Red Christmas, Chaps
This is an article from the June 29, 1959 issue
We can't make it a promise, but one of the most talked about men in the British Isles very shortly may well be an American perfume manufacturer from Wilton, Conn. named Charles Norman Granville. Taking advantage of his yachtsman's knowledge of the Gulf Stream, Granville plans to float $25,000 worth of his Red Satin perfume across the Atlantic, blanketing the western shores of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales on Christmas Eve with an odoriferous crimson oil.
The thought that a Lancashire squire filled with Yule cheer will lift his head from his plum pudding, breathe deep of his moist English air and get a snootful of Red Satin from the colonies bothers Mr. Granville not a whit. A man who once caused a perfumed rain on Paris and a perfumed snow on Bridgeport, Conn. and who seriously considered turning Niagara Falls temporarily Red Satin red can't be expected to boggle at the prospect of December dismay in the land of his forefathers. "This will benefit everybody," says Granville, speaking with what might, in the spirit of things, be called dollars and scents logic. "I'm sure the English will be delighted to find their atmosphere aromaed with passion flower."
Smelling not at all of passion flower and attacking a chicken hash with the joie de vivre of a man who calls his factory the Skunk Works, Granville used a luncheon last week to explain that his latest prospect really started at Niagara Falls.
"Four years ago we were going to dye the falls red for 30 seconds, add perfume and claim Red Satin did something honeymooners couldn't: make Niagara blush," he began. "The police found out and stopped us. Dreadful situation. That 300 pounds of red dye in our inventory has riled me ever since.
"Then, while navigating my yawl Angelique in last year's Bermuda race, I got the idea. Why not use the Gulf Stream for a mass perfuming of England and mark the transatlantic progress of our product with that red dye? I checked with oceanography experts. Scientifically, sir, I assure you the idea is sound.
"We even used four Connecticut ponds to test how fast our perfume loses its scent in water. Measurement is millismells. I invented it. One thousand millismells equals full odor—one smell. The perfume lost four millismells a week, or 10% of its strength in the time it would take to get from Miami on July 15, when we are going to dump it, to Christmas Eve, when it arrives off Great Britain."
His chicken hash was neglected as he became absorbed with the concept of his smell on a swell. "Charts show we must seed a mile-square area 13¾ miles from the western edge of the Gulf Stream off Miami. The slightest miscalculation and we perfume Spain at Easter. We expect, among other things, to catch one particular offshoot of the current and perfume Liverpool harbor. Liverpool badly needs something like that. We're going to inform ships and planes of the perfume's probable position. They can help alert the British to the estimated arrival day."
But is alerting the British the best tactic? "I've thought of that too," said Granville, whose forefathers left London in the 1850s. "They can't stop us. We'll have the perfume in international waters. Best of all, they can't retaliate. The Gulf Stream only runs one way."
And what do you say to that, Great Britain? Merry Christmas.
Behind the New Duck Stamp
The old $2 duck stamp, officially known as the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp, is no more. A handsome piece of artwork, it depicted in the foreground last year three plump Canada geese, Anas canadensis, an ear of corn, a stubble field, and five more birds aloft in a wintry sky.
The new duck stamp shows a Labrador retriever with a mallard in its mouth. What is more important is that it bears a new figure: a big $3 sign is right beside the retriever's left ear. Congress has raised the price of the duck stamp in an effort to raise more funds for wet-land acquisition so as to give the ducks more breeding space. However, all signs point to shorter seasons, reduced bags, few ducks, and consequently fewer hunters to pay $3 for the stamps. The head of the wildlife bureau, Daniel H. Janzen, says it is hoped that the duck hunter will "have enough faith in the future of this sport to contribute his $3 even though the hunting prospects this fall look pretty grim." He should regard the payment as a measure of insurance against the end of all duck hunting.
It is that bad. Almost all North American ducks—85%—are produced in the breeding grounds of the Saskatchewan prairie, 125,000 square miles that resemble a stretched-out sponge of lakes, small sloughs and water-filled ditches. In a wet year as many as 10 million of these sloughs and potholes provided safe breeding grounds for countless puddlers (mallards, blue-and green-winged teals, shovellers) and divers (canvasbacks, redheads, scaup). Last year there were around 4½ million such water holes. Now there are less than 1½ million in the whole immense terrain. In southern Saskatchewan 80% have vanished. In southern Alberta they have all gone. At Kindersley, in west central Saskatchewan, where there were formerly 54 sloughs, there are now 13. Ten square miles of wooded prairie near Redvers formerly contained 460 sloughs. Now there are 92. The mallards that could be counted by the hundreds of pairs there two years ago are now down to a handful.
