I have a friend who is a better-than-average horse trainer. His reading habits are somewhat circumscribed by professional demands: he reads Daily Racing Form, the daily paper wherever he is, the Thoroughbred Record, the Blood-Horse and Turf and Sports Digest. He also reads the Bible—a chapter in the raw, early hours of morning before going out to the track.
The other day he came around to my house and happened to pick up the new issue of SI with the birds on the cover.
After a while I looked over at him. He had stopped turning pages idly, and was reading. Pretty soon he looked up.
"Fellow here got a piece about the Derby. He's better'n Palmer used to be." (Probably you know Joe Palmer—he would be writing for you if he were alive.) "You oughta read it." Pause: then, "Name's Faulkner—William Faulkner."
There is little to add to this, except to suggest to ambitious turf writers that, when they feel impelled to grab hold of such trite hooks as "Run for the Roses," "Colorbearer" and the like, they might do well to turn to Mr. Faulkner. He could probably supply a better word.
CAMPBELL H. BROWN
MEANT TO WRITE
Meant to write after the last Faulkner article, to congratulate your magazine. Same goes today..Kentucky: May: Saturday is among the finest sport features ever published...anywhere.
T. E. DOSDALL
Saint Paul, Minn.
SI AND FAULKNER
Kentucky: May: Saturday by William Faulkner is one of the finest and most enjoyable articles I have ever read. Both SI and Mr. Faulkner are greatly to be praised.
Faulkner's story on the Derby (was it a story and was it about the Derby?) is about the dullest and most preposterous thing I have ever read in any magazine. It is the last 25¢ I'll ever spend for SI.
J. B. MILLER
Are you running a sports magazine or a highbrow review? I'll bet your editors don't understand half the words The Genius uses. It was just plain lousy.
GEORGE P. STEVENS
•Phooie! We understood every word of it, including circumambience, sacrosanct, suspiration, sycophant, undeviable, lambence, apotheosis, fiacre, sublimation, attenuation, excrescent and lustra.—ED.
DON'T TRUST ANYONE
"Six Leading Turf Writers" (SI, May 9): Phooie! Evan Shipman—"Nashua—Looks like a champion"; Maurice Bernard—"Nashua—Rates as the solid favorite"; Jerry McNerney—"Nashua—Greatest since Citation"; Maurice Shevlin—"Nashua—Best since Citation"; Joe McLaughlin—"Nashua—Strictly one to beat"; James Roach—"Nashua—if he decides to do his best."
The horses are led into the gate; the betting has stopped and the starter squeezes his hand on a charged switch—"They're off." Swaps on the inside, Swaps takes the lead. Swaps Swaps Swaps Swaps Swaps. There in the stretch Nashua is making his move (Swaps is making his move too) and there goes my two bucks. Gosh darn it, you just can't trust anyone these days—not even Six Leading Turf Writers. Once again—Phooie!
•At three years old Nashua hasn't learned to read.—ED.
WILL "THEY" UNDERSTAND?
Your May 16 cover of Mr. Singer's bird-covered tree is one of the most brilliant and imaginative examples of creation through a mass medium that I have ever seen. It is also a striking magazine illustration in its own right. It reminded me, in its deliberately distorted perspective and fanatic attention to details, of some of our own American primitive artists of the Southwest and New England, and, in its richness of color and jewellike tones, of a medieval manuscript. SI has an almost unique asset; it dares to be original, to be different, to express its own character without anxiety as to whether "THEY" will understand or approve.
SI'S SCHOOL DAYS
You should be complimented on Treeful of Birds by Arthur Singer. The article by Robert Cushman Murphy, What the Well-Dressed Bird Will Wear, and the accompanying paintings were excellent also.
I am a teacher of an elementary grade in a public school. I take all our copies of SI to school, and everyone greatly enjoys looking through them.
MRS. KENNETH G. MARTIN JR.
Schenectady, New York
The cover which showed the tree full of birds was excellent—even superb.
LA WAYNE R. STROMBERG
DID THE SWALLOWS CHANGE PLACE?
