A Sub of One's Own
This is an article from the May 18, 1959 issue
We've been admiring the boom in powerboats for some time now, just as you probably have, and wondering what form it would take next. Well, we invite your attention to a German engineer named Ernst Wagoner who has not only been wondering about, but working on, the form it should take next. His proposal: the sportsman's submarine.
Wagner, an old Luftwaffe designer who switched after the war and created the famous Ewa line of powerboats, is building light, inexpensive subs at his yards at Ueberlingen on Lake Constance and will offer the first of them for sale at the New York boat show next January. He vigorously opposes the notion that a submarine must be both dangerous and complicated. His ship is a 5-by-12-foot rectangle of metal tubes, and looks like a miniature lighthouse on a raft. The center part consists of a plexiglass dome—the conning tower—with a gooseneck tube sticking out of it: the periscope. The sub's total displacement makes it always lighter than water, so that if anything happens to the two electric motors it automatically rises to the surface. Wagner has designed it to cruise at about 15 mph submerged and to be able to stay below for two hours. Weighing half a ton, it can be towed behind the family car and launched in four feet of water.
But what are sportsmen going to do in submarines? Wagner believes that we are approaching a whole new kind of sport. He thinks pleasure subs will have all the attraction of skin-diving—he is an enthusiastic skin-diver himself—but with added attractions. "There will be an unfishlike human dignity," says the sporting submariner, "in moving through the undersea realm."
That's Ernst Wagner talking—not us. We're not yet sure what we think of the idea of motorized underwater spectators staring at us skin-divers—possibly through monocles and lorgnettes. But, for better or worse, the first pleasure submarine will be retailing soon for around $2,500, f.o.b. New York: probably less when mass production sets in.
Next to Mike Lyman's grill at the Los Angeles International Airport there is a typical airport newsstand, harshly lighted and eternally busy. This one was doing a fair business early one morning last week when Blinky Palermo, fight manager who acquires some of his prestige from a long cronyship with Frankie Carbo, casually wandered in while waiting .for a plane to his home in Philadelphia.
A conservative dresser, Blinky is a man of taste in other areas, it appears, for his soft pink fingers selected a copy of Sports Illustrated from the magazine rack; then he chose a copy of the monthly magazine Sport, two newspapers and a couple of packages of gum—all told, 80¢ worth of merchandise. As he approached the cashier he held the magazines and papers behind him and picked a package of peanut butter crackers from the counter. He paid for the crackers and ambled on out into the cool night air.
It was neatly done, on the word of a Los Angeles plainclothesman whose job is to spot hoodlums entering and leaving Los Angeles. He had "made" Blinky almost as soon as he stepped up to the newsstand.
When the policeman picked him up Blinky was a practiced picture of offended innocence. Blinky has been picked up before. Oh, asked Blinky, did I really forget to pay for them? Well, it was a mistake. How about paying for them now? And, finally and inevitably, the classic line: "It's a dirty frame."
In Municipal Judge Delbert E. Wong's court Blinky pleaded innocent to petty theft and later made a $500 bail bond. A jury trial—for which no one expects Blinky to show—was set for June 16. He left for Philadelphia that night.
A petty incident, but revealing in its way, and of course by no means detrimental to Blinky's influence in boxing.
One of the tragicomic fictions of the modern world is the psychiatrist so steeped in the dark innuendoes of his specialty that he meets every simple "hello" with the question: "What did he mean by that?"
It may be that this suspicious medico has his political counterpart by the hundreds in totalitarian bureaucracies where the wrong nod to the wrong man may mean instant eclipse, but we like to think that in our country at least any man can offer greetings to any other without suspicion or unwelcome inference. We particularly like to think so when the greeter in question is the President of the United States.
Such was definitely not the case when President Dwight D. Eisenhower recently undertook to send his greetings to the national convention of a group of Americans deeply and sincerely dedicated to a problem which has long worried him: the problem of national fitness. The group in question is the official professional organization of the physical education teachers of the U.S., known by the deep-breath name of the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The new AAHPER program, Operation Fitness—U.S.A., was hailed here (SI, Jan. 26) as "the first constructive nationwide program for fitness of American youth since President Eisenhower became concerned about the problem in 1955."
The President's own cabinet-level Council on Youth Fitness, headed by Interior Secretary Fred Seaton, is semicommitted to Operation Fitness, but some of the council's advisors nurse a private fear that the AAHPER program for getting U.S. youth to flex its muscles leans too much on arbitrary tests which might almost be considered un-American.
We won't even bother to argue that point. We will, however, argue strenuously the right and taste of any bureaucrat, no matter how dissident, to suppress a greeting from the President of the U.S. to any group of his fellow Americans, which is exactly what happened at the AAHPER convention at Portland, Oregon.
