MADE IN U.S.A.
This is a dark brown, quiet horse. His head is heavy, square, wide between the eyes. He is 22 years old, not particularly handsome and a bit crotchety—he hates for anyone to touch his nose and he raises his head and complains bitterly in a loud whine if his rolled oats are late at mealtime. His name is Bull Lea—and in an era when American breeders rush to import foreign stallions (Nasrullah, Tulyar, Khaled, Princequillo) on the theory that their bloodlines will be superlatively successful in this country, Bull Lea, as American as Saratoga chips, has been pretty successful himself.
Bull Lea was good but not sensational on the track, where he earned $95,000 for Calumet Farm. In his own Kentucky Derby, that of 1938, he finished eighth. But within a few years his sons had begun to make a name for him at Churchill Downs. His first great one was named Citation, and Citation took the Derby in 1948 and went on to win a million dollars. In 1952 it was Bull Lea's son Hill Gail who won the Derby. Between 1941 and 1956 his offspring earned Calumet more than $11 million. And at Churchill Downs last week it was another son of Bull Lea—Iron Liege—who took another Derby for the old man. As a matter of fact, if still another son, Gen. Duke, hadn't turned up with a sore foot in Derby week, Bull Lea's boys might very well have finished 1-2. In the circumstances, and thinking of such sons of foreign sires as Bold Ruler (by Nasrullah), Round Table (by Princequillo) and Shan Pac (by Shannon II), all of whom finished up the track to Iron Liege, old Bull Lea might almost have permitted himself an elderly horse laugh.
At 22 he is the human equivalent of a sexagenarian, but he is still siring sons and daughters. He dozed in his lush stall at Lexington, while his son was winning the Derby. A quarter of a mile away, four foals, all sired by him and as yet unnamed, romped in a meadow—very much as the young, then unnamed Iron Liege romped three years ago this spring.
May 12, 1957
Down the freshly brushed paths of Calumet in the barn for two-year-olds stood one of his daughters, due to go to the races sometime soon. "That's Gold Flame," a groom said proudly. "A Bull Lea filly. Look out for her. She can go."
FOG IN THE STRETCH
The TV network for the Kentucky Derby was the largest ever—more than 200 stations—and presumably the audience was also the largest ever: millions of Americans who could not be at Churchill Downs but were set, from motives of love, profit, compulsion or plain curiosity, to watch the 83rd running of the Derby. They depended, of course, on one eye, the surrogate Cyclops of the TV camera. Well, Cyclops caught a fine race and once or twice—a commendable novelty in telecasting—gandered at the lighted tote board and actually let watchers see the shifting prerace odds. Alas, Cyclops also got careless.
As Federal Hill, Mr. Jive, Bold Ruler, Iron Liege and the rest came sweeping past the stands on the way to the first turn, a foglike blur spread across your screen. A little less than two minutes later, as announcer Fred Capossela shouted, "Iron Liege has taken the lead, but Gallant Man is closing on the outside!" the fog closed in again.
What was it? Your set? Real fog? The handle-bar mustache of some Kentucky colonel? None of these, said CBS inconsolably next day. Just the out-of-focus bulk of another CBS camera, set up too close to the traversing lens of the first camera.
Cyclops resolves to do better next year. Said CBS: "We'll find a different location, all right."
Princeton University might not seem a likely place for the sale of any product made by the Wham-O Manufacturing Co. of San Gabriel, Calif. But when spring touches a college campus, unlikely things happen. At Princeton, the air has been filled lately with flying objects, every one of which can be identified as a Pluto Platter made by Wham-O. The undergraduates ignore the official name, though, and call the curious gadgets Frisbees.
A Frisbee is a plastic device shaped like a garbage-can lid, but much smaller (about the size of a dinner plate) and without a handle. Thrown by an expert—and after 10 minutes' practice, anyone is an expert—it can be made to skim lightly through the air and pause for an instant, still spinning, over the catcher's head. He plucks it from the air and throws it back, and the resulting game, like the object itself, is called Frisbee. Frisbees can also be made to hook, slice, boomerang, and skip along a sidewalk like a stone on water.
In other years Princeton students played catch in the spring, like students anywhere else in the country. But nowadays a stroller through the campus quadrangles rarely hears a ball plunk into a glove. Instead he sees dozens of bright-colored discs—red, yellow, green, white—spinning in the air. Frisbees, like most plastic products, come in lollipop colors.
The Keebler Biscuit Co. of Philadelphia has been making a prototype of the Frisbee for years, possibly without knowing that it was doing so. Long ago picnickers and beachgoers learned that the lid from a large tin can of Keebler crackers could be made to skim and hover exactly as Frisbees do, and so a game called Keebler Can was invented. It made its way from the beach to the campus and, like the prothonotary warbler, can be spotted now and then along the eastern seaboard.
Frisbee, too, is known at several schools, though it was Princeton that gave the pastime a local habitation and a name. Nobody at Princeton seems to know who named Frisbee, or why. Nobody, for that matter, seems able to agree on why the students play it. "The cost of materials is low, compared to a ball and glove," was one undergraduate explanation. (Frisbees sell for 79¢ at Princeton.) "It caught on," said another, "because it is childish. It relieves the mind of the tensions of college." It is a gentleman's game," said a third. "If you are good at it, you can sit in a chair and play."
