It came to pass that in his 24th year David Lewis Thoreson of California, a decathlon man, arose out of a torpor of inactivity and did bum his way to England, which is west of Sweden. He had his eye on Sweden also. He had grown tired in his own land of the confusion of trying to serve two masters, one the Amateur Athletic Union and the other the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and he said, "These cats just can't get together." As a consequence he had not been doing much decathloning. Neither had he been eating too well. So it was that he hitchhiked to New York and caught a night flight to Scotland and delivered himself unto the British with three cents in his pocket and a loaf of bread. It is written that decathlon men hang in there. "I was friendly to everyone. I talked to everyone," he said. "You talk to people, they feed you. It is the European custom."
He got to Bolstad, Sweden and took work at a summer resort and made money to go on to Uppsala. There he took lodging with a Swedish family, and he caught on at a bakery where he did wash the frosting from the pots and pans. Every morning the baker allowed him to partake of a doughnut and a small glass of milk.
Soon the urge to compete stirred again inside David Thoreson as it has stirred inside decathlon men from the days of Thorpe, Bausch, Mathias and Milton G. Campbell, and he went and won a local meet and got his name in the paper. "The next day the baker gave me three doughnuts and a large glass of milk," he said. He competed again, and won again, and behold there was a bigger, better story in the paper. With a picture. And from that day forward he got all the doughnuts he could eat, and they took him and showed him the icebox where the milk was kept.
I've been living with you seven months and how come you never told that story before?" asked Jerry Moro, the Canadian, stretched out on the couch, his fist holding up his jaw.
June 11, 1967
"You never asked," said Thoreson. He resumed his position on the living-room rug, contented, another exciting chapter in the genesis, exodus and revelation of Decathlon Man Thoreson completed.
"What is the point?" asked one in the circle of his audience. "That good things eventually come to the prodigal decathlon man? Or that his worth is measured in doughnuts?"
"Neither," said Bill Toomey. "That he couldn't get a date in America." (Lots of laughter.)
The little frame house is in suburban Isla Vista on the fringe of the California coastal city of Santa Barbara. The house is two blocks from the Pacific shore. It is about the size and shape of a large mobile home, with faded brown shingling and a tiny garage that sticks out like a turret in front. There are some rusty weights (for lifting) in the garage, but no car. No self-respecting automobile could fit in there. The living room has a gray-brown hooked rug and a burnt-orange couch, a portable TV on a desk, a large conical space heater, some empty Chianti bottles for decoration, a box of Dyanshine, books, magazines and, for wall relief and inspiration, two large Mexico City Olimpiada posters. There is an office-type water cooler in the kitchen, and a portable typewriter on the table for community use. The kitchen sink knows a dirty dish or two. The wastebaskets do a terrific service.
Upstairs are two bedrooms, with four single beds. One is not a bed in the classic sense. It is a mattress on the floor. This is where Bill Toomey fights the bends in his sacroiliac. The house rents for $180 a month. Sometimes Bill Toomey's telephone bill is equal to the rent—you never know when he is going to get the urge to call Sweden—so since he can afford it and the others cannot they have agreed to let him pay for his own phone.
The four inmates are all decathlon men—Bill Toomey of Port Washington, N.Y. and Laguna Beach, Calif.; Dave Thoreson of Valley City, N. Dak. and Oceanside, Calif.; Jerry Moro of San Martino al Tagliamento, Italy, and Trail, B.C.; and Olaf Lange of Munich, Germany. A fifth who hangs around a lot but at present rooms elsewhere is John Hemery. Originally a sprinter-hurdler from London, England, Hemery fell under the decathloners' influence and became a convert.
The number and names of the inmates change from time to time, but they are always decathlon men, there to live and train together on the track of the University of California at Santa Barbara, and of a warm summer evening to gather beneath the Olympic posters and spend time in the examination of goals and the study of techniques and the shooting of bull. Sometimes they share these pleasures with outsiders. On this particular night a blonde named Stephanie, who has a very impressive dimple on her right cheek and is a favorite of Jerry Moro (and of John Hemery, too), and her dark-eyed Armenian roommate, Carol, had brought over a cake with 26 flaming candles to help Thoreson celebrate his birthday. Dave needed cheering up. His left leg was stiff at the knee from a training injury, and his particular girl had not been responding to his charm. Soon he was properly cheered, and he cut the cake and poured the milk into paper cups from the kitchen cooler, and he rewarded the others with stories of his travels-on-a-shoestring, both foreign and domestic.