SI has done much to raise the status of bird watching. The May 16 issue was excellent from this point of view, especially the story by Farley Mowat, Brother to the Swan.
I often think how much we owe to Teddy Roosevelt for his thinking and doing for conservation. Now we need constantly to be on guard lest "big business" take the national monuments and allow water to cover some of the beautiful gems of our country.
Did the swallows change places when the chart was being made out for cover identification? No. 19 appears more like a barn swallow than a cliff swallow, and isn't No. 17 a Bahama swallow instead of a barn swallow? Singer's tree was very good and lots of fun. SI is a wonderful magazine. I have every issue.
DOROTHY K. ERICSON
•You're right. Our swallow researcher mistook her swallows, which Artist Singer had captioned correctly, and then left early for Capistrano.—ED.
I, TOO, AM THANKFUL
I was deeply moved while reading Tenzing's story of his Everest climb because he has the essentials of a real mountaineer: an inner urge since childhood to dream, to go and see, and to find; pure love for mountains, inherited and later developed; deep honesty toward all; a closeness to nature, a great closeness to God; a sense of unity with man and nature.
All the mountaineers here, I think, are very thankful for your publishing Tenzing's story in SI. I am, too.
MAXIMILLIAN IGLICH, M.D.
THAT THIN RED LINE
Tenzing's own drawing of his Everest ascent (SI, May 9) is not clear to me. Perhaps you can straighten it out for me, or ask the author, Mr. James Ramsey Ullman, to do so.
At the abrupt turn, shown between Camps 1 and 2, leading off from the red dotted line that is the route to the summit, another red dotted line goes off to the left, far from the way Everest was climbed. What is that line supposed to lead to, or why is it there?
This is a very great story, told by a master writer who knows his Everest, and I shall read the book, you may be sure, just as soon as I can get my hands on it. This may not be far away now, but it's twice too long even so. In the meantime, my congratulations to you for having published the serialized portion of it. That will stand as a big credit to the account of SI.
A. T. JACKSON JR.
•Ullman says that Tenzing drew the sketch while talking of his last successful and many previous unsuccessful thrusts at Everest. Tenzing remarked that years before he had been part of an expedition that approached Everest from the north side and had climbed to a pass called Lho La (at the far left of Tenzing's sketch). But the expedition did not take the red-lined route marked by Tenzing: it is impassable. He just happened to draw the line while talking.—ED.
YOU HATE HIM OR LOVE HIM
Finally an article on a man who has always been interesting and exciting. A Pat on the Back to you for presenting a long overdue story on Mr. Leo Durocher (SI, May 23). Mr. Shaplen promises to bring Leo to the people who will be most interested.
I have just finished Part One of the story and I'm already anxiously waiting for the final parts. I've been a Giant fan since 1941 but only since Leo came to the Giants have I been a fan of his. The answer is simple. You either hate him or love him. I hated him before he came to the Giants but the second he was on "my side" he had another dyed-in-the-wool fan.
GEORGE E. BARTON
WHO ELSE IN THE U.S.?
I would like to congratulate you on your fine article on the Pirates in the May 16 SI. SI is the first magazine that I have read that has any faith in the Pirates. Everyone else laughs at them and I'm happy to see that someone in the U.S. beside the faithful Pittsburgh fans are for them. Branch Rickey is a great man, and is doing a remarkable job. The kids are playing their hearts out and will spell trouble for the rest of the league.
One of your better recent articles was written by Paul Richards on baseball strategy (SI, May 16). Here is an article that really explains the inside tactics and should be read by all fans who want to know more about the game.
FREDERICK J. MILLER
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
WILL I DUNK HIM!
Enjoy your magazine immensely and was so impressed with Zern's reports on Florida fishing that I decided to just come on down. If I find he has let me down I will dunk Ed Zern in the lake the next time he comes down here.
ERNEST L. COX
•Mr. Zern will not be dunked. Mr. Cox reported later: "I got to brooding over Ed Zern's FISHERMAN'S CALENDAR reports on Florida waters and one day I just packed up and left Missouri. First time I wet my spinning line a two-pound largemouth black bass hit my Brown Godart lure and I became a happy man with big plans for the future, including a trailer, outboard, and unlimited fishing."—ED.
