IKE ON ATHLETICS
One of the peripheral effects of President Eisenhower's heartattack last September was the postponement of his national physical fitness conference. Since he returned to his desk, the pressure of more immediate business has kept Ike from rescheduling the conference. Now, according to last week's press conference, physical fitness is very much on his mind.
Ike said: "...just before I was taken ill, you know, I had started in with the instigation of Mr. [John B.] Kelly from Philadelphia and a few others who were supporting the proposition to get—develop—a very great movement of youngsters toward the athletic fields of this country, to get them to take part in athletics, because all sorts of tests have shown that the youngsters taking part in athletics were far less susceptible to the juvenile temptations than were others.
"Moreover, the very strange thing came out that physical fitness was a criterion that you could apply, and with it you find a real parallel between physical fitness and, you might say, mental adjustment.
"So that project, which was delayed, I am now reviving—Vice-President Nixon was the chairman—and we are starting again...."
At the end of the week, the White House predicted that the conference will be held in mid-June.
President Eisenhower is not the only world figure concerned about the state of his countrymen's health. In London, the Duke of Edinburgh broke royal precedent to appear "live" on BBC television and discourse on the problems besetting the Council of Physical Recreation of which he is president.
The duke explained that Britain is an industrial community, and as her population has increased, there has been less and less room for recreation. The ideal ratio was established by the duke as six acres of playing space per 1,000 population. In Britain today, there is an average of only one and a half acres per thousand. Some unfortunate localities can show only one-third of an acre per thousand. The playing fields which Wellington plugged so enthusiastically after Waterloo are in danger of becoming extinct.
As early as 1900 it became clear that "the health of the nation was not what it might be," the duke continued. By 1936 the lack of recreational facilities was "dreadful." A staggering 79% of the able-bodied population took "no form of regular physical exercise."
The duke then added dryly: "I am not proposing to get philosophical about this. I don't think there is any problem in leisure and if people like doing nothing I have no objection. All I am concerned about is that people should not be forced to do nothing or to take up criminal activities because there is no opportunity for them to do something satisfying or useful in their leisure time."
The picture is not altogether disheartening, though. Track and field clubs in the United Kingdom have grown from a post-World War II low of 586 (when, as the duke put it, playing fields were either "ploughed up or blitzed") to 1,468. And there is an astonishing number of Britons who swear by the sword. Fencing clubs have grown from 57 to 372 in the same period.
Rugby football, a one-platoon orgy of mayhem and stamina, has grown from 848 clubs to 1,575. The politer forms of competition like badminton and lawn tennis have spread commensurately. To be sure, the statistics are a little less encouraging in the field of women's cricket—up only 20 teams since the war—but by and large the prospects for the duke's campaign to get the eternal Englishman out from under his bowler and into running togs and tennis shoes are good. A favorable omen was the fact that the duke so warmed to his subject he ran 12 minutes overtime on his telecast—a royal prerogative which was less of a catastrophe on the BBC than it would be on, say, Channel 4—and thus indicated that he takes his mission more than somewhat seriously.
When the proprietors of Lincoln Fields changed the name of their 1955 spring race meeting to Balmoral and asked Ben Lindheimer to conduct it amid the superior customer comforts of his Washington Park track, they were delighted (but probably not surprised) that he grossed $8 million more than Lincoln Fields had ever done under its own management. But Lindheimer himself wasn't pleased at all. He was sure he could have done even better if the weather had not been unseasonably cold.
When the weather did an about-face and came up with the hottest early summer in Chicago's history, Lindheimer (who also operates Arlington Park) decided to do something about it.
What he did was to hire a Chicago engineering firm which had solved such knotty air-conditioning problems as the airport terminals in Burma and Thailand. Lindheimer's order to them: design the biggest portable air-conditioning unit ever devised. The engineers took him at his word, built equipment powerful enough to cool a thousand average-size homes and to heat 125 homes on a normal winter's day.