Paul Herman, a 1964 U.S. Olympian, might have been one of the inmates, but he forfeited his right to take up residence by getting married. "Marriage?" said Olaf Lange. "What's that?" For a much longer time Russell Hodge was there, which meant that the two greatest decathlon men yet spawned were there at the same time: Toomey and Hodge. Toomey and Hodge, you say? Better than Rafer Johnson, C. K. Yang or Bob Mathias? Yes, yes and yes again. By actual figures, better together than Johnson and Yang in seven of the 10 events; better together than Mathias in all 10.
The reason you have not heard of Toomey and Hodge is that American decathloners spend three out of every four years on the dark side of the moon. They are ignored in a big way. The Germans, perhaps more aware, call a decathlon man K√∂nig der Athleten, king of the athletes, and put his picture on the front page. In America the king often pays his way to meets where he gets shoved to the rear of the track and then, when he runs, jumps and vaults and hurdles and hurls and heaves, he gets two paragraphs on page three. Comes the fourth year, the Olympic year, and the decathlon takes on special significance, because it compresses in one two-day, 10-event tribulation the whole point of the Games—the physical excellence and versatility of the individual, his emotional stamina and his will to survive. And, before you know it, Rafer Johnson is a popular name and Bob Mathias is your Congressman.
"So people say to me, 'What do you do?' " says Bill Toomey, sitting on the hooked rug with his legs crossed. "Well, I run track. I'm in the decathlon. 'Oh, yeah, the decathlon. You throw that, don't you?' Yeah, you throw it, Charlie. And I'm out there blowing three or four good hours a day working like mad when I could have been a doctor or a lawyer. What am I, anyway, a kook? I go to meets and I always feel I've got to introduce myself to the officials. 'Er, excuse me, sir. Uh, I'm, uh, Bill Toomey.' "
Toomey has won the national (AAU) championship the last two years, and this weekend in Los Angeles will defend it again. Russ Hodge has been his runner-up twice. Hodge, who is injured and will not compete this time, moved back to Los Angeles four months ago to heal and to begin studies at Santa Monica City College. Working together and against each other, profiting by their own good competition and that of their fellow inmates in the little house on Pasado Road in Isla Vista, the two had become the most prolific point-makers in decathlon history. The decathlon—from the Greek deka (10) and athlon (contest)—is scored on a graduated point scale, a maximum 1,200 points for each event. Toomey scored 8,234 in the national meet last year in Salina, Kans. It would have been a world record, but it was disallowed because, of all things, the facilities were not considered up to standard. Hodge's subsequent 8,230 points in an international meet at Los Angeles (Toomey scored 8,219) became the world record.
If the Olympic Games were tomorrow Toomey and Hodge would be two of the three principal candidates for the gold medal. The third candidate broke into their lives rather sharply a couple of nights before Thoreson's birthday party. A newspaperman called the house to say that Kurt Bendlin of West Germany had scored 8,319 points to set a new world record in a meet in Heidelberg. Only Thoreson was home. The others had gone to see a Swedish sex movie. Thoreson immediately called the manager of the theater. "It's a national emergency!" he said. An usher was sent into the aisles to find Toomey.
"As soon as I gave him the figures on the phone he had them memorized," said Thoreson. "I know that guy Bendlin," said Toomey. "We worked out together in Cologne last fall when I was training with Friedel Schirmer [West Germany's national decathlon coach]. His girl was killed in an auto accident. After that you could see how intense he was. I could see it in his eyes. I was afraid he would do something like this." Moro said Toomey spent the rest of the movie mumbling times and distances. He also said that Bendlin was the kind of guy who could really ruin a good Swedish movie.
Toomey, sitting on the floor, produced a well-thumbed copy of a German magazine and flipped the pages. "There he is, there's Kurt, there's my man," he said, revealing a full-page picture of a smiling young man in sweat clothes. "This is good for me," said Toomey. "It's great for me. Now I have somebody to shoot at, somebody that's not a friend, that's not around all the time. For a while I was getting lethargic. All I could think of was beating Hodge, and when he got hurt I could feel myself dropping off. I'm glad Bendlin is doing so well."
