IN ST. PETER'SSQUARE
In the throngedsquare of St. Peter's last week Pope Pius XII sat and watched a basketball game(see page 24). It was the first time since the Renaissance that any kind ofsport had been presented in that beautiful and historic quadrangle. Beforehand,the Pope addressed the throng on the subject of sport for 25 minutes.
It was not animpromptu address but obviously a long-considered one. The widespread interestin sport, said Pope Pius, is one of the "phenomena of modern society."How is it to be regarded? The 79-year-old Pope answered as one who, when ayoung man, was skilled in riding and swimming and who, when he succeeded PiusXI (the mountain climber), installed a gymnasium in the Vatican.
Pope Pius toldhis listeners that he finds in the objectives of sport a parallel to theartistic ideals which made St. Peter's itself:
"Power andharmony, order and beauty, effort, victory and the renown of achieving arecord, expressed in artistic form by the incomparable architecture of thedome, of the facade, of the colonnade and the obelisk; they are the ideal goalslonged for by every athlete."
He urgedprudence in the selection of a sport within the physical means of the would-beathlete, and he cautioned against too much emphasis on technique at the expenseof spirit.
"Techniquealone," he said, "not only impedes the acquirement of those spiritualboons which sport has for its aim to achieve but, even when leading to victory,it satisfies neither him who employs it nor those who attend to enjoy thecontests.... In general, whenever there be a question of human activity, thepoint of departure and of arrival must always be the psychic element; in otherwords, spirit must predominate over technique. Make use of technique, but letthe spirit prevail."
And he summedup, in the precise language of the Vatican, what every sportsman hopes his sonmight learn from, say, football: "...loyalty that excludes taking refuge insubterfuges, docility and obedience to the wise commands of the directorcharged with the training of the team, the spirit of self-renunciation when onehas to fade into the background in order that the interests of the team maythereby be furthered, fidelity to obligations undertaken, modesty in victory,sereneness in adverse fortune, patience towards spectators who are not alwaysmoderate, justice if the competitive sport is bound up with financial interestsresultant from voluntary agreements, and in general chastity and temperancealready recommended by the ancients themselves.
"Will such aspiritual and almost ascetical concept of sport be harmful to technicalperfection?" he asked.
"On thecontrary! From many sides recently there has been invoked the return on thepart of athletes to 'pure' sport, that is to that finality and to those methodswhich have nothing in common with 'commercialism' and the exaggerated cultattributed to so-called 'stars,' to which are sacrificed high ideals, justice,the health of the athletes and the good name of the nation being represented inthe competitions."
Improbable as itsounds, one of the bumper football crowds of the season (45,000) was the onethat showed up in Lisbon, Portugal the other day. It was also one of the moreglittering crowds of the year, including as it did a good part of the grace andchivalry of Portugal, not to mention exiled King Umberto of Italy. The gamewill probably be known in history as the Navy-Navy Game of 1955—and doubtlessthe credit for inciting it belongs to a gunner's mate on the destroyer Zellarsnamed George Roberts, who ardently believes in football.
In a sense theNavy-Navy Game had its beginnings during the Korean War. It was then thatGunner's Mate (first class) Roberts of Washington, Pa. began saving his pay.Roberts, a 220-pounder with the instincts of a fullback, stubbornly believedthat the Zellars deserved a football team, and when he had $3,000 he blew thewhole works on uniforms. After that nobody could argue with him. Last month, asa result, while steaming eastward across the Atlantic, the crew of the Zellarschallenged the aircraft carrier Valley Forge to a football game in Lisbon. Thecrew of the carrier accepted.
For all hermajestic bulk, however, the Valley Forge did not have a team. Worse, she had noequipment, and her crew had only three weeks to gird for the fray. Gunner'sMate Roberts announced that he owned not one but two sets of football uniformsand that he, personally, would be gratified to lend the carrier hisblue-and-white ones. Two days later the Valley Forge had a squad of muscularseamen hopefully running signals on the flight deck, had ordered helmets andpads from Naval stores in Norfolk and Rugby shoes from a Lisbon cobbler.