The units mounted on trailers are so big that it was necessary to close down highways to ordinary traffic in order to move them to Washington Park. Not only will the units heat and cool the glass-enclosed clubhouse areas, they are also intended to condition the open grandstand areas with an "invisible curtain" of air. Moreover, if Lindheimer has his way, they will eventually be moved over to Arlington and plugged into outlets there.
The first test of Lindheimer's dream was scheduled for the May 14, opening day of the Balmoral-at-Washington meeting. All went well, promising comfortable temperatures whether it blows hot or cold. Except for the heavy losers. They will burn as usual.
THOSE LIMESTONE THRILLS
You might say skin divers have become as common as hog tracks in Arkansas. Everybody from the local banker to the girl next door is learning the frights and delights of prowling the underwater world. They all experience deep emotions upon staring back at odd sea creatures, and all like to talk about it with the volubility of golfers. The newest group of converts is a band of geologists from the American Museum of Natural History who have been forced underwater by their work.
Geologists are usually associated with rocky outcroppings far from the sea. But this group is departing soon for the Great Bahama Bank to study various types of limestone in the making. Dr. Norman D. Newell, the museum's curator of Historical Geology and Fossil Invertebrates, figured that if he and his associates could get down there and observe as the corals, sediments and fragmented seashells are formed into limestone, they could better interpret what the environment was like at the time when ancient seas were depositing limestone over much of this continent.
In order to pursue these studies they had to take up skin diving.
"And none of us were skin divers," Dr. Newell said. "We don't really have an expert swimmer in the group. That is a psychological barrier. My own emotional reaction the first time I went underwater was greater than during my first trip in an airplane. Take, for example, the first time I met a shark. I have been abjectly terrified a number of times in my life, but the combination of being underwater and then meeting this great animal affected my emotions almost to the extreme."
Before starting out last year on the first leg of their project the scientists took some preliminary workouts in the swimming pool of the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn. G. Robert Adlington, in charge of equipment and underwater photography for the expedition, gave them instructions but admitted he was as inexperienced as the rest. It was almost no time before they found themselves in the clear tropical waters and were faced with their first occasions for extreme emotional reaction. Mr. Adlington told of being approached by a shark during one of his early dives.
"The first time I saw him he was 75 feet away and coming along like a hound dog on a scent," Mr. Adlington said. "I tried to remember all the things to scare sharks. I made air bubbles. I waved my arms. I jumped up and down. I shouted. He kept coming. When he was 8 feet from me, he rose from the bottom until he was level with my eyes. I had a wrecking bar in one hand and a shark knife in the other. Suddenly the shark froze, stared at me and then dashed away. I was going to give him the one-two but I was saved from that gruesome experience by his cowardice."
Mr. Adlington returned to the boat in such unscientific haste that he climbed aboard, lead weights and all, without any assistance.
He also had read advice concerning the big moray eels that lurk in the coral and snap with vicious jaws.
"Just avoid them," he said. "If one grabs you, don't panic; don't pull away and when he opens his mouth to take a bigger bite, withdraw your arm."
Up to now it has been unnecessary to follow these instructions.
Concerning barracuda, Mr. Adlington said, "Keep your eye on them and don't try to swim away. If you have a spear gun try to shoot so it glances off them and frightens them. It's always best to stay down in the water with them. They're unpredictable and just about the meanest looking fish. They always remind me of the tough kid on the block. They don't hurry and all the other fish seem to give them a wide berth."
The nine members of the expedition will make their headquarters at Lerner Marine Laboratory which the museum operates on Bimini, a little island perched at the edge of the Great Bahama Bank, which has become a popular spot for all sorts of skin divers. The scientists have more thrills in store for them and they are eager despite the sharks, moray eels, barracuda and sting rays.
"There's so much to see down there," Mr. Adlington said. "It's the most beautiful sight in the world. I've been to every state and to Mexico and South America and I've never found such scenery as you find down among those coral reefs."
THE BRAVE GOALIE
Back in 1948 a 25-year-old former Nazi paratrooper was released from a British POW camp in Lancashire. His name was Bert Trautmann and he was not entirely unknown in the neighborhood, for he had been goalie for the prison camp soccer team in the games it had played on the outside.