"Yeah, glad," said Moro. "He's on the bench pressing 325 pounds, and he's saying between his teeth, 'That Bendlin, I'll kill him. I'll kill him!' We talk about decathlon 90% of the time. Sometimes we have to shut ourselves up; we drive ourselves crazy talking decathlon. And now we've got Bendlin to talk about, too."
Toomey and Lange found the house when they were apartment-hunting last September, beating their way north from Los Angeles. Toomey wanted to work under Pete Peterson, coach of the Southern California Striders track club, who was then in Santa Barbara. Thoreson joined them, then Hodge; Herman was already in Santa Barbara. In Canada, Moro heard about the gathering of eagles and packed his bags.
The Santa Ynez Mountains in the background and the Pacific at its feet make Isla Vista a rewarding place from which to stare off into the distance. Isla Vista itself is not exactly Princeton, N.J. It is 8,000 college kids from the University of California piled together in houses with color. Lots of color. Brown houses, pink houses, mauve houses. Cerulean, mulberry, khaki and coral houses. Houses that apparently went up in a hurry. Early American Sandbox. Twentieth Century Treehouse. Isla Vista is the undergraduate's Riviera. Isla Vista is Psychedelia. Huaraches. Beards. Bikinis. Free Love. Banana and pot smokers, some of them blowing their brains out with LSD. Isla Vista is signs in windows and on apartment walls: "Taking A Trip? Go LSD, the Only Way to Fly." Plenty of skin showing. Biscuit-colored skin, and shades darker. Skin walking around the streets and getting ceramicized by the California sun. Skin playing volleyball on the beach, and skin in sunglasses crying up from the chaise longue to the second floor, "Hey, Fred, turn the chicken, will you?"
The four inmates at 6695 Pasado think of themselves as in Isla Vista but not entirely of it. They partake of the chicks (also known as cheese or action), which they consider their 11th event, and of the nearby beach. Olaf Lange, blond and tan and tall and Teutonic, is particularly effective collecting cheese on the beach. They are occasional premidnight patrons, too, of the "B.G.," the Brother's Galley, where there is beer (dark and light) and a noisy band Wednesday through Sunday nights and a pool table and a soccer game in the back room. Toomey usually begs off from this action, being older and more tired at the end of a busier day. Moro tells him a night at the B.G. will add 20 pounds to his prone press. They tried it one time in the interest of science. Toomey pressed the same, Moro two pounds less.
They know their neighbors not well, but well enough to walk right in on some of them and to use the weights of a fellow down the block. They have been told only sissies won't give pot a chance, but they are more set in their ways and have not seen fit to include drugs as an adjunct to their training. "We are the oddballs here, the squares," says Toomey. The thing about the place, he says, is that the squares don't have far to go to get to the running track.
William Anthony Toomey, principal speaker of the house, mentor, guiding light, hardest worker, at 28 oldest inmate, has an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado and a master's degree from Stanford. He has a vocabulary that allows him to say "a multiplicity of" when "many" would do. He is an engaging conversationalist with a voice or an accent to fit any occasion and a terribly swift wit. He is Jonathan Winters playing Grandma Frickert, and in the next breath he is explaining Adler's theories on adequacy, relating them to the decathlon.
At present he is teaching ninth-graders the ins and outs of English literature at La Colina Junior High in Santa Barbara. He does not feel schoolteaching is sufficiently dynamic and plans to find something else when the time is ripe. Toomey would be baby-faced if his chin were not so large and his lips so full. As it is, he is merely a handsome young man who looks like Robert Q. Lewis when he puts on his horn-rimmed glasses. He now has a pair of very dark contact lenses for training on sunny days. Inserted, they give him a blank, unseeing look, like Orphan Annie.
He does not act it or look it, but Toomey comes from money. His father made his share with Italian Swiss Colony Wine and retired with his family and three Mercedes, a Porsche and an XKE to Laguna Beach. His late uncle was with the Pennsylvania Railroad. "Every time I wrote him a letter he sent me 10 bucks. My brother's roommate wrote him one time. He sent the roommate 10 bucks." The uncle died, and there was an inheritance and Toomey went into the stock market. He is now relatively free to pursue the excellence he seeks in the decathlon, in whatever direction that might take him. He keeps the bits and pieces of his travels in a gray attaché case: the clips from the German papers and the Greek papers that outnumber those from American papers, a picture of a girl in Sweden, the picture of him being introduced to the Shah of Iran ("a big day for the Shah," he says), and he sends the trophies home to Laguna Beach. The trophy collection grows. "My shrine," he calls it.
