McKenna Process Company
Plant formerly located in Joliet, Illinois - ca. 1920.
Autobiographical Data
Yale University, 1895-1896-1897; Rowing
by George Langford, Sr.

Both images show the same Yale University crew of 1897, wherein George Langford, Sr. was the stroke oar.  The crew rosters for 1895-87 are listed below.  The Yale Banner 1897.
Yale University crew, 1897
Yale University shell, 1897
Yale University crews - 1895, 1896, 1897
My oldest brother Tan (Nathaniel P.) had not finished high school before he went to work, and Will (William R.) took a job after graduating from high school.  So when I graduated from the Central High School in 1894, it seemed to me that I should go to work, too.  But the fact, that two of her three sons were making their living, made things financially easier for Mother, and she made up her mind that at least one of her sons should go to an eastern college.  I had not set my heart on going, nor did I expect it, and did not take Mother's ideas at all seriously, even when she asked me to prepare myself for the Yale examinations in the Summer of 1894.  High school had not fitted me for three of the examination subjects, so I procured the necessary books and learned as much as I could.  I had chosen Yale, and Mother favored it.  My cousins Charles Spencer and Philip Peck were Yale men.  Two other cousins Darius Peck and Henry Curran were entering.  My Denver boyhood friend Robt. W. Harrington was a sophomore.  Wallace Winter, W.W. Heffelfinger, and Tom Cochrane had graduated as famous foot-ball players; and so on.  I was destined to become a Yale man, although I believed Mother could not afford it and that I should go to work.
I took the examinations and was notified in due time that I had three conditions in which I should be examined again at the University in the Fall, and if I passed, would then be allowed to enter the University.  I had chosen the three-year course of the Sheffield Scientific School.  That Summer, Tan took me in hand.  Although I played foot-ball in my last high-school year, as at least I tried to do, I was a poor athlete, 6 feet, 1-1/2 inch tall and about 148 pounds stripped.  Try as I would to be good at some sport, I could hardly get out of my own way.  The best that can be said of me was that I had persistence and patience without end.  Tan tried me out at the Minnesota Boat Club and was determined to make an oarsman out of me.  I liked rowing and spent much time every day, rowing by myself until the late afternoon; then the boys would come down from work and would make up various crews of double fours and eights.  John Kennedy coached us.  I finally got established in a four with Will, Meredith Beard, and somebody else, and we would give Tan a hot race nearly every day in his single shell.  Harvey Simpson, who had just completed stroking his Yale freshman crew (1896) rowed a good deal, and he helped me.  I grew stronger, and I liked rowing.
Not until September 1894 did it dawn upon me that I was really and truly going to Yale.  I protested but was over-ruled, and Mother went with me to see that I got there, and to visit the Loc[k?]woods at Riverside, Connecticut.
I had few friends at Yale and entered green as grass.  I knew Rob Harrington of Denver, and the Forepaugh boys and Harvey Simpson of St. Paul; and I knew Theo. Griggs of St. Paul by sight; but that was all, and I felt much alone among the many boys from Andover, St. Paul's and other prep schools, who all seemed to know each other.  I was asked to visit secret societies such as T Company and Book and Snake to be looked over critically for eligibility, and I called at these places when asked, without fully understanding what it was all about. In the Fall I was taken on the Sheffield School freshman crew to race the academic crew on Lake Whitney.  We lost.  After thinking that I was out of the secret society contest, I was asked by both T Company and Cloister if I would pledge myself.  I chose Cloister, and was the last man taken in.
In the early part of 1895, I joined the squad trying for the freshman crew.  Ed Brewer was temporary captain.  We exercised in the gym, ran outdoors in the snow, and practiced rowing in the tank.  Armstrong, the 'varsity crew captain, and coaches often came in to watch us.  I was learning and working hard, for although I knew that my slimness and 150 pounds were against me, I was set on beating out stronger men and making that crew.