He was a good goalie. An English friend got him a job on a farm and suggested he try out for the town team at St. Helens, 55 miles away. He made the team easily and, despite his Nazi background, was welcomed by most of the people in St. Helens. Not by everybody. When Jack Friar, the team secretary, brought him home for dinner, Friar's daughter, Margaret, said, "I'm going out. I don't like Germans."
Trautmann, big, blond and handsome, quickly made his mark with the St. Helens team, and soon the professional scouts were coming around to have a look at him. Manchester City was particularly interested because their regular goalkeeper, Frank Swift, was retiring. Trautmann, the Manchester City officials agreed, was good enough to take over. But the signing of an ex-Nazi seemed certain to provoke a storm among the fans. When the club decided to risk it, that's exactly what happened.
With Trautmann in the lineup, letters of protest poured in from all over England. At the games, there were boos and catcalls. But then, slowly and grudgingly, even Trautmann's enemies had to admit that his split-second timing and superb ball handling were superior to anything they had seen. They had to concede that he had amazing physical courage as he hurled himself at the feet of onrushing forwards, throwing himself on and behind the ball. Once he continued through a game after a severe groin injury, another time with a broken nose.
Trautmann gradually overcame the prejudice against him. Back in St. Helens, Margaret Friar, the girl who wouldn't stay in the same house with him a couple of years before, reconsidered—and married him.
Just before the Cup Final at Wembley Stadium this year, British sportswriters chose Trautmann as "Footballer of the Year." In the game itself, Manchester started slowly against Birmingham, still managed to end the first half with a 1-1 tie. In the second half, Manchester began to click, brilliantly pushed across two goals. Then, with 16 minutes left to play, Birmingham Forward Peter Murphy suddenly shot through to Manchester's goal mouth and Trautmann—with the daring that was now his trademark—threw himself at Murphy's feet, catching a knee in his neck.
He lay there, twisting in agony. The crowd was silent, then began to chant, "We want Bert." Finally, the big blond struggled to his feet, staggering as the play moved away from him. His teammates tried desperately to keep the ball away. Repeatedly they failed, but Trautmann always pulled himself together to make almost unbelievable saves. He was hit twice more before the game ended with Manchester the winner 3-1.
As the Manchester players paraded jubilantly past the royal box to accept the cup and their individual medals from Queen Elizabeth, Trautmann stumbled with them, clutching his neck. He even paused for a word with the Duke of Edinburgh. But when his teammates, the cup held high, circled the field, he was led off to the dressing room alone, unaware that the crowd and the sportswriters were already caring it his Cup Final.
It was not until four days later that the doctors correctly diagnosed Trautmann's injury. Then—first assuring the fans that their favorite would be able to play again by the middle of next season—the doctors said that Trautmann had suffered a broken neck. He had played the last 16 minutes of the Cup Final with it.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
To many of today's race-goers the name Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt signifies merely a New York millionaire who owns Native Dancer. Others, with better memories, will recall that turf success first came to this modest young man with a flair for sloppy hats and a gracefully cultivated slouch when he purchased Discovery in 1933 for $25,000. At one time Vanderbilt's cerise-and-white silks were carried by such worthy racers as Bed o' Roses, Next Move, Loser Weeper and, since the retirement of Native Dancer, by Social Outcast and Find. He has also found time to serve as president of Pimlico (where he saw his first horse race, the 1923 Preakness), president of Belmont Park, president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association and as a very active adviser of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau.
Yet there is another serious side to Alfred Vanderbilt. During World War II, as an officer aboard PT-196 of the 12th Torpedo Squadron, he put in many dangerous hours off the coast of New Guinea, and for gallantry in action one night Alfred Vanderbilt was awarded the Silver Star. Returning from the wars, he busied himself again with his stable, but a new interest was now awake in him: that of serving the underprivileged youth of America and that of aiding the war's veterans wherever they might be.
