The Pacific rainstorm that for one dark moment threatened to engulf Squaw Valley fled across country and lost itself at last in the broad Atlantic, its threat mercifully unfulfilled. Like a guest room bed beckoning with clean white sheets, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics lay bright and inviting beneath a blanket of fresh snow as the United States, for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, prepared to play host to an aggregation of the world's hottest cold-weather athletes.
As Americans privileged to speak for at least some of the world's sports fans, we on this magazine join in America's hearty welcome to the 800 athletes competing in California this week. We wish them all good sport, and we wish them success not only in their immediate competition but in the greater mission their presence here implies: the propagation of the principles of good sportsmanship throughout a world rent and riven with meaner motives.
The gathering of athletes from widely differing backgrounds in Olympic competition is not in itself a guarantee of universal fellowship. Stripped of its nobler standards, athletic competition can breed enmity as easily as amity. The banner of the Olympics has already been ripped and torn more than once on the sharp edges of the Iron Curtain that divides the world in political hatreds. International differences have often been played out in political pantomime on the arenas of sport, setting nations farther apart rather than bringing them together.
Last week, as international tensions grew tighter over the problem of Berlin, the U.S. State Department decided not to permit a group of East German sportswriters to attend the Games at Squaw Valley. The official reasoning, according to State, was that the East German reporters were seeking only an opportunity to "inject a harsh political note into the friendly competition."
Communist reporters may not be famous for providing completely objective boxscores on democracy's athletes. However, at this point, it scarcely matters. What matters more is that the State Department has already injected a "harsh, political note" into the friendly competition.
Granting the State Department's privilege to take what political steps it feels necessary, we deplore the presence of that harsh note at Squaw and earnestly hope it will be quickly quenched.
Easy to overlook amidst the noisy formation of new major leagues for baseball and football is the bid of another sport, bowling, to set up a national professional circuit.
Kingpins of the proposed bowling league are two Texas lane owners, Curtis Sanford of Dallas and Charles Weisenburg of Fort Worth. They point to the 27 million Americans who are bowling now and to the fact that the number has been increasing at the rate of 12% or so a year. The founders of the proposed National Bowling League see in this the kind of interest that could turn turnstiles for intercity professional matches. Preliminary plans call for teams of seven players, representing franchise-holding cities from Los Angeles to New York, which would roll six nights a week for 36 weeks.
Sanford, one of the first backers of New Year's Cotton Bowl football game, is so confident of the NBL's prospects that he has ordered a million-dollar expansion of his Cotton Bowling Palace in Dallas, with the main new feature being the addition of seats for 4,500 spectators. "People will tell you the league will never start," he says, "but it will."
Start or not, the very talk about a major league in bowling is another sign of the sport's increasing popularity.
If any other proof were needed that spectator bowling is taking on size it came last Friday night. Viewers of 180 television stations saw Frank Clause, a high school history teacher from Old Forge, Pa. who turned pro bowler, hit the jackpot on NBC's Jackpot Bowling.
For rolling six straight strikes, Clause won $25,000, pushed his program earnings to $33,000 on the 10-minute show. That's big-league stuff; no doubt about it.
How to Run a Railroad
Back in the days when there were far fewer weekend skiers in Japan, Tokyo's Ueno railway station got along with just one wheelchair, and even that was chiefly for the comfort of ailing Premier Ichiro Hatoyama between trainside and waiting automobile in the mid-'50s. This winter 5 million Japanese are on skis, Ueno gets an average of 20 returning casualty cases a day, and Ueno's harassed manager, Shinichi Kurokawa, has had to make extra arrangements.
Stationmaster Kurokawa added two specially designed four-seater wheelchairs (painted with large red crosses on their sides), a baggage cart and two stretchers. During the weekend rush he even needs the old Hatoyama wheelchair.
"The most casualties come in on the 11:06 p.m. each Sunday night with the Monday 4:20 a.m. a close second," reports Kurokawa. "We arrange to have all the injured put on one car. When the train gets to Ueno we wheel right up to that car and lift them out through the window.
"We expect no thanks," says Kurokawa, "and we get none. Skiers don't tip. Instead they holler 'Be gentle' or 'Be quick.' Of course, they are often in considerable pain."
The Beautiful Ohio Again
For years boat owners and fishermen would sooner have pursued their sport on the River Styx than on the polluted Ohio.
A quart of every gallon of water tumbling down that 981-mile river was raw sewage; 1,250 industries poured in their chemical wastes; evil-smelling slime covered beaches and killed game fish—all on a river once so blue and clear that the Indians named it Ohio after the Iroquois word for "thing of beauty."
The end of pleasure boating for all but the most persistent came in the early 1930s when the Gym Boat Club of Cincinnati was forced to desert a $65,000 clubhouse and dock because of the river's filth.
So it was one of the most encouraging bits of boating news of 1960 when the Outboard Boating Club of America named its "Club of the Year" the other day. The winner: The Cincinnati Outboard Runabout Association.
The association is riding the crest of a back-to-the-river movement made possible by 20 years of pollution-control work by the eight states of the Ohio Valley. In earning its award the Cincinnati club held a boating safety clinic for 2,000 boatmen, lobbied for tougher boating laws as pleasure craft increased (from 12,000 to 30,000 in the Cincinnati area in the past 10 years), most surprising of all, held a successful water ski tournament with contestants from 11 states.