One evening after work Ed Brewer told me and Cadwalader that next afternoon we were to report on the 'varsity squad.  When my Cloister mates learned of this, one and all from freshman to senior began pulling for me to win out.  This helped me immensely.  I never said so to anyone, but before long, I was determined to make that crew.  Being a weakling compared to most of the others, I concentrated upon endurance, which was my best asset.  My main idea was to pull my hardest, then reverse my muscles' actions and get in a rest between strokes.  A fault common to nearly all oarsmen was to keep too tense with all muscles in action.  This I could not afford to do.  I kept plugging, and my society and classmates egged me on.  My co-freshman Cadwalader was sent back to the freshman squad but I remained.  Members of the previous year freshman crew were dropped here and there, but I was kept on.
In March we moved down to the boat-house and got out in working boats.  There were two 'varsity eights and two freshman eights.  I rowed in the 2nd 'varsity and was occasionally tried out in the 1st on the right or on the left.  It was a bit unusual, but I did not mind being changed from one side of the boat to the other.
All the 'varsity men were back but stroke, and many men were tried for that position.  Simpson, the previous year freshman stroke, was at first the most likely candidate.  He had the power but was inclined to be short and erratic in his timing, which did not suit this crew of big men, pretty near the heaviest crew that Yale ever had.  Dater and Longacre, former 'varsity men, were tried, then Miller, Patterson, and Campbell, and myself, my position at stroke becoming more frequent.  My classmates and Cloister mates were rooting for me hard with their encouragement and evidence of interest which I appreciated more than they ever dreamed of, for I was being worked hard, and when I got back to my room rather late in the evening, I was pretty tired.  Bob Cook finally came to New Haven to take charge of the coaching, and he tried me at stroke, then others, and finally kept me there, although many thought I was too young (19) and light (160) for such a heavy crew of veterans.
By the time we went to New London in June, it looked as though I would be a fixture at stroke, and evidently I was, for I rowed in the race against Harvard, and we gave them an awful trimming.
Yale and Harvard had been quarrelling with each other about athletics, and no boat-race was scheduled for 1896, so Yale entered for the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley on the Thames, England.  But this crew didn't click.  Bob Cook was drinking too much and kept changing style so much that the men did not know where they were at.  The worse we got, the more erratic Cook became, and the crew could not get anywhere.  Finally in June 1896 we sailed for England on the steamer, "Berlin," and had our quarters at Marsh Mills a little below Henley.  The crack crews Leander and New College, Oxford, attracted a fine lot of men to meet the "Yankee invaders."  Cornell had preceeded us at Henley and were not only beaten but much disliked.  We were careful, diplomatic, and popular.  Cook drank himself to pieces, and the crew simply got worse and worse up to the day of the race.  The boat had no life, and we were beaten before we started.  We drew the two best crews, Leander and then New College for our first and second heats and were beaten handily by Leander who beat the other English crews.  I stroked this crew at 170 pounds.  We were well entertained by sportsmen and royalty, and it was quite a social event, but it was a flop from a rowing standpoint.
Here's another page on the 1896 Henley Regatta with pictures and an eyewitness account by Constance Cary, the very literary and principled wife of Burton Norvell Harrison, a famous 1859 Yale College graduate.
