SOFT SHOES FOR SONNY
In the heady aftermath of the recent heavyweight title fight, the newborn champion, Sonny Liston, said: "If the people and the newspapers give me a chance, I'll prove to them they've been wrong about me." The improbable thesis seemed to be that Liston was not as bad a man as courts and cops had painted him. It was, however, said with welcome, if hitherto uncharacteristic, humility and so the prevailing mood was to give Liston a chance.
Well, less than two weeks after he knocked out Floyd Patterson in the first round, Sonny was picked up by Philadelphia's Fairmount Park police for the second time. No charge was made (he simply had been driving at a suspiciously slow speed) and he was released.
But the question arises as to why Liston is such a persistent driver through Fairmount Park, where he has had so much trouble with the police. Why not avoid it? The answer may be that it is a normal route for him to take on his way home. Though investigation is not yet complete, the Pennsylvania boxing commission and police seem now to agree that the latest episode was inconsequential, something that might happen to anyone who had had a few beers with friends (Liston avoids hard liquor). Inconsequential or not, it tarnishes the promise of the new Sonny Liston.
"This thing was of no account," said a customer of the 52nd Street bar of which Liston is an occasional patron, "but Sonny ought to be soft-shoein' around anyhow."
That may be the best advice Sonny Liston ever got. He ought to go out right now (but not by way of the park) and get himself fitted for a nice pair.
BACK TO EOHIPPUS
It is undoubtedly shameful of us to expose in advance what someone is going to get for Christmas, but we will anyway. Mrs. Ethel Kennedy, wife of the U.S. Attorney General, has ordered two horses, a mare and a stallion, from a remarkable breed of midgets raised on the Argentine estancia of Julio César Falabella. The order specifies that they be delivered "not later than December 24, 1962," which is a pretty good clue as to their purpose. The Kennedy children, who already enjoy an impressive menagerie, are going to have some truly rare fun on Christmas Day.
The midgets, recognized as a true breed by the Argentine Rural Society, are believed to be the only ones of their kind anywhere in the world, and there are only about 350 of them. They average 36 inches in height though some, fully grown, stand only 30 inches. A few look like ordinary ponies, with stubby legs and fat bellies. Others have the long, fine legs, graceful torsos and elegant heads of miniature Thoroughbreds.
Their development was an accident. About 50 years ago Falabella's father turned some smallish ponies out to pasture. He noticed that some of their progeny seemed undersized, and he separated the runts from the rest of the herd. These in turn produced even smaller animals with each generation. He continued to cull the runts and eventually produced this new breed. The hobby has become profitable—Falabella gets from $700 to $1,000 for each midget.
On opening day of the World Series Lorenzo Lopez appeared before Police Judge James A. Maloney in Albuquerque and was found guilty of driving a car with a noisy muffler. Because it was his third offense, the judge ordered a $15 fine or a day in jail.
"I don't mind spending the day in jail," Lopez said, "but I sure hate to miss the opening of the World Series."
"Can you have the $15 here before 4 p.m.?" the judge asked.
"Yes sir," Lopez said, "if the Giants win."
The Giants lost and so did Lopez. He went to jail.
OLD SAW WITH NO EDGE
The maxims don't always stand up. One of them holds that, next to a good fast ball, a pitcher's greatest asset is control. From August 3 