In a disputed purchase, the University of Kentucky has been awarded the late Elizabeth Arden Graham's Maine Chance Farm, 720 acres of rich lands that lie just outside of Lexington in the very heart of the rolling Bluegrass country. The university also owns 2,100 acres adjacent to Maine Chance—lands that are standing more or less idle, with pigs instead of Thoroughbreds as tenants. Someday, says the university, it might use its new property to contain an equine research institute. But these plans are distant, and their value to Fayette County—which gets not a cent of land taxes from school property—and to the entire Kentucky horse-breeding industry are tentative and somewhat random.
These conclusions are relatively even more evident since Rex Ellsworth, the California breeder and owner, heads a syndicate that also wants to buy the property—and use it. Not only would Ellsworth bring his 700 head of horses from California, but he also plans to invest $3.5 million more in improvements that would immediately benefit the community and the horsemen. One plan, for instance, calls for a year-round public training track.
He also wants to conduct yearling sales. Nearby Keeneland at present has a state monopoly on such sales, and has so staunchly supported the university's purchase that it has been named a co-defendant in a $30 million restraint-of-trade suit that Ellsworth filed last week. His group originally bid $1,942,000—$58,000 less than the university's offer—but Ellsworth maintains that he had an understanding with the executors that he could raise his bid if it were topped. The option was never honored. Curiously, the attorney for the bank handling the transaction and for the Keeneland and Breeder Sales Co. is the same man. Ellsworth has now raised his bid to $2,058,000 but has received no response.
The university avers it will hold on to its new acquisition. Whenever the "proposed equine research institute" is at last placed on the marvelous fallow lands, it might be appropriate for the initial research project to examine the decline of the Kentucky horse industry.
THE KING'S NEW SUIT
Moralists who study swinging England should find interest in the latest British athletic rationale. In one pronouncement, the Channel Swimming Association has declared that Linda McGill, a 21-year-old Australian, will not be permitted to swim the Channel in the buff. Whether nude or even just plain old topless, says the CSA, Miss McGill will not check out to standards of "appropriate swimming costume." Miss McGill thinks banning the skinny-dip trip is a raw deal, and plans to push off anyway sometime in the next couple of weeks—attired in goggles, cap and a coat of grease.
At the same time British tennis poohbahs are unofficially examining a plan that originated in Germany whereby a category of so-called "authorized amateurs" would be established. This reform (that's what they call it) would permit amateurs to license themselves as "authorized." They could then play for cash legally—just as they are doing now illegally—and yet they would still be accepted as 100% amateur. Having wallowed in authorized hypocrisy for so long, tennis apparently can now find no way out of its morass except through an even more ridiculous evasion of reality.
But the opportunities for this new morality are boundless. Surely Miss McGill can convince the CSA to let her proclaim herself an "authorized swimmer"—one who is quite naked, but who shall be accepted as dressed. Besides, the tax boys may be after the tennis players, but who's going to tell on Miss McGill?
SEE AND SKI
There will be no snow around next month when the '68 Olympic ski runs at Grenoble are first tested, but International Ski Federation (FIS) President Marc Hodler shrugs that off. "What is important on the ski runs," he says, "is not so much the snow, but what is below." Also around. The element of nature that concerns Hodler the most at Grenoble is not snow but fog. Already the FIS has made alternate fog-date plans for the downhill competition, for the fog comes upon the Chamrousse area like a giant blob and then crouches there for days on end, as thick as the broth that is usually only found lurking about cemeteries in horror movies.
One efficient fog dispenser has been developed (hooray!) but, alas, the chemical solution works by condensing the fog and turning it into a wet slop on the ground (hiss!). The choice Olympians may have: bank into the fog bank or schuss into the slush.
THE SUMMER THE SUN DIDN'T SHINE
There has never been so dreary a summer on the eastern seaboard—day upon cloudy day. Oils, lotions and gaudy beach towels lie in sullen heaps in the variety stores. Lifeguards, who usually possess skins of mahogany by now, report getting burned on the rare days the sun does peek through. Lifetime friends—not to mention families—have become frenzied, locked together for whole weekends in murky beach cottages. The trauma of returning to the city, ghostly white, has shattered egos throughout megalopolis. That familiar office institution, the Monday Morning Once-Over (MMOO), where proud possessors of weekend skins the color of regulation footballs match bare arms, disappeared early in this strange, dark summer.
From Virginia Beach to Cape Cod sun time has been measured at new lows. Ocean City, Md. has seen the dark days kill business 20% to 30%. Rentals are only 60% of capacity on the Cape. At Falmouth parking and locker fees—directly related to beach population—are off 25%. And even that is not a true indication of the sunlessness, since many weekenders, like moths to a flame, must go on the beach once they are near one. This sad '67 type has been evident in legion, all summer—bundled, dazed and caked with a superfluous lotion. Friends sometimes recognize their plight, say that now familiar expression: "They've had too much cloud," and cart the pallid fellows inside.
HOW NOW, FLOWER POWER?