George, III 
In 1897 we arranged to race the University of Wisconsin at Lake Saltonstall for two miles, and then Cornell and Harvard at Poughkeepsie for four miles.  I had gotten up to 175 pounds by this time, and it was thought I would do better at No.7 with Harvey Simpson, my St. Paul fellow townsman, at  stroke.  I had beaten him out for the place in 1895 and 1896 to his keen disappointment, but although quick-tempered and quarrelsome, he never once was in any way unfriendly to me, and so I in turn felt a warm regard for him.  So when he was placed at stroke in 1897 and I behind him at No.7, I gave him the best I knew, and, at his request, advised him frequently of such faults in his style that seemed to need correcting.  But Simpson had been disappointed in a love affair and was not himself.  The crew did not take well to his stroking and did badly.  Bob Cook criticized him sarcastically and placed him at bow with myself at stroke, whereupon the crew did much better.  Cook, who was drinking heavily again, should have let well enough alone, but he was determined to have me at No.7 and put Simpson back at stroke again, where he was so erratic that the crew went all to pieces.  After confiding in me that he felt himself responsible for the crew's poor showing, he simply quit and resigned.  This stirred up such a rimpus that others quit and Yale had no 'varsity crew.  Meanwhile the time was approaching for the Yale-Wisconsin race, and so I got hold of Phil Bailey, Paine Whitney, and W. Griswold, and we started things up again in time to get in about a week of training before the race.  I was placed at stroke.  The U. of Wisconsin men were very unsociable, and we enjoyed giving them a bad beating over two miles on Lake Saltonstall.  Then we got into Harkness' steam yacht in June and were taken up to Lake Poughkeepsie on the Hudson River.  We had rotten quarters.  The course was so much faster than we were familiar with that it bothered us greatly, and we got very few trial rows because of the roughness that prevailed.  Harvard, coached by the famous English amateur coach Lehman, was touted as our most dangerous opponent, but Cornell, with Courtney coaching, won, we finishing second.  To me, this was a most unsatisfactory race, for because of the fastness of the course and our unfamiliarity with it, we thought we had not gone much over three miles when we crossed the four-mile line, and finished comparatively fresh, having not done the best that we were capable of.  That, of course, was our error and did not detract from Cornell's performance, but I was so disgusted that I got back to New Haven as fast as I could and would not join my classmates next day in our Class Day exercises.  That ended my college rowing, for I graduated from the Sheffield Scientific School that June, 1897.
It was a pity that my brothers Tan and Will were denied the college experience reserved for me.  Will married young and stepped out of the athletic picture.  Tan rowed with the Minnesota Boat Club and played base-ball.  Both brothers were excellent foot-ball and base-ball players, and both were much stronger than I.  Tan won many races in single, double, four and eight oar racing, and would have been an excellent man for a college crew, given the chance I had.  I rowed with him in the Minnesota Boat Club eight against Duluth and in the senior four against Winnepeg - both races at Minnetonka - during vacation from college, and we won both races.  But I left St. Paul in March, 1898 to go to work, and that ended my rowing.
I did not get to New Haven again until 1900, my tricentennial.  I spent a day or two in New Haven and then went up to New London the day before the Yale-Harvard race.  There I ran into Julian Curtis, who made me an umpire for Yale.  Mumford served in a like capacity, and we both stood in the bow of the referee's launch, where we had a good view of the race.  The Harvard stroke had been injured a few days before, and a substitute was put in.  He collapsed after three miles, and Yale ambled on to a hollow victory.  Yale still stuck to her amateur coaching for a long time, and finally the Minnesota Boat Club coach John Kennedy was put in charge with poor success.  Not until Ed Leader became coach more than twenty years later did I feel any great interest in Yale rowing.  In 1924 while preparing business experiments in Brooklyn, New York, I made a particular point of getting up to Nwe Haven to see the early Spring rowing at Derby.  Rockefeller the captain motored me out to the course where I met Ed Leader and followed the crew in a launch.  I knew none of the boys, but I met the son of Payne Whitney, with whom I had rowed in 1896 and 1897, and with whom I had roomed on the "Berlin" when we crossed the ocean to Henley.  Leader's methods and the crew's fine action amazed me, and I had so much to say in their praise that it reached the ears of Jack Goetcheus 1896 and Payne Whitney 1897 who were taking an active part in the management of Yale rowing.  I did not see either of them before I returned west, but Jack wrote asking me to write him my views.  We had considerable correspondence wherein I regretted exceedingly that the University was not to be represented among the aspirants for Olympic honors in Paris.  Yale suddenly entered, won over all American aspirants, and beat all other nations at the Olympics in Paris.  It appeared to me that Jack and Payne had put the bug in the ears of the crew men and Leader, who then appealed to the University authorities for permission to file their entry, which they did, I understand, only a day or two before the time was up.
There's more to this story.   One of those nameless oarsmen on the 1924 Yale Olympic eight was Benjamin Spock, who later became famous as the child psychologist of the age and the best-selling American author ever.  George, III