In-The-Sky Two came into view above the East River Drive battle zone. The low hanging tree branches and power lines prevented the chopper from getting close and delivering a punch or two. People were still scattering about while many of the regatta attendees stopped and turned to look.

The second chopper swung around and hovered right next to the first. One of the pilots commented into the headset microphone, “What in the hell is keeping that thing alive? We hit that sucker with not less than six five inch shells from the frontal gat-guns! It’s still standing! How can that be? The shells from that machine gun could demolish a very large building, needless to say, cut a man in half. What’s keeping it alive? How’s it still standing? What’s keeping it alive?”

It’s based in Philly. Outside folks may not be aware of the inconvenience of out of town regatta’s. People have bitched and complained about the detours in and around Fairmount Park for years. Nothing’s been done to tame that behavior or pacify the North Philadelphia areas that are directly affected by the heavy traffic flow through the 33rd and Ridge Avenue corridors. The folks in neighboring Roxborough, Manayunk, Mount Airy, Chestnut Hill, and Germantown catch all kinds of hell gaining access to center city, the park, and beyond if they have to travel through the park or I-76. The question arose, what would happen if all that out of town festivities, traffic, and the surrounding people affected found themselves squeezed up in a cauldron of conflict and turmoil…came together in a time of crisis.

“The Fairmount Park Rapist became second fiddle to this latest horror in our city’s parkland…where no one is safe! No one is able to control, contain, or prevent the attacks of this killer that stalks the area…save one man who knows the inner workings of the mind of this murderer!”

“Anglers bitched and shook their fists as they rowed by, causing large ripples in the water where they dropped baited lines, anticipating the fish to bite. Joggers were sucking it up as well and breathing the fresh crisp air. The weekend mornings were usually busier than workouts during the week.
Children were out collecting leaves and exploring the parkland. Parents, coaches, and other responsible adults were busy directing the young ones in organized game playing and such. Three boys, about the age of twelve ran by the busy groups of chess players, hikers, picnickers, bird feeders, and newspaper readers. Saturday morning was one of the best mornings for exploring and cliff climbing in the Fairmounts.”

“Gregory Thomas, Eddie Wright, Jean McIntosh, and the brains of the gang, Linda Ann Weston were finally arrested. They were charged with kidnapping and related offenses. The charges stem from the discovery of four mentally disabled adults in a dirty, urine-reeking sub-basement dungeon inside a ‘Tacony’ apartment building. The elaborate but simple scheme was established to steal the social security checks from the victims. With this twist and the DPW bennies from her drugged out kids, she and her cohorts were making a killing – living like kings.”

“A reporter allegedly took evidence from the crime scene, said a newswire report. She acquired a defense attorney to represent her while Wilbur H. Settimyer, Philadelphia’s District Attorney, called for a Grand Jury Investigation into the incident. The mayor and Harold R. Nicklestein, City Controller, made reference to the case when the question was posed by one of the attending reporters. They professionally dodged the question like it was the plague. They frowned and smiled when necessary while only answering with “We’re looking into it as we speak!” The report also unearthed the possible linking of the dungeon queen to the death of a woman who resided in The Chester Gardens.
Weston’s son was an infant when his mom was arrested for imprisoning her sister’s boyfriend. She was reported to have locked him in a closet while starving him to death. The siblings were sent to live with a paternal grandmother. The young man stated an aunt abused him and his brothers, when they later went to live with her. The boy also said it was bad but worse when living with his mom.
“It was horrible – really horrible.” He fought back tears while pressing his fingers to his forehead and wiping his eyes.”

History of the Regatta:

The first race, before the formation of the Dad Vail Rowing Association, was held in 1934 with “Rusty” and the University of Pennsylvania as hosts. Marietta College, coached by Ellis MacDonald won the first leg on the new trophy by finishing second to a Penn sub-varsity boat, which was an added entry. Rutgers, coached by Ned Ten Eyck, was third and Manhattan College, coached by “Skippy” Walz was fourth.

The race in 1935 was at Marietta. With the addition of Rollins College and Wisconsin, the order at the finish of the race was: Rutgers, Penn, Marietta, Wisconsin, Manhattan, and Rollins. There was no race held in 1937. In both 1936 and 1938, only Rutgers and Manhattan competed on the Harlem. Rutgers won both times. In February 1939, a meeting was held and the Dad Vail Rowing Association was formed in order to help promote the race and encourage schools to compete.

The growth of the regatta is pointed out by the following statistics: in the first association regatta, seven colleges sent seven varsity crews to Red Bank. At Philadelphia in 1961, twenty colleges sent forty crews to compete in varsity, JV, and freshman races. Currently, over a hundred colleges and universities from the United States and Canada compete, making the Dad Vail Regatta the largest collegiate regatta in the United States and bringing thousands of student athletes to Philadelphia.

Women competed for the first time in 1976:

Briefly in late 2009, the Dad Vail Organizing Committee announced that the regatta would be held in Rumson, New Jersey in 2010, citing loss of local sponsors. However, this decision was soon rescinded due to pressure from the City and logistical problems with the Rumson location, and the event returned to Philadelphia for 2010.

The Dad Vail entered its 75th year in 2013:

The regatta was named after Harry Emerson “Dad” Vail, for his years of coaching at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The story of the Dad Vail Regatta, and of the Rowing Association, begins with two men, “Rusty” Callow, then coach at the University of Pennsylvania, who came up with the idea, and Lev Brett, who made the idea a reality.

Callow originated the idea of promoting competition among colleges struggling to found rowing programs. These included schools too small to hope to ever compete in major races and larger institutions not yet ready for such competition. In order to create competition, Rusty created a trophy as the competition prize, in 1934, which was named in honor of Vail.

Since then, the name “Dad” Vail has become one and the same with the race. Vail’s passion for rowing helped form the modern-day Dad Vail Regatta and motivate the multitudes of colleges to come compete.

Til Next Time…

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