The duck breeding population of the Saskatchewan prairie in 1957 was estimated at 5,290,000. It has dropped to 3,170,000. Mallards are down 41% from last year, canvas-backs 59%. The major shift of breeding ducks has been to Manitoba, where water conditions are good, but increased production there and in the north cannot compensate for the loss of the prolific prairie output. Wildlife officials meeting in Ottawa last week kept their discussion of the duck crisis to a closed meeting, but it was no secret that they planned sharply reduced bag limits this fall.
The Canadian wildlife service's assistant chief, Victor Solman, described the scene in Saskatchewan: "You have ducks setting out in all directions to look for water. They can't find it near enough for the young to make the trip, so the young die. The grown-up ducks will stick around for a while, then take to their wings.... The situation is so bad many ducks didn't even try to nest. You see them running around in a sort of daze, completely bewildered."
"I see no solution," said Director Janzen from the American side. "We can always hope some miracle will occur on the prairies."
And in the meantime it was obvious that American sportsmen could make no better investment than paying their $3 for their duck stamp, whether they hunted or not.
Umpirical Findings (Cont.)
While this magazine has been pioneering with its own modest index on major league umpires (BOUNCE AVERAGES, SI, Aug. 19, 1957, et seq.) a contemporary of ours, The Sporting News, has been broadening the idea in a most thoroughgoing way. You will remember that in our latest look at the bounce averages Umpire Frank Dascoli's National League team led all the rest with 10 players tossed out so far this season and, indeed, more bounces than all the umpires in the American League put together (SI, June 8). Well, Sporting News has asked its correspondents to rate all the umpires on 25 different characteristics, and pretty exhaustive they are. Our man Dascoli, for instance, personally leads all the others in the National League in six of 25 categories (Quickest to Eject Players, best Showboater-Grandstander, best TV Performer, Best on Balls and Strikes, Best on Bases, Best at Being in Right Position) and wins a tie with Jocko Conlan in three more divisions (Most Difficult to Converse With, Easiest to Converse With, No. 1 Pop-off).
Nobody dominates the American League scene quite so thoroughly. Umpire Ed Hurley is Quickest to Eject Players, Ed Runge is Best on Balls and Strikes, Hank Soar is Best on Bases, and Bill Summers is Most Respected by Players and Managers.
Nothing we have seen lately illustrates the ambivalence of the baseball fan's attitude toward the umpire, but we have heard no complaints from fellows like Dascoli and Conlan. On the other hand there has been a roar of dismay from National League Umpire Augie Donatelli. Why? Donatelli, a member of Jocko Conlan's squad, led all the rest in one category: Most Diplomatic.
"What the hell does that mean?" bellowed Donatelli. "I average about 10 ejections a year. I unload fast." Then gesturing with his thumb: "Just like that and they're outta there. This 'Diplomat' thing can damage a guy's reputation. Suppose [Cubs Manager Bob] Scheffing is out arguing.... Do you think I go up and say 'Now, Bob, old fellow, let's have a cup of tea and talk this over'? Hell no! He says the magic words I unload him. I'm just a coal miner from Pennsylvania and I don't know too much about this diplomat stuff. It's a bum rap."
Opening day at Royal Ascot saw the traditional well-dressed crowd assembled, with one significant differance: the biggest fashion news was the appearance of bare feet. The Queen wore a yellow lace two-piece costume, with matching picture hat, and yellow roses on her shoulder; Princess Margaret was in pale mauve silk; the Duchess of Marlborough wore a charcoal alpaca box jacket with gray picture hat underlined in white. And hundreds more of Britain's most glamorous females appeared at their most elegant in a break from the tradition of wearing suits for the first day of Ascot.
But they weren't much noticed. All eyes were focused on the toes of Mrs. Frances Lyndon Smith, a startlingly beautiful young woman who arrived barefoot. Since Mrs. Lyndon Smith wore a Ceylonese dress, and since bare feet, with matching silver-lace ankle and toe ornaments, are appropriate in Ceylon, her bare feet weren't as sensational as they might have been had she worn western garb. As it was, reporters noted she crossed the hot concrete from the parking lot without apparent discomfort. It was when she came out on the green grass of the paddock that she really made news: the newspapers described her "superb walk"; cameramen caught her delicately on tiptoe. At least one fashion editor, hastily queried, advised all Englishwomen to go barefoot, at least part of the time.
