Carbo Cops a Plea
The whimsies, both gay and sinister, of Frankie Carbo, underworld commissioner of boxing, have included happy half hours in front of a television set watching Mr. District Attorney, during which Frankie roots for the hoodlums and snarls at D.A. David Brian: "I'll put ya in a hole, ya rat!"
Last week New York's Mr. District Attorney Frank Hogan, who is no half-hour Hollywood fantasy, had Hoodlum Frankie himself in a hole. Carbo had a hard choice. He could plead guilty to indictments charging that he had been an undercover fight manager and matchmaker or he could try to prove that he was no such thing.
If Frankie Carbo chose the latter course and attempted to defend himself in court, some important people might be embarrassed by evidence the district attorney would probably introduce. Prominent among these would be notorious James D. Norris, onetime president of the now-dissolved International Boxing Club, who had successfully pleaded that his heart might not stand the strain of an appearance in court. As Assistant District Attorney Alfred J. Scotti told the jury, Carbo's power in boxing "stemmed largely from his great influence over the IBC"—i.e., over Norris.
Thinking things over while the jury was selected, a wan Carbo made his decision. He pleaded guilty to three counts that can jail him for three years and thus saved his sportive old pals from being exposed in court. There was reason to believe that this decision was not so much romantic adherence to the Mafia code of silence as submission to orders from his superiors in the mob.
After copping his plea, Carbo went back to the jail hospital (he is a diabetic) to await sentencing on November 30. After that he will be delivered up to Los Angeles to face a federal felony indictment charging him with attempting to extort a share of Welterweight Champion Don Jordan's purses, a charge he will share with Truman Gibson, Norris' executive officer.
When that is all over, Frankie Carbo will face a civil suit for collection of back income taxes totaling $750,719.57. He has been known to bank as much as $300,000 in a single year (1946) and fighters he has controlled have been known to end their careers deep in debt.
Now it seems certain that Frankie Carbo, the old Murder, Inc. trigger-man who has gotten away with murder more than once in his career, is about to pay an installment on his debt to society.
Some big hunks of ice fell out of cloudless skies over the eastern part of the country the other day, and almost certainly a reasonable explanation of the phenomenon will be forthcoming at any moment. It took no time at all last week to identify that vehicle from outer space streaking across the New York skyline. It was just a new kind of weather balloon. Most sensations of this kind evaporate between newspaper editions. But who is going to explain away that mysterious thing that's been running loose in the State of Maine for weeks now?
Some say it's a wild dog, but as someone else said, "If that's a wild dog, he's more'n wild, he's peculiar." Charles Cogwell of Holden (a village near Bangor) describes the thing he saw near Branch Pond as an animal five feet long, three feet high, with a tail the length of its body.
The thing's been seen all over the territory. "Ayuh," said Don Williams, a gun salesman in the L L. Bean sporting goods store at Freeport. "We've heard considerable talk about the critter. Some say it's a timber wolf or maybe a mountain lion." Mr. Williams was asked if mountain lions are common in his vicinity. "Not common, no," said Mr. Williams. "Unheard of."
Newspapers in Bangor and Portland have been trying to run down the story with no luck. Game Warden Virgil Grant and Robert Sawyer, a trainee officer, told reporters they saw the thing on the back road from Linneus to Oakfield. "Ayuh," said Grant. "It appeared to stand 30 inches off the ground and was four feet long in the body, with a 36-inch tail." He thought a moment and added, "Had red eyes, ayuh."
Norville Reid of Houlton saw not one unexplained animal but two. Bill Betterly of Dedham spotted one in a field adjoining his property. Others reported sightings around Jackman, Lincolnville and Millinocket. As more and more reports came in, Hale Joy, assistant editor of the weekly Ellsworth American, did his Yankee best to stave off panic. If some deer hunter happens to plug one of these animals, he editorialized on his front page, "the mystery will no doubt be solved." Meanwhile State of Mainers are in a state of confusion and, like mountain lions and wild dogs five feet long, where they live that's not uncommon, it's unheard of.
