THE BARE BEAR FACTS
What the world's zoologists know about the polar bear, it would seem, is that he is a large, white-furred mammal with a habitat restricted to the Arctic and to zoos. Leading authorities, if that is the word, of the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and the U.S.S.R., meeting at the University of Alaska, were unable to say whether there is a single population of the bears migrating counterclockwise around the North Pole, as suggested by some, or whether there are several regional populations; whether or not they are threatened with extinction; what sound management policies should be; or even how many bears there are. Guesses ranged between 5,000 and 19,000.
In an interview, Ivan A. Maksimov, representative from the Soviet Union, decried the recent trend of polar-bear hunting in Alaska, which during the past 15 years has degenerated from Eskimos hunting them by dogsled to trophy-seekers chasing them to exhaustion in light planes.
"What chance does the poor animal have when he is chased by a plane until he is unable to run, then the plane lands and the hunter gets out and shoots the exhausted animal?" Maksimov asked. "Do you call this sport?"
In indirect reply, C. Edward Carlson, chief of the Division of Wildlife Research, U.S. Department of the Interior, said that "before long" there will have to be regulation of polar-bear hunting in the U.S. Yes, indeed.
We are a bit querulous about the whole matter, because we assigned an Alaskan correspondent to cover the conference, only to have him barred by U.S. Department of State representatives from all but one working session. For 20 minutes he was allowed to listen to an Alaskan Department of Game agent utter duck calls, then was asked to leave. A U.S. delegate moved that papers presented to the conference be not released to the press and, having obtained copies of them nonetheless, we can understand why they were suppressed. One suggestion: that 40 polar bears be equipped with radio transmitters and then tracked in their wanderings by a satellite put in orbit over the North Pole.
THAT'S FOR OPENERS
A 17-year-old exchange student from Denmark, Peter Koller Nielsen of Louisville (Ohio) High School, saw his first football game recently and, you might say, won it.
Peter signed on as a student manager when practice started this season. One day he was fooling around, kicking the ball in the soccer style of his native Denmark. Next day the coaches had him trying for points after touchdown. Then they put him to kicking field goals. Then they ordered a uniform for him.
In the season's opener Louisville played Canton Glenwood. Four times Peter went into the game. He kicked a conversion and three field goals for 10 points—the margin of victory in a 24-14 Louisville win.
If Peter was nervous before the game he did not show it. However, he did turn to Dr. Charles Hearn, team physician, and ask, "How many boys will be out there with me?"
THE PROFESSIONAL AMATEUR
The new owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, who paid Robert E. Short, attorney and trucking executive, $5,175,000 for them, is a highly volatile, very personable, extremely rich native of Canada and naturalized citizen of the U.S. named Jack Kent Cooke, who used to be a saxophone player. What he got was a topnotch basketball team and very little more, for the Lakers own no real estate and you could load all their worldly goods into something a little larger than a pickup truck. Six years ago they were $300,000 in debt, had to borrow their office furniture and were required to pay cash for equipment.
But a basketball team is what Cooke wanted. He is a sports nut. ("Sports are one of the main cultural activities on the face of the earth. I love them.") He is a former owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International (baseball) League, one of the founders of the illfated Continental (baseball) League and he owns 25% of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He has applied for the National Hockey League franchise to be awarded to Los Angeles. In 1953, a year after he bought the Maple Leafs, they set an attendance record of 456,000, and The Sporting News named him "Minor League Executive of the Year." In prep school he played quarterback in football, shortstop in baseball and center in hockey. Today, at 52, he is an avid golfer.
Previous high for an NBA franchise was the $3,100,000 the Ruppert Brewing Company paid earlier this year for the Boston Celtics. But Cooke was willing to go better than $2,000,000 higher for the Lakers because, for all his involvement in professional sport, he is a true amateur at heart.
"You don't know what keen fun is until you own a club," he told a friend.
When the Chicago Cubs are at home, 14-year-old Bruce Ronnbeck and a dozen other kids may be found standing outside Wrigley Field's left-field fence. Their hobby: retrieving home-run balls hit over the fence and returning them to the hitters, who like to have them as souvenirs. For each ball recovered, the hitter is expected to give back another ball. So far Bruce has collected 31.
Bruce's system is simple. He just waits until he hears a cheer go up inside the park, then looks up to see if a ball is coming over the fence. He refuses autographed balls in return for those he has recovered, preferring that his collection be austerely unmarked.
There are those who hold that Bruce is the best outfielder the Cubs have.
BOOM FOR WHEELER DEALERS
For one reason and another, U.S. bicycle manufacturers expect to sell almost six million bikes this year, which is a million more than they sold in 1964. According to Jim Hayes, director of information for the Bicycle Institute of America, much of the credit belongs to that immoderate, evangelistic cyclist, Dr. Paul Dudley White, the heart specialist, who is considered a very big wheel by the institute. "Bless his almost transparently thin old body," says Hayes.