THIS IS BOXING
I want to say that your article "Boxing With Gloves Off" (WONDERFUL WORLD, May 16) was excellent. I'm glad one magazine has taken the initiative to show up boxing for what it really is. Maybe someday it will become a respected sport again.
A. LINCOLN SAID IT
I have read your recent articles regarding boxing and the obvious cleanup which should be made in order to preserve boxing as a legitimate American sport. I have also read the rebuttals written by boxing's "Syndicate" and have been interested to see that in not one single case could Mr. IBC or any of his henchmen legally defend themselves against the facts you reported.
For a while it seemed like televised boxing was actually adhering to "the man who out-boxes his opponent or knocks him out wins the fight"—those days were short-lived!!! On Friday, May 13, 1955 a fight between Jones and Lausse was televised and the decision went to Lausse—really! What in the world do they take the American public for? I am not in a position to find fault with the exalted heads of IBC—however, I am very happy that they control only boxing, because if they had their fat, grubby hands in any other sport I am sure that it would smell just as bad as boxing does today.
This letter had been quite some time in the making; I have witnessed several fights which almost prompted me to write. However, Friday, May 13 was just too much. I certainly hope Mr. J. D. Norris reads this letter because he will do well to remember something Mr. A. Lincoln said years ago: "You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time."
B. D. SWETNICK
Congratulations to apprentice writer, one E. Arcaro, on his wonderful description of Nashua, That Horse I Ride (SI, May 2).
Also to Whitney Tower for his excellent preview of the Derby.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
ARE THEY BETTER?
In the picture "All-Time Dream Derby" (SI, May 9) you show the 21 fastest winners. I am wondering why, out of the seven fastest horses that ever won the Derby, five were horses of the 1950s. How do you account for the fact that thus far, every winner of the '50s is represented? Are horses now running faster, are jockeys better, is the track better?
JOHN A. DUFF
•The competition is keener. In the old days, when the entry fee was $500 compared to today's $1,500, the majority of starters were complimentary entries who ran mainly to give their owners the satisfaction of having a horse in the Derby. In the last few years virtually every horse entered was a real contender in top condition. This means the early part of the race is run faster, forcing the ultimate winner to drive hard for a fast time. The great horses of the past could have posted as good or better times, but just didn't have to exert themselves very much to win.—ED.
Your article on the Kentucky Derby was particularly interesting to me. What intrigued me most was the montage of the "All-Time Dream Derby." I was very much surprised to notice that two horses were conspicuous by their absence. They were, oddly enough, the last two Triple Crown winners, Assault (1946) and Citation (1948). Would you let me know what their winning times were and where they rank among the Derby winners?
WILLIAM A. LOEB
•Neither Citation nor Assault posted a fast win. Citation's time of 2:05[2/5] on a sloppy track ranks 29th (matched by Regret in 1915 and Zev in 1923). Assault ranks 35th with 2:06[3/5] on a slow track.—ED.
YOU WILL BE DELUGED
Your writer, Booton Herndon, in his May 9 lacrosse article entitled Skull 'em! Hip 'em! Score! writes so entertainingly that I hesitate to take exception.
However, you will be deluged, probably, by lacrosse folk who object to description of the game as a form of mayhem. Actually, our injuries are minor and few in number due to the protective equipment which is used.
Quoting me as enthusing over the beautiful body-check which smashed my leg is a slight exaggeration, but I'm sure Mr. Herndon meant it as atmospheric allusion rather than fact. Also, while I'm probably a "refugee from an old ladies' home," the institution in question is the only one of its kind in the East with resort hotel atmosphere and with nursing care. College Manor has many distinguished elderly guests of both sexes, many of them ardent sports fans.
At any rate, the writer caught the passionate fervor of the typical lacrosse fan. The 13,500 attendance at the Maryland-Navy game, incidentally, is a record for a single game but as many as 20,000 have watched double-headers in Baltimore.
