It will be a long winter before they quit talking about the golf tournament staged last month at the Bahamas Country Club in Nassau.
In order to attract a free-spending field the club operated a pre-tournament Calcutta pool, despite the fact that even the most naive country cousin knows by now the kind of trouble that a Calcutta breeds, and most clubs have voluntarily dropped them. As might have been anticipated under the circumstances, the money-wining scores were on the slightly incredible side, starting with a first-place best ball of 114-30 under par for 36 holes of a two-man team.
But the big talk about the Bahamas Country Club's Calcutta these days concerns the jolt the club got when the money in the pool was counted. Among the checks and currency, the dumfounded tournament committee found 31 crisp new $100 bills, all issued in the name of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and all with the identical serial number: G424378.
March 14, 1960
The U.S. Treasury Department was put to work immediately, and it became known that southern resorts had recently been plagued with phony C-notes. Indeed dozens of them with the same serial number had turned up and were already in the hands of Treasury agents. Presently the T men found the source of the phony bills that had turned up in the Calcutta at Nassau. He was a prominent and highly solvent member of the La Gorce Country Club in Miami Beach and his best (though not entirely satisfactory) explanation was that he got them from a bookmaker. He made restitution, but the T men are still investigating.
The T men, in their humorless way, pointed out that never before had the nation's prosperity reached a level that would make counterfeit $100 bills passable.
End of an Era
Of all the festivals of U.S. football, the biggest, best, most florally festooned is California's Rose Bowl. Since 1947, under a contractual monopoly that made other regional (and national) champions mourn, the universities of the Midwest's Big Ten have supplied the visiting team—and then have hauled home about $300,000 a year for divvy-up. Last week the ruling assembly of the Big Ten, officially the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives, met in Columbus, Ohio and was tempted to renew the expiring Rose Bowl contract. On reflection, the Big Ten said get thee behind me. It meant the end of an era.
The Big Ten decision was made, fundamentally, by the Big Ten faculties. Big Ten athletic directors, by and large, disagreed. Their advice was listened to and rejected. In one of U.S. education's periodic confrontations of the question, "What is overemphasis?" the Big Ten faculties replied in effect, "The Rose Bowl is overemphasis." Said Stanley Kinyon, Minnesota's faculty representative: "Here's last year's Wisconsin team, the first from Wisconsin since 1912 to win the Big Ten title outright. And what's it remembered for? For losing the Rose Bowl to Washington. We recruit all over the place just so we can win in the Rose Bowl."
The decision was not unanimous. Five schools—Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue-voted aye on renewing the contract. But five others—Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin—voted nay. Under the Big Ten constitution the 5-5 tie meant the failure of the contract renewal motion.
The athletic directors had expected the decision all along, for it had been brewing since last year. Most of them had one lingering hope: that individual Big Ten schools would still be allowed to dicker, as "independents," for Rose Bowl appearances on a year-to-year basis. They lost on this, too, 6-4.
This development, one may understand, annoyed, saddened and downright roused the directors. In apparently impromptu retort, they proposed abolition of all postseason competition outside the Big Ten, be they football, baseball, track, golf, tennis, chess or whatever. The effect, a kind of de-emphasis overemphasized, would be to exclude all Big Ten athletes from any tournaments and meets sponsored by the National Collegiate Athletic Association or the Amateur Athletic Union. The faculty representatives, though astonished by the idea, agreed. "At first we regarded it as just a gesture," said Leslie Bryan of Illinois. "But when the directors asked for an executive session and it took a serious turn, the faculty decided if they really meant it, O.K., we'll go along and see what happens."
To see what happens one must wait until May when the Big Ten meets again in East Lansing, Mich. The contract with the Rose Bowl is now a dead issue, but individual participation in the Rose Bowl and the general ban on postseason athletics will certainly be challenged by some member schools, and both decisions may be reversed. Said Big Ten Commissioner Tug Wilson: "We have always prided ourselves on a studied, careful approach to all situations. We never rush into anything half-cocked. Right now I'm afraid we did."
Shape of TV to Come
The television viewer does not lack for spokesmen. Poll takers, the networks and ad men profess to know all about him. Why are there so many westerns on the air? Because the television viewer demands them. Why are programs overloaded with jarring, often tasteless commercials? Because the viewer is only too happy to pay this slight price for his entertainment—and the polls damn well say so.
The broadcasts of the Olympics from Squaw Valley gave the television viewer in Boston a chance to speak for himself and he seemed to be saying something quite different. The CBS outlets there decided not to carry the programs on both Olympic Sundays (one ran a 1937 Robert Taylor movie instead). So CBS gallantly piped these programs to Boston's only noncommercial television station, WGBH-TV without charge.
Station WGBH-TV is supported by funds from Harvard, MIT, the Boston Symphony and similar redoubts of culture, but it still depends on individual contributions. It never expected what would happen when it brought Boston the Olympics: eleven hundred letters of thanks containing $13,000 in gifts. This is striking evidence of the shape of things to come when something like pay television arrives and regularly allows the viewer to speak for himself.
Spotting a Trend
When the Madison (Tenn.) High School basketball team trotted on court one night last month, those in the stands met them with twits, taunts, sniggers, sneers, hoots, whistles, jibes and jeers. Not too polite, you'll warrant, but all the same pretty understandable. The Madison High team's new uniforms—shirts, pants, socks and shoes—were bedizened with polka dots.
The background color of the Madison outfit is a violent, dazzling orange, and the rampant dots, black and white and one inch across, are evenly parceled out 168 to the man. The uniforms cost the school $42 apiece (a $15 boost over ordinary uniforms, which averages out to a 9¢ surcharge per polka dot), and the rationale for their existence, as best Coach Bill Brimm can define it, is this: "I figured the crazy things would help bring people out."
People out they brought, all right, and attendance rose 12%. Something else rose, too, and that was the team's winning record. Before the new uniforms were introduced, colorless Madison had won seven games and lost six. Post polka dots it won six, lost one. And the sole loss was easy to explain: the uniforms were out at the cleaners.
Idea for a Statue
A sportsman named Hank Pearson of Seattle has appointed himself chairman of an organization called the Committee for the Preservation of Winter Steelhead Fishermen which proposes to rescue the steelhead fisherman from an extinction threatened by "increasing number of hydroelectric dams on our rivers, increased pollution from industrial wastes and an insidious move on the part of women to prevent their husbands from going fishing at all."
As part of this novel conservation plan, the committee proposes that a statue commemorating this "most virile of all fishermen" be erected so that future generations may have at least a general idea of what the species looked like.
Chairman Pearson details his idea as follows:
"This effigy will depict the winter steelhead fisherman down to the minutest detail. It will show him with sloppy hat, complete with ear muffs, pulled well down over the head. The features of the face will be rugged and square-jawed. Adding realism, a small, clear icicle will be shown extending from the nose. The mouth will be straight and determined, with just a trace of a snarl. The jaw will be square and rugged, with a stubble of frost-encrusted beard.
"This statue will show the winter steelhead fisherman with several layers of bulky clothes. Authenticity will be depicted further, with red-colored blotches over these garments to indicate where the angler has smeared surplus salmon eggs from his hands. Bits of leader, half a bologna sandwich and a wiping rag will extend from the pockets.
"The rest of the ensemble will show a pair of sloppy hip boots—one of the pair hooked tightly to the pants belt, the other hanging halfway down to the knee and spilling over with water.
"It is the plan of the committee to erect this statue along a riverbank with a thick growth of brush and trees at its back. In this growth a few spinners and cherry bobbers will be strategically placed, as well as a number of snarled leaders. To add further realism to the scene, a small, sputtering fire will be depicted at the angler's feet.
"There you have it. Just one more thing. As chairman of this committee, I feel I should squelch current rumors that such a statue already exists on the Upper Skykomish. Checking on this rumor, I found out that this statue was in reality a live fisherman, frozen into one position. Once thawed out, he reacted as any normal steel-header would: he chased the committee away from his hole."
Readers with similar commemorations to suggest are invited to submit them.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is the source of another of those stories proving that hunting is real and earnest, and that no one should go into the field without a neon suit and a big sign flashing, I AM A MAN. In Caldwell County, N.C., a man killed a squirrel and was shaking the blood out of it. Another hunter, 50 to 100 yards removed, shot the hunter. He thought the squirrel was alive and the hunter was a tree trunk.
Sometimes he fights in purple trunks,
Sometimes he fights in red,
Sometimes he wears no trunks at all,
Just suitcases instead.
They Said It
Nicolai Romanov, Russian sports administrator, on the use of oxygen by the U.S. Olympic hockey team: "It was not oxygen that made them win. It was their skill and the fact they were playing at home."
Dr. Stanley garn of the Fels Research Institute, on the diet of teen-agers: "Frappés, fat-meat hamburgers, bacon and mayonnaise sandwiches may be good for the undertaker and bad for the populace."
Frank Bender, basketball coach, after his Seattle boys' club team was beaten 103-2: "My boys played their average game—but they just couldn't hit."