Enthusiasm vs. Experience
Alfred Whipple, 20, and Sidney-Crouch, 21, lived for most of their lives barely three-quarters of a mile apart in Ledyard, Connecticut. They attended the same one-room grammar school; they graduated together from the same high school. Last week they died together on a mountain only a few hundred miles from home.
It was while watching White Tower, a film depicting the ascent of an Alpine peak, that Alfred and Sidney first got bitten by the climbing bug. Their enthusiasm grew with the conquest of Everest, and they read everything they could find describing Hillary's historic expedition. Before long they had acquired a mass of learning on the lore of mountain climbing. Unfortunately it was all book learning.
Last week, when young Whipple and Crouch set out to scale New Hampshire's 4,000-foot Profile Mountain, they were making their maiden ascent. Their equipment was improvised and inadequate: hiking boots rather than climber's shoes, large nails instead of steel pitons, less than 100 feet of cheap rope. The tragic result was all but inevitable.
The two friends, who died of exposure and fatigue on the bleak mountainside soon after a rescue party came to their aid, were mourned together in a double funeral service. "They were good hikers," said a friend in farewell, "but not climbers. They had studied the theory of climbing, but theory could not be substituted for the experience."
Known as GA by its members, Gamblers Anonymous is the self-help organization of compulsive chance-takers. At a recent GA meeting in the basement of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco some 30 gamblers seeking the cure met with their wives, an anthropologist from Stanford University and four prison probation officers.
The guests sat in stiff, high-backed chairs, 10 to a row, four rows in all. At the head of the room was a card table and sitting behind it was a man named Larry, the founder of the San Francisco chapter of GA. Larry introduced the visitors (the probation officers were invited by a GA named Joe who had served time in San Quentin for bad checks) and turned to the business at hand.
"The fellowship of Gamblers Anonymous is the outgrowth of a chance meeting between two men in 1957," said Larry. "These men had a truly baffling history of trouble and misery due to an obsession to gamble. They began to meet regularly and as the months passed neither returned to gambling. They concluded that in order to prevent a relapse it was necessary to bring about certain personality changes within themselves." The changes were brought about, Larry continued, when the two men enlisted other compulsive gamblers and adopted a program of interdependent help closely patterned after the successfully established Alcoholics Anonymous. Today GA has a membership of about 170, with five chapters in California and one in Las Vegas.
Perhaps, said Larry, it might be hard for a noncompulsive gambler, mildly acquainted with horse racing and Saturday night poker, to appreciate fully the work of Gamblers Anonymous. He would, therefore, call upon some of the gamblers and let their stories speak for themselves.
"I started gambling at 16 in high school," said Joe, now 36. "Matching coins—not nickels, dollars. I went to live with my grandmother, and I'd tell her stories and get her to sign blank checks for me. I took her for $16,000." Joe gambled in the Navy, gambled when he should have been playing baseball in the old Class B Southeastern League, gambled wherever he went. "I'd play poker four nights and three days running," he said. "I wrote $100,000 in bad checks and when I went to prison I spent my time making book. When I got out I got a job driving an ambulance in Oakland, but when they'd need me they couldn't find me because I'd be off in some card room."
"When I was 12 I would gamble on anything, even marbles," said Larry in his turn. "When I was 14 or 15 I went to work in a pool hall and gambled all the time. And before long I was a professional who cheated." After a hitch in the Army, Larry tried to settle down. "I got married and went to college. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to get away from gambling. But I couldn't. Five years ago I wrote a $15 check on our joint account, the first money I ever hid from my wife. I put the money back in the bank before the statement came and it balanced. This led to a $25 check, and I started having to cover for that." Eventually, Larry opened a secret bank account, borrowed from a loan company, forged his wife's name to sell their furniture, at length sold his house and his car. "Oddly," said Larry, "many of our friends thought we were an ideal young married couple and even came to us for advice." After five separations, Larry's wife went to her parents where a friend of her mother told her about GA.
