A MODEST PROPOSAL
The life and times of Míla Nàchodskà pose an interesting problem. The problem is not that of Mila herself—it seems to me that she was as well off as a Czech heroine as she is as a New York nightclub hoofer—but that of our response to what by now is a well-documented situation: state training and support of satellite and U.S.S.R. athletes.
We could, of course, bid the AAU amateur ideal adieu and provide our star athletes with a bigger-and-better-than-Russian system of endowed athletics. But the trouble is that we would be doing this to spite the Soviet Union and to flatter our own chauvinistic impulses, rather than for the sake of athletics. And that has proven to be a dangerous experiment. The great flaw of the Russian system is that athletics are used for a purpose other than recreation and the ideal of achieving excellence.
Here is my modest proposal. I suggest that a group of weighty citizens, interested in the value of sport, form a body with the purpose of persuading some of our great foundations, such as the Rockefeller, Ford, Commonwealth, Markle, etc. etc. groups, to establish jointly a new foundation which would underwrite a national sports program designed to produce excellence in sports the way we now have programs to produce excellence in medical training, historical research and contemporary affairs.
I do not believe that such a proposal would set the bodies of the late Messrs. Rockefeller, Harkness and Markle to spinning in their graves. Athletics are a pretty fine thing and through the centuries have been an ennobling influence on Man.
April 2, 1956
PARADISE IN PERU
Your Cabo Blanco story (SI, March 19) was terrific, for that is truly a fisherman's paradise. I spent a holiday there in March of 1954 with two of my sons. Our youngest boy, Wilford, then 15, caught the largest black marlin ever caught by a boy of his age in the world. It weighed 770 pounds and was boated in 50 minutes. It was also an experience for me to catch a 712-pound marlin at these fabulous grounds.
G. HAROLD WELCH
Mt. Carmel, Conn.
THE MEASURE OF GREATNESS
Somewhere in trafficking between various and sundry race tracks this writer acquired the naive idea that even a super-horse going off at even money or less faces the possibility on any given day of getting whipped.
The latest example of this is Nashua's somewhat dismal showing in Florida (SI, March 26) which is even having repercussions at this distant point. Thank heaven the people most directly concerned took his shellacking in good grace as witness their statements:
"That's horse racing. I just hope we get another chance." Jim Fitzsimmons, trainer.
"We'll race him all year, or as long as the handicappers let him." Leslie Combs II, head of owning syndicate.
The last remark of course is the all-important one, because it is within Mr. Combs's jurisdiction to keep this fine horse on the turf and chance further losses, which naturally would reduce his value at stud, or retire him now. How good it was to have this fine example of sportsmanship rather than to listen, for example, to Sam Riddle's wails of anguish for years after Man o' War's defeat by Upset. As Mr. Hal Price Headly often states, "You don't win them in the barn." You've got to try and be tried.
The measure of a horse's greatness is largely in the animal himself but, being without means of expression other than his ability to run at certain times faster and at other times slower than his confreres, it is the men surrounding him who put their money, knowledge, work, love and affection into bringing out the very best that is in him. In Nashua's case, both with his former owner and with his present ones, he seems to have been surrounded by what, for want of better words, could be stated as a certain fineness.
THOMAS P. TUCKER
OLD GOLDENSIDES (CONT.)
The pictures of Aristoteles Socrates Onassis, yacht (SI, Feb. 27) resemble a Canadian frigate with extended bow which is referred to as a destroyer escort.
Would you kindly publish the former name of this Canadian war vessel?
STAN V. WRIGHT
•The Onassis yacht was at one time the Canadian frigate Stormont. Performing the same duties as a destroyer escort, the Stormont saw service in North Atlantic, Arctic and European waters. She destroyed 18 drifting mines, helped sink at least three submarines and came under fire from a German shore battery. The Stormont was decommissioned in 1945 and seven years later was taken to Kiel, Germany, where she was converted into Onassis' yacht.—ED.
In THE OUTDOOR WEEK, March 12 you describe the dilemma of a game warden who faces a murder charge for shooting a man whom he suspected of hunting in an illegal manner, after supposedly being threatened by him. I have gunned and fished from Maine to Florida, and it is my opinion that wardens are given too much authority. True, there are some tough cookies roaming our hunting areas, but there are plenty of ways of apprehending them without shooting them. Within the past two years there have been similar instances of unjustified severity in the New England area. One of our wardens was fined for manhandling a hunter who refused to show him his license because this warden did not bother to identify himself as a game enforcement officer. Another wounded a young boy in shooting at a car which contained hunters he suspected of jacking deer.