In the course of 20 years in athletics Toomey remade his figure from a gangly 158-pound basketball player to a 195-pound strong boy, marvelously proportioned, with a powerful upper torso and sprinter's legs—thin ankles and big calves. Only his hands are disproportionate. "The Swedish girl looked at my hands. 'Oh, Bill, you hands sooo small, like piano player.' I said, 'Just watch 'em, honey' " His right hand was permanently crippled when a kid threw a plate at him 11 years ago and severed the median nerve in his wrist. After five operations he recovered 75% of its use, but it is still slightly withered. When it itches in one place he has learned to scratch it in another.
Even so Toomey can type 100 words a minute, and when he throws the shot, discus and javelin it is always with the right hand. He does not discourage easily. He won the national championship in 1965 less than three weeks after ripping open his right calf with the spikes on his left shoe going over the vaulting bar. The tear required 35 stitches. When he won the championship again in 1966 he had just come off a double-up bout with mononucleosis and hepatitis that put him in bed for three months. Seven weeks ago he had a knee operation.
Originally, before he went into pentathlon (five-event) competition and won that championship four times, Toomey dreamed of setting a world record in the 400 meters. "That's all I did for six years. Run, run, run. It got boring." This, he said at one evening's bull session, was what got him looking around and led to the decathlon.
"In the decathlon," he said, "you have 10 mistresses instead of one, all keeping you busy. You're a long jumper, a high jumper, a sprinter. When I first started I used to play make-believe to give myself incentive. I was The World's Fastest 400-Meter Man. I was The World's Longest Broad Jumper. I had always had to play the role. All right, now, you gotta think like a hurdler. You gotta look like one, too. Then you quit that event. Now I'm a javelin thrower. I gotta lower my voice a little bit; I gotta feel a little bulky in the action. Now I'm a pole vaulter. I can fly!"
Olaf Lange said that was what made it so great, that you could never really get into a slump because you always had something else to go on to.
"More games to play," said Toomey. "More fun, You're running from this to that, moving, always moving. More work, but more fun, too. I bet Randy Matson gets sick of looking at that shot put all the time."
"Yeah, he must," said Jerry Moro. "He throws it far enough."
Dave Thoreson said he hated to spoil the illusion, but the thing that got him started was the realization that he was not going to set the world on fire as a high jumper.
"I'd jumped 6-10½, the best jump of my life. I'd worked hard to go that high. I thought I might get seven feet. That was my goal. But others were doing 7-3 and 7-5. It was too much for me to cope with, so I thought I should try something else."
"Isn't that being defeatist?" asked Moro. "Aren't you saying you didn't want to put out that supereffort?"
"No, what he's saying is he started at the wrong place," said Toomey. "He should have started as a decathlon man."
John Hemery said it was the enthusiasm of this group that grabbed him, that they could do so many things not only well but with relish. He said running the hurdles, which was his special event, got to be terribly limiting, that he had developed an inferiority complex.
"What it was," said Thoreson, "he noticed me on the bench. He noticed I was very strong, and he said, 'Well, what do you do?' and I said, 'I'm a decathlon man,' and right away he wanted to grow up to be just like me."
"No, Skinny there has it wrong," said Hemery. "I looked at him and I looked at me. We're both pretty puny, as you can see. And I said, 'If he can do it, I can do it.' Now I'm much more muscular than he is."
"Ha," said Thoreson.
"When you're a kid it's the impressions people make," said Toomey. "Somebody writes in your yearbook, 'I hope you make the Olympics in 1990.' You think, maybe I could make the Olympic team in 1990. Small things. But a seed is planted. A coach I had in high school. We'd just throw the discus, and he said, There he is, Jack Armstrong, All-American boy, and I said to myself, 'Yeah, Jack Armstrong.' "
The great difficulty of their task sometimes gets them.
