THE PRICE OF FAME
Being a member of a country club that is the site of a major golf tournament is one of life's dubious distinctions. You are permitted to keep paying your club dues, and you are expected to serve happily on any of a dozen forced-labor battalions called "committees." In return, you are allowed to not play golf.
Rarely have club members not played as much golf as those at this year's U.S. Open course, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. It is June, and Brook-line hasn't opened. What is more, club officials took a sad look at the condition of the course last week and decided it is not likely to be opened to members at all before the Open, which starts June 20. Drought and ice so badly damaged the greens last winter (SI, May 20) that five of them have had to be reseeded. Landing areas were also seeded, but the new grass was so slow coming up that sod is being put in. The course will be ready for the tournament, to be sure, but, quite probably, not before.
It has been 50 years since the Open was at Brookline. Some club members feel the interval was all too short.
The axing of Washington Manager Mickey Vernon, and its abruptness, recalled a similar passage in the history of the Senators. It was a mere 30 minutes before the official announcement that Vernon learned he was through. Even so, he got more notice than did Bill Barnie, Senator manager in 1892. Club Owner George Wagner fired Barnie for what he called "insubordination." Asked to define the insubordination, Wagner said, "I asked him to resign and he said, 'No.' "
Donald Campbell is between two worlds. After several failures to set a land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah, Campbell took self, crew and Bluebird machine to Australia. There he waited while rain and floodwaters gradually, insistently, ate up his raceway, set across the smooth bed of Lake Eyre. Ah, lads, no go there. Last week, in Sydney, as he was packing for a tell-all board meeting in London, Campbell got word that Bonneville is back in business. The salt surface is in the best condition in five years. Nervously, he considered. "Blue-bird was built for the record," he said. "It would be a very sick joke indeed, costing $5½ million, if somebody else beat us to it." Back to Bonneville it may be.
Europe's Rothschild family, like our brothers Rockefeller, has pocketbooks as big as all outdoors. Which is where both families have invested vast sums for public recreation. Baron Edmond de Rothschild has built the ski resort in Még√®ve, France. Cousin Baron Elie supports skiing at Chamonix. Now Baron Edmond has dreamed up Euronautic, a charter-boat scheme with rentals in 30 French ports. Euronautic has 200 boats to rent for nominal fees. There are boats for every type of sailor—dinghies with outboards, sailboats, cabin cruisers—and no more worrisome extras, like spending $5,000 for a crew for a month. All Euronautic wants to know is if you are a good sailor, then, voila, sign up and ship out. Europe never had it so good, nor Europe-bound Americans who might like to tour before the mast instead of in back of the bus.
Global zoning for Davis Cup matches has always been weird. Chile plays in the European zone, and Yugoslavia used to be in the American zone. This year it is stranger yet. Iran, a latecomer to the congress of tennis nations, missed the draw for the European zone. Miffed, the Iranian team captain wrote to a good friend in Washington, C. Alphonso Smith. Could Smith help out? As a tennis-playing government official, Smith could. He managed to slip Iran into the American zone draw. Iran drew the U.S. for the first round.
They play this week in Tehran. The matches will give impetus to Iran's fledgling tennis program, and so, in gratitude, Iran is jetting the American team over and back, a leap of 7,000 miles each way.
The U.S. team will find itself playing in Tehran's glorious new stadium, the only tennis arena of its kind in the Middle East. It seats 3,000, has a tunnel through which players enter like early Christian martyrs marching to the lions, and includes a glass pavilion for the Shah, His Imperial Majesty, King of Kings. The Shah, a fine player himself, has gone so far as to lend his imperial water supply for the brick-dust courts. Moreover, the Shah has been invited to play exhibition doubles with the U.S. team, the first time he has played before his subjects, an occasion fraught with problems of diplomatic courtesy. Whether he plays or not, the U.S. team will present the Shah with a solid gold medal in thanks for his imperial support.
BIZARRE AS BAZAAR CAN BE
Occasionally a feminine acquaintance not entirely bemused by the women's fashion magazines will regale us with their latest bit of pastel preciousness. As long as the haute couture purveyors stick to recommending baths in champagne to the ladies, they do no harm and, indeed, promote healthy laughter. But when they make incursions into the male realm, as does Harper's Bazaar in its current suggestions for Father's Day gifts, the results promote reconsideration of suffrage.
"For the eternal athlete," trills Bazaar, the perfect gift may be "an Irish wolfhound to be worn with his tattersall vest" or an artificial ski slope at $18,000. "If he's utterly amphibious, [give him] an outdoor swimming pool, flanked by growing trees, as an extension of the living room. If he's a ten-goal man...[give] a second string of polo ponies to cheer him on. Then there's always, of course, a small, neat yacht."
How about just a small, neat box of gold golf balls?
NO PORK FOR SPORT
The Texas legislature finished its regular session the other day and went home, leaving behind a two-year budget bill which slighted physical fitness other than that derived from mass calisthenics. Texas' 20 state-supported colleges and universities were forbidden to spend state money for other compulsory physical education programs.
