Now for the Rest of the Story #1
June 30, 2009 at 11:30pm
His name was Albert Wyatt. He was the husband of my great Aunt, Alice Walker Yates. She was my Grandma Dolan's sister. Walker was the maiden name of her grandmother. They were Brits and lived in the Greater Manchester area, the home for that side of the family.
Albert competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics held in London, and he ran in the marathon. This was two years before he married Great Aunt Alice. Here is what I learned- most of which comes from the office of the British Olympic Association. In 1996 I wrote looking for information, and they sent me photocopies from the relevant pages of the 1908 Official Olympic Report produced by the organizing committee. It is pretty interesting.
The race took place on July 24, 1908 at about half past two in the afternoon. The runners were arranged in four lines near the East Terrace of Windsor Castle. At the signal from Her Royal Highness, the Princess of Wales, the starting gun was fired. Albert was one of 75 runners in the race and was halfway back in the second line. He was #59. It looks like 27 finished the race, or at least they were the only ones mentioned receiving acknowledgment. Unfortunately, Albert was not one of them. It was a "close, warm, muggy atmosphere, the sun was deceptively strong and there was very little air."
The course went from the east lawn of "Windsor Castle and ended in the Olympic Stadium in Shepherd's Bush, in which 385 yards were run on cinder track to the finish line, below the royal box. Each runner was to turn to his left as he entered the track on the side opposite the royal box. Total distance was 26 miles, 385 yards.".....The rules of "costume" were strictly enforced: "Every competitor must wear complete clothing from the shoulders to the knee (i.e. jersey sleeved to the elbows and loose drawers with slips."....Competitors and attendants could "find accommodation en route at he following hotels for a wash", and a half of dozen hotels were then listed.....Refreshments en route: "The Oxo Company has been appointed official caterers and will supply the following free of charge to competitors: Oxo Athletes Flask containing Oxo for immediate use; Oxo hot and cold; Oxo and Soda, Rice Pudding, Raisins, Bananas, Soda and Milk. Stimulants will be available in cases of collapse. Note: Eau de Cologne and sponges can be had for use of competitors from the Oxo representatives who will be stationed on the route." This Oxo Company made various food products and utensils, and supplied these Oxo drinks, whatever they were....Apparently there was surprised disappointment that the British team of seven runners didn't fare better, but the report gave no details.
Albert lived until July 1950. In1996 I met and talked with one of his daughters in law, who did not speak overly well of him. Apparently he spent his share of time in the pubs, and would come around looking for a few coins for a pint or two. Alice is a sad story which can be told another time. She died in January 1925 from complications after giving birth to their fifth child. She was 39. Grandma Dolan, who had arrived in Zion 6 years before, was devastated.