"Here it is," says Toomey. "The decathlon takes two days, and a multiplicity of factors can work against you. Maybe you have three chances all year to set a record, and then you have to contend with nature, your own physiology and the facilities. If you don't feel good and the facilities are bad and it's cold and windy, you don't have a snowball's chance in hell. Then maybe everything is all right. You feel great. The track is fast. The weather perfect. What happens? The AAU officials are no good. No record, because the hurdles aren't right or something. My dad's an AAU official, but I can tell you they do things like that. And we've got only three or four meets, three or four chances a year. Randy Matson might have six tries every weekend for seven months. You can see how much more difficult it is for us to make any kind of reputation."
It irritates them that the decathlon gets so little newspaper space. Toomey says, "Maybe my world is not of major interest to the sporting public, but there's so much trivia in the newspapers. Baseball trivia. Football trivia. Does Willie Mays have cradle cap? Yes, fans, there he is, on the cover of the magazine, that world-famous surfer, Harvey Macapokanai from Lollabobalobalala. Then a decathlon man sets a world record, and immediately it's the best-kept secret in the world."
"People don't realize," said Moro. "Look at Bendlin's record. It shows this fellow is superior. He's better in every one of 10 events than most college kids who specialize, kids who try for years to do 100 meters in 10.6 seconds. He throws the javelin 245-7. He runs 400 meters in 47.9. And Bendlin maybe practices each one once in a while."
"The funny thing is you get better in the events you were primarily interested in by doing the decathlon," said Toomey. "I'm a better runner than I ever was when all I did was run. It's probably a psychological thing, too. When you train your body for the decathlon, you train in such a way that it becomes stronger for everything, for throwing things, running, jumping. It's a beautiful thing, like religion. That's why I don't particularly care if a lot of people don't know about it. It is enough that I do."
"But you still feel it a little," he said, "when you go to a meet and have to start when there's no one there. It's like walking into an empty theater and giving a performance." And, Moro said, it is degrading to have to run on a track others have been practicing on all day. "Like at Mt. Sac last month. After seven months of hard training, we got into our first decathlon. I asked if we were going to start at 4:30. The official didn't know. At 4 o'clock one of them says, 'AH right, it's 4 o'clock. You're going to run the 100.' Hodge wasn't even warmed up, and for him it's very important to be warmed up. We weren't ready. Nobody was. All of a sudden they want us to run on a track somebody's been practicing on. At 4:30 an official says, All right, let's get this high jump going. It's cold out here.' Jiminy Christmas, we're the athletes, we're the ones who ought to worry about whether it's cold or not. It's important to us. Every damn little thing is important. 'Hurry up, it's cold!' "
When they have exhausted other avenues of research, the convening inmates find it popular to tell Russell Hodge stories. An evening can be consumed telling Russell Hodge stories. They say Hodge's possessions reflect the man: big car, big chair, big bed. They say when you are walking ahead of Hodge and you turn around you see nothing but Hodge. They say that when he puts on his trunks and walks down the beach the muscle boys cover up their chests and run for the shade. They used to call him Adonis. He has Jeff Chandler's face and Alley Oop's build. They say he walks into a room and right up to a girl and fixes her with a stare, and if he does not win her on the spot he at least scares her to death.
"The thing about Russ is he's one of the hardest-working guys you ever saw," says Toomey. "When he was in the Air Force he worked six hours a day in the gym, building himself up.
"We were down at this weight lifting studio, Vic Tanny's, in L.A. Hodge looks like a weight lifter, and these cats see him coming for two blocks and they got the blinds going up and down giving signals for everybody to watch out for this guy, you know? I come in and nobody blinks at me. They say, 'What do you want, a juice or what?' And I go over and start my bench presses, and three or four guys start hounding Russ. This is 1965 after the Nationals. 'Hey, I know you, you're Russ Hodge, right? Didn't I see you at the Coliseum? You're tough!" I'm still doing my presses, looking at them out of the corner of my eye. 'Hey, fellows,' I'm thinking, 'I'm Bill Toomey. I won.' They say to Hodge, 'You're the best in the States, right?' 'No,' he says, real stern. 'I got second.' 'Who was first?' Now I'm really doing those presses like mad. 'That guy over there." They look at me. 'Him?' "
Hodge is from Roscoe, N.Y., population 900, and attended a military school. His father does well in the furniture business. His mother was a high jumper on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team. The biggest thing in his life as a kid was going with the family down to the Penn Relays every year, staying at the Warwick and eating at Bookbinder's. He blossomed from a 6'3", 195-pound senior to a 220-pound 27-year-old decathloner with a l7½-inch neck and a size 52 jacket. Despite his apparent bulk, he, too, has sprinter's legs and is Toomey's principal competitor at 100 meters. He concedes only the 400 meters, the high hurdles and the broad jump to Toomey, and is a better shotputter and discus thrower. He does not surprise easily. When he heard of Bendlin's record, he said, "That score isn't so high. It will go to 8,500 or 8,700, maybe by Bill or Bendlin or me. Maybe at Mexico City."
