Commander JamesFrancis Calvert, of the atomic submarine Skate on its exploration under thepolar seas, has sent to this office the following communication:
I thought youmight be interested in knowing that the enclosed copy of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED waspart of the wardroom library which sailed to the North Pole with us on August12 and August 17, 1958.
The enclosed copyof SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has been studied in this office ever since with pride anda bemused wonder as to how it read under the North Pole. Externally, it appearslike the same magazine that left here last July: there is the cover, with thelittle girl training the spotted dog; the date line reads JULY 14, 1958, Volume9, Number 2, ¬© 1958 BY TIME INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED; the table of contents,the names on the masthead, COMING EVENTS, SCOREBOARD—all are there; it's thesame magazine. But it has nevertheless been invested with strangeness forhaving passed beneath one of the poles of this harried and problem-vexed world.It seems different. Someone has doodled cryptic marks alongside the Goodrichtire ad, something like a cartoon of a comical face, something like anelectrical wiring plan. Was the Skate then entering the polar chasm? "Onepretty sure way to beat the heat of summer," runs the MEMO FROM THEPUBLISHER, "is to climb Mount McKinley." Aboard Skate they must havereflected on another way.
September 14, 1958
Internal evidenceindicates that the crew of the Skate carefully studied Winslow Homer'swonderful watercolors of children at the seashore in that historic issue, andit appears from the way the magazine opens that every man jack of those heroesstudied the picture of the bathing beauty of Paris on page 18, under the NorthPole as elsewhere. In that issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED there was an account ofa father and son on a fishing trip in the Rockies, an appraisal of the majorleague race (the Cards were still considered possible at that time), anecdotesabout bears in national parks, the swordfish run off Martha's Vineyard, BoldRuler's $83,400 victory in the Suburban.
It would probablybe difficult to find matters more remote from the problems of exploring thepolar seas. Doubtless the reaction ought to be humility that the heroes engagedin it should occupy their leisure time with such amiable and relaxed concerns.But the truth is that the ordinary pursuits of happiness by the masses ofmankind seem all the more engrossing when they are poised against these epicexploits. It is when men are engaged in the conquest of outer space, orthreading the Northwest Passage under the ice, that the problems of training adog or flattening the backswing take on their poignance as aspects of theordinary world whose preservation justifies all efforts. The achievement of theSkate and her crew lies beyond the boundaries of the fields in which thismagazine is mainly concerned, but the issue that they read under the NorthPole, suitably framed, hangs on our wall as a proud reminder of the way readersget around these days.
Bulldozers in theValley
For the timebeing, anyway, the squawks and rowdydow coincident to lawsuits, countersuits,political complications and dissident citizens have been stilled in SquawValley, Calif. In their stead these days the High Sierra echoes the morepositive whang of hammers and the blatter of bulldozers and pneumatic drills.Somehow or other, it looks as if Squaw Valley will be ready for the WinterOlympics in February 1960.
From the top ofthe ski jump hill last week, a man could get an idea of what was going on inthe valley below. Some 300 carpenters, plumbers, electricians and constructionworkers were down there, and the serpentine scrawls left by cement trucks andearth movers wound through the fir and pine. Four dormitories, each toaccommodate 300 athletes and each costing $70,000, stood almost finished. Twowill be ready for occupancy by late fall, and the other two will be far enoughalong to permit interior construction despite the cold. The 16 peripheralpillars that will support the roof of the 11,000-seat arena were beingfashioned in concrete and steel. Large enough to cover a football field, theroof will be slung from the posts next year and, with no interior support, willafford an uncluttered view for spectators. And hard by the open end of thearena, plumbers were laying down 45 miles of pipe which will constitute therefrigeration systems of four artificial ice rinks. (Squaw Valley, cold asbanished hope on occasion, has temperamental thawing spells that make naturalice too risky.)
With just as muchfever, regiments of workers were attending the needs of the 40,000-odd visitorsexpected at the games. The little things—restaurants, lounges, rest rooms,first aid stations—were coming along fine. Even the big thing, the 130-acreparking lot, has been whipped. It was a real stumper for a while. How do youkeep 130 acres swept clean through recurring snow falls? Navy Arctic expertssuggested snow compaction, a method of beating down the snow until it gives upand becomes a hard-topped parking lot itself. True, during early experimentsseveral cars sank out of sight. But with better snow compaction came betterresults, and the parking lot, dusted over with sawdust, has held up fleets ofcars and buses.
