This is an article from the April 21, 1958 issue
They that go downto the sea in ships that do business—or find their pleasure—in great waters,these, according to Scripture, see the works of the Lord. But as civilizationadvances, the works of the Lord are often obscured by the works of man. Intimes past, when the nation's waterways were her most reliable avenues oftravel and ships with tall masts carried the burden of her freight, the way ofthe sailor was sacrosanct. Law and custom alike frowned on the obstruction of asailor's God-given right of way by man-made obstacles, and for years theprotection of the nation's inland waterways has been entrusted to those mostresponsible for the nation's defenses—her soldiers.
Under the GeneralBridge Act of 1946, the final authority for permitting the erection of bridgesover navigable waterways was once again given to the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers, but the responsibility which it entailed had undergone great changesover the years. The wind-borne sailor was no longer a vital link in thenation's defense or its economy; his tall ship was no longer a commercialnecessity but an idle luxury. In Jacksonville last week these facts becamepitifully evident as the conscientious Corps of Engineers held a day-longhearing to weigh the pros and cons of a plan to lower from 80 to 55 feet theminimum bridge clearances required to span the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway,a vast chain of bays, inlets, rivers and canals which carries thousands ofyachtsmen yearly from New Jersey to Florida.
Ranged againstthe yachtsmen present to defend the present clearance minimum was an impressivearray of spokesmen for the Navy, the Coast Guard, the American AutomobileAssociation, the American Association of State Highway Officials, theDepartment of Commerce's Bureau of Public Roads, and other organizations,public and private, all of whom, for one reason or another, were in favor oflower—and hence cheaper—bridges. To the layman and the landlubber there seemedlittle question of who was in the right. One of the sailormen present admittedthat there were only some 3,000 yachts afloat in this country with masts over50 feet tall. A survey taken by the Army revealed that only 1.7% of vesselsusing the waterway over the last six months needed the higher clearance. Theyachtsmen's argument, said one highway official, concerned only a "verysmall minority of vessel owners."
Yet, despite theobvious economic weaknesses of the yachtsmen's stand, there was a principleinvolved which could not be lightly overlooked. Democracy is not always amatter of the greatest good for the greatest number. It involves in equalmeasure the protection of minority rights. No economic argument can counter thefact that a right once abrogated is seldom restored. No cry of commercialexpedience can restore the easy navigability of a landlocked channel rendereduseless by a low bridge too hastily built.
St. Louis AfterMidnight
Bill Russellcould have stayed home. His ankle was still badly swollen, the result of tornligaments and a chip fracture suffered in the third game of the World Series ofbasketball between the Boston Celtics and the St. Louis Hawks. The injury was aweek and a half old and would take another two weeks to heal properly. And ithurt.
But Russell'sCeltic teammates were in St. Louis, preparing for the sixth game of theplayoffs, and St. Louis led 3 to 2. One more St. Louis victory and the serieswould be over. Russell fretted away at home in Reading, Mass. until theafternoon before the game. Then he got on a plane and flew to St. Louis.
He arrived at theJefferson Hotel a little after midnight. He limped into the dim, nearlydeserted lobby, and there were his coach, Red Auerbach, teammates Bob Cousy andTom Heinsohn and a reporter.
"Well,"said Auerbach, "what are you doing here, and how does it feel?"
"I didn'tcome out here to watch the game," said Russell. "I came toplay."
Auerbach lookedat the swollen ankle. "O.K., Bill," he said, "we'll have the doctorlook at it tomorrow. Relax—we'll see what he says."
"Fine,"said Russell. "I'm starved. How about something to eat before I go tosleep?"
"We were justgoing across the street, too," said Auerbach. "Come on."
So they all wentacross the street to an all-night cafeteria and lined up at the counter withtheir trays and talked about ankles and basketball and the importance of thenext night's game. The man back of the counter didn't move.
Finally Russellsaid, "I don't think they're going to serve me here."
"That'sright," said the man back of the counter. "We don't serve coloredhere."
They put away thetrays and went out on the sidewalk and stood there a while.
"There's ahamburger joint around the corner," said Auerbach. "Let's trythere."
"I'm stillhungry," Russell said.
So they walkedaround the corner and into the rundown, half-clean hamburger joint. They satdown on stools in front of the counter, and the girl back of the counter said,"We don't serve colored here."
They walked backto the hotel.
Bill Russell hadhelped the University of San Francisco win two consecutive National Basketballchampionships. He had represented his country at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourneand helped it win a world championship. He had helped the Boston Celtics wintheir first National Basketball Association title last year. He had flown overa thousand miles to try to help them do it again.
"Goodnight," said Russell, and took his swollen ankle and empty stomach up tobed.
Voice of theTurtle
MONDAY, APRIL 7:Seven great blue herons and two short-eared owls were observed at Plum Island.Thirty-four migrating brant were seen at Salisbury. Ring-necked ducks have beenreported at Newbury, Concord and Hingham.