Hodge was cook and house sergeant at 6695 Pasado and principal needier. "Dave," he would tell Thoreson, "you gotta eat more, big frame like you've got. You need more weight. Dave, you don't listen."
He chided Olaf Lange for his unique approach to housekeeping (Olaf doesn't believe in it). He bought a side of beef and hung it in a food locker and served steaks or ribs or roasts every night, and when he was gone the others said they could not find the locker. "They don't want to find it," said Hodge after a weekend visit (he finds the atmosphere at Isla Vista "a little flighty"). "They don't want to find it because they would have to cook it."
Without Hodge, discipline around the house suffered but it did not break down completely. The four of them are so different, says Toomey, that they get along beautifully. "None of this three-on-one business. You know, 'Hey, did I tell you that Dave dubble-rubble-mumble-dumble?" You know, the old whispers. 'Mumble-dumble-dumble-edbada. Oh. hi, Dave, old buddy.' " One night they all go out together, or they split up, or they have dates, or they have dates in. They swap pertinent intelligence: "Hey, Jerry, who'd you call? Say, what about that babe? Nice, uh?" "The only thing is I don't let Olie use my car," said Toomey. "I let him once, and it was a $100 repair job. So I say, 'Olie, cool it.'
Lange is 25 but seems younger. Of the four in the house he is the low scorer, but has clearly profited by the exposure. He has been a boxer, a ski instructor at Aspen, has worked in a demolition crew and been a house painter. He appeared once in a TV installment of Rat Patrol and might get the chance to go on a permanent series next fall. He promises it will not turn his head. He met Toomey at Stanford, having left Germany to get away from his family for a while. There had been a difference of opinion.
Lange does not cling to any special German prejudices. When a bull session gets going, he deepens his accent and tells a story of two middle-aged German track fans out to see a meet in which the American sprinter, Adolph Plummer, has entered.
"They are reading the program. 'Ha, 400 meet-ers coming up here. Ve haf Manfred Germer, und Kinder, und look vat the Americans haf here. Plummer. Und Charlie Greene. Plummer. Vat's dat first name? Ah, A-dolph. I did not know dat is a colored name. I never hear dat name before. Vat about you, Fritz? Fritz? Vat do you mean you never heard dat name before? Look, Fritz, vat did you do 20 years ago? You remember our high school graduation, yah? Mit de picture dere und de hand shticking up in de air?' "
Moro is intense, uses his hands a lot. "The Italian in me," he says. He complains that he is not enough of a tiger, but as a practitioner of the technique events—pole vault, high jump, etc.—there is none more formful.
Thoreson is known as the kind of guy who gets a good deal on a car and right away sells it and gives the party he sells it to a better deal. "Dave, you've been worked!" Hodge used to yell at him. Thoreson conned his way into his first decathlon—the 1960 Olympic Trials—by listing among his accomplishments a 200-foot javelin throw when actually it was a softball he threw 200 feet. His stories about hitchhiking to meets and dashing through customs without showing his passport and getting on a plane for Munich and finding out it was going to Brussels are all corroborated by his buddies. And it is absolutely true, he says, that his Norwegian great-grandfather had 21 children, and his father played basketball for a team called the Bluejay Applejackers.
In the Nationals at Salina last year when he finished third to Toomey and Hodge, Thoreson got on the microphone and announced that he was going for a record seven feet, if they cared to notice, and then when the people began to yell for him he got back on the microphone and told them he couldn't set a record if they were going to carry on like that. "I like Kansans," he says. "Very warm people."
