LATEST NOTE ON THE U.S. ECONOMY
This is an article from the Feb. 3, 1958 issue
This magazine leaves to others definitive analysis of the U.S. economy as a whole but takes natural pride in reporting an economic note at the close of the National Boat Show in New York City (shortly to be followed by boat shows coast to coast): buyers at the New York boat show bought $22,400,000 worth of boats and equipment—a rise of 12% over last year's record-breaking show.
The popular turnout on the final Saturday was so enthusiastic that one woman asked for her admission money back. "It's so crowded," she complained, "that I can't see the boats."
"If anything sank at the boat show," said W. J. Webb, division manager of Evinrude, "it was the so-called recession."
ROUND AND ROUND
I don't feel as though I've double-crossed myself," Jim Myers was saying last week as he climbed into his car to start the long drive to College Station, Texas.
Indeed, why should he? Only a few weeks before he had accepted a new five-year appointment as head football coach at Iowa State at an annual salary of $16,000. He served under this agreement for a month or so before making a new one—to coach at Texas A&M for an estimated $60,000 in salary and assorted fringe benefits.
Myers' acceptance of the Aggie football post was the anticlimactic denouement of one of the most crazy, mixed-up football stories since Wrong Way Riegels ran wild.
During the past month Frank Leahy, Navy's Eddie Erdelatz and half a dozen other top-name coaches came, saw and declined the Aggie post. Myers, too, had been considered and had made a candidate's pilgrimage to Texas, but the Aggie screening committee dropped him when it appeared there was a chance to get Erdelatz. Iowa State took Myers back like a prodigal son. Then Texas A&M bid again and Jim Myers whispered yes.
When the news got out at Iowa State, it made some people pretty mad. Indignant students hanged Myers in effigy. The president of the Iowa State Alumni Association, Douglas Graves, wrote Dr. M. T. Harrington, Texas A&M president, in tones of dripping irony: "If a coach does not have the moral fiber to adhere to a five-year obligation for more than a week, certainly we should expect the president of a college to have higher standards."
The furor caused Myers to do a little moralizing, himself.
"I don't think it's the proper thing," he said, "to say you're going to do something and then not do it."
Then as he waved farewell to his former associates at Iowa State, he commented matter-of-factly: "There may be a lot of people bitter, but that's their business."
You're confused? Just suppose you are an undergraduate at Iowa State, learning about character and the sanctity of contracts.
THE WICHITA CABAL
Ever since a roving Kansan spotted some 6 feet and 11 inches of attenuated adolescence named Chamberlain in a Philadelphia high school, Kansan eyes in particular and those of basketball in general have been peeled for another star like Wilt the Stilt. It was probably with this thought in mind that an alumnus of Wichita University a little over a year ago dropped a note to Basketball Coach Ralph Miller describing a young man he had just seen playing on the team of an all-Negro school in Amarillo, Texas. The boy in question, the note said in an offhand way, stood 6 feet 10 inches and seemed to be a competent basketball player. Did Coach Miller care?
The result was something akin to that which might occur if a Vladivostok scientist dropped a postcard to Khrushchev saying that he'd just taken a trip around the moon and would the party boss care to hear about it? Coach Miller, in short, was interested. The well-oiled wheels of athletic recruitment began to whirr. With the help of a Wichita alumnus who had once been one of the university's top Negro athletes, Miller succeeded in luring young Gene Wiley, the Texas giant, to Kansas to complete his high school education. The arguments employed were much the same as those used on Wilt Chamberlain: the promise of a better future and a better life. The only trouble was that Gene, who was no great shakes as a player, didn't even care much about basketball.
Nonetheless, the boy was 6 feet 10 inches tall, and, with this salient fact in mind, Coach Miller set about hatching his egg in strictest privacy. As everyone knows, this is an age of well-kept secrets. Only last week a scientist once employed in Washington complained to a congressional committee investigating government secrecy that some casual notes he once made on his hobby, archery, were still on file under a top-secret classification in the capital. But even in an era of concealment, some seven feet of youth is a tough secret to keep on the campus of a Kansas high school—something like hoping a South American condor in full flight might go unnoticed in a kennel of bird dogs.