The idea seemed to be that it is all right to require two years of physical education, but you can't let the students have any fun or learn anything—like golf and tennis—that they could use after graduation, unless the necessary equipment is purchased with private funds.
The legislators were reported to have felt that their bill would force colleges to put "more emphasis on basic courses, such as mathematics and science, instead of snap courses like golf and archery," according to one eagerly anonymous informant, cowering before an expected storm of indignation. And, to be sure, the legislators had the example of one college that had spent extravagantly on maintenance of its golf course.
We have a certain frugal sympathy with the legislators' viewpoint but do feel that they are trying to cut off the patient's head to cure a headache.
You can now go into any one of 3,000 supermarkets around the country and order a photograph showing you and your favorite baseball player together, the whole thing autographed by the ballplayer "To My Pal." You can, that is, if your favorite player is one of 209 signed up last winter by Frank Scott, who has made a career of managing the affairs of athletes. For this memento, your pal charges you a friendly dollar.
A portable background, simulating a ballplayer's clubhouse cubicle, was hauled around to spring training camps and the chosen players were photographed against it in such a way that space was left at the right for the overprinting of your picture, when you send it in with that dollar. What you get back is an 8-by-10 glossy print clearly proving that you and Sandy Koufax, say, or Marv Throneberry, even, are buddies.
QUAIL COUNTRY DANGER
On the hunting plantations of northern Florida and southern Georgia there are kennels that cost as much as $60,000 each and bird dogs that, in the aggregate, are worth more than $ 1 million. Now the dogs are endangered by an epidemic of rabies among raccoons. A rabid raccoon loses all fear of dogs—and, for that matter, of humans. The stricken raccoon becomes playful, almost docile, then bites without warning.
Rabies had raged among foxes throughout the area since World War II, but just as health department officials were congratulating themselves on victory over this menace the raccoon outbreak occurred. Three years ago 22 cases of rabid raccoons were reported in Florida. Next year there were 44 and in 1962, with a much wider geographical spread, there were 31. This year, in the midst of Georgia quail-hunting territory, where the most valuable dogs are kept, five cases have occurred.
It is quite a simple matter to inoculate all dogs and cats in the affected area but, the health department officials point out, one cannot inoculate every raccoon. Until the ways of nature straighten matters out, one would be wise not to pet friendly raccoons.
HOLD 'ER, NEWT!
In some suburban areas of the Southwest, where Easterners have moved into romantic retirement on "full-acre ranches" and wouldn't be caught dead in anything but a ten-gallon hat and pointy-toed boots, it is as socially important to own a saddle horse as a power mower or backyard barbecue equipment. Around suburban Albuquerque, for instance, fancy appaloosas, majestic Arabians and pretty palominos are common.
So, when officials of the New Mexico Horse Association were planning a benefit show, they decided, with a certain logic, that handsome horses alone just would not be enough to draw an audience for their parade. They invited an antique automobile club to participate, and 10 members of the Veteran Motor Car Club of America agreed to drive their horseless carriages at the show.
Now the invitations have been withdrawn. The Horse Association had second thoughts and gave the whole parade back to the horse. Someone remembered that Hupmobiles, Willys-Overlands, Stutzes and Mercers had an unsettling effect on horses back in grandfather's time. No one wanted to risk an epidemic of trauma in a generation of horses accustomed to Volkswagens and Corvairs.
THE MILKING SEASON
If there is one green dearer to a Vermonter than his own Green Mountains, it is the green of his own money. That was established anew the other day when Vermont's first pari-mutuel track opened with a whimper instead of a bang. On what was meant to be the gala beginning of a 56-day Thoroughbred racing season, a scattered crowd of 4,701 bet only $220,651 on a nine-race card. As the cash trickled in, worried track officials, who need a $300,000 daily handle to stay alive, ran out to the parking area to count cars. There were, all told, 17 Vermont license plates in the lot. The rest belonged to flashier types from New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
It could be that the natives stayed in their dairy barns. High on a hillside and aimed straight at the grandstand was a big, imposing sign that exhorted "BET ON MILK."
Some weeks ago (SI, April 8) we reported on the difficulties of Rogelio Alvarez, Cuban first baseman who, because of Fidel Castro, could not get out of Cuba to join the Washington Senators, to whom he had been traded by the Cincinnati Reds for Harry Bright. With the Reds unable to deliver him, the Senators finally gave up and, in one of those complicated baseball transactions, Washington returned Alvarez' contract to Cincinnati, the Reds sold Bright to the New York Yankees and half the sale price was turned over to the Senators.
The Reds were skeptical when Alvarez got word through that he had found a method of escape. Shortly afterward, he telephoned from Mexico. He wouldn't say how he escaped, and no one pressed him to tell.
On his first trip to the plate this season for San Diego in the Pacific Coast League—a Reds' farm—Alvarez pinch-hit a grand-slam home run.
THEY SAID IT
•Gordon Van Liew, orange-juice tycoon, whose car finished 11th at Indianapolis: "We haven't won a race in two years, but we haven't lost a party."
•Walter Alston, Dodger manager, after Gil Hodges was named Washington manager: "It couldn't happen to a nicer guy—if you think managing is something nice to happen to you."