The morning begins at 6695 Pasado in a familiar confusion. Toomey is preaching the value of a special breakfast concoction that does not have a name but does have a wallop. "You've got to have the 10 amino acids, no more, no less," he says, mixing into a large glass (very large) four or five eggs, some ice cream, powdered milk (refined), calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, soybean oil and, as a chaser, a handful of desiccated, defatted liver pills. Then a seven-pill vitamin-mineral pack (four bright colors and three shades of white). Olaf says, "Yeah, man, that's everything." Moro is skeptical. He says the whole thing goes right through you. Eggs and bacon for him. "No good, all that grease," says Olaf. "This is better"—holding up a glass—"even if it's psychological." They agree that the appearance and capacity of Bill Toomey would indicate it is more than psychological.
Then off to work, Moro to "shake a lot of hands" for a sporting goods firm in Santa Barbara, Thoreson to teach physical education at La Cumbre Junior High, Lange to the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he and Hemery are students. Hemery, whose brother Dave, now at Boston University, is the British Commonwealth 120-yard high hurdle champion, has found the atmosphere at Santa Barbara unlike anything he experienced at Dartmouth.
At La Colina Junior High, Bill Toomey is keeping his ninth-graders hopping with the kind of lively lectures Hemery wishes he heard on a steady basis in his Santa Barbara classes. Toomey is in a Brooks Brothers suit, and his students are neatly dressed and look, well, cleaner than the college kids. Toomey is reading them an essay and soliciting comment. He uses the kind of words they dig: "hippie" and "scene" and "cool." Except he uses them in an instructive manner. "That's 'serf not 'surfer,' " he kids. He interprets the essay: "Times have changed, the author is saying. Our grandfathers on the gold rush didn't stop in St. Louis and ask a psychiatrist, 'Say, Doc, you gotta tell me why the hell I'm going for that gold. What's wrong with me, Doc?' People are going goo-goo. They want to be in. They want to make the scene. The old days used to be more rigid, now we're more flexible. Now we're bending, and we're bending some things that maybe should stay rigid."
By about 3 o'clock in the afternoon they begin to gather at the university track. It is a beautiful facility, ringed by trees and shrubs. The coach of the university team is Sam Adams, who himself was a decathlon man and once competed regularly with Mathias. He is still in good shape and besides his services as a coach, which he offers free of charge, he occasionally joins in a shotput or discus-throwing contest.
As many as seven decathloners have worked there together at one time. They offer and seek advice from each other. Jerry Moro is the resident expert on the pole vault. He has done 16'2". Dave Thoreson lectures on the high jump ("He moved my position one step and I went from 6 feet to 6-6," said Toomey). Russ Hodge instructs on the shotput, Toomey on the running events. Thoreson said that after three months of this exposure he improved his quarter-mile time by three seconds, his hurdles by .4 second, and added eight feet to his shotput. Hodge advised Toomey to keep his discus higher on delivery and Toomey went from 130 to 150 feet. "I can close my eyes now and do 150 feet."
They are all highly competitive, however, and the contests among them tend to get fierce. Moro yells at Olaf and Olaf yells at Thoreson and Thoreson will not concede a thing. "Olie takes pride in his javelin throwing," Thoreson says. "I tell him to prove it if he thinks he's better than me. He does." Hodge says you can't even warm up without one of them trying to beat you. "And they love to beat me in anything. Calves. They measure my calves. "Hey, my calves are bigger than yours!' "
When Hodge and Toomey train together, there is never a letup. "Neither one gives an inch," Thoreson says. "They were at Salina last year. Hodge had never done 24 feet in the broad jump. He did 23-11. Then on his last jump he went all the way to 25-2¾. ft was incredible. I could see Bill over there snorting at the end of the runway. He came down that runway like a truck, hit that board and went 25-6!"
"I loved it," said Bill Toomey.
By dusk they are through their workouts, and then it is a matter of deciding which restaurant to eat at—an increasingly important issue since Hodge left the wickiup—and maybe they will go to a movie or to the B.G. for some soccer. Or invite some girls over for the evening session. And they will be back at the decathlon again. Why do we do these things? What good is vitamin E? Why don't I jump seven feet? Where is it leading us? When are we going to see a headline? And so to bed.