Miller and his alumni urged local newspapermen to keep mum about Gene, and, hypnotized by the thought of future bylines proclaiming a new Wilt the Stilt in their midst, the boys complied. Meanwhile, too old (20) to play in high school competition anyway, Gene appears only as a spectator at the East High gym and gets his workouts in scrub games at a local Y. Most of the time he keeps himself both busy and inconspicuous at odd jobs to support himself and at his books in an effort to get to college.
What college? Well, that's just the point. Gene hasn't yet committed himself. What he really wants is to be a commercial artist. He's just beginning to think better about basketball, but he still gets knocked down a good deal even in those games at the Y. "I know it's all part of the game," he says, "but I'm just not used to it." But, he adds, "they do say I have a future here, not like in Amarillo." Even though Gene is not much of a basketball player even now, there is still that matter of his 6 feet 10 inches. With things being as they are—uncertain at best—it just seems best to all concerned to keep his presence in Kansas inconspicuous. "We just don't want a lot of people bothering the boy," is the way those most interested put it.
The blue runway lights of Idle-wild burned under the rain as the Cadillac bearing Cus D'Amato, manager of the heavyweight champion of the world, rolled through the dark before morning, back to New York. D'Amato had gone to the airport to meet Harry (The Hoarse) Levene, the independent British fight promoter, only to discover that Levene's plane had arrived ahead of schedule and that he had already left for the city.
"I am teed off," said Cus D'Amato sourly. "I don't know why I love this business. It's like a girl friend you have. You love her but you don't know why. Maybe it's the motion. Prehistoric man, you know, was always on the move; hunting and fishing. He had to in order to eat. When he learned to preserve food, his eyes became less keen, his nose couldn't smell as good. He didn't have to move so much any more. When you stop moving, is when you start to die."
D'Amato slouched down in his seat and looked at the rain. "Maybe there is no Levene," he said. "Everything exists in your own mind. If we have not perceived him, perhaps he does not exist. I am teed off."
But there was a Harry Levene. He came later to D'Amato's Broadway apartment, as Cus slept on his day bed with a Reader's Digest as a pillow: an ebullient man of 58, with an assertive jaw, no lips to speak of, a great curved nose and skin the high color and sheen of a wax apple. He wore a blue suit with a stripe in it, a white shirt ribbed with more white and carried an envelope with the seating plans of London's Wembley Stadium in it.
Levene had flown in from London to talk with D'Amato about a title defense for Floyd Patterson there this summer. He said he hoped that Patterson's opponent would be Joe Erskine, the British Empire champion.
"He's a good boy," Levene told D'Amato, "just under 14 stone, a 6-footer, very fast but not a puncher, you know. A very strong boy. He's a Welshman. Comes from Cardiff, you know. Oh, I can just picture those excursion trains coming in from Wales; all those miners. You don't know how Welshmen are, especially when they sing Land of My Fathers. Oh, what a spectacle it will be!"
The major cloud that could befog Levene's spectacle is that Erskine, who has been defeated only by Nino Valdes in a one-round knockout last February ("Ahem. I would rather not discuss that," ahemmed Harry The Hoarse), is scheduled to meet Ingemar Johansson, the European champion, in his native Sweden this month. If Erskine is defeated, which is quite likely, Levene hopes to import an American contender for Patterson. This will surely mean that he will never be able to achieve the million-dollar gate he is dreaming of. "The biggest," as Levene grandly said, "in European boxing history."
If D'Amato was dismayed by this prospect, he did not admit it. "I am a man of some imagination," he announced. "They think things happen by accident, but they don't. I intend to box in Europe."
D'Amato's apartment quickly filled with those who were to accompany Levene to Patterson's camp at Greenwood Lake, N.Y. Pete Rademacher, Floyd's last opponent, was there, and his business associate Lucky Mc Daniel, the eminent shooting teacher (SI, Aug. 19), and a dozen others.
"We Indians and Africans," an elderly Negro said, looking through the Venetian blinds at the rain, "believe in rain. It is a good omen." And everyone went downstairs and piled into cars to go to camp.
