A new trend incollege football cheering has appeared this season, a change in yellingcomparable to the change in poetry from Longfellow's inspirational verse to T.S. Eliot's limp, anticlimactic lines. At the first Southern Cal game therooters, instead of making the Los Angeles night air ring with skyrocket andlocomotive yells, siss-boom-ahs and rah-rah-rahs, chorused such casual andextemporaneous observations as "It's fantastic," or, "What agame." The Trojans massed their defenses and stopped Oregon State for threedowns near the goal. Fourth down, inches to go. Did the stands break out inmassed rhythmic bellowings urging, "Hold that line"? No, they murmuredin chorus: "One more time."
Next afternoon,Pitt walloped UCLA in the Coliseum to the especial discomfort of a localsportscaster and prognosticator, Sam Baiter, renowned for his UCLApartisanship. So the UCLA cheering section produced a spur-of-the-momentcommentary in chorus, practically a Henry James sentence converted into acollege yell: "How do you feel, Sam Baiter? We know how you feel."
Cheers, come tothink of it, usually reflect changes in social life, new moods, contemporaryphenomena. When education was classical, Yale produced its "Brekekekéx,ko-àx, ko-àx," borrowed from the Frogs of Aristophanes. After the CivilWar, Princeton took over the siss, boom, ah from the song of the 7th Regimentof the Army of the Potomac. Innumerable locomotive yells derived from thewonderful sound of a wood-burning locomotive picking up speed. In the RoughRider era of history it seemed only natural to hail a touchdown with"osky-wow-wow." So now, in the era of the cocktail party and therestrained hello, when moderns tend to murmur "wonderful" or"terrific" to express approval, or "oh, great" to express theopposite, we are getting a sort of conversational plain chant at footballgames.
October 5, 1958
We guess it's anatural development, and welcome enough, but trust it won't be carried too far.If not watched, the cheering section could become a sort of mass televisioncommentator, saying (all together now, and put some life in it), "Aninteresting play." Or the roar of the crowd could sink to something like anorganized murmur of cocktail party small talk, everyone saying at the sametime, "What utter nonsense," or "Well, that does it,"
Advice to theAirborne
A trim, superblydesigned young lady with close-cropped ash-blond curls and gray-blue eyesflecked with worry turned up in our offices the other day. Her name, she said,was Nancy Boeseke and she needed help: what, if anything, could we tell herabout a group of young men known collectively as the New York Yankees?
Well, as luckwould have it, we did happen to have a fact or two on hand about that verygroup, and we were more than pleased to turn them over to a lady in distress.But why, we wondered, did she need such information? The answer was simplicityitself and supplied with a long, level look from those gray-blue eyes."Baseball players," said Nancy, "get their feelings hurt veryeasily if you don't know who they are. I'm going to be flying the Yankees toMilwaukee and back and I wouldn't want to make a mistake like asking Mr.Stengel if he was the first baseman or anything like that."
By now, providingshe has done her homework, we hope that Nancy knows all about Mr. Stengel andhis friends, and we think it only fair that they should know a little somethingabout her. So—if we're all settled comfortably in the United Airlines DC-7 thatwill serve as private air taxi for the Yankees during the series—please allowus to perform an introduction. Ladies, may we present Mr. Casey Stengel and hisboys, all baseball players of note? Gentlemen, these are your airline hostessesfor the duration of the series. The tall brunette just over there is PhyllisBaker, who knows all there is to know about baseball because she has flown theCubs to the West Coast several times. The Blonde just over here is her roommateNancy.
Nancy was born inSanta Barbara, Calif. where the national game plays second fiddle to a rougherpastime known as football. As a matter of fact, she was born on New Year's Day,which was probably lucky since a victory for his alma mater (Stanford 7Southern Methodist 0) at the Rose Bowl that afternoon served to mollify in somemeasure her sportsman father's indignation at siring a mere girl.
In later yearsNancy, who sails, swims, skis, plays tennis and distracts football players withconsummate skill, restored herself to parental esteem by matriculating atStanford as an art major and getting herself pinned by the university's starhalfback and football captain.
Unfortunately, bygraduation time this romance had flickered and faded into a warm friendship,but it had served to give Nancy ("I'm rather fickle") a deep insightinto the temperaments of athletes. That is why she was so anxious to please yousensitive fellows from The Bronx. We know she and Phyllis will take good careof you. Her plane's larder, she tells us, will be stocked with gallons of milkand very specially ordered extra-thick steaks.
We are sure, too,that by now she will be able to chat knowingly about your own sport. If,however, she proves diffident about one facet of her own past, that isdesigned, too, to save your own feelings. "Unfortunately," Nancy toldus, "the only baseball player I know at all is Eddie Mathews of the Braves.He was a Santa Barbara boy, you know."
This archer hasplenty of strings to his bow.
