Forty workmen busily painting the royal stand at Ascot for the coming meeting downed brushes to watch the most distinguished—if impromptu—horse race of the current season. The participants: Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.
Unannounced, the queen and the princess, in riding habits and bright colored head scarves, entered the Ascot course through the gate from nearby Windsor Castle. They walked their jet-black horses out to the Royal Mile Course and were away at a gallop.
"It was a dingdong battle," reported a workman spectator later, "but with about 30 yards to go Princess Margaret's horse went to the front and won by three lengths. They both rode beautifully."
May 8, 1955
DIRTY BUSINESS (CONT.)
Three years ago no less an authority than Joe Louis was talking about Clarence Henry, a young heavyweight, as "a coming champion." But Henry got his biggest headlines a year ago June when he was caught trying to persuade Irving (Bobby) Jones, a middleweight, to take a bribe of $15,000 and lose to Joey Giardello. In the intervening months New York District Attorney Frank S. Hogan's detectives have been investigating. In February they got a plea of guilty from Henry. They described Henry as "cooperative" but complained that corroborative evidence as to higher-ups was lacking.
Presumption: Henry had named the higher-ups. Upshot: Henry got a suspended sentence, with the judge expressing belief that he was "the tool of some other slimy creature" unmentioned.
This would never satisfy Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. He would know what to do next.
FIT TO BE TIED
Field Mammalogist Bill Schaldach of the Dartmouth College Museum is not the type of fellow who would ordinarily find himself meshing cogs with big wheels of government. Bill has a decent, layman's interest in politics, but in the decade since he was a Dartmouth undergraduate he has devoted himself to the collection of small mammals—mostly, to be blunt about it, shrews. A fellow who collects shrews doesn't get down to Washington very often; the trapping is better in Mexico, Arizona and northern Greenland. A few days ago, however, Bill found himself engaged in a delicate mission which may have important repercussions in the White House itself.
Bill, it should be explained, is a fine, amateur flytier. It should further be explained that the sports department manager of the Dartmouth cooperative store, Stan Starzyk by name, is aware of his prowess. Starzyk is a friend of New Hampshire's ex-Governor Sherman Adams. Adams, now a top White House aide, is, of course, a friend of President Eisenhower. When Starzyk heard that Adams had high hopes of taking Ike fishing on a stream near Lincoln, N.H. in June, he called on Bill instanter. The State of New Hampshire, Starzyk felt, should equip the distinguished anglers with a pair of distinctive fly patterns. Would Bill consent to tie them?
Bill was delighted to do so. In fact, he agreed to appear for a demonstration in the cooperative store, arrived laden with furs, feathers, hooks and vise, and promptly whipped up the West Pointer (featuring military gray feathers) and the Adams' Rock (tied with New Hampshire barred rock chicken feathers). "I thought of calling them 'Ike' and 'Sherm' at first," said Bill, "but I decided I'd better not."
With the West Pointer and the Adams' Rock conceived and manufactured, Bill looked up and discovered a square and imposing man watching him work. "Are these special flies?" the stranger asked. Bill admitted they were and explained why. "Good," said his auditor. "Fine Republican names. How about making three of each for me?" He scribbled a sizable check-thus making Bill a pro on the spot—and passed it over with his card, which read: "Sen. Ralph Flanders, 311 Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C."
What happens to Bill from now on is strictly up to the trout. But news travels fast in Washington. If the President, his top aide and the senator all start catching fish, pressure from the national capital might force Bill to forsake shrews altogether and to go on and on inventing new flies—the Treasure Dun, the Foggy Bottom Belle, the Election Night Streamer, the Upright Constituent, the Embassy Reception Nymph, the Invisible Fellow Traveler (to be fished with a Baited Witness) and perhaps, at least until 1956, even a few Blue Democrats.
A MATTER OF MANNERS
Quite obviously, the championship tennis court will never replace the finishing school as a place to learn good manners. Although in tennis the snarl, the sneer and the sulk are as much a part of the champion's equipment as catgut, Art Larsen, the 1950 U.S. champion, is in a class by himself when it comes to tantrums. If things are going badly for him, Larsen chivvies the ball boys, hurls his racket, glares at linesmen, disputes the umpire and puts on a fine imitation of Humphrey Bogart at bay. Larsen's apologists will tell you this is due to a psychopathic hangover from his harrowing wartime experiences as an infantryman and that he originally took up big-time tennis as therapy. That may well be, but he is still not a pretty sight when he is losing.