"No," Rademacher said, "I haven't seen Floyd since we fought. But I saw enough of him that night."
Greenwood Lake was under snow, fast turning to slush in the rain. Levene's car got stuck on the icy mountain road which leads to the camp, and he stood outside ruefully examining the scenery as they turned the car around before descending and approaching by another route.
When they got to camp, Patterson had finished working out and was smearing Vaseline on the faces of four 10-year-olds he is teaching to box. Mc-Daniel took Floyd outside to teach him to shoot. Patterson stood in the rain in green sunglasses, shooting with a BB gun at Alka-Seltzer tablets, Life-savers and aspirins that Lucky tossed in the air. After a while he began to hit them. "There's a trick to it," said Floyd. "Your eye."
"It's a shame you lost, Mr. Rademacher," said one of the 10-year-olds.
"Well," said Pete gently, "somebody has to lose, doesn't he?"
"Maybe Floyd will buy us air rifles," said the boy. "He bought us $20 coats last year, didn't he?"
Harry Levene beamed and beamed and had his picture taken with everybody. Then he sat down for a meal of fried chicken, bear and elk steaks.
"I loathe bear," said an English companion of Levene's.
"At first appearance," Levene said, "you know, Patterson looks a smallish fellow. But I felt his arm and it was like feeling a bit of steel," and he looked down at his long, lustrous, black city shoes and at the ankle-high slush he would have to wade through to get to the car to take him back to the city.
Patterson stood yet in the dusk and rain, shooting aspirins to smithereens.
Anglers have known for 500 years or so that trout get hungry when they're cold and lazy when they're warm. A University of Toronto biologist named Norman Baldwin has now formalized all this with the help of a thermometer and a vast supply of minnows. In 55° water Baldwin's trout gobbled up half their own weight in minnows in a week's time. Then Baldwin turned on the warm water, got his controlled trout pool to 70° and poured in more minnows: Baldwin's trout could eat only a sixth of their weight in minnows that week.
Any fisherman can carry a thermometer; the real lesson of all this may be, if you have to fish in warm water, bring ice cubes.
Every January for the past 10 years Californians have felt their hopes and hearts quicken with the running of the San Vicente Handicap at Santa Anita Park. There is logic wrapped in the anticipation, for three of the last six Kentucky Derby winners (Hill Gail, Determine and Swaps) ran in the Vicente.
Last week, when a handsome chestnut named Old Pueblo, just turned 3, came out for his Vicente, the hopes seemed a littler higher than usual. Old Pueblo had started six races as a 2-year-old, won all six.
Well, he won the Vicente, too, and quite easily. So, as any Californian knows, he is following right along in the hoofprints of the greatest horse in California history—Swaps. In 1955 Swaps won his last race as a 2-year-old, a sprint, at Santa Anita. Old Pueblo has done the same. Swaps came back in his next start in the Vicente and won that. Old Pueblo ditto. Swaps was undefeated throughout his career at Santa Anita. So far, so is Old Pueblo.
On March 8 Old Pueblo will try to duplicate Swap's Santa Anita Derby victory. Then all he has to do is set a track record in the Kentucky Derby Trial and win the Derby on May 3. California is beginning to pop and crackle with people who think he can.
Every duck hunter can tell whether the season just ended was a good one or not; he has only to ask himself whether he fared better or worse than expected. But what about the U.S. season as a whole, over all the four great flyways and down the length of the country? Well, Atlantic Flyway hunters had fairly tough going. In Maine there just weren't as many ducks as usual; in Maryland the number of hunters was up and the number of ducks killed was down. North Carolina, however, found the season quite up to par. "Anybody who failed to get his limit," said one man, "was hunting on bluebird days. In blustery weather the shooting was good." (Early-season hunters at Currituck Lake, N.C. sometimes find the weather so balmy that they lay aside their guns, pick up fishing rods, and cast from the blinds for largemouth bass.)