President Eisenhower's telegram saluting Operation Fitness was drafted in one division of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (Arthur Flemming, Secretary), okayed by the White House and duly dispatched to the physical education teachers. But it had failed to receive the approving initials of the Secretary's Special Assistant for Health and Medical Affairs, and this would never do. The Special Assistant to the Secretary for Health and Medical Affairs, who was one of those disapproving of Operation Fitness, got on the phone to Portland, and told the physical education boys that there had been a lamentable foul-up; that President Eisenhower's good wishes had not been properly reviewed before dispatch, etc., etc., etc. Not wishing to offend the S.A. for H. and M.A., the officers of the physical education group sadly made their decision: better not read Ike's message to the 2,500 delegates assembled.
Well, we have a copy of the President's greeting at hand, and, the S.A. for H. and M.A. to the contrary notwithstanding, we would like to read it to everybody right here and now. We doubt if Ike would take a line of it back:
IT IS A PLEASURE TO SEND GREETINGS TO THOSE ATTENDING THE ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR HEALTH, PHYSICAL EDUCATION AND RECREATION.
FITNESS OF OUR CITIZENS IS A NATIONAL NEED REQUIRING CONTINUING PUBLIC ATTENTION AND ENLIGHTENED ACTION. YOUR "OPERATION FITNESS—U.S.A." PROJECT SHOULD HELP FOCUS ATTENTION UPON CONTRIBUTIONS THAT CAN BE MADE TO THE HEALTH, VIGOR AND CHARACTER OF AMERICAN BOYS AND GIRLS. BEST WISHES FOR A FINE CONVENTION.
DWIGHT DAVID EISENHOWER
Make Mine a Yorsh
There is perhaps no finer evidence of Soviet efficiency than that shown in the Russian approach to the international oasis of sportsmen known as the 19th hole. Where most of the decadent civilizations of the Western world find it necessary to struggle through 18 or more ardent and taxing holes of golf before settling down to their just reward in the locker room bar, the Russians have eliminated all the inefficient and wasteful preliminaries. There is not, as it happens, a single golf course in all of Russia, yet the workers' paradise is seemingly one vast 19th hole.
Communist drinking, according to our Photographer-Correspondent Jerry Cooke, who has just returned from Russia weary, footsore and perhaps a touch dehydrated, is continuous, enthusiastic, imaginative and not a whit impaired by the recent dictum limiting Russian lushes to a single hooker of vodka in any one bar. In the first place, there is nothing in the law to keep you from bowling along to the next bar for another hooker; in the second place, the law applies only to vodka, and vodka is only the beginning.
The people of Russia have long been famed for a monumental consumption of their tribal drink, and they still drink traditional oceans of vodka but they drink a great many other things as well. Among Moscow's high-living, modern Jet Set—the duck-tailed, tight-trousered Russian equivalent of London's neo-Edwardian Teddy Boys—the favorite tipple is Armenian cognac. They can well afford it. Their fathers for the most part are high-ranking status seekers in the classless society, and drinking money is not much of a problem in a land where income taxes take only 13% in the top bracket. The Jets can be seen in droves in any good Moscow restaurant drinking their cognac quietly in the company of buxom girl friends and causing little trouble beyond a certain unsteadiness of gait when at last they make their way homeward.
There are others in Russia who take their drinks with more gusto and mix them with more imagination than the morose Jets. For these happily bibulous Bolsheviks, the bartenders in Moscow's "cocktail halls" will cheerfully mix a lighthouse (3 ounces chartreuse, 1 ounce cognac poured over an egg yolk; drink without breaking the yolk), or a Prince of Wales (3 parts sweet champagne, 1 part cognac; serve in a water glass and drink in a single swallow).
Transportation of liquids to the farther reaches of the Soviet Union is something of a problem, so it is often cheaper and easier to ship pure alcohol than the slightly more watery vodka. Hence the favorite cocktail of northern Siberia is the Far East, or snow, cocktail. This tipple consists of a deep gulp of 190-proof alcohol washed down with a handful of snow, and it is told, with some pride, that Siberia's best hunters can hit a squirrel in the eye (so as not to spoil the fur) at 300 feet after enough Far Easts. In the same rough category as the Far East is the trailertruck: raw vodka followed by a bite of salt herring and washed down by more vodka. Moscow's medical students take their pleasure in a kind of just-nonlethal denatured alcohol which they call blue lady.
At the sophisticated opposite end of the Russian drinking spectrum are the carnival, the yorsh and the Sharbagatovka. The latter, named for a Soviet artist, is a blend of cognac and red wine drunk warm after skating or skiing, like a German Gl√ºhwein. The carnival, a Leningrad favorite, consists of two kinds of Russian ram—both sweetish—1 part vodka, 1 part cognac and enough champagne to fill whatever glass is being used. Cooke describes it as a Russian zombie. The trickiest drink of all is the yorsh (named after a small fish with prickles), whose manufacture requires as much skill as does a pousse-café. It is mixed by pouring beer into a glass up to the halfway mark and covering it gently with a white (must be white) handkerchief. The glass is then filled ever so gently to the brim with vodka. If the job is done right the handkerchief can be removed leaving vodka and beer together in a wedded but unmixed state, and the whole thing is swallowed at a gulp. "It looks," said one enraptured comrade to Cooke, "absolutely lovely against the light."