This spring Larsen has been campaigning in European tennis and undoing about a billion or two dollars' worth of Marshall Plan good will. Reaching Genoa and playing on the losing side of a doubles match, he focused his pique on a 13-year-old Italian ball boy who had been scurrying about the court a bit too enthusiastically. Finally he banged a ball in the boy's direction, and the lad scampered away in tears.
By the time the press got hold of the incident and put it on the overseas wire, Larsen was reported as having struck the child in the face with the ball. Reading the story in New York, the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association sensibly forbade him to play in any more matches (under penalty of losing his expense money) until a full airmail report was submitted for study. Gloom hung heavy over Larsen and the promoters of a tournament in Rome, where the temperamental Californian was to be a big attraction.
Overnight the Italians, who wanted to see more of Larsen (and are not above an occasional tantrum themselves), were dismissing the Genoa incident as "minor." It was pointed out that even the Genoa fans felt Larsen had acted with some justification, and had applauded him at the end of the match. The USLTA was left with only one friend in Italy—the Communist daily, L'Unita, which declared, "The decision is sacrosanct and redounds to the honor of the sport."
All this later hubbub ignored one major point: if the USLTA discipline is not too late to help Larsen's court manners, it is at least long overdue.
The large, left-field shoes of Ted Williams have proved, so far this season, a snug fit for a 23-year-old, 185-pound six-footer named Faye Throneberry who returned to the Boston Red Sox this spring after two years in service. With the incomparable Ted sticking to his fishing in Florida, Throneberry has made even the most rabid Williams admirers concede that all is well in left for the present. Items: Throneberry's batting average of .323, his 17 runs batted in, his sparkling defensive play, his great throwing arm.
In appearance, Throneberry reminds some people of Marlon Brando and others of Montgomery Clift, but he reminds himself of nobody but a Memphis-born boy named Faye Throneberry. He makes a particular point of that because he has studiously avoided thinking of himself as a Ted Williams replacement. "I try not to think of Ted at all," drawls Tennessee Faye. "When the season opened, I knew Jensen and Piersall had center and right sewed up. So I figured I'd just hustle and do the best I could and not worry."
Hasn't it been any strain at all, filling in for Ted?
"Nope," said Throneberry, "there's never any strain when you're getting those base hits. I'm glad I started hitting good right off, though. Those wolves in Fenway Park can get on you pretty fast. But when I started hitting pretty good, they were for me. They've been real nice."
Can he keep up the pace?
Throneberry shifted his cud of tobacco and shook his head.
"Let's face it," he said, "the days of the .400 hitter are gone. I got nowhere to go but down. But I'm not worried about a slump. What I do in a slump is like Stan Musial. I bunt my way out. I just start draggin', usually once in a game anyway, until I start getting those blows again. One time, when I was with the Sox in '52, I dragged nine times before I got thrown out."
Throneberry, married and the father of a six-months-old daughter named Sherry Lee, doesn't bother to correct people who call him "Thorneberry." Boston Manager Mike Higgins does, and, of course, so does Casey Stengel. Casey is interested in the family because the Yanks have Faye's brother, Marvin, on their farm club at Denver. "I just hope," says Stengel, "this Thorneberry's brother can hit a ball as far as he can."
On May 11, Joe Cronin, general manager of the Red Sox, will have to cut his squad to 25 players. He's expected to keep Ted Williams on the active list even if there is no sign of his return.
There is no replacement for Ted Williams as a box office draw. But if Ted is out all season things aren't likely to be too bad for the Red Sox as long as the lineup reads: "Thorneberry, If." Or rather, Throneberry.