Along the Mississippi Flyway, Wisconsin had a mediocre duck season but a very good year for geese. Arkansas, on the other hand, reported the best duck hunting in years. "The high water produced so many birds that 1957 exceeded expectations," said a member of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. But farther south, in Louisiana and Mississippi, high water in the form of winter floods led the ducks—which were plentiful—to spread out all over the winter landscape and throw the hunting picture into confusion. Many blinds, used to advantage for years, were useless this winter. In Mississippi, things suddenly got better in the last 10 days of the season, but by that time many men had given up for the year.
The Pacific Flyway offered good shooting; there were many more ducks in Oregon than in 1956, and more were killed. Again, rain made it easy for ducks to avoid hunters' guns, though flooded cornfields offered fine hunting to those who could devise blinds in unaccustomed places and use their duck calls skillfully.
In California the total bag was higher than last year's. One hunter asked the state to put signs on all ponds in public shooting grounds giving their depth in feet. He had, he said, waded casually into one of them to retrieve a duck, and had nearly drowned in the unsuspected depths.
The 1957 hunting was best of all along the big Central Flyway. In North Dakota 32,000 hunters averaged 12 birds each. Plentiful food and good weather evened out the season. (Sometimes the ducks, hurrying south, pass through the state in one or two big pushes.) There were an estimated 1,250,000 ducks in South Dakota at the November peak of migration. Farmers reported losing up to $115 worth of corn a day to ducks. One hunter, heading home with his bag limit, was stopped by a farmer and asked to help chase the ducks out of his fields. Firecrackers and Roman candles, the farmer said, were ineffective. So, it developed, was a shotgun: the ducks simply moved off 30 or 40 yards and kept on eating.
In Nebraska a man bagged his limit in half an hour on two successive days. Texas reported a million and a half ducks at one time in the Texas Panhandle alone. Though enormous numbers of ducks kept within protected areas like National Wild Life Refuges and the King Ranch, there were enough elsewhere in Texas to make bag limits almost a certainty by Thanksgiving. Coastal shooting was off somewhat because of plentiful water throughout the state.
Viewed over-all, the 1957 duck season was split down the middle by the Mississippi River: it was fair to middling east of that dividing line, very good indeed to the west.
OPEN TENNIS STILL OPEN
Championship tennis is as shy as a ground hog when it comes to getting out in the open. For years top-ranking court champions from Bill Tilden to Bill Talbert have plumped for open competition in which amateurs and pros alike could get together as in golf to determine the real champion. From time to time the United States Lawn Tennis Association itself has gazed thoughtfully at the matter, but always the old guard of amateur tennis has seen its own shadow and gone scuttling cautiously back into the silly fiction of pure amateurism.
As ground-hog day approaches once more, the situation is the same as ever. This is true despite the induction of a brand-new set of USLTA officers who have expressed themselves in favor of open tennis. Nothing positive has been done, of course, but everybody is still hoping. "The subject is dormant but not dead," said newly inducted President Victor Denny. "We will keep abreast of the situation as best we can."
"You just can't kick the question over in a corner and ignore it," said his predecessor, retiring President Renville McMann, "just because the open tournament is an unpleasant subject to some people."
You never study bridge at all
But I devour Goren;
You make a random overcall
And I just keep on scorin'.
You play defenses like a lubber
While I finesse with glee,
And yet who's won each single rubber?
Well, add it up—it's me!
—IRWIN L. STEIN
THEY SAID IT...
•Truman Gibson of the IBC, replying in a Chicago TV interview to a question on who started the IBC anyhow: "Well, it's the sort of a thing that grew like Topsy...I don't think any one person could take the credit."
•Governor Averell Harriman, New York's skiing governor, after a power failure left him hanging for half an hour high on a chair lift above the new White-face Mountain ski area he was about to dedicate: "If anything goes wrong the first day, it's always a good practice to blame the governor."
•Ron Delany, commenting on why he runs the mile to win, not necessarily for the record: "It's not that I don't want to run faster. The fact is, I'm just another lazy Irishman."
•Nathan M. Pusey, president of Harvard University, after pointing to Harvard's more-than-decent over-all record in Ivy League competition: "I recognize, however, that for some this good record may not completely compensate for the sting of particular losses."