What a man couldnot see at Squaw Valley was where he could spend the night once the Olympicsbegin. All housing at Squaw is for athletes and officials only. A spectator insearch of a place to sleep can drive to Reno (45 miles) if he likes, but thenthere is that thing about snowstorms, blizzards and the Donner party. Proposedfour-lane highways into the valley will not be ready by 1960, either. Thealternative, of course, is Tahoe City and Truckee, the only towns in the area,both within 15 miles of the games. And here's news: accommodations will beavailable in Tahoe and Truckee, courtesy of friendly extortionists, at $25 anight. No, that does not mean $25 for a room. That means $25 for a bed in aroom with other beds. Innkeepers, motelkeepers and private home owners aregambling that this is how much the traffic will bear. Why, like a man wassaying, that's more than they stick you in Louisville at Kentucky Derby time.Which, as the man meant, is almost more traffic than compacted snow willbear.
The Old Sod
Rosemary, according to the poet, is for remembrance. But for a certain younggolf buff in Sistersville, W. Va., a bit of the old sod will do just as well.Detected trailing along after the players in the state P.G.A. tournament, andasked why his pockets were bulging with sod, the young man in question repliedin wonderment that he was only collecting divots dug up by Sammy Snead to keepas souvenirs.
The Shark andJohn
John Leszczak,20, is an apprentice gauge maker for the Singer Manufacturing Company—thesewing machine people—of Elizabeth-port, N.J., where he lives with his wife and10-month-old daughter. He has a tattoo reading TRUE LOVE LUCKY MOM & DAD onhis left arm and a tattoo of a dagger on his right forearm. "I got themwhen I was 12," he says. "Some crazy thing." John Leszczak has beena skin-diver for two years.
On Labor Day,John and his uncle left E'port's Singer Yacht Club-where John keeps his rowboatThe Sinking Sue ("It's good for nothing but a killy net," he says)—inhis uncle's boat for a sand bar off Swinburne Island near the steamship lanesin Lower New York Bay. His uncle was out for fluke; John was going toskin-dive. The sand bar is a good place to skin-dive; the murky water there isonly three feet deep during the proper tide. John wore a bathing suit, which hehad forgotten and had to go back for, flippers, a scuba, a tank of compressedair, a lead belt weighing 10 pounds, and carried a harpoon gun activated byfour elastic bands and equipped with 15 feet of nylon cord. John's unclerecalls that John had a knife with him but John isn't sure; if he did, it wasstuck, unsheathed, in his belt. When John climbed out of his uncle's boat, hethought he had an hour and a quarter's supply of air in his tank. Two daysbefore, however, John had been skin-diving and, having a good time, hadconsumed more air than he realized. He had, in fact, only 20 minutes'worth.
After his unclehad drifted off, John submerged and broke open a clam with the handle of hisgun to attract fish. John now feels that using the gun as a hammer may havecaused it to jam later on. He then swam slowly into six gloomy feet of water,looking for fluke. "There is no scenery down there to speak of, if you knowwhat I mean," John says. "Anyway, visibility is only three feet, at themost." Then, as he relates: "I seen this shadow, what do you call it, asort of silhouette, and it looked like a sand shark. Now, a shark, you know, isa very calm fish. It was about five feet away, a good range, so I released thesafety. It was circling more or less in one place on the bottom but at an angleto me, so I couldn't distinguish the length. I thought it was about four feetlong [it turned out, subsequently, to be nearer six]. I pulled the trigger butthe gun didn't fire. I guess he heard the noise; they can be pretty nosy; butthey're not aggressive fish. I know guys that hang on them for rides."
When the gundidn't fire, John swam quickly up to the now wary shark and, using the gun as aharpoon, rammed it into it with both hands. "I aimed for the head, aboutthree inches from his face." The shark veered, however, and the harpoonhead entered six inches from the tail. "It got him teed off for ashark," John says. The shark swam furiously off. "I figured I'd hang onand play him out," John says. "The faster they run, you know, the moreblood they'll pump out. He was swaying all over the place and trying to attemptto rap me with his tail, you know what I mean. Then I found I didn't have myknife. If I did have it, I must have lost it because it wasn't in a scabbard.Then one of the elastics let loose and slapped him and made him twice as teedoff for a shark. He kept swishing his tail back and forth and it was only afoot and a half from my face. I was scared he would belt me one with it.
"But I washelping him, kicking with him as he yanked me around. Sometimes I was on myback dragging over the sand on the tank. Boy, was I having fun. It felt likeunderwater skiing. He was trying to find depth, going toward water maybe 70, 80feet deep. Maybe he figured he could shake me off. I don't know how sharksthink. Then I realized I had almost no air left, and I started to get rattled.I should have had a float. I was figuring on playing in shallower water thatday, but not having a float, an inner tube or something on a long piece ofline, was another terrific mistake like not having a scabbard. With a float hecould have dragged me anywhere and I would have stayed on the surface andeverything would have been all right. The first thing that worried me, and hereI am running out of air, is losing a lousy couple-dollar gun. Then I said thehell with the gun and let it go, but the line had been hanging down and ittangled around my feet and around my waist, where it snarled like, and there Iwas lying on my back being pulled by my feet! I kept trying to bend over andfree the line but it was like trying to touch your feet when you're hangingupside down on a monkey bar. We were 30 feet down, going along the bottom, andhe kept kicking up sand with his tail, making it twice as murky as it alreadywas.