No wonder he's happily humming.
One string is sufficient for shooting, we know,
But the others are helpful for strumming.
The United StatesBrewers Foundation was established, with a patriotic flourish, in 1862 to helpthe federal government fix a tax on beer and thus help finance the Civil War.The figure mutually arrived at was $1 a barrel. In subsequent years the tax onbeer has risen to $9 a barrel and the USBF has turned to less selflesstasks.
Last February,for instance, while preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of repeal, theUSBF (to quote an interoffice memorandum) "became aware that the phrase'beer and skittles' was a teaser of more than ordinary potency." The USBFalso became aware, joyously, that a dictionary defined beer and skittles as"unruffled enjoyment" and that in Tom Brown's Schooldays a scrupulousreader will find this immortal teaser: "Life isn't all beer and skittles;but beer and skittles must form a good part of every Englishman'seducation." The USBF, with a good thing on tap, got up a "quietsurvey" and became aware that most Americans thought skittles was somethingto eat. But the USBF knew better. They knew what skittles was—perhaps theoldest formal athletic endeavor of the western world, German monks havingplayed it in the fourth century. The USBF forth-rightly offered $1,000 for thebest-preserved set of skittles in America and received a skillet, a scuttle, akettle and word of a 14-year-old Newfoundland dog which answered to the name ofSkittle, but no skittles. So they built a set and invited Sir Alan Patrick(A.P.) Herbert, wit, author, 26 years a Member of Parliament and president ofthe Black Lions Skittles Club of London, to come to America and show them whatto do with their ruddy apparatus.
And last week SirAlan, spare, herony, ruffled gray crest, came to the Paramus, N.J. BowlingCenter wearing a double-breasted suit, a striped polo shirt, a pair of whitesneakers and a look of unruffled enjoyment. Also on hand was Al (Lindy)Faragalli, squat, thick, useful forearms, the American Bowling Congressall-events champion, wearing a yellow shirt with his name on the back and alook of benign perplexity. "The main difference between skittles andbowling," quoth Sir Alan, who, unaccountably, shakes hands with his lefthand, "is that we throw the missile while you roll it." Sir Alan andLindy then repaired to a skittles alley, which is 21 feet long and has ninehornbeam pins or skittles, looking much like small bombs, set on adiamond-shaped platform, to have a throw at it. Sir Alan hefted the missile,which is called a "cheese," looks like an inflated discus, is made oflignum vitae and weighs some 12 or 14 pounds, and flung it sidearm at theskittles, knocking several down with an appropriate clatter. Each player, SirAlan explained, gets five chances to floor the nine pins; the one thataccomplishes it in the least number of throws wins the "chalk," orgame. The beauty and intricacy of skittles lies in the residuary formations or"leaves," which remain after the first and second throws unless one isfortunate enough to throw a "floorer." Some of the more difficultleaves, said Sir Alan, are the Married Man's Double ("Not as easy as itlooks"), the Waterloo Five ("They may fall to a single throw"),London Bridge and Two Policemen ("This is fatal. You might get them down intwo throws") and Sam's Six. Sir Alan, who is 68 and a man of relativeinaction, and Lindy, who is 46, tied after three vigorous chalks. Lindy thenshowed Sir Alan how to bowl and scored two successive strikes in the bargain.Sir Alan, after several gallant efforts and a disaster on the order of theAmerica's Cup portending, knocked down nine pins with a slow but sure hook.
"I amparticularly happy to have been invited here for this occasion by the BrewersFoundation," said Sir Alan later over a mug of beer and a pipe, "as Imyself am a very old member of the Consumer's Foundation. Alan, you know, hasalways had a natural and innocent instinct to set things up and knock themdown; it builds up the body and relieves the mind. The most amazing thing I'vefound about bowling is that wondrous machine you've got in back; the man whothought up that could surely cure the common cold. We have to set up our own,you know, and perhaps that's one reason skittles is dying. It's a languishinggame and we're not getting the younger fellows out. I don't know whether it'sthe television or the fact that they don't let the ladies play. I feel that isa regrettable error. And I must say, I'm afraid I harp on it.
"Do I likebowling? Oh, it's a wonderful game. If I were younger I'd fling myself intoit."
"Skittles," said Lindy with more than ordinary potency, "is a roughproposition."
The Engineers atLos Alamos' scientific laboratory, where the first atomic and hydrogen bombswere built, have come all the way around the circle in weapon making and havereturned to the bow and arrow. This came to light the other day in the courseof an expansion project at Los Alamos which involved the spanning of a boxcanyon. The canyon was so wide that it was not feasible to throw a line across,the walls were too steep to be climbed and the Alamos engineers weretemperamentally too disinclined to the use of conventional weaponry to considergunpowder.