THE HAPPY MILLIONAIRE
In a day when those who knew boxing best respected it as a sport, Anthony J. Drexel Biddle (Sr.) grew up to be its greatest amateur and, for all that he was a Philadelphia society figure, to earn the friendship and admiration of Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons, Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Jim Corbett and many another master. He was a judge at the Dempsey-Willard fight. He gave Gene Tunney, a fellow Marine, his first boxing lessons. He was one of the Forty (more or less) Millionaires (more or less) who joined Tex Rickard in building Madison Square Garden. He was first president of the International Sporting Club—not to be confused with the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, President)—and was a major factor in the re-establishment of boxing as a legal and, at that time, estimable sport.
During two world wars A. J. Drexel Biddle trained Marines in every sort of close combat—bayonet, jujitsu, judo, defendu, savate—to such a peak of pitiless artfulness that much of their heroic success at Belleau Wood and Tarawa was officially recognized as his own.
Now his daughter, Cordelia Drexel Biddle, whom he taught with fatherly concern to throw a right cross and patch an eye cut, has produced his biography, My Philadelphia Father, with the aid of Kyle Crichton. The book is described as "rollicking," and it is all of that, but the lady is clearly too modest in her estimation of the old man. In any less preoccupied age he would have been a hero for the classics. Taken just as a father image, A. J. Drexel Biddle makes Clarence Day's look like a lily-livered sissy.
In Biddle's day, boxing was the favorite sport of many a young society man.
"My grandfather, Edward Biddle," the author writes, "was a fine boxer and played tennis till his eightieth year. My uncle, Anthony J. Drexel, Jr., was a good boxer and all-around athlete. Father always said that Bernard Gimbel, still head of the great store chain, could have been a champion heavyweight; and Warren Barbour, late senator from New Jersey, was said to have been even better. Father naturally carried it to extremes...."
One of his extremes, from the standpoint of Philadelphia society, was to hire out as a sparring partner for Jack Johnson. In those days fighters wanting to make a bit of change sat on a long bench at the training camp, hoping to be picked.
"The day Father went down," Miss Biddle (Mrs. T. Markoe Robertson) relates, "he thought he was going to sit on the bench forever. Jack was out in his gargantuan red roadster, showing his wife the sights of South Jersey. He finally came back in a happy mood, changed slowly into his fighting clothes, and then looked over the row of martyrs.
" 'You, there, boy,' he said to Father, making a gesture with his glove.
"They went two furious rounds, for Father never did anything otherwise.... The report is that Johnson, with his marvelous defensive skill, was content to keep father off, protesting at the same time, 'Now, you boy, there; don't get yoself stirred up.' But Father was always stirred up and Johnson finally had to fetch him a smart whack on the side of the head to settle him."
It did not settle him for long. He beat the French champion of savate, a deadly style of combat which permits groin kicks, using only his punching ability. He roamed the apache quarters of Paris with a detective who showed him how to subdue a knife or gun wielder with only a bit of string for a weapon. By the time of Pearl Harbor, Tony Biddle was 67. There were a few older Marines around, though, who remembered the A. J. Drexel Biddle of World War I who, using a concept of athletic Christianity, had raised 40,000 men for service and sent many of them into war with an idea of what a bayonet could and was meant to do. He was recalled by the Marines as a colonel and put in charge of combat training.
His idea of training was to persuade genial young men that their job was to kill him before they could hope to kill the enemy. He encouraged them to try and, at first, had to enrage them before they would. Afterward they were so confident of the old man's ability to fend them off that, with the best of intentions, they would really try to get past his guard.
Completely unarmed, he would face a naked bayonet, block the attack and not only disarm his opponent but, at the very least, show that he could injure him seriously. The worst that ever happened to him in bayonet work was a bad wrist cut (it hospitalized him for two months), but from boxing, jujitsu and such he sustained the loss of teeth, a temporary cauliflower ear and oddly twisted fingers.
His son, Tony Jr., who had been Ambassador to Poland at the outbreak of World War II and later helped thousands of Americans escape Nazified France, returned to the United States briefly from his European triumphs in 1943. Emerging from a fine New York hotel tub, he found his father in the living room waiting to greet him.
"I've got a new one," the father cried. "Just walk toward me and shake my hand."
Protesting a bit, the towel-wrapped ambassador advanced and shook his father's hand. He flew through the air, hit the wall with his head and was knocked cold. All he remembers is his father's shout:
"By George, it works!"