At the end of the meeting, Larry and a few other GAs stepped outside to wait for a couple driving down from Redding, Calif. The man was a compulsive gambler, and his marriage was breaking up. "Maybe GA will be able to save it," said Larry. It seemed a good bet, but no one present offered to make book on it.
Sleepy Time Guys
Warren Giese of the University of South Carolina Gamecocks is a coach who is patently not content to leave well enough alone. At one time or another he has solicited the aid of closed circuit TV and Polaroid slides to beef up his team. Last week, after exhaustive tests, he announced that the thick, juicy steaks formerly fed to his footballers before each game were not providing enough pep. Henceforth, said Coach Giese, the Gamecocks will get a tasty glass of pure glucose instead. "We'll flavor it with something," the coach said in an offhand way, "to make it palatable."
And, as if it were not enough to supervise their diet, the coach plans to invade his quarterbacks' dreams as well. Each night his voice will softly preach proper football strategy through a special microphone placed under the pillows of his key men. The gadget is Dormaphone, an electronic bedfellow which has spent most of its career teaching foreign languages. Giese has tried it on himself and, apparently pleased with his own progress, he will use the $500 apparatus on his lieutenants this fall.
"We've had one for two months," said Giese, "and I am convinced that it is valuable. We have lost two games in the past three years because o IT quarterbacks didn't remember a few simple rules. I'm going to try to implant the basic rules of the game in their minds during sleep. For instance, I'll tell them such things as: 'Kick on first down behind your own 10-yard line. Kick on second down behind your own 20. Kick on third down behind your own 30.' After they've listened to such instructions in their sleep for 15 minutes at a time, five times a night for a few weeks, I think the idea will be so soundly implanted in their minds they'll do the right things automatically."
Perhaps they will. Perhaps, on the other hand, they'll be so tired they'll just fall asleep.
Better than Baseball
It's a suffering sport," said one of the 170 bike racers assembled for the National Amateur Championships at Kenosha, Wisconsin the other day. "Your legs feel like wet noodles after a few laps around the track. There's no part of you that doesn't hurt."
"There has to be a little ball of guts inside you somewhere," said another. "And when you need it you've got to find it and use it."
"It's tougher than any sport," added Jim Rossi, a 23-year-old racer from Chicago who managed to qualify for the 1956 Olympics with one shoulder in a cast. The words were harsh and complaining, but they were spoken with the softness of a lover's endearments, for Jim and his colleagues were plainly in love with the sport they complained of so bitterly.
As it happened, Jim Rossi's trials and tribulations during the Kenosha meet more than justified his complaints. After taking bone-bruising spills in every one of the qualifying heats, he was badly enough injured in one of the championship races to be hauled off for repairs. (The championships are decided through point scoring based on four races: the 10-mile, the five, the two, the one.) But Jim bulled his way out of the first-aid station, rushed into the 10-mile race and succeeded in picking up enough points to roll away with the 1959 national championship before a screaming, cheering crowd of 7,000.
In Europe, a top bicycle rider can earn up to $80,000 a year, and 12,000,000 people may watch a single cross-country race. Riders in these countries are better known than statesmen or prelates, better known even than movie stars. But in the U.S. bike riding is a catch-as-catch-can business. "Over here," said Jim Rossi after his victory last week, "we amateurs can't even be sponsored. But tires cost $20 a pair, and in a hard race you're lucky if they last two-thirds of a mile. A custom-made bike costs about $150, and you need half a dozen or so. It costs each of us at least $2,000 a season."
Rossi does his best to raise the money for his exacting mistress by working as a salesman for an oil burner company. Bob Pfarr, a three-time national champ who tied for third place at Kenosha, is the co-owner of a gasoline station. Somehow or other, they manage to find two to three hours a day for practice, either early in the morning or late at night. Pfarr, for example, works so late at the filling station that he's forced to cycle out by flashlight, find a truck doing 30 mph on the highway and sprint past in an attempt to keep up his wind.