But faculty members, who have more book learning than students, apply less of it to their interpretations of the Frisbee craze. "It's just another form of spring fever," said one of them the other day, flinching slightly as a bright red Frisbee sailed straight at him and then boomeranged away.
WEEK'S WET WASH
"Early Wynn, Cleveland right-hander who has won 223 major league baseball games using a dry baseball, cast a vote for the wets the other day in his column in the Cleveland News, a column he actually writes himself. Every team in the majors has a spit-ball pitcher, Wynn said. "I'm not the spitball guy on the Indians, but there's only one reason I'm not. I can't throw one. I've tried to throw a spitter in pitching practice but I can't make it work....
"Listen, I'd paint an orange white and throw it up to the plate if I thought I could get away with it. And why not? For the last 10 years the rules makers have been conniving to help the batters.... All I have to say is, more power to the spitball pitchers. I hope they never get caught."
THE WAYWARD WIND
One of the sportiest nautical propositions of this or any other spring season got under way recently when an almost perfect replica of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower, complete with three square-rigged masts and towering poop deck, cleared Plymouth, England, bound for the New World. Commanded by a globe-trotting mariner named Alan Villiers and manned by volunteer sailors, including one genuine Pilgrim descendant, the current Mayflower was built to the exact dimensions—92 feet over all and 183 tons displacement—of the original ship. The builders did not, however, ignore the 20th century altogether, since her equipment includes a radar reflector and a small generator-operated radio.
The purpose of the voyage, besides giving a lot of people something to do, is to retrace the route and relive, in part, the troubled lives of the Pilgrim sailors. In the latter purpose, the 1957 crew is succeeding admirably. Like the old Pilgrims, they had a terrible time getting started. When Mayflower II was launched she almost capsized on the spot. When a tug towed her to the place where the old Mayflower set sail, water splashed through the hawsepipes and sloshed around under the bunks in the crew's quarters. And when, on April 20, the Mayflower at last unfurled her sails for America, with much horn-tooting and hoorah, the wind pooped out altogether.
At this point, the voyage of the Mayflower II began to lose all identity with history. On the morning of April 22 a wind finally came up, but not the gale which buffeted the old ship en route across the North Atlantic. The 1957 wind was a gentle northwesterly which pushed the tubby Mayflower II exactly at right angles to the westerly course she planned. Even so, her first radio reports were firm and confident. But after nine days of sailing toward Africa instead of Massachusetts, the skipper's confidence began to weaken. On April 29 the Mayflower II radioed back to England a complete change of plans: "Taking southern route trade winds west to Gulf Stream. Arrive 6 to 7 weeks. Sorry no more messages since need to conserve power."
This means, in effect, that the Mayflower is now trying to reach first base by setting off down the third base line, and hence will arrive well after the original ETA of May 25.
Meanwhile, in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the question has ceased to be when the Mayflower II will arrive, but where it will be when it gets here. Massachusetts has already spent $224,000 to dredge Plymouth harbor so the Mayflower II can get in. And Governor Foster Furcolo was in the act of extracting another $125,000 from the legislature to finance a welcoming celebration when someone leaked the word that Mayflower II, come fair winds or foul, would spend only a few days in Plymouth before moving to New York to adorn that city's Summer Festival.
At the news, State Senator John E. Powers, minority leader, grumbled that he would torpedo the entire appropriation unless arrangements were made for the ship to stay in Plymouth "until every parent and child here has a chance to see it." New York, he added, "is attempting to transplant history.... Why don't they go all the way...and steal Plymouth Rock." In an editorial, the Boston Traveler concurred. "The Mayflower," the Traveler observed, "will be as out of place in New York as the Alamo would be in Fall River.... We say let her stay there. We could put the $125,000 toward building a Mayflower of our own."
There wasn't a wry eye along the route. The old cars, all aglitter with burnished bronze and lustrous chrome, clackety-clacked through the lovely spring-green countryside in a mist of nostalgia. This pleasant fog, it must be said, was limited to the spectators. It did not cloud the eyes of the drivers in the second Anglo-American Vintage Car Rally, nor stay their speed.
Mindful of its defeat at the hands of the British in the United Kingdom in 1954, the American Veteran Motor Car Club this year sounded a call for rapid antiques and lead-footed antiquarians. Fifty-two minutemen responded, and 11 aged but nimble automobiles were chosen by elimination.
The opposing Vintage Sports Car Club of Great Britain picked its 11 entries with an eye mainly for speed but perhaps made tactical errors in including an imposing 1910 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost (for its beauty) and a 1913 Lanchester (for its novelty). The stately Rolls and the boxy Lanchester simply weren't up to snuff in the matter of go. The British cars ranged in age from a 1908 Hutton to a 1928 Bentley; the American cars from a 1909 Chalmers to a 1929 Studebaker.