Toward the end of his life, in order to protect it, the Marine Corps retired the senior Biddle. J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI, whose men Biddle also had trained in hand-to-hand combat, put out a statement:
"Colonel Biddle will never be retired by the FBI."
His last great instinctive act was to jump off a subway platform to save the life of a man who had tumbled over the edge. A few years later, in the spring of 1948, he died at 73. Fifteen years before, in a newspaper article, he had been described as "the happiest millionaire alive."
MARTINIS: 12 TO 1
Visitors to the Kentucky Derby this weekend may very well, at one time or another, find themselves at the bar of Louisville's celebrated Brown Hotel. There, almost certainly, they will be waited upon by a bartender named Flaherty. In fact the customer may be confronted by half a dozen bartenders named Flaherty, an experience which can be quite a jolt to an already overwrought nervous system.
Nervous jolts are not the intention of the brothers Flaherty, of course, who are concerned only with being good bartenders. Charles, 41, arose through the dishwasher, kitchen steward and bellboy ranks to his present position of bar manager. John, '32, joined the act in 1941; Roscoe, 31, in 1943; Thad, 33, in 1948 and Claude, 45, in 1950. Garland, the 22-year-old baby, came to Louisville from the family home in Rhodelia, Ky. last fall and is a regular bellboy. His only bar duties are on paging, but he is nursing the ambition to join his brothers.
Part of the Flaherty family charm lies in a tribal ability to remember the client's favorite drink. Best at this is Roscoe, who frequently astonishes a visitor, even after a lapse of years, by remembering his name, his drink and probably his home town. This is not only flattering to the occasional visitor, it is profitable to regulars. Roscoe's mnemonic gift is the kind they can bet on—to win.
Since the buildup in bartending Flahertys has been going on for some years now, they have become a minor Derby institution all by themselves. Nonetheless, they refuse to conform to any popular conception of what a Louisville bartender should be during the Battle of the Bluegrass. They don't drink. They are disinterested in horse racing and particularly in the Kentucky Derby. And they consider mint julep an inferior product of their craft.
As a matter of fact, the most popular drink in this sector of the traditional bourbon country is the Martini, the best-liked odds being 12 parts gin to one part vermouth.
"It is the favorite around here, even above bourbon and Scotch," Charlie will tell you as he swirls ice in a pitcher. The pitcher chilled, he throws out the ice before pouring in the gin and vermouth.
"The trick is," he cautions, "to get them cold and not keep them sitting. Martinis are temperamental."
Angrily stare at the
And taking the voyage
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Toy Pitcher Bobby Shantz (crippled by injuries for two long years) miraculously regained his old-time form and sent 33,471 Kansas City fans home in a state of near-hysteria by beating the Yankees 6-0 in his first shutout since 1952...Meanwhile, other American League pitchers accomplished less dramatic but more pointed feats: the Yanks' fast-balling Bob Turley threw the season's first one-hitter against Chicago, and Cleveland's aging Bob Feller threw the second (and his 12th) against Boston. Then, in the next game of the doubleheader, Herb Score, newest member of the Indians' pitching staff, fanned 16 Red Sox batters to win 2-1...Race cars of radical design (two with enclosed cockpits) will challenge the stereotyped but long-successful herd of conventional Indianapolis iron in the Memorial Day 500...Navy's never-say-die crew made it 31 straight with a 6-foot victory over favored Cornell but (note for the future) rowed 33 and 40 to Cornell's 29 and 33 to do it...Favored Boston Doge, winner of 10 straight hand-picked races, finally got his comeuppance and finished third in the Swift Stakes at Belmont...Thirteen thousand people (biggest crowd in lacrosse history) jostled into Thompson Stadium at Annapolis to watch Maryland beat Navy's national champions 9-8...The NCAA mulled the sins of U.S. football colleges and slapped the wrists of a few: the University of Cincinnati was banned from NCAA competition for a year, and the University of Oklahoma was given two years of probation...Ex-heavyweight Champ Ezzard Charles was punched into limbo (in the ninth, at Miami Beach) by an unknown and awkward Chicago belter named John Holman; at Las Vegas, however, Light Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore (38 years old and gross at 196½ pounds) upheld the old guard with a victory over Heavyweight Contender Nino Valdes.