Last but far from least is a kind of instant Muscovite beer which can be brewed at home in a mere 15 days. It takes only a little sugar, some water and a few grams of dry yeast. If, after one week in a warm place, it has neither blown up nor walked away, add a little more yeast and vodka to taste, wait another week, and then have fun. Before consuming too much, however, it might be well to have a sip of kasy, a horsemeat broth popular in Central Asia. Kasy is thought to make one immune to alcohol in any quantity.
Mud in your eye! Or, as Cooke learned to say, Na Zdorovie!
Little Richard's Almanac
The troubles of Little Richard, a blue-tick hound, began on a hunting trip with his owner Larry Wilson, an undertaker of Owasso, Oklahoma. Hard on the scent of a skedaddling coon, Little Richard followed the trail up to a narrow cleft of rock six miles east of Owasso. A hunter's hunter, he did not swerve from his duty but flung himself headlong into the limestone slit. Unlike the coon, he did not come out again. He managed instead to wedge himself into a V-shaped crevice. Forward motion thereupon ceased. That, pretty much, was the first day.
Little Richard did what he could do through the night: he answered Larry Wilson's repeated entreaties to come out with muffled howls of despair, and he kicked his forelegs, suspended above the cave floor, in futile exercise. Toward morning, Wilson and a cousin, now convinced they alone could not free the hound, rushed off to Owasso for assistance.
Later on the second day, would-be rescuers began to collect at the mouth of Little Richard's trap. They kicked at the rock and admitted it was hard; they poked their heads into the crevice and admitted it was narrow; some chipped at the stone with picks and admitted it was slow going. One of the number, Albert Leeds of Tulsa, weighing 70 pounds to Little Richard's 60, tried to reach the dog by crawling. But squirm as he might, the 10 pounds made the difference, and he backed out defeated. Little Richard mourned softly, no closer to freedom than before.
On the third day, an Oklahoma gas company crew moved to the scene with pneumatic drills. It is unresolved whether it is better to be trapped in a cave and left to perish quietly or to be trapped in a cave and saved with the clatter of jackhammers ringing in your ears. But Little Richard, wincing with every spurt of the hammer, endured that day, and by nightfall looked up to see the face of Dr. John Collins, the attending veterinarian from Tulsa. Dr. Collins could not reach the dog but he could see enough to tell newspaper and television reporters that Little Richard was losing weight and was thirsty. When the Owasso fire department heard that, it rigged a hose and sprayed water on the walls nearest the dog. Little Richard lapped the moisture off the stone as it trickled by.
He fared poorly over the next two days. Outside all was sunshine and fresh air and free-running coons. But for the hound inside, life had become an around-the-clock ordeal of dark hunger, suffocating limestone dust and the banging and shouting of frustrated men. It was all very well to know that a few feet away reporters from the big city were writing down your name and television crews were standing by to see your face and volunteer workers were lined up for a crack at the rock walls. But it was not a dog's life.
Shortly before dawn on the sixth day the rescue workers shook their heads solemnly and said that the jackhammers would not get through in time. The only hope, they said, was dynamite. Wilson, close to exhaustion, bit off the remains of a fingernail and gave reluctant consent. Little Richard hung down his head while Edgar Palmer, an Owasso explosives expert, was called in to supervise the blasting. Pillows and blankets were forced up close to the dog's head, and after six shots, the last within three feet, the cleft fell open. Once the debris was cleared, Little Richard, his head spinning, half fell, half leaped into Wilson's arms. He had lost 17 pounds and his backbone made a lumpy ridge from shoulders to tail. But the coon dog, just in case any coons were perched in the surrounding trees, made it stiffly—but under his own power—to a waiting ambulance.
Late last week, rested, restored considerably in weight and definitely refreshed in spirit, Little Richard was able to lope off into the coon thickets of northeast Oklahoma with Larry Wilson again. And friends and admirers of Little Richard raised sighs of satisfaction from Maine to California, Alaska and Hawaii.
He knows the mountain passes, so
Climbs not, nor leaps crevasses,
But sits and waits and will not go
Until the mountain passes.
They Said It
Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals, after he became the sixth man in baseball history to smash 400 homers [others: Ruth, Foxx, Ott, Gehrig, Ted Williams]: "Gosh, that's a lot of home runs for a singles hitter."
Punch Imlach, Toronto Maple Leafs coach, bridling over word that Alex Delvecchio, winner of the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct, might be traded to his team: "I'll fine any player who wins that trophy."
Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati University basketball All-America, on how he coped with high-powered recruiting: "I talked to very few college coaches. I figured they'd all be lying no matter what they promised."
Bonnie Prudden, on being named AMVETS youth adviser: "Helping children become fit is as simple as chasing your kid around the block, putting a chinning bar in every house and having your girl start jumping rope."