Boston, asreaders of The Late George Apley well know, is for the birds. Time and theweather may be consuming topics of interest elsewhere, and telephonesubscribers in many cities can get the latest information by dialing WEATHER,MERIDIAN and similar exchanges, but in Boston the phone, too, is for thebirds.
TUESDAY, APRIL 8:Phoebes and tree swallows are now being reported from Taunton, Hingham andMilton. Blue-winged teal and migrant loggerhead shrike have been seen in theSudbury Valley.
For years before1955, the telephone lines of the Massachusetts Audubon Society were cloggedwith calls from Bostonians eager to know the whereabouts of their favoritefeathered friends. Some were just heading for the country and wanted to knowwhere to find the birds; others had just returned and wanted to check theirfinds. There were closeted stay-at-homes as well, and city-bound parkwalkers....
WEDNESDAY, APRIL9: Ospreys are back in their nesting sites at Swansea. A red-bellied woodpeckeris still present in Wellesley. A female cardinal and two tufted titmice werereported from Weston. Fox sparrows, now quite abundant, may be heard singing inthe warmth of midday.
In desperation,Boston's birdmen decided to clear their switchboard by instituting a permanentanswering service over which local bird watchers could get the latest peep viatape recordings. "It was an easy way out," says Audubon's RobertGrayce, whose corvine voice daily transmits a précis of information gleanedfrom some 800 active watchers, "but it has proved most successful."People call in to give information from as far away as California, and anestimated 500 listeners tune in on their reports every day.
THURSDAY, APRIL10: Old squaw ducks and an Iceland gull were reported at the Merrimac Estuaryat Newbury-port. A saw-whet owl and screech owls have been singing theircourtship songs at Moosehill Sanctuary. Two pileated woodpeckers are at SouthLincoln.
How does theaverage man latch on to all this vital information? Simply dial KENMORE 6-4050.If a bird answers, hang up.
While thatlaconic Irishman Silky Sullivan was having his troubles last week (see page28), another Irishman, 21-year-old John Ruane, was finding the horse-racingbusiness just splendid. On Wednesday he rode Dixie Miss to win a division ofthe Prioress Stakes at Jamaica Race Track (paying $109.50, no less) and byFriday his size-three shoes wore a delicate polish, his sandy hair was neatlycombed and he was the leading jockey in America with 86 winners.
When he speaks,the rhythms of Johnny's birthplace—Mount Jubilee, County Mayo, Ireland—rise inhis voice. "Now you have to understand that when I came to this country in1954 I didn't know where I was going to get a job. I went to a printing factoryand they offered me $20 a week and when I heard that I scooted right out thedoor and went home and sulked for two weeks. But as I sat home I said tomyself, 'John Ruane, you weigh only 95 pounds. They shall not hire you on thedocks. Get yourself out to the race track.' The first time no dice. But I wentback to Belmont Park and ran right past the guard at the gate and went to thefirst stable I saw. Now this was the Greentree Stable and I said to a fellowstanding there, 'Do you need a good boy?' And he said, 'You shall have to waituntil Mr. George Poole, the assistant trainer, comes back.'
"Now when Mr.Poole came back he said, 'John Ruane, you go home and I shall call you.' So Iwent back home and the next day Mr. Poole called and I was working for theGreentree Stable. Now you have to understand, of course, that I did not startto ride horses right away. It was about two years before I got onto a horse ina race. And do you know I was terrible? I just mean I was awful. My horsefinished last. And then I got awfuller. I rode 39 races and did not get me awinner. Then on April 23rd of last year I rode a horse called Trireme atJamaica and I twirled my whip in the winner's circle. Felt like a milliondollars. And then some devil lit the 'Inquiry' sign and I said to myself, 'JohnRuane, your number is coming down.' So I went back to the jockeys' room andsaid most assuredly they shall not take my number down. And I said a prayerthat they would not. And they did not.
"Then one daymy mother came out to the race track and I did not know she was there. When Igot home she said to me, 'John Ruane, I was out to see you ride the race horsestoday and I bet on all your horses and you only won four races but I have a lotof money in my purse.' Then I rode very well at Saratoga [17 winners in 24days] and by the end of the year I had quite a bit of money.
"So I boughtmyself an Oldsmobile but I told Mr. George Poole that it would not affect me.And it hasn't. I wouldn't dare drive it fast because the policemen might catchme. And then Mr. Poole would be mad at me. Not on your life would I drive thatcar fast.
"Now one ofthese years I would like to ride in the Kentucky Derby and maybe I will. And mytwo brothers and five sisters will be in the stands rooting for me and watchinga ring of roses go around my horse. If it only could happen soon."
And he will andthey will and it will.
The mostindomitable man in Chicago this winter was Oscar Brotman. He set out to givehis fellow Chicagoans a fine season of skiing and tobogganing right in town—inthe great yawning void of Soldier Field, in fact.