As for the race, the Queen's Above Suspicion, a disappointing fifth in the Derby, won the ¬£3,919 St. James's Palace Stakes. Other fashion notes: Mob hats are everywhere. Mob hats, in net, organza, cotton or silk, completely overshadowed picture hats. (Mob hats are shapeless bonnets that look as if they were fastened to the head by a cord tied around them, like a cord around a sack.) By the end of the day, however, these developments had been overshadowed. Mrs. Lyndon Smith's bare feet, recorded the Daily Telegraph, had become the talk of London.
TV-leggers in L.A.
For his own protection as well as that of his family and friends, the hero of this story must be known only as Baseball Fan X. The fact is, we are taking a grave chance in telling the story of X at all, for if Commissioner Ford Frick were to find out what X and his friends are up to in Los Angeles, he would probably take away their TV sets, and that—as everyone in mid-century U.S. knows—is tantamount to shutting off a man's food, air and water all at once.
According to the law of organized big league baseball, of course, Mr. Frick would be perfectly justified in punishing Mr. X. And yet X himself is not really a criminal type. The president of a thriving Los Angeles metalworking company, he is a good father, a good husband, a former college ballplayer himself, and a loyal Dodger rooter who seldom misses a chance to watch the home team work out in the local Coliseum. Mr. X's only fault in fact lies in his failure to accept the major league edict that a man can have big league ball in the ball park or big league ball in the living room but he cannot have both. Telecast from coast to coast for the benefit of towns too small for a big league club of their own, baseball's Game of the Week is rigorously blacked out of living room screens in major league cities. San Diego can watch the Dodgers when they're playing in Pittsburgh; Santa Barbara can watch them; Los Angeles cannot.
For Dodger Fan Herman Weiner—blast it! that just slipped out—for Dodger Fan X, we mean, that was just too much. Like many another red-blooded American faced with a prohibition, X rebelled. He called a friend whom he knew to be an expert on electronic matters and asked point-blank if there was any way his TV set could be jiggered to bring in San Diego or Santa Barbara? Easy, said the friend, and touted him on to a TV repair man. For $75 the TV man put some extra height on his antenna, aimed it in the direction of San Diego and jiggled it back and forth until it zeroed in on a certain mysterious band of electromagnetic vibration. Then lo! there in a Los Angeles living room, vibrating for all to see, was a game being played in Pittsburgh.
Since that brave day many another Angeleno fan and TV serviceman have conspired to evade the Ford Frick black-out with bootlegged TV. Some local television men now offer a rotary motor attachment for the antenna which makes the change from L.A. to San Diego to Santa Barbara by the merest push of a button. As if to signify divine approval of the West Coast TV-leggers, reception is improved, not impaired, by smog.
And does all this mean that the Dodgers are playing to empty seats? "Nonsense," says Fan X. "When the Dodgers are home we're always through watching the game over TV in time to be at the Coliseum for the first inning."
Below the Belt
Not every prizefighter can be a Gene Tunney. This fact everyone knows and no one better than Jorge Castro, onetime middleweight champion of Mexico. But then, Jorge might well add, so what? So Gene Tunney was heavyweight champion of the world and he liked to read Shakespeare. "I was in six schools," says Jorge Castro, "and none of them could teach me how to read or write."
Who needs it? says Jorge Castro of the literary art. And who indeed, echoes Bantamweight Champion Toluca Lopez, top lightweight Mono Garcia, and a dozen more ornaments of the Mexican prize ring, all of them as innocent of the written word as Jorge. Well, answers Mexico City's Boxing Commissioner Luis Sporta, "you do." And with that sentiment in mind he passes a law ordering every illiterate prizefighter in Mexico to learn his alphabet within three months or lose his license. It was like a hard left below the belt.
Says Jorge Castro, a proud man. "I will quit rather than be forced to learn something no one was able to teach me in a lifetime."
The skirt she played at tennis in
Was noticeably short;
The judges took a careful look
And threw her out of court.
They Said It
Floyd Patterson, asked whether he will try for a first-round knockout if he sees a chance for one: "Johansson saw a chance for one in that fight with Machen in Sweden and he took it. He will probably be looking for his chance with me. You have to keep looking. If you don't keep looking, it can be too late."
Fresco Thompson, vice-president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on how he sees the race developing: "There is not a really solid team around. This year will be one of the easiest pennants for any National League club."
Douglas Moore, American composer, urging symphonic audiences to model their conduct on that of baseball crowds: "Too much of our concert-going is a matter of cultural uplift. I wish we could get a little of the honesty that we get in our baseball stadiums. If audiences would boo, it would generate partisanship, and partisanship means life. Our enemy is apathy."