The Golfing Starter
One measure of the importance of the program at Washington's Laurel race track this Wednesday is the fact that Eddie Blind will turn up without his golf clubs. Eddie, an amiable 6-footer and the official starter at Laurel, is one of that small company of turfmen who care more about how a race begins than how it finishes. By the time the horses are off and running in any lesser race than the International, Eddie is apt to be thinking about another sport—his favorite—and even setting out with his golf clubs to knock a few balls around the infield before the next race starts.
Eddie got the golf habit from an aunt named Clara Tweedale about 30 years ago and in the years since has polished his game to a middle-70s average against competition ranging from Eddie Arcaro to Fred Astaire to Jock Whitney to Jim Turnesa, who made him so nervous he shot an 85.
Most of the time, however, golf calms Eddie's nerves. "I Start about 2,500 horse races a year," he says, "and the pressure is such that I've got to have a change. Otherwise I couldn't stand it. I'd go nuts.
"I've had my finger broken by War Admiral, my ankle broken by Beau Pilot, my nose broken by Pharaoh Warrior, my arm broken by Daily News, and a horse named King Saxon even bit me. This is a tough business."
Eddie has started every International since the race's inception (and 13 Preaknesses as well), and it always gives him more trouble than a sliced three-wood. Because most of the horses are foreign, a walk-up start has been used, not without difficulty. Last year, when there were four false starts, the horses "kept coming at me like the Charge of the Light Brigade," says Eddie. "The Russian horse Zaryad was so damn anxious he wanted to take my place as starter. Then he broke badly when the time came. They probably sent him to Siberia."
This year Blind will have a European-type starting barrier for the International. The barrier looks like a tennis net of wire mesh, and shoots up and out at the starter's touch. It is an effective block to an overanxious horse, threatening to hang him up like so much wet wash, Russian horses included. It should make this year's International start easier, but Eddie Blind is still worried. "I've got a lot to think about on International Day," said Eddie last week. "I'd like to please everybody or somebody'll say, 'That lousy Eddie Blind.' " Then his eyes took on a dreamy look. "Everything I hit these days goes to the right," he mused. "I think it might be my driver. I hit my three-woods O.K."
At one time or another the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has officially adopted the keystone as its state symbol, the hemlock as its tree, the ruffed grouse as its bird, the mountain laurel as its flower and the white-tailed deer as its animal. (A doubtful honor for the deer, which sports-minded Pennsylvanians slaughter by the tens of thousands annually.) But, by some oversight, Pennsylvania has no official dog. Neither, for that matter, has any other state, but there are those in Pennsylvania who feel the lack deeply.
The leading canine candidate before the state's legislature at this reading is the great Dane. This nominee was put forward by Mrs. Henry Peirsol of Swarthmore, who has lobbied for her pet project these 12 years past and maintains somewhat mystically that the Dane "is our theoretic state dog" in any case because of its historical connection with William Penn. He apparently owned one.
Mrs. Peirsol herself owns, as it happens, a beagle, but the beagle, she declares, is long on ears and short on dignity and hence unqualified as state dog. Representative Charles Jim of Westmoreland County is outstandingly pro-beagle, but much too blunt about it. His motion in favor of beagles—"The beagle is hereby selected and adopted as the state dog of Pennsylvania"—was so unadorned with the fancy phrases of legislative majesty that it was squelched in the House 81 to 111. The great Dane bill, on the other hand, inspired by Mrs. Peirsol's drive, contained eight "whereases" and one "therefore," and consequently swept the lower chamber 113 to 77. Included in its rhetoric were some challenging thoughts: "Whereas the great Dane is prominently depicted in the Governor's reception room painting as the 'best friend' of the founder of this commonwealth, William Penn, and; Whereas the outline of the great Dane's head resembles the outline of the commonwealth's boundaries...and; Whereas the physical and other attributes of the great Dane—size, beauty, intelligence, tolerance, courage, faithfulness, trustworthiness and stability—exemplify those of Pennsylvania.... Therefore...the great Dane is selected, designated and adopted as the official dog."