When Brotman wentto the Chicago Park District to negotiate for the use of the stadium, histroubles began. Brotman was told that the weight of the snow on his runs andslides might endanger the concrete. "So I went home," he says,"took out the Encyclopaedia Britannica, looked up snow and found that 10inches equaled only about an inch of water." The Park Districtrelented.
Brotman put$65,000 into his enterprise, Winter Wonderland, Inc. He spent $10,000 onsnow-making equipment, pumps and 3,000 feet of aluminum pipe; $5,000 on fourcedar toboggan chutes which he had bolted to the seats; $7,500 on two towropes, and $2,500 a month for rent. He had 12,000 bales of hay lugged in tobuild up his slope. He bought 500 pairs of boots, skis, safety bindings andpoles and 300 toboggans.
On December 7when Winter Wonderland opened, the temperature was in the 50s. Skiing was out,but Brotman brought in snow at $20 a ton for the toboggan slides. By December10 it finally got cold enough to make snow for the ski slopes. Then disasterstruck. "I left the place one night at 11," Brotman recalls. "Twomen were working the snow-making equipment but they decided to go into theoffice and warm up for a couple of hours—and the whole system, including about1,000 feet of pipe, froze up. So here I am with 45 people on the payroll and nosnow."
As the secondweekend in December approached, Brotman replaced the cracked pipe and thetemperature dropped sufficiently to make snow. He got two good snow-making daysin, but when the weekend dawned, the temperature rose and he had a stadium fullof slush. Still, dauntless Brotman could look forward to the Christmasholidays. "This would have counted for half the season's gross," saysBrotman, "but the holidays came and went and the weather was wonderful—forgolf."
After January 1it turned cold and Brotman put his crews back on a 24-hour basis but, alas, hisair compressors broke down. He rented new ones. About the middle of January theweather became ideal. "I couldn't take chances on any more snafus,"Brotman explains, "so I stayed on the field all night for two nights. Inmaking snow, if the weather gets too cold, the nozzles and the pipe in themachines freeze, so you have to stand by and as soon as you see the snow stopyou must run over with a blowtorch and defrost. So you have to have one manwatching the compressors, one man inside warming up, and I'm watching thenozzles, running from one to the other to keep them from freezing. So at 4 inthe morning the wind from the lake was cutting me up, there was snow blowing inmy face, my hands were soaking from handling the wet hoses, and there I wasrunning along the 40-yard line with a blowtorch in each hand. I stopped for aminute and said to myself, 'Oscar, what the hell are you doing here?' "
It became sowindy that night that Oscar and his crew ran out of matches for the torches.Then they ran out of propane. They went into their locker to get more gas andfound that someone had broken in and stolen the last cylinder. Oscar got apropane dealer out of bed and soon was making snow like a blizzard.
"Everythingwas working out," he said. "I was just about to go home when I noticedhuge holes appearing toward the bottom of the hill at about every 15 to 20feet. I put my hand in the holes, felt steam coming out. It was the hayfermenting and melting the snow."
Brotman coveredthe hay with plastic. It didn't work, so he dug a 400-foot tunnel under thehill to let air in and boarded over the holes. With chilly weather during thelast two weeks of January he experienced a brief success. The first weekend inFebruary was too cold for the skiers but Brotman had big plans for Valentine'sDay. "One innovation we were going to introduce," he says, "wascolored snow, so we made hearts out of red snow, about 30 feet by 40 feet, allover the place and we made a 6-foot red, white, green and blue snowman. But theweekend was subzero. The crowds were extremely light, so me and the helpenjoyed looking at them alone. The last two weekends in February we got thawedout. I would have made all green snow for St. Patrick's Day but I didn't stayopen that long."
Brotman is notsure he'll try the snow business again next year, but he is a hard man todiscourage. "You know," he mused last week, "if they'd just amendthe laws, bullfighting would be a terrific draw in Soldier Field."
Out from thesewrestlers, all entwined,
There comes an anguished groan.
One chap has grabbed and bent a leg
Which is, alas, his own.
They Said It
Ben Hogan, after he tied for 14th place and collecteda puny (for him) $1,050 at Augusta's Masters Tournament: "I'm glad I don'thave to play this game for a living."
Samuel J. Fratto, candidate for governor of Wyoming,campaigning on a platform of re-emphasis of sport: "Athletics are thenatural expression of the educated minds of he-men. The male students at theUniversity of Wyoming are he-men, not Milquetoasts."
Frank Traendly, 295-pound University of Pennsylvaniawrestler, who says he is too lazy for football: "I like wrestling becauseI'm horizontal most of the time."
Editorial voice of the Detroit Times, blaming Norrisfamily interclub trades for the poor showing of the Red Wings (four straightlosses to Montreal in Stanley Cup playoffs): "Should the Wings' managementcontinue this policy it might be wise to move Red Wing news from the sportspages of Detroit papers to the amusement pages."