Olympic Weather Program
Although rain, better than half a foot of it, was schussing down the slopes of Squaw Valley early this week a "significant snowfall" will filter over the site of the Winter Olympics on Sunday, February 14. The snow will continue, off and on, until Thursday when the Games will open under sparkling, ice-blue skies. Good weather will hold for five more days, but on the 23rd, look out: another "significant snowfall" will sweep the valley.
So, anyway, pronounces Dr. Irving Parkhurst Krick, a private-practice meteorologist who specializes in the long look and the big picture. And if his Olympic predictions miss the mark here and there (he did not foresee this week's rain), little wonder. Dr. Krick made them two years ago.
A garrulous, positive-thinking man of 53, Meteorologist Krick has been gambling on the weather-to-be for 30 years. Because of his methods, however, U.S. Government weathermen consider him all wet. Dr. Krick answers drily that these weathermen, who determine tomorrow's weather from observable forces today, are obsolete. "I base my forecasts on historical precedents," says Krick, and weather, like history, repeats itself. On this basis, Krick has developed an international business of weather forecasting and weather research.
The Olympic Organizing Committee became a Krick customer in January 1958. His predictions, which he donated, were used to schedule the Games, and the committee followed his advice except in one particular. Krick contended then, as he still does, that the first two weeks of March would have better weather "spectatorwise." But, he was bound to admit, some thawing could be expected too, and that wouldn't be so hot skierwise.
The Friendly Persuader
Shopping for a new football coach is something like shopping for a new preacher: the school must decide whether its cause will be better served by the hellfire-and-damnation line or by friendly persuasion toward the good life. To West Coast sportswriters the University of California's responsibility was clear: as a replacement for the mild-mannered Pete Elliott who resigned in December after a sinfully unspectacular season, Cal needed an iron-fisted orator in the pulpit. And the best man for that, the press has been insisting for two months, was ex-Navy coach Eddie Erdelatz—hardbitten, hard-driving and available.
Cal officials listened, they even interviewed Erdelatz, but they did not buy. Pete Elliott's successor, they announced last week, would be Marvin Daniel Levy. The writers, the students and the alumni almost swooned dead away. Not only had Erdelatz been outrageously passed by, but nobody had the foggiest idea who Marvin Daniel Levy was.
Levy, reminiscent of the departed Pete Elliott, is a pleasant man of 34 from Chicago. He is a Phi Beta Kappa from Iowa's Coe College, second in his class of 200. He is an M.A. from Harvard (probably unique among football coaches, he studied U.S. intellectual history under Arthur Schlesinger Jr.). He has coached two winning years at St. Louis' fancy Country Day School, three years at Coe, four years at the University of New Mexico. In 1958, his first year as head coach at UNM, he was named Skyline Conference Coach of the Year. Levy also has a philosophy about football almost as unheard of these days as himself: "The first and foremost reason the game is played," he says, "is for fun."
Says Cal Athletic Director Greg Englehard: "It all adds up to a real fine gentleman who can inspire our students and produce a fine team."
Prohibit Sunday Drivers
Like that fellow who used to live in a house by the side of the road, State Assemblyman Charles T. Eckstein of New York's Queens County wants only to be a friend to the men who travel that road. It was for their sake, in fact, that he introduced a bill last January, whose intent was to ban autos drawing boats on trailers from the state's highways on weekends. In the assembly man's own words, "95% of the state's motorists want to go out and enjoy themselves on weekends, but instead have to trail along the roads after these people."
Having introduced his bill, Assemblyman Eckstein, a man who dreams of one day owning a boat himself, sat back to wait for man—motoring man, anyway—to hail him as friend. Instead, the first mention of the bill in an upstate, inland newspaper brought a flood of angry condemnation and not a single word of support. The sense of voter disapproval was so sharp, in fact, that the bill was promptly killed dead as a dodo in committee, and Eckstein himself delivered a merciful death blow to another bill he was working on—to bar house trailers from the highways from Friday to Monday in the summers.