Early debate on the dog bill was punctuated with scattered barks in the House until Democratic Majority Leader Stephen McCann reminded members, "It is undignified to bark in the House." Some representatives, being mildly disposed toward dog legislation, voted for both the Dane and the beagle; some, on the other hand, would have neither. "A state canine," said Representative Charles Auker (R.), "would be asinine." Even famed Pennsylvania dog-breeder Lina Basquette, the onetime Ziegfeld Follies and silent-cinema darling, was inclined to this point of view. Now Mrs. Frank Vincent Mancuso, Lina says that great Danes make better pets than husbands do (she has had dozens of the one, a half dozen of the other), but says, too, "I can't see that the great Dane should be a state dog. It's a damn silly thing."
Maybe the Republican Senate, which got the dog bill from the Democratic House, felt the same way. In any case, it promptly recessed.
Years before the meteorologist and the toothy TV girl insinuated themselves into American life, men put their trust in home-grown weather forecasts. And seldom were peas planted or picnics planned without scrutinizing groundhogs, muskrats, crickets, ducks, frogs, leeches or woolly-bear caterpillars. Along with a lot of other oldtimey ideas, the forecasting faculties of bugs and things have been laughed away by stuffy old scientists. But they haven't dashed cold water on one poor fish—the perch. "They can't," says Mathon Kyritsis, a weather wizard of Waukegan, Ill. "Perch as forecasters are infallible."
Like geese flying south, says Mathon, perch in Lake Michigan strike out for deeper water at the first ripple of winter. The deeper they go and the farther they swim from the shore line, the harder the winter will be. Mathon knows this is so because he has fished perch from the lake for 40 years. And in 18 years of prophecy, he's been wrong only twice—errors in interpretation, he gladly acknowledges, no fault of the fish.
Last week Mr. Kyritsis had the coming winter's perch prediction in hand, applicable for the Great Lakes region as far west as Omaha, as far north as Sturgeon Bay, Wis. and as far east as Detroit. It is a prediction favorable only to fuel dealers. Mathon's two boats, dragging nets 90 feet down and six miles out, caught only 250 pounds of perch. At 140 feet down and 12 miles out, they caught 800 pounds of perch. "Last year was cold enough, but this year the fish have started for the deep water 10 days earlier even than they did then," says Mathon, shivering happily in the anticipation of frigid weather ahead and a further impeccable record of percomorphic prognosis.
"Donald M. Ferguson of the Australian Tennis Association recently predicted the world's two leading Davis Cup nations, Australia and the U.S., would soon support a movement toward grassless cup play, in deference to countries where no grass courts are available.
But Ferguson reckons without the likes of Jack Evans, a Tuscaloosa, Alabama tennis buff who views such anti-grass talk as treason. He believes grass is as vital to tennis as balls and a net. "Without grass," he says, "tennis would die, because the esthetic qualities of grass are the hard core, the grass roots as you might say, of the game itself. Without grass, tennis just doesn't have the prestige the game should have. Unless you're on grass you aren't playing tennis."
Suiting his deeds to his philosophy, Evans has brought a flourishing 220-family tennis club to Tuscaloosa and provided it with its first grass courts in just one year's time. Some of the country's most knowledgeable amateurs (Bill Talbert, Gardnar Mulloy, Dick Savitt) played on Evans' grass and even likened it to the velvet of Wimbledon. Then, last week, two old pros, Bobby Riggs and Don Budge, who have competed on the world's finest courts, teamed up to win the doubles in what Tuscaloosa proudly calls The Southern Professional Grass Courts Tennis Championships.
The courts are fine, said Budge after the final match, though Jack Evans might as well know now that Don doesn't like to play on grass. Fine indeed, echoed Riggs, who does like grass and promised to be back next year to play in Tuscaloosa. All this, mind you, in a part of the country where tennis itself is a curiosity and grass courts almost unknown.
It was a modest tournament to be sure, but with it Jack Evans made a point: Grass courts are practicable for small tennis clubs. "Building them isn't as complicated as you'd think," he says. "All you need is a level area, good strong grass and tender care."
If that's all the suburban homeowner needs to grow a fine lawn then how come it's still harder to raise good grass than children?
No Horns, No Shoot!
He called a moose.
Forgot Lie rule.
Who'd like to buy
A nice dead mule?
—S. OMAR BARKER