Meanwhile,despite these humble beginnings, Captain L. W. Williams, commanding officer ofthe Valley Forge, decided that if Lisbon were going to see a football game itought to see a big one—a show which would do the U.S. proud in Portugal. Thecaptain, who had been inoculated with midwestern football mania during apre-academy stint at Purdue University, radioed for permission to use Lisbon'sNational Stadium, a huge suburban athletic plant which seats 60,000. The U.S.Embassy agreed to bless the project, and both the U.S. naval attache ashore andthe crew of the Valley Forge at sea leaped to feverish preparation. The resultswere surprising. Forty-five thousand citizens of Lisbon (who were admittedfree) traveled to the stadium on special trains and buses to see what theirnewspapers had described as "a match of tackle, known as Americanfootball." A U.S. Navy band played. So did a Portuguese navy band. Fourcheerleaders leaped and postured before the destroyer's rooting section. Fourgirl cheerleaders recruited from U.S. families in Lisbon "performed a sortof ballet to raise the spirits" of the sailors from the Valley Forge.
A goat, arrayedin a blue blanket, was tethered on the sidelines. Then, while a Portugueseannouncer roared explanations over a set of loudspeakers, the game began."It looked," wrote one Lisbon observer afterward, "terriblyexciting. The players were hurling themselves on top of one another with whatseemed like an excess of zest. Fear was voiced that perhaps the last one wouldbe found crushed to death. The most baffling fact was perhaps that the ball wasseldom seen, but the piles of bodies always gave some indication of itswhereabouts. At the interval a detachment of marines gave a wonderful displayand drew applause from the crowd. When the game resumed, the superiority of theValley Forge team brought them to the touchdown line. There was a roar from thecrowd."
The score?Valley Forge, 12; U.S.S. Zellars, 0. Fullback Roberts, of losing team, didn'tmind. "This," he grinned, "is the day I've dreamed about."
THE LADY AND THESTRIPER
In the war thatrages without and between the sexes, an important salient has fallen to thedeadlier of the species. A woman, Mrs. Louise de Somov, 54, of Hampton Bays,N.Y., has won the Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) Striped Bass Derby for the firsttime in its 10-year history.
Mrs. de Somov("Lu-di Bell" to her friends, of which she had hardly any among thedisgruntled male surf casters) took first place by landing a 45-pound 9-ouncestriper at Zack's Cliffs on the south shore of the island. Her prizes includeda one-room redwood cabin, a plot of ground to put it on and a $500 U.S. SavingsBond. To add bitterness to the male cup, Mrs. de Somov beat out her ownhusband, Serge, who came in third with a 43-pound 9½-ounce fish.
Speaking of malecups, they were filling them up at the Ritz Café, which is just down the streetfrom the derby's weighing-in station and, to hear the men at the bar, thevictory of Mrs. de Somov was unethical and uncalled for.
"Thelady," said a red-haired man dressed in foul-weather gear, "took thatstriper with butterfish bait. Am I right or wrong?"
As a chorusassured him he was right, he went on:
"She threwthat line out there with butterfish for bait, and then she just lets it go tothe bottom and lay there and stay there!" He jerked up his head anddemanded: "Right or wrong?"
"Well,sir!" he roared, "I don't call that surf casting! I call that bottomfishing!"
Advised of thismale reaction to her victory, Lu-di Bell drew herself up to her full height of5 foot 2 and said: "Phooey. Men are babies. If they don't get a strike withtheir little toys, those artificial lures, those jogs and darters and poppers,they think they're not playing the game. A woman goes directly to the point,which is to catch fish. If the bass are going for butter-fish, why try to foolthem with a lot of nonsense? I've been entering this derby every year since itstarted, and those men can't tell me anything about stripers."
Ben Morton, whodirects the bass derby for the Chamber of Commerce, said of it all: "Therehas been a definite trend toward butterfish and the so-called bottom fishing inthe past few years and there is nothing in the derby rules to prevent it. Imight point out that Mrs. de Somov's husband took third place with a homemadetin jig. Let there be no hard feelings. It was a great derby—22 states andCanada represented, 82 cities—and a total of 1,800 fish caught. Next year'sderby will begin as usual on September 15. Come one, come all."
That bizarreprofession, the collection and importation of wild animals, occasionallyproduces something odd and rare. The other day, for example, Peter Ryhiner, ahefty Swiss animal collector, showed up in New York with a 7-foot Indian rockpython which, instead of being mottled brown like others of the species, wasivory-white with improbable dark-blue eyes.
When anythingunusual comes to New York it is traditional to hold a cocktail party for it.The martinis, highballs and salted peanuts are broken out in honor of all sortsof oddities. Apes have been toasted and on one occasion the hostess pouredheavily at a christening party for a dog. The snake's cocktail party was heldin the Manhattan offices of Swissair. The connection here, of course, is thatthe man who brought the snake is a Swiss and furthermore Mr. Ryhiner announcedemphatically, "Wherever I go in the world with my snake we will flySwissair."