Well, the Americans went ahead in the scoring in the second day of competition in a hill climb at Reading, Pa. and never looked back. Not that it was a sure thing. From Reading to Skytop, Pa., to Hartford, Conn., to Boston, to New London, Conn., thence across Long Island Sound by ferry to Southampton, N.Y., and back to Manhattan, it was touch and go, in a series of average speed, road-racing, gymkhana, braking and easy-starting tests.
At Southampton the British made an extraordinarily handsome gesture. They produced 147 bottles of vintage champagne, which were consumed in one bubbly sitting by the drivers and officials, who numbered 65 in all. It was not recorded which team suffered the biggest collective aftereffects next morning on the way to Manhattan. Certainly Robert Stewart Kilborne III, the leader of the Yankees, insisted that his head was clear all the way.
What nearly did Kilborne in, though, was the sight of all the victory champagne in the big silver trophy cup that awaited them outside the British Travel Association office in Manhattan.
"I could barely pick up the cup," said Kilborne. "The British could not have been more gracious, you understand. They were sportsmen to a man. But drinking champagne on Madison Avenue has never appealed to me."
MANAGEMENT AND LABOR
Until recently 5-year-old Susan Tebbetts, the oldest of Birdie Tebbetts' three daughters, was unaware that her father was the manager of the Cincinnati Redlegs. Her mother had simply told her that Daddy "earns his money playing baseball," and let it go at that. Then one day Mary Tebbetts took Susan to her first baseball game. They sat beside the Cincinnati dugout and Susan watched, first with interest, then with patience, as one by one the players came to bat. Finally she asked, "When is Daddy going to bat?"
Mrs. Tebbetts explained that Daddy wasn't really a player; that he was a manager and told the players what to do.
"Oh," said Susan understandingly, "and then they earn Daddy's money."
A tiny old lady with no teeth, wearing a straw hat, wool muffler and dark coat sat in a front booth in the roaring interior of Sugar Ray's tavern in Harlem last week waiting for Mr. Robinson on his birthday. Over the bar hung a paper sign: PERFECT PUNCHER—TOUGH AND FAST—MAY HIS TRIUMPH EVER LAST. Outside, the neighborhood pressed faces to the glass of the magenta-tinted aquarium to see the celebrants. In the street a rented searchlight turned.
"I got him a lovely card," said the old lady, who held tightly a white box wrapped in cellophane, "and I want to get it in his hand. That's why I'm holding it all this while on my lap." She spoke with the soft inflections of the Indies.
"I come from Antigua," she said. "Britannia rules my home. Mr. Robinson likes foreigners. We're dignified. You see, I addressed my card to Mr. Ray Robinson. I don't believe in being too familiar. Oh, I love him because he's so kind and gentle. Oh, I love him because he's so simple. I met him in this restaurant two years ago and he adopted me. He calls me Mom. I watched his fight on television and I wished him the best of luck and I wished he would swing out that wicked left and he did it. I say, Ray, do your stuff and he did it."
"Here comes the boss. Stand close to the bar," a flunky shouted, and the Middleweight Champion of the World, with careless smile and ready wink, arrived in a lustrous blue suit. He went straight to the old lady, helped her up and drew her to him.
"I prayed for you, Ray," she said in his ear.
"I know you did, Mom," said Ray as they pressed about him.
"You did two things so beautiful," Sammy Davis Jr. said, looking up at him. "I got to talk to you about them. Not boxing moves—just moves!" And he rattled his feet on the floor in delight.
A pretty young woman took him by the arms. "The Fountain of Youth, Sugarman," she crooned. "Where did you find it? Come, tell me where it is."
If he told her, no one heard, for flunkies crying "hot stuff, hot stuff" bore him off to his birthday cake. It was iced with HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHAMP—ATOMIC MUSIC. The photographers made him blow out the candles a hundred times.
"Did you see," said the old lady, "Mr. Robinson kissed me twice."
He's found that the trout
Aren't hitting flies now,
But he'll worm himself out
Of the problem, somehow.
—F. E. WHITE
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
A horse race betting referendum bill squeaked through the Pennsylvania Senate last week 26-22—better than perennial similar bills have done before—but headed for predicted defeat in the House. Pennsylvanians will probably still have to cross the state line to lay a legal bet, contribute to the improvement of the breed.
•Soccer for Sock
Michigan State will drop boxing as a varsity sport after next season in favor of soccer, which it tried for the first time last fall (SI, Nov. 19, 1956). Too hard to find collegiate competition in boxing, says Athletic Director Biggie Munn. It will continue to be stressed intramurally.
In Milwaukee, a meeting of Missouri Synod Lutheran ministers pondered the date—Sept. 29—selected for 25th anniversary celebrations of radio's Lutheran Hour, changed it to Sept. 22. Reason: on the 29th too many people may be engrossed in the season-ender between the Braves and Redlegs.
•Rear View Mirror, No Doubt
Russia's Vladimir Kuts, who led almost all the way to win the Olympic 5,000 meters, accused three British runners: "They literally divided this distance into three parts, sacrificing each other to break me." Said Jack Crump, British team manager, "He had no opportunity of watching any so-called tactics on our part."