Recently Vanderbilt—a perfectionist by instinct—has had to neglect his large racing stable in favor of his job as president of the World Veterans Fund, an organization embracing some 18 million people. It was becoming obvious he lacked the time for both, so he chose to stick by the veterans. As a result, some 37 racers (all his horses-in-training except Social Outcast, Find and three others) will go under the auctioneer's hammer at Belmont next week in the largest Thoroughbred exchange since the Belair Stud dispersal last winter. Included in the lot to be sold is a very special little number—a gray 2-year-old filly named Almond Eyes. She is by Polynesian out of Geisha—and if this strikes a familiar chord it certainly should. Almond Eyes is a full sister to Native Dancer.
Vanderbilt's departure for Europe this week—following a formally announced separation from his second wile—doesn't mean for a minute that the 43-year-old sportsman is quitting the game. On the contrary he may have not one but several aces up his sleeve. From down on his Sagamore Farm at Glyndon, Md. Vanderbilt will be getting regular reports on the progress of each new Native Dancer foal. The services of Trainer Bill Winfrey and Contract Rider Eric Guerin will be retained, and, says Vanderbilt with a suspiciously hopeful smile, "We are looking forward to future seasons and especially to the time when the Native Dancer foals will start racing."
DIVOT IN THE DRAWING ROOM
The new maid sent to a New York family by the employment agency was a well-proportioned, well-spoken woman of 50. The agency had not had time to check her references, and the family, impressed with her poise and confidence, decided not to bother right away.
The new maid cheerfully promised to do everything—cook, clean, the works. Delighted, the family sat down to the new maid's first dinner.
It was horrible. The family tried to persuade themselves that the woman was just a little nervous about starting a job. But the next meal was worse and, in between, the new maid had made a shambles of housecleaning. After gagging on another dinner, the man of the house called the new maid into the living room.
"Let's face it," he said. "You can't cook and you can't clean. May I ask what you can do?"
"Well," said the new maid, not batting an eye, "I'm a pretty fair golf pro."
While the man of the house was recovering, she went on:
"I'm just doing this kind of stuff between golf jobs. I was teaching at a hotel in Florida and in a few weeks I plan to go to Nevada and try for a hotel job there."
The man of the house went to a hall closet and came back with his golf bag. He drew out a putter, tossed a ball on the rug and said, "Show me."
With perfect form, the new maid took a stance and putted beautifully. The man of the house handed her a nine-iron. With flawless grace she took a $50 divot out of the rug.
"I used to play all the time when my husband was alive. We belonged to a country club upstate. My handicap was 2."
The man of the house sank into a chair.
"As I say," the new maid went on, "I only planned to stay with you a few weeks anyway. Maybe you'd rather I got started for Nevada right now?"
The man of the house, staring at the hole in the rug, nodded.
"Suppose I leave right after dinner?" asked the new maid.
Before dinner, said the man of the house, would be all right with him.
Our doubts of the umpire
Could not be concealed
When his seeing-eye dog
Led him onto the field.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
•A Sensitive Trading Area
The Cardinals sent Harvey Haddix, Stu Miller, Ben Flowers to the Phillies for Murry Dickson, Herm Wehmeier, promptly felt the wrath of St. Louis citizens. The reason: Card fans have never forgiven trade of old favorite Enos Slaughter in 1954, feel much the same way about Haddix.
•From Blink to Mink
Blinky Palermo and his fighters are banned in New York State but Blinky's boy Johnny Saxton may yet be matched against Carmen Basilio in Syracuse. Within a few days Saxton is expected to have a new proprietor: Hymie (The Mink) Wallman, like Palermo another auld acquaintance of Frankie Carbo.
•The Final Meeting
Rex Ellsworth (Swaps) visited Leslie Combs II (Nashua), and it appears their famous Thoroughbreds will meet again—but at the stud farm, not on the track. Combs secured first option to buy Swaps upon his retirement from racing, probably for the same price ($1,251,200) he paid for Nashua.
•To Each His Own
While John Landy was rippling through a 3:59.1 mile at Fresno, the man who beat him in 3:58.6 the week before was running too. Up the Coast, Oregon's Jim Bailey won in a Pacific Coast Conference Northern Division meet by 75 yards, set a new record. His time: 4:06.4.