The arrangementsfor the party were simple. There were two rooms. They had the whisky in thefirst room and the snake in the second. Some guests remarked they would preferit the other way round; they would rather see the snake first and then drinkthe whisky. Some resorted to refreshments both before and after seeing thesnake.
In the snakeroom Mr. Ryhiner, who has a goatee and blond, wavy hair, stood behind a tableon which rested a wooden box. In the box were two snakes, the white one and anormal, mottled brown rock python for contrast. The guest-of-honor snake wasall that had been claimed for it. Its skin lacked the pinkish tinge whichalbinos have but was the glossy white of polished ivory. Its dark eyes alsoproved that it was not a true albino, for albinos have pink eyes.
Lifting hisprize from the box and holding it draped across his forearms, Mr. Ryhiner toldhow he had heard of a white python northeast of Khulna in eastern Pakistan.
"I put fourof my best men on the job and they waited for four months and the lucky daycame," he said. "They caught it on the rocks."
Questions camefast. Mr. Ryhiner said it was the first such snake ever seen.
"Threethousand years and we haven't seen one like it," he said. One guest putdown his drink and reached out to touch the pallid reptile. The snakehissed.
"No, no,no," Mr. Ryhiner said sternly. "No quick movements."
The guest wentback to his drink, but others came up and touched the snake with slowmovements. There was talk about Eastern superstitions concerning whiteserpents, and somebody mentioned "the curse of the white python." WhenMr. Ryhiner was on his way here with his shipment of animals a young tiger tiedon the ship's deck broke his leash and jumped into the Red Sea. However, it ishighly doubtful that this was the result of any spell cast by the snake. Theinsurance company is contending that tigers shouldn't be kept on leashes.
Mr. Ryhinerwould like to sell his pale python but so far he hasn't had any luck. Beforebringing it to New York he showed it to zoo officials in other cities, but theyfelt that the collector had an exalted idea of the snake's value. The zoo menwere interested in it as an oddity but not as an exhibit. They prefer normalsnakes.
Mr. Ryhinergently lowered the snake back into the box where it curled up on an electricheating pad.
"I keep itat 75°," he said. At this point a young man who broadcasts a short-waveprogram to Switzerland came in with a microphone and a recording machine. Hetried to get the snake to hiss for the Swiss, but the python was apparentlytired. So they just chatted about it.
Finally theanimal man closed the lid on his snake box. Out in the first room a merry groupwere still sipping cocktails and talking rapidly about snakes and a lot ofother things, too.
Once upon atime, when SI was very young—newly born, in fact—it published an item whichbegan, "Wants pawn term...." It turned out to be the story of LittleRed Riding Hood written in a prose peculiar to Howard Chace, who teacheslanguage at Miami University, Ohio. "Wants pawn term" is the Chaceanway of writing "once upon a time." Little Red Riding Hood, to Chace, is"Ladle Rat Rotten Hut." Anyone who has read through the first 50 pagesof Finnegans Wake will understand how this could happen to a language teacher.After all, James Joyce had been a language teacher.
Since that time(cents dot thyme) the reading of Chace has become an indoor sport, suitable tolong evenings over port and, of course, nuts. It was inevitable, surely, thatsome publisher would decide to put out a whole book of Chace. Prentice-Hallwill do so in the spring, when almost anything is likely to seem normal.
Chace isn't toodifficult, once you get the swing of it. Four eggs ample:
Heresy rheumatic starry offer former's dodder, Violate Huskings, an warthoppings darn honor form.
Violate liftwetter fodder, oiled Former Huskings, hoe hatter repetition fur bang furryretch—an furry stenchy. Infect, pimple orphan set debt Violated fodder worsenosing button oiled mouser. Violate, honor udder hen, worsted furry gnatsparson—jester putty ladle form gull, sample, morticed an uninfected.
Wan moaningFormer Huskings nudist haze dodder setting honor cheer, during nosing.
"Violate!" shorted dole former. "Watcher setting darn fur? Denturenor yore canned get retch setting darn during nosing? Germ pup otter debtcheer!"
"Arm tarred,Fodder," resplendent Violate warily.
"Watchertarred fur?" aster stenchy former, hoe dint half mush symphony furthergull. "Are badger dint doe mush woke disk moaning! Ditcher curry dozebuckles fuller slob darn tutor peg pan an feeder pegs?"