Archery,moreover, seems to have become a popular outdoor sport at Los Alamos, and thebarely unclassified word is that scientists at play there can sometimes be seenshooting arrows at carp in the Rio Grande. Well, the outstanding Los Alamosarcher is Harold Groves, a tool and die maker, who recently set a newbroadhead-arrow record at a meet in Silver City, New Mexico, and has alsokilled two bears and four deer with his trusty bow.
It would besimple to report that Groves merely stepped up with an old Indian weapon ofhickory and shot a line across the gorge for the baffled engineers. Not so,however. Groves was experimenting with bows of laminated glass and maple whenhe came to Los Alamos five years ago; the local physicists became interestedand worked out curves and stress so that Groves's bow now looks like theCupid's variety in a valentine, only larger. Groves attached a reel of 12-poundmonofilament fishing line to the end of a broadhead arrow, stood on a rock onthe canyon's rim and, assuming a resolute stance, shot with steady aim at apine tree on the opposite side where the engineers had said they wanted theline to be dropped. It was a clear afternoon, with no wind. The arrow zippedacross the gorge and embedded itself in the pine tree. Engineers fastened acord to the fishing line and hauled it back, then tied a rope to the cord andrepeated the process. Groves went back to the shop to work.
The distanceisn't exactly a secret, but everything at Los Alamos is conditioned by thesecurity-conscious atmosphere, and Groves is a little guarded in saying whathis bow will do, beyond hinting that, with further study, he and his fellowhorizonists hope to equal the distance set by the Turks about 1,300 yearsago.
Practicallyeveryone in Calgary, Alta. is proud of his rugged city's great oil refineries,its annual stampede ("the greatest outdoor show on earth") and itsfierce competitive spirit. Up to a few weeks ago, however, very few Calgariansoutside of the Calgary Cat Club cared much about cats. Not that they hadanything against cats—they just didn't care.
Then, like agauntlet stinging the face of city pride, came that outrageous challenge fromMemphis, Tenn. A Memphis cat, claiming the world's championship mousing crown,had offered to come to Canada and outmouse any cat the Calgary Cat Club couldput up against it.
It was asuggestion that not even local ailurophobes could tolerate for an instant."No cotton-picking Tennessee Tom can be allowed to outdo an Albertagrain-fed cat at the ancient and honorable pursuit of catching mice,"thundered the proud Calgary Herald. "We must win!"
Cat fanciers andcivic boosters all over the province rallied to the call. The Herald itselfbegan training a mouser named Headline. Trans-Canada Airlines entered their ownSuper-Connie-Kitty in the match. Radio station CFAC put up Cfacat, an unsavorylady of the evening with a sound reputation for tracking down her prey. Onefancier came up with a cat named Pretzel, which boasted six toes on one foot—afact that local handicappers found confusing.
In a field whichseemed characterized largely by disreputability and the taint of the barsinister, the Calgary cat deemed least likely to succeed against the Tennesseeinterloper was a sleek, well-mannered, purebred Siamese with the unlikely nameFerdinand Leo.
At last, after anofficial civic reception for the challenger, Chisca Shanghai, and a milktailparty for all entries, the great day dawned. Some 900 Calgarians thronged theCat Club to see the contest and inspect the elaborate maze through which eachentry must thread his way against time to find the quarry—a carefully protectedwhite mouse tucked away in the last compartment.
The stage wasset; the cats were ready; the onlookers were tense. What happened? Well, whathappened in the days of glittering calm off Newport, R.I. early last weekduring another great international competition? The answer: practicallynothing. The Tennessee challenger poked his head in the maze and, after gazingpurposefully about for two minutes, quit cold. Cat after cat followed suit,until at last, cool, calm and aristocratic, the Siamese purebred Leo strodethrough without hesitation to pin the quarry (completely protected) in a neatand unhurried one minute 24 seconds.
Calgary, like theAmerican yachtsmen, had won in a walk with a plainly superior weapon. The onlydifficulty the Canada catmen had experienced throughout the contest concernednot cats but mice. Until the moment for the contest arrived not a singlesuitable mouse had been found to lure the cats. The impasse was solved onlywhen a kindly donor came through with two small, white personal pets.
They Said It
Sam Auld of Sandbank, Scotland, foreman of the crewthat built Sceptre: "Next time, we'll have to build a boat wi' the bucketup ott the water."
Slade cutter, director of athletics at the NavalAcademy, on the ruling by the Eastern College Athletic Association banning prepschool help (for math tutoring, etc.) to prospective athletes: "We'll goalong with it, but we don't like it. We won't allow Navy to be reduced to asecond-rate power."
Belasco Bossard, star of the Corpus Christi Giants, aNegro, on the exclusion of himself and two other Corpus Christi players (onracial grounds) from the opening of the Dixie Series in Birmingham: "We arelosing the glory, the self-respect, the pride."