Nevertheless, despite the hardships and drawbacks they seem to take such pleasure in citing, the cyclists gathered in Kenosha last week are unremittingly true to their love, and the city itself seems to share their passion. Kenosha has been Unabashedly cycle-happy since the early 1920s, perhaps because virtually all the big names of six-day bike racing once trained there. The Wisconsin city boasts one of the finest natural clay tracks in the country, with turns banked at only 15° to insure the maximum in thrills and spills, and the last few laps in every race are invariably fast and tight—with the riders sprinting from 30 to 40 mph—and the finishes are almost always close.
"This is the cleanest, toughest sport in the world," said one Kenosha bike fan last week. "It's better than baseball."
A smooth ocean floor, to a fish, is like a too-well-engineered throughway to a motorist—there's no place to stop for a snack. A small artificial reef of castaway rubble, however, will act like a single hot dog stand or Tower of Pizza, promptly attracting all sorts of stoppers. The rocks will collect free-swimming larvae. The larvae will attract the small fish which in turn will attract bigger fish which will attract still bigger fish which eat the small fish. And there you are—a thriving, hiving colony—perfect as far as the sportsman on the surface is concerned.
Sometime this month barges will dump loads of rubble for this kind of underwater snack bar on the smooth sandy bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles south of Asbury Park, N.J. The man-made reef will serve also as a study hall for Paul E. Hamer, a fisheries biologist for the New Jersey Conservation Department. Hamer, a 34-year-old M.S. from Rutgers, began working with the state fish and game division on summers away from school, now works full time for the state. He says that there is nothing unusual about artificial reefs. Conservationists have been building them out of scrap automobiles and refuse in a haphazard way since the 1920s, in California, Texas, Louisiana and Florida. The New Jersey project, however, may because of its careful preparation and supervision make a more exact science of the reef-building business.
A survey of the bottom at the 63-foot depth now reveals smooth sand, a few worms, some shells but very little life. The reef will be only five to 10 feet high so as not to present a navigational problem. Hamer expects that in summer the reef will attract schools of blackfish, sea bass and porgies; in winter he prophesies whiting, hake, cod and pollack. An outside hope is for bluefish and tuna which may be drawn by the smaller fish. The fisherman will have to drop a line more than 50 feet unless the tuna and blues arrive. They swim at shallower depths.
While sportsmen are setting their lines and anticipating a fat catch, Hamer will be loading his camera and anticipating a richly rewarding before-and-after-type documentary of the ocean floor.
You will win. You will play as you have never played before," the hired hypnotist of the Gloucester City amateur soccer team told the entranced players, who trotted out and obediently beat Merthyr Tydfil 3-1.
Hypnotist Henry Blythe was jubilant, foreseeing great improvement over the English team's 16th-place finish last season. Then, in a trance of his own perhaps, he missed the train to the next game.
"That Blythe spirit will be with you tonight just the same, so go out and win, win, win," the resourceful hypnotist wired the team at half time. But the magic somehow failed to carry over the wires. True to its old form, Gloucester City lost, lost, lost by 2-1 to Cambridge United.
Plane and Fancy
This pilot skims trees and rooftops,
And terrified people lie flat.
He's licensed for flying solo,
But surely not solo as that.
They Said It
Jack Kramer, professional tennis impresario, on why he may chuck the whole business: "I feel I've been trying to climb a mountain and nobody really wants me to climb it. So I just may stop trying. Pretty soon now I won't be handling any more pro tours."
Ingemar Johansson, explaining, in part, why he signed to defend his title against Floyd Patterson for Vincent J. Velella and Irving B. Kahn, after publicly condemning them and their methods: "We have an agreement that if investigations show that anyone is illegal or a gangster he will be thrown out."
Ray Jenkins, Montana State football coach, essaying a prophecy: "We definitely will be improved this year. Last year we lost ten games. This year we only scheduled nine."
Hank Greenberg, Chicago White Sox executive, on the third league: "I do not like to see those third-league people wander down an alley. They may have all the money they are reported to have. But they will not want to throw it down the drain."