"Yap,Fodder. Are fetter pegs."
"Ditchermail car caws an swoop otter caw' staple?"
"Off curse,Fodder. Are mulct oiler caws an swapped otter staple, an fetter checkings, anclammed upper larder inner checking horse toe gadder oiler aches, an wen darntutor vestibule guarding toe peck oiler bogs an warms offer vestibules, anwatched an earned yore closing, an fetter hearses an—"
"Ditcherwarder oiler hearses, toe?" enter-ruptured oiled Huskings.
"Nor,Fodder, are dint."
"Dint wardermar hearses? Wire nut?"
"Arm surrey,Fodder, butcher hearses jest worsen Thursday. Yore kin leader hearse toewarder, Fodder, butcher cannon maggot drank. Lessen, Fodder, armtarred!"
"Oil warestarred!" crumpled Huskings. "Wail, sense yore sore tarred, oil lecherwrestle ladle, bought gad offer debt cheer! Wile yore wrestling, yore kin makerbets an washer dashes."
Suture fodder!Effervescent fur Violated sweat-hard, Hairy Parkings, disk por gull wordsordidly half ban furry miscible.
(Necks weak: Pot2)
New York's LotosClub, founded in 1872 as "Godfather of the Arts" for men who "ratesentiment above sordidity, achievement above assumption and learning abovewealth," gave its 249th state dinner the other night and inducted its guestof honor, James A. Farley, into the company of Ulysses S. Grant, WoodrowWilson, John Galsworthy, Herbert Hoover and Mary Garden. He was presented witha framed dinner menu which listed such delights as green turtle soup, bakedchicken mousseline, wild rice croquettes, alligator pear salad and ambrosia ala Victor (the club chef). Big Jim listened, tears in his eyes, to the tributesof the men who had gathered to honor him.
The evening hada sporting aspect because Farley was once New York's boxing commissioner (heestablished the no-foul rule), and Robert K. Chris-tenberry, who is now amember of the boxing commission, is first vice president of the club and waspresent at the dinner. But beyond that, Robert Moses, nominating Farley"for recognition in this Hall of Fame," recalled that, as Secretary ofState during the governorship of Al Smith, he had been Boxing Chairman Farley'sboss.
"Mysuspicion of professional boxing dates back to that period," Moses said."Maybe Jim will remember an occasion when the sainted Tex Rickardcomplained to me bitterly that he had been forced to dish out 1,800 free seatsto a big fight in the Garden. I asked Jim to cut the Annie Oakleys to 300,which he did. Thereupon Tex Rickard denounced me as an unmitigated, interferinglouse and asked who I was to block free enterprise and prevent his distributionof largesse to fine people.
"The fightgame is no more savory today than it was then, but that's not the fault of Jim,who is a fine sportsman and an example to the athletic youth of theland."
The checkerschamp is mighty glum;
In case you want to know how come,
He made a triple jump, of course,
And got a mental char ley horse.
—HARVEY L. CARTER
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
Notre Dame's loss to Michigan State was just onedramatic development in an upset weekend which patiently has been waiting tohappen since the 1955 collegiate football season began. Other heretoforeunbeaten teams which fell: Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, TCU, Washington andPrinceton.
Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall, the talented young aces ofthe Australian Davis Cup team, executed the year's most ingenious tennismousetrap: they refused professional contracts from Jack Kramer (who hadalready signed up U.S. Champion Tony Trabert)—and thereby virtually assuredAustralia's hold on the cup into 1957.
Donald Campbell of England, who hopes to set a newworld speedboat record with his jet-propelled Bluebird on Nevada's Lake Mead,suffered a twin-jet disappointment instead. Thwarted in a scheduled record runby heavy swells, Campbell hopped out just in time as the $100,000 Bluebirdshipped water while under tow and sank in 50 feet of water.
Gordon Pirie, who can run about as fast and as far asanyone in the world when he's in the mood, gave British Olympic hopes a newlift when he beat one of the world's alltime great distance men twice within aperiod of four days. The loser: Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia. The distances:5,000 and 10,000 meters, at which Zatopek holds the Olympic records.
Fred Hutchinson, signed as St. Louis Cardinal managerafter a pennant-winning year at Seattle, was handed the job of taking the Cardyouth movement (Bill Virdon, Ken Boyer, Wally Moon, Vinegar Bend Mizell) backto the top of the National League. Two not-so-youthful reasons Hutchinson hopesto get there quick: Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst.