DEATH AT SEBRING
I must deplore the "blood and guts" aspects of your Sebring article (SI, April 4), in which you ran several pictures of accidents and material detrimental to the sport of racing as a whole.
Sebring, in its 10 years, has had only one fatal accident during a race (Bob Goldich in 1957), which is quite a record, especially so when one considers that this constitutes over 50,000 driver-hours in fierce, grueling and enthusiastic competition, much of which is conducted at night.
This year's two fatalities are the sole responsibility, as I understand, of the photographer, Thompson, who was on the dangerous, "off limits" escape road when the accident occurred. He had been asked to leave that area by an official but had declined to do so. Had he not been where he was not supposed to be, he would not have been killed when the Lotus was forced to take the escape road, nor would the driver, Hughes, have been killed when he overturned his car by swerving, unfortunately in vain, to avoid the photographer.
New York City
•No one can say whether Tampa Tribune Photographer George Thompson contributed to the accident. The escape route at which Thompson stationed himself was almost a direct extension of the straightaway which led into the sharp switchback curve. Witnesses to the accident report that James Hughes's car was already in a wild spin when it struck Thompson, although Hughes apparently made an attempt to swerve his car at the last second. It is not possible to define at what infinitesimal point Hughes lost complete control. Let it be said, though, that Photographer George Thompson loved racing. On his last day he persuaded a colleague to take over an earlier assignment to cover a golf tournament so that he might attend the Sebring race instead. Police do not ask photographers to leave dangerous positions but rather warn them that they "have been issued a license up there at the press hut to commit suicide if they want to." Thompson was warned twice of the dangerous position he had taken.—ED.
CONSERVATION: THE ECOLOGY OF MAN
It has been a long time since I have read such a forceful article on conservation as Henry Romney's (A New and Human Science, SI, March 28, April 4).
Those of us who attend the many annual conventions of conservation groups have had drummed into our ears, by those in the fraternity and outsiders, such wrist-slappers as these: "You wildlife people only preach to the saved," and, "You biologists spend too much time discussing the ecology and management of wildlife and pay too little attention to man." I think we all recognize that this criticism has some justification. We need more disciples like Henry Romney.
I am glad to see your efforts to tell Americans not to destroy what they seek outdoors but to save some of wild or not-so-wild America. This is one point we are trying to get across, not only in our regular work but in our statements to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, the Senate Select Committee on National Water Resources and a host of other special agencies which are worried about what is happening and will happen to our national resources.
Department of the Interior
I am not a starry-eyed idealist who has any hopes of saving every mouse and rose, nor am I an active conservationist who assails every town hall meeting with requests for more open areas. Nevertheless, your articles proved interesting because they placed conservation not on the plane of an unimportant minority movement but on the level of a problem of national importance.
I have, perhaps, been deluded into thinking that only those who are the inhabitants of the more densely populated zones should concern themselves with the ideas of conservation. Your articles placed it on a different status.
The thing which impressed me most was not the articles themselves but the fact that the articles were in a sports magazine!
That the staff of a periodical such as yours should rouse itself from the norms set by its colleagues and face the basic issues behind the sport scene is not only commendable but worthy of especial note. Therefore brief but sincere congratulations to you and strong hopes for more.
WILLIAM F. TRAINER
OLYMPICS: ROLL CALL
Your story on our efforts in the United States Olympians movement to locate and unite former Olympic athletes (PAT ON THE BACK, SI, Feb. 29) has brought a flow of letters from many parts of the country.
One of the difficulties we face is tracing many of this country's younger Olympians who have moved in and out of military service and have taken up careers and residence in new parts of the country. Any Olympian who reads this, and who is not already enrolled, is urged to send his name, address and dates of Olympic participation to me at 1000 Penn Square Building, 1317 Filbert Street, Philadelphia.
SAMUEL N. GERSON
OLD JIM AND THE DEADLY ART
I was interested in your series on wet-fly fishing (The Art of Fishing with the Wet Fly, SI, March 28, April 4 & 11) since I used to be among those who fished with Jim Leisenring.
I agree with the intimation of the authors that there was no one who could coax a trout with a wet fly as Old Jim could. I have seen him bring a trout out from behind a stone half a dozen times and finally catch him. His flies were deadly and so was he.
To me, the most impressive part of his performance was not his ability to fish "fine and far off," the way most of us do or try to do, but to fish "fine and close in," even on water as large as Fisherman's Paradise at Bellefonte, Pa. I have never seen him use more than 20 feet of line and usually less than that, yet so gentle and careful were his methods that he could make a trout shine time and time again as it rose to his lure.
A second observation on Old Jim was his total meticulousness about every bit of his tackle and every ingredient of his flies. He put up with no substitute feathers, rods or methods.
R. E. FARR
With no desire to be captious at all, may I offer one small addition to the excellent instructions on fly casting.
At the conclusion of the forward cast, better control of the line will be obtained if the line is slipped under the forefinger of the right hand as the left hand does its job of working the fly and retrieving the line.
In this manner one can avoid the frustration incident to having the left arm fully extended to the left side as the trout continues a run toward you, as they-some-times do, after the strike.
The same procedure should be used with the left forefinger when playing a large fish—e.g., a steelhead—from the reel, as it should be played.
I offer this suggestion because in the 56 years I have been a fly fisherman there were times when I thought I knew it all, only to pick up some useful little trick I hadn't heard about. It hurt the pride but helped the fishing.
H. J. WRIGHT