HARRY C. BURNS
So. Duxbury, Mass.
HOW TO DISCOURAGE A BEAVER
I can well understand Cecil Koenig's plight with the beaver (E & D, March 12).
First of all, the effort to carry the material from the broken dam a safe distance is wasted motion as a beaver will never use the same branches, twigs, etc. a second time even though he must travel far for fresh supplies. How the beaver knows which branches were previously used in his now-broken dam and which were not is an unanswered question in nature.
The best solution is to put a water wheel where the beaver insists on putting a dam (in this case the inlet to the pipe). The wheel at first acts as sort of a moving scarecrow, but even after the beaver has got used to it, he seems to be unable to stop the moving water wheel despite his dam-building talents.
THE FINAL CAST
I have just finished reading Sparse Grey Hackle's excellent article on the Beaverkill (SI, Feb. 27), and I was wondering if you could give me a full version of An Angler's Prayer that he referred to.
•Sparse Grey Haekle provides this angler's prayer, author unknown, with a note that it is not intended for spinning rod fishermen:
God grant that I may live to fish
Until my dying day.
And when my final cast is made
I then most humbly pray,
When in the Lord's safe landing net
I'm peacefully asleep,
That in His mercy I be judged
As good enough to keep.
THE BOYS FROM THE CLUB
I was deeply interested in the article by Sparse Grey Hackle regarding the Beaverkill. I practically grew up brandishing a fly on its lovely rapids. However, I take exception to the likes of Sparse Grey Hackle crying about the misuse of the stream. True, the untutored have invaded this hallowed stream, but what is just as bad is the type of "club" fisherman Hackle represents. They are the boys that buy up stream rights, post every inch of it, then go off to any other stream that suits their fancy.
Many is the time I have sought out a favored pool either on the lower Beaverkill or the East Branch only to find one or more of these club fishermen pleasantly plunked in the middle whipping up a froth—and sometimes ol' Sparse Grey himself.
BYRON M. KELLAM
Just a word of thanks for the pages "allotted" to bird watchers. Hope there will be more. Bird watching is a sport that can be indulged in even while actively participating in another, and how many other sports can boast that? M. E. Hillman from Seattle complains that he never met an honest-to-goodness card-carrying bird watcher (19TH HOLE, March 12). He could write his own card by a little observation on the golf links...or maybe he's the kind that doesn't know the color of his wife's eyes.
•"As a mere people watcher I have no wish to evoke the ire of the bird watchers of America," answers Mr. Hillman. "As a token of peace I will gladly count up several sea gulls for next year's bird count, if in turn one of the bird watchers will keep an eye on the pigeons over our parking lot."—ED.
Like a lot of other drivers at Daytona Beach during the Speed Week (SI, March 5) I was not sure of the rules as there were several sets of rules to be applied to different categories and events. On the chance that extra weight over the driving wheels might help acceleration, I brought an engine block to the beach in the trunk of my car. Officials were consulted and weights were not allowed, whereupon the block was removed. There was no attempt to evade rules.
BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Are you trying to break up my happy home? Under NASCAR results (SI, March 5) you have me listed correctly as runner-up in the Ladies' Sports Car Class. Thank you! But under "Hybrid U.S. Passenger Cars," you say: "Suzanne La Fountain, Highlands, N.J., '56 Ford station wagon—70.950." This was my husband, Donald La Fountain.
SUZANNE LA FOUNTAIN
•A Pat on the Back to Donald.—ED.
I want to tell you how much I enjoyed the article on the stock car races (Salute to Speed, SI, March 5) at Daytona Beach, Florida.
I enjoyed reading about the hot Corvettes and Thunderbirds, but one thing puzzles me. What happened to the Studebaker Hawk? With its 275 hp motor it's supposed to be the hottest thing on the road. Why wasn't it entered?
•Studebaker feels that official participation in speed events would not be in keeping with the company's firm emphasis on the safety factors of their cars. However, Wallace L. Chandler of Lansing, Mich. raced a privately entered Studebaker Golden Hawk to fourth place in the over-350-cubic-inch Passenger Cars Acceleration run and to fifth place in the Flying Mile for the same class.—ED.