As motoring members of that "95% who want to enjoy themselves," we cannot help but regret the assemblyman's surrender, for with any encouragement at all his legislation might have proved an instrument as effective in sweeping the highways clean of weekend pests as the wire brushes he manufactures are in sweeping rust from ancient boilers.
Having rid the Sunday highways of yachtsmen and vacationers, Assemblyman Eckstein might have gone on to introduce bills barring little old ladies on their way to visit with the children, hot shots in red sports cars who consider it effete to drive in one lane and prefer the slalom route, conservative family heads in overloaded two-door sedans who believe the safest way is to go 10 mph below the speed limit in the fast lane and all cream-colored convertibles whose two passengers have become so deeply involved in romance that neither remembers who is driving.
With these menaces to safety and enjoyment banished by law, Assemblyman Eckstein might have proceeded to work on more and still more legislation until the highways were swept absolutely clean of all Sunday drivers. Then he and we and all of those poor souls who want only to enjoy themselves might at last be able to load the kids and granny into the red sports car, hitch up the trailer and head for the water without a care.
Who Sprung Cock Robin?
The European Robin is a bird of a different feather from the American robin. It is quite small—about the size of a bluebird. Its celebrated breast is actually rather orange. It is vastly truculent and therefore never flocks together. Since European robins hardly ever sojourn abroad, bird watchers could not believe their binoculars when one turned up at a feeding station in West Cornwall, Conn, last week. Nor could they readily explain how it got there. Opinion was it had hitchhiked over on a ship's rigging.
No, said James H. Van Alen, the Newport sportsman, it most certainly had not. The robin, he said, had been flown over in an airplane from Belgium. In fact, it was one of three he had released in Newport in 1958. "It was all quite winsome," Van Alen recalls. "I should have put bands on their legs, but I was feeling very sorry that particular day. It was autumn. I said, 'Goodby, little robins.' 'Goodby,' they said."
Van Alen's devotion to the European robin, which he calls "the most delicate, charming and fearless little garden bird in the world," harks back to two children's verses which have European robins as major characters—The Death and Burial of Cock Robin and The Babes in the Wood—to his four years at Cambridge and to two birds which sang one summer in a garden in Surrey. "It was quite a big garden," Van Alen says. "Since they have no truck with each other whatsoever usually there is only one robin to a garden."
Van Alen has for years brooded about introducing European robins to the United States. In 1957 he stopped brooding and had some trapped in Belgium, but only three of 19 survived the transatlantic trip. "They were very poorly packed," says Van Alen. He had better luck next time. Nine of 14 survived.
"I dedicated a Robin Room in the basement of my Washington home," says Van Alen, "and put them up there so I could have little ones." But no little ones were forthcoming. "It's practically impossible to tell the difference between the males and the females," he claims. "I spent many hours studying them. An ornithologist from the zoo and a man from the Smithsonian came over to take a look, too, but no very fixed conclusions were reached. Eventually we got nowhere."
"Mr. Van Alen got nowhere," says Dr. William Dilger of Cornell, when advised of Van Alen's quandary, "because very likely all he had were males. The European robin is very strongly sexually dimorphic."
Van Alen gave away what birds had not perished or escaped before releasing the last three. But he remains undaunted. Last week he was in Washington buttonholing the Greek and Italian ambassadors about importing several hundred more which he hopes to set free in lots of 20s. "I've had no cooperation from Italy in the past," Van Alen admits. "Some American journalist wrote that Italians catch little robins and eat them."
The National Audubon Society is not likely to help either. "On principle," says their Mr. Roland Clement, "we are against the introduction of any exotics. We will not encourage it. We will frown on it. We already have a most fascinating fauna."
Time for Bridge
Four Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers from the University of New Mexico sat down to play bridge in the ballroom of Albuquerque's Alvarado Hotel last week. They played and played and played and played.
After 24 hours Jim Brown, 20, said his eyes felt tired. After 62 hours Sam Gray Jr., 21, said he couldn't remember the rules. After 69 hours Jack Fink, 20, asked where his cards were—he was holding them. After 73 hours Terry Duffy, 21, said he couldn't play because he kept seeing a body lying on the table.
At 75 hours the game broke up. Pi Kappa Alpha claimed a world marathon bridge record. "I'm a Pi Kappa Alpha and I like my Haig & Haig," proudly sang a crowd of kibitzing fraternity brothers. Said the chapter president, Neil Frumkin: "Any university can stuff a telephone booth."
Inspiration in Ohio
Bob White, a 167-pound freshman at Ohio Wesleyan University, had not displayed enough ferocity or ability to make the wrestling squad's first team. Then he learned that his home-town girl friend was dating a 177-pound wrestler from nearby Capital University.
"Just let me at him," pleaded White the week of the Ohio Wesleyan vs. Capital wrestling matches, and Coach Ray Leech did. White fell upon his heavier opponent, got a match-winning hold, walked out of the gym with his girl on his arm.
"An inspired athlete," said Coach Leech.
How To Try Too Hard
Polish-Born Jan Miecznikowski, better known as John Macy, is one of this country's fastest distance runners. Since his emigration via West Germany in 1956 he has won six U.S. titles at distances from 3,000 meters to six miles. Now enrolled at the University of Houston, Macy would be proud to run for the U.S. in the Rome Olympics, and the U.S., faced with its traditional shortage of good distance runners, would be equally proud to have him run. Unfortunately, there is a hitch. To be eligible for the U.S. Olympic team, Macy must be a U.S. citizen, and he will not fulfill the five-year residency requirement of the naturalization law until a few months after the 1960 Olympics come to an end.
That, ordinarily, would be that. But last year Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, a pretty fair expediter, submitted a bill to speed Macy's citizenship. The Texas Senator reasoned that Macy, his constituent-to-be, had a special argument for getting his final papers earlier than usual, i.e., the Olympics. The Senate easily agreed and passed the bill last May. Next it went to the House Judiciary Committee, which slid the bill along to its subcommittee on immigration, where it stumbled for the first time.
"We just can't do this," said the subcommittee chairman, Congressman Francis Walter of Pennsylvania, who argued that if Congress makes exceptions of this sort the U.S. is open to Communist charges of decadence and of bootlegging its athletes from behind the Iron Curtain. "I will use every effort to block its approval."
Last week Walter's group sent the bill back to the main committee with a recommendation that John Macy be required to wait out his naturalization period like anybody else.
Similar bills have been offered in behalf of other foreign-born athletes. Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona wants Congress to waive the rule for two Hungarian-born gymnasts. Congressman Charles Gubser of California has appealed for two Hungarian-born fencers, Congressman Seymour Halpern of New York for a third. Like the bill for John Macy, they all involve questions of individual merits, hopes and aspirations. Some of these athletes, because of age, may never again have a chance for Olympic competition after the Games of 1960. If these athletes were made eligible through speedy naturalization American chances of "winning" the Olympics would be improved. But the bills raise other questions for Americans.
Russian jibes about the "bootlegging" of athletes? Those would hardly cut very deep. But the tradition that the Olympic Games are to be conducted without political considerations—and that no nation should seek to "win" the games as a nation? That idea is more pertinent. In the field of sport, it is possible for the U.S. to try too hard.
"A hundred and thirty-two again! Guess I'm just not living right."
They Said It
Presidential candidate John Kennedy, on why he has temporarily given up skiing: "My own profession is hazardous enough."
Adolph Rupp, Kentucky basketball coach, debating a rule interpretation with a referee who doubles as a state senator: "Mr. Senator, you can appropriate $73 million to build highways, but you can't even recognize a traveling violation when you see it."
Hank Aaron, Milwaukee Brave outfielder, hearing Manager Chuck Dressen might shift him to second base: "I'll be glad to play second if he'll play third."