Up and down the Ohio, from its source at Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle to its junction with the Mississippi at Cairo, Ill., the river is becoming cleaner. "There are ramps and marinas going in all over the Ohio Valley," says Ron Stone of the Outboard Boating Club. "A large boating ramp is going in at Beaver Falls, Pa., Cincinnati plans a pleasure-boat harbor, and a $300,000 public marina which would cover 15 acres is under study at Louisville." Even the old Gym Boat Club site is in use again, with sweeter water running past its piers.
Like the boating, the fishing too is changing. Not long ago the best an angler could hope for was to snag a catfish or carp rooting through the river bottom. Now bass and bluegills and other clean-water game fish species are being caught.
It has taken time, and will take much more, but a thing of beauty is being reborn. As Wilson Crawford, a member of the Cincinnati Outboard Club, put it last week:
"Three years ago you couldn't stand to cook the fish you caught. The smell was like diesel oil. Now you can stand to smell them frying. That's improvement. You can't eat them yet, of course, but the day will come. Yes sir, the day will come."
With Their Flocks
To the secular mind it might seem that poverty and celibacy are enough for a priest to discipline himself to in the name of his calling. But for the 1,250-odd priests and prelates of the diocese of Rome, poverty and celibacy are only a part of it. According to the rules just reaffirmed at Pope John's diocesan synod, no cleric, priest or nun residing in Rome for either a short or a long period may attend anything classed as a "public spectacle."
This means that Roman priests must eschew all public sports events, including those that are a part of the 1960 Olympics.
This ruling does not mean that either Pope John or his Church is opposed to sport. The Pope is said to be planning a special pregame audience for Olympic athletes this summer, and the diocesan rules just promulgated specifically urge priests to encourage sport among their parish youth. But priests in general and priests in Rome particularly are not supposed to be seen enjoying themselves; hence the canonical ban on attendance at "spectacles."
It only remains to report here that many local Roman clerics feel the ban should not be too strictly enforced. As one of them put it last week: "Every Roman priest I know is a soccer fan, and most of them go to games now and then. You can't keep a real Italian away from a game just by putting him in a cassock. Besides, a priest's place is with his flock, and on a Sunday afternoon his flock is at the game."
Bison Hunting Up to Date
Hunting Buffalo, according to an oldtimer who remembered the days when the huge, myopic beasts roamed the western plains in herds that often took hours to pass a given point, was a good deal "like shooting fish in a barrel—only not quite so dangerous."
Fortunately for the buffalo, which would otherwise have doomed itself to extinction, there were some Americans who were sentimentally inclined to it. One of these was a hardy pioneer named Charles Goodnight, who rode bareback from Illinois to Texas at the age of 9 and somewhat later established a herd of buffalo on his Texas ranch in the hope of crossbreeding them with his cattle. Another sentimentalist Texan was Rancher John Reynolds, who purchased the Goodnight herd 20-odd years ago to keep them from dying out.
Today some 250 Goodnight buffalo, along with a flock of wild turkeys and some 75 deer who turn up at the ranch house every day to get their ration of nutrient pills, enjoy the hospitality of Reynolds' 200,000 acres in the mountains of Jeff Davis County, West Texas, with no greater threat to their well-being than the possibility of dying of old age. As the years go by, this possibility becomes a very real probability, however, and to prevent the herd's oldest bulls from meeting such an undignified and painful denouement, Reynolds now annually sends out invitations urging would-be hunters to come and shoot down a few.
Last week, after paying the $350 fee required for the privilege, three hunters turned up for the 1960 shoot, two armed with rifles, one with bow and arrows.
The hunt that followed produced little to embellish the great legends of the West. The huntsmen took off in pick-up trucks accompanied by an auto-wrecker crane (to heave the carcasses) and a crew of skinners and taxidermists. At a range of 40 yards, Bowman Hugh Pearson sunk his arrow 27 inches into the lungs of one old bull which had been contentedly munching grass. Next day, after a permissive signal from the guide who had studied it long and carefully through his field glasses, one of the riflemen sent a bullet from his 270 Winchester into the heart of another old bull, discovered taking a nap near a clump of cactus.
To finish off the day's sport, the guide permitted another hunter a successful shot at a buffalo cow, which will be barbecued next June for the annual convention of the Outdoor Writers of America. It was, the hunter said, "quite a thrill."
The only miss of the day was another buffalo cow spotted earlier. This animal, off by itself and apparently quite preferring to die of old age if possible, astonished the entire party ' by cleanly leaping a five-foot fence and getting away.
Luverne (Minn.) High School was on the way to beating Windom, Minn. 71-65, and Windom Coach Jed Dommeyer could stand it no longer. An old high-score man at the University of Minnesota ('57), he reached back into his college days and also reached out on the floor and stole the ball as a Luverne player dribbled by. Fans roared, players stared and Dommeyer stood there for a moment in silence, holding the ball. "I don't know why I did it," he said, as the officials awarded Luverne two free throws. Technical foul.
The fox is snickering
In his den;
Has worked again.
—F. E. WHITE
They Said It
Egon Zimmermann, Austrian Olympic skier, on his romance with U.S. Olympic Skier Penny Pitou: "Her parents fear I want to take their little girl to Austria, but if I can find a good job I would be happy to live right here."
Gaspar Ortega, welterweight boxer, disputing his manager's claim Ortega would fight a victorious opponent again for free: "No—not for free!"
Eddie Erdelatz, former Navy football coach, accepting his new job with Oakland in the American Football League: "Gentlemen, I am honored to be selected coach of the Navy—er—Oakland football team."