W. H. MOORE III
Lacrosse coach, U.S. Naval Academy
THE WORST, POSSIBLY
Skull 'em! Hip 'em! Score! was possibly the worst thing that could have happened to the game of lacrosse. In his attempt for sensational copy Mr. Herndon presented an extremely distorted view of the game with unfounded descriptions of the dangers involved and completely inaccurate statements concerning the rules.
What with the false information given the sports public about lacrosse it is little wonder that gross misconceptions exist and that its growth is severely limited. It is an exciting and fast-moving game requiring, among other things, the ability to give and take body contact. The sport is governed by a well-constructed set of rules designed to make the game a safe one for the players. The rules are enforced by qualified officials so as to make for an entirely wholesome game.
Lacrosse is a relatively new game to the Midwest and even newer to the extensive athletic program at Ohio State. As the game is not played in the secondary schools of this area few students have the opportunity of seeing lacrosse before enrolling at this university. The boys enjoy learning a fine game and give their all in playing it. I think they are entirely justified in resenting author Herndon's uncalled-for sarcasm concerning their team.
HOWARD G. KNUTTGEN
Ohio State University
DO WE REMEMBER?
Booton Herndon's lacrosse article was tremendous. It captured much of the "rock 'em, sock 'em" tenor of the game and took both of us back to our postwar undergraduate days at Syracuse.
How well we remember the titanic clash between Roy Simmons' Orangemen and RPI, for the "mythical" Eastern championship, when the stickmen were allowed to invade the sanctity of Syracuse's Archbold Stadium!
Lacrosse is certainly deserving of SI's coverage. Let the dubious find a spot on the sidelines some spring Saturday afternoon.
MR. & MRS. ROGER WITHERELL
East Greenbush, N.Y.
FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE BREED
I would like to persuade you to take a stronger editorial attitude toward the Swaps-Nashua affair (SI, May 23).
It seems to me that the important thing is not that we won't have a Triple Crown winner or a match race between two great horses, but that we probably won't get a 3-year-old champion this year—and the 3-year-old champion is the kingpin of the game. This is no small matter. The point of the game—similar to the mate in chess, money in poker, or the World Series in baseball—is to test the breeding of Thoroughbreds at the winning post and breed to champions. That seeming canard, "improvement of the breed," which draws more raspberries than anything else in racing, happens to contain the only principle that gives horse racing a structure and keeps it from becoming simply a device for gambling in the sun. The Belmont and Jockey Club gentry, whatever else may be said about them, have stood by the principle and given the game some stability. They also developed the Belmont Stakes at a mile and a half, which is the only thing in American racing that has encouraged a trace of stamina in American breeding (you have only to look at the breeding of the money horses in the Kentucky Derby to see how thin this trace is and how much we depend on Europe for stamina breeding). Now in addition with the great growth of racing and the multiplicity of big-money stakes, horses are ducking each other all year long in search of easy pickings. About the only thing we've got that is calculated to bring them together is the prestige of the classics. Yet the Belmont worthies incomprehensibly insist upon rules that prohibit supplementary nominations to the Belmont Stakes. I have not seen a discussion of the general strategy of nominations, nor do I know Belmont's in this case. The "breeders' race" this year will be impotent. Swaps won't be properly tested, and we probably won't get a champion. The biggest loss is not to the principals but to the sport and, in that sense, to the racing fans. I think SI should take a position, assert its authority, and establish its influence, for the good of the sport.
•We agree the only way to crown a champion is to encourage the best to race the best—especially in the Triple Crown classics. A suggestion for the future restrengthening is the possibility of using one nomination blank for all three classics—Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. More urgently, we believe that the 3-year-old title will have a false ring this year if Nashua and Swaps cannot meet again. If they cannot meet in a match race (SI, May 23), there are such fall opportunities as the Jockey Club Gold Cup (two miles at Belmont) and the Pimlico Special (mile and three-sixteenths). We remember only too well the 1954 season when Determine won the Derby and High Sun won the Belmont—and the 3-year-old championship. These two horses, the best 3-year-olds in the country, have never yet raced against one another.—ED.
"To think a keen battle of wits between wily man and gallant fish could wind up like this!"