"Then I ranout of air. I spit out the mouthpiece. Oh, I was getting awful tired. I figuredI could hold my breath for two minutes at the most. I was kicking my feettrying to unsnarl myself and cursing at the shark, 'You damn shark,' andswallowing water like a son of a gun every time I'd open my mouth to yell likea dope. I finally remembered to keep my big mouth shut. And the water was goingup my nose and making me nauseated. Finally I freed myself, and as I was comingup to the surface I seen the gun sticking in him as he went banging along thebottom, kicking up sand and everything and the dark blood streaming out of him.But when I released my weight belt it got snarled up in my diving gear and Icouldn't get my harness off. I couldn't stay up because of the weight of mybelt, tank and gear, so I sank 30 feet down to the bottom. Then up again. Atfirst I could stay up for a couple of minutes, but after that not so much. WhenI went down I fetched myself toward some cabin cruisers I'd seen. I keptbouncing up and down. When I got to the bottom in shallower water I crawledalong keeping a course toward the boats. It was impossible to swim. You had tokeep flapping your arms like an idiot just to stay up and get air. I wasexhausted. When I got in 12 feet of water, I was yelling 'Help' and 'Hey, you'any time I came up. I must have bounced 25 more times until this boat heard me.A little kid, he must have been 12 years old, swam out to me and I put my handson his shoulders and we both went down. So I pushed him away. I figured I hadonly one more bounce left, so I wasn't going to drag him with me. He was just akid, a pretty spunky kid, too. I wasn't panicking then, but I knew I was goingto. I was worried still about losing the gun, and my mother being mad—shesigned for the tank which I bought on time, and I thought she'd feelresponsible for my death—you know the way mothers are—and the stupid way I dideverything, and how it was going to be when I died. The last time I went down Isaid to myself, 'It ain't so bad. I just give up.' Someone reached me with aline but I went down. I figured that was it, but I managed to push up off thesand again and they dragged me to the boat and hoisted me out of thewater."
John Leszczakspent two days in Staten Island Hospital but is now back at the plant, where"the guys give me a lot of heat. But it taught me a lesson: abide by thebook; don't try to break the cycle of safety. Don't ever go out alone, have afloat, don't use your gun as a hammer, carry a knife—if I had a knife, I wasclose enough to throw a couple of stabs into the joker and kill him—and I couldhave cut myself free."
Does John stillwant to skin-dive?
"I would havegone today," he told a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reporter, "but I couldn't getup two bucks for air, you know what I mean."
Spot for aFix
Since thesponsors are paying $10 million a year to bring baseball into your living room,it seems fair enough to let them bring the commercials too, but, as somebodyonce said, there's a right time for everything. And more often than we canlearn to enjoy it the baseball TV people keep giving us commercials just whenwe're trying to keep both eyes on the ball. If you were watching the Senatorsbeat the Yankees 6-3 the other night you've probably guessed already the playwe have in mind.
In the fifthinning Russ Kemmerer, the Washington pitcher, came to bat and surprisedeverybody, including himself, by hitting the ball to the scoreboard in rightcenter field. It looked like a triple, and sure enough, Kemmerer slid intothird in plenty of time. Whereupon, as Kemmerer picked himself up, an umpirepuzzlingly called him out.
"He'sO-O-U-U-T!" reiterated Announcer Mel Allen. "Didn't touch second, butI'll have to tell you about it later"—and he served up the singingcommercial.
Was there arhubarb on the field? What did Kemmerer's face look like? You got a look atfoaming beer instead.
Just now, with TVtrying to clean up the fix talk about quiz shows, here's an area that could dowith a fix.
The sailfish hecaught was a fisherman's joy,
But his boat was too narrow and short,
So he boarded the sailfish and cried "Ahoy,"
And sailed it away to port.
They Said It
Chandler Hovey, 78-year-old backer of the nowdisqualified America's Cup contender Easterner: "Everything in equipmentand sails that (Designer Ray Hunt) requested was furnished.... My son Charley,who steered the boat, and I repeatedly asked Ray to take the wheel. But, exceptfor a very few short periods, he...preferred, himself, to concentrate ontrimming the sails." HUNT, 50: "Time brings on an age that diminishesaccurate observation and aggressive thinking. Perhaps I have reached thatage."
Branimir Zivkovic, 27-year-old Yugoslavian fencer atPhiladelphia championships, on why he sought political asylum in this country:"There are liberties in Europe and Yugoslavia, but America offers the mostliberties."
Ed Temple, women's track coach at Tennessee StateUniversity, on the problems of fielding a good women's team in the U.S.:"We have to take an American girl with her powder and lipstick and developher into a competitor. She has to be feminine and talented. This combination ishard to find."