turbine was in great shape," says Pete. "Perfectly usable. I bought a
cheap secondhand generator, and now all we're waiting for to set up our
hydroelectric station is for the state to send out some engineers who will
assure our neighbors that the dam won't cause flooding."
He doesn't need
such assurance for himself because he is an engineer, mechanical, to be
precise. He's the third generation of his family in the profession, and Judy,
who's now pursuing her master's in engineering at Dartmouth's Thayer School,
will, of course, be the fourth. "I promised myself when I was a young man
that I would own my own company by the time I was 40," says Pete. "When
I turned 39 I quit my job and started my own metal-stamping business in
Norwalk, Conn. It's a fun little company but there were 10 years there when we
ate hot dogs of the lowest quality—goat."
It's easy to
imagine Carlie and Judy rowing on the Connecticut with a goat in their boat, a
calm, self-contained goat who'd enjoy a good breeze, maybe share a carrot or a
bran muffin, but it's inconceivable that they'd be found rowing (or kneading
whole-wheat dough or knitting or square dancing or cranking their icecream
freezer or collecting maple syrup or skiing in a 50-mile marathon or cycling in
the rain through Hanover, where Carlie works as a waitress) with a hot dog, of
any quality, inside their stomachs or their boat.
too obsessed with food," says Pete, "those health nuts."
peanut butter, cottage cheese, salad and bread are their daily fare. They climb
into their chairs at a dining-room table with the same enthusiasm with which
they climb into their boat. Carlie salivates at the sight of her evening salad,
a mountain of greens with substrata of other vegetables heaving and shifting
under landslides of cottage cheese, yogurt and wheat germ.
At the White
House reception that President Carter gave for the U.S. Olympians last year
after the boycott, Judy quietly took the cook aside. "I told him, 'Look,
there are a lot of vegetarians here who need something more nutritional to eat
than meat and strawberries,' " she says. "They thought I was a pain,
but after a while they produced some cheese and vegetables in tinfoil. They
were actually pretty nice about it."
always wanted to row with Judy," Jeff says. "We have a photograph of
Carlie in Montreal, when Judy rowed in the '76 Olympics. Carlie's sulking and
saying, 'In 1980 I'm going to row in the double with Judy.' When Judy was a
port oar in the Dartmouth women's eight, Carlie took up an oar on the opposite
side, just in case they ever wanted to compete in a pair. [In double sculling,
each oarswoman has two oars; in pairs rowing, each has one.] And then when Judy
started sculling, Carlie did, too. But honestly, I don't know where these
athletes came from; we're really just an average American family."
The cat is
staring out the window at the cows while Jeff washes the dishes in an
unaverage-American-family way—with water she has heated on the stove. There's
no running hot water in the farmhouse, but nobody seems to miss it. (When the
elder Geers went to Boston to watch the Head of the Charles, "We stayed in
a Holiday Inn and I took lots of hot showers and baths," says Jeff. "I
wanted to get our money's worth. We had a big color TV and I told Pete to turn
it on, but he said, 'Nah, it's too fancy. I wouldn't know how to work it.'
"As a little
girl," says Jeff, "Carlie was really kind of a tiny little
Carlie is now
5'7" and 140 pounds. Judy is 5'9" and 150 pounds. Compared to the
Soviet scullers—one of whom traded sweat pants with Judy, giving Judy a pair
both she and Carlie can step into—they might be called small. But when they
swim, if that's the right verb for an action that leaves a rough wake across
quarter-mile-wide Lake Fairlee, near the farm, neither of them looks like a
tiny little thing; with the morning light dripping from their elbows, their
arms look like oars plowing steadily through the water.