Before Stand Up Paddleboarding was a thing, Southie had the Great Centennial Timber Race! This Fourth of July race took place along First Street and was exactly like it describes, men and boys standing on pieces of wood, using an oar to race. Yes, back in 1876 women and girls were not allowed to race. (How are you gonna race wearing a corset and a bustle?) All timbers racers were required to wear a white shirt and black pants – because you can’t wear a waist coat, top hat and a watch fob while paddling!
The winners’ purse ranged from $5 to $30 which was like month’s salary back then. Just kidding more like a day’s wage.
After the Centennial Timber Race the Working Boat Race took place. This race was open to all (men) but not “professional oarsmen” – because that wouldn’t be fair. The boat crews were not required to wear a uniform although they were “encouraged” by the race committee – which translates into – wear a uniform just to be safe. You don’t want to get disqualified on a trumped up technicality.
After the big race, the annual Centennial Timber Race mixer took place which consisted of large amounts of whiskey, a fiddle, and a vaudeville show.
Let’s bring back the Centennial Timber Race! Happy Fourth of July!
A special thank you to Boston City Archives for sharing this gem with us!