"Hip" and its related terms were not originally taken from the dialects of languid jazz musicians or soulful Negroes, as is commonly assumed—particularly by the peace-loving types who embrace "hippie" as their own definition. The hippies may, in fact, be surprised to learn that the name has a rather violent origin. Wrestling matches in the British countryside were responsible for the term, San Francisco Etymologist Peter Tamony says, and the expression also moved into boxing, where it stayed until the Marquess of Queensberry removed some of the bestiality from the sport.
"British country-wrestling is a standup art," Tamony writes. "A contest ends when any part of the body, except the soles of the feet, touches the ground. Of the several methods employed to effect this conclusion, the simplest is to get an opponent on the hip." Tamony describes this as a "cross-buttock" hold. One who had another on the hip was in command of the situation, and the expression moved into the vernacular that way. "Now infidel," Shylock told Antonio, "I have you on the hip." The Shakespearean audience was, presumably, hip to Antonio's plight.
You dig history, Baby? Biff! Pow!
The drive has been heightened in New Orleans to see which public official can dispense the most aimless, unsubstantiated flood of rhetoric. This week's titlist is Dave Dixon, the executive secretary of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District. Dixon states that having a major league baseball franchise in New Orleans "would be a waste of time for the new stadium." He would prefer a modest little summer festival combining the best of: 1) Disneyland, 2) Expo 67, 3) the New York World's Fair, 4) pro football and 5) the Mardi Gras.
Digging deep into an old bag of clichés to attack baseball, Dixon says: "In an election year, it will take real courage for a politician to recognize that baseball is a dying sport." Coming at a time when St. Louis has just completed a single home stand that itself attracted more than half a million fans, when attendance in the American League is at a record pace and when NBC has just paid $50 million for a new baseball contract, Dixon's statement is absolutely right—it would take wild courage for a politician to assume such a stance.
The biggest new act in Las Vegas is a 6'10", 212-pound, size-14-shoe heavyweight named Barrie McLellan. He comes from Liverpool, but he claims his mother is Jewish and his father is a Mexican named Alvarado. Let's bill him as The Ecumenical Hope.
Barrie is also a handsome young man, just 21, and when he is not gulping down a dozen cheeseburgers a day at the local eatery where he works as a dishwasher-busboy, he likes best of all to dance with "wee tiny" girls. He got to Vegas by hitchhiking from Houston, though he was detained in Boulder City by suspicious cops who just could not believe that a 6'10" heavyweight with a British accent could really be thumbing through Nevada.
McLellan is awkward, but he has won his first two Vegas fights by knockouts. He says he has never been knocked out in 100 amateur bouts and five or six pro fights all over England.
The British Boxing Board of Control has no record of McLellan, but he says maybe that is just because he fought mostly in "private" or unsanctioned shows. And he is not surprised that no one remembers him. Why should they, he asks. He was only 6'6" then.
Having been granted the injunction that bars Rick Barry from playing with the American Basketball Association Oakland Oaks this season, San Francisco Warrior Owner Franklin Mieuli has now pressed his advantage and filed a $4.5 million damage suit against the Oaks and Owner Pat Boone. The towering figure ("ridiculous," Boone says) was obviously selected with one eye on the possible shock value. Listing of 20,000 shares of Oaks' stock at $100 each had just been approved, and the massive suit put an immediate damper on stock sales. Several substantial Oakland stock prospects were willing to buy, but now they say they are "waiting."
So, too, is Barry—taking careful time to decide if he will play this season with the Warriors. It would be a terribly discomforting and difficult season if he did decide to join the Warriors, but it would be even worse, perhaps, if this marvelous and exciting athlete sat out a full season in the prime of his career.
The most agreeable solution would be for the Warriors to sell Barry to one of the NBA's new expansion teams, San Diego or Seattle. He would be a great boost for that team's first season—financially and on the court. The Warriors would make a little money off the sale; the Oaks would not have to pay his salary. Barry's four or five visits to San Francisco would provide sufficient opportunity for those in the Bay Area who view him as either devil or angel to renew their acquaintance with him and vent their respective emotions upon him in the manner to which they are accustomed. These appearances in San Francisco would not, however, be so numerous as to smother any burgeoning interest in the Oaks. Everyone would seem to profit. And Rick Barry would play basketball, which is what this is still all about.
THEY SAID IT
•Bob Pettit, ex-St. Louis Hawk basketball pro now a banker in Baton Rouge: "There's no easier way to make a living than being a pro athlete. It spoils people. You make more money than you'll probably ever make, establish a high standard of living and get a lot of publicity. Then, all of a sudden, you wake up and realize you have to go to work for a living."
•Steve Zegalia, newlywed Syracuse football player, answering Coach Ben Schwartzwalder's request to list his preference for a roommate: "My wife."
•Bob Brown, Green Bay Packer 6' 5", 265-pound tight end: "I don't know how strong I am. I'm not much for weight lifting. Give me a quarterback, halfback or a fullback instead."