Dr. White aside, the boom is largely due to the "high-riser." This is that farout object with the high handlebars (called ape hangers or Texas longhorns), the long seat (known as a banana or polo seat) and the tiny wheels, which apparently every other kid in the U.S. is zipping around on nowadays.
The high-riser was dreamed up two or three years ago in southern California, and represents the first widely accepted radical change in bicycle design since 1893, when the "safety" bike was invented. In the first six months of this year, 500,000 high-risers were sold.
Because it is geared down, has a short wheelbase and small wheels, the high-riser accelerates quickly, is easy to pedal and is very maneuverable. The high-riser also appeals to kids because it is (or was) different and vaguely resembles a motorcycle. And, like a motorcycle, it can be decked out with a lot of accessories, called gook.
Hayes was asked whether the more obvious boom in light motorcycles was at all deflating the less apparent bicycle boom.
"You should have a lousy lunch," he said coldly, "and maybe get food poisoning, even."
Long, long ago, the tale goes, Canadian Indians noticed that there is a natural enmity between ducks and foxes, because foxes are known to rob nests. The fox used this antipathy to his advantage. A pair of foxes would team up, one hiding, the other prancing and frolicking along the shore of a lake. Seeing the playful fox, a flight of ducks would approach and land on the water, quacking and hissing in a most insulting manner. Some of the more excited ducks would waddle ashore, there to be seized by the fox's lurking partner.
So the Indians, still according to the legend, bred a dog that resembled a fox in size, color and bushy tail and used him to lure ducks within arrow range. When the Acadian settlers came to Nova Scotia they picked up the trick from the Indians. The breed survives today and is known as the Nova Scotia duck-tolling retriever.
The Indian legend is a dandy, except that in Middle English the meaning of the word "toll" was, according to Webster, "to entice (game, esp. wild ducks) to approach by arousing their curiosity, as by the antics of a trained dog." And there are some who hold that the duck-retriever originated in Holland.
He is limited pretty much to Nova Scotia these days and is not too common even there. One of the most important fanciers of the breed is Avery Nickerson of Digby, N.S. Over the past 15 years or so he has owned upwards of 100 of these dogs, now owns eight. When he uses a duck-toller, Nickerson hides in a blind, tossing out a stick from time to time to keep the dog gamboling on the shore. After the ducks come in, Nickerson stands up, flushing them, and shoots them on the rise.
The dog's tail, incidentally, is quite important. It should have a white tip. So equipped, a wagging tail can entice a flock of ducks from as far as three quarters of a mile on a clear day, according to Nickerson.
HOW BLUE THE NOSE
The liquor laws of the various states are distilled from a sour mishmash, no two alike. In Ohio the law forbids not only the sale of liquor on Sunday but even its consumption in private clubs. The latter aspect of the law has been pretty much ignored until recently, when tavern owners, unsuccessful in their attempt to get a relaxation of the Sunday law, spitefully pressed for enforcement of the country club statute. There may be a bottle in the locker, club operators learned, but it must be unopened and its owner cannot drink from it on Sunday.
"Members are just not going to stay for dinner if they can't drink," sighed one country club manager. "It's going to cost us most of a day's revenue."
That is just what happened, a survey of clubs around the state disclosed.
Curiously, the courts have ruled that guests may drink in their hotel rooms, presumably on the ground that the room is the guest's home away from home. Many a thirsty Ohio golfer, feels that principle should apply to his club, too.
Big-game fishing off Cape Hatteras is more to his liking, but inland, near his home in Winston-Salem, N.C., Will Reynolds must make do with the little black bass. His problem: to make fishing for bass comparable to fishing for marlin.
So he built a miniature yacht, 42 inches long, battery-powered and radio-controlled. In its stern he set a tiny fisherman, named Beatle, with a tiny rod and reel in his hands.
Now Reynolds sits on shore, puffing on his pipe, and directs the yacht while an artificial lure trails behind it. When a bass strikes he signals Beatle to reel in and after the fish is licked commands the yacht to return to shore.
Biggest catch so far has been a one-pound bass but Reynolds believes Beatle can handle anything up to three pounds.
POINT OF VIEW
Andorra, the 191-square-mile mini-republic in the Pyrenees, has the highest bullring in Europe, in which are performed some of the world's worst bullfights. The olé is seldom heard in Andorra.
At a recent performance two English children were watching the show, the 12-year-old girl taking plenty of photographs with her Brownie. At one point, with the bull already covered with blood, the picador's horse appeared reluctant to take further part in the proceedings. An Andorran started to whack its rump with a cane.
As the girl stood up to record the incident for her album, her younger brother spoke sternly: "Mary, you're not going to lake a photograph of that, are you? That man's beating that horse. The RSPCA says it's cruel."
THEY SAID IT
•Jess Neely, Rice coach, appraising his end, Murphy Davis: "He's one of the best bad-pass catchers we've ever had. If I can get our boys to throw bad I won't worry about him catching it."
•Jim Hayes, Houston Oiler tackle, asked if he had been raised in the suburbs of Meridian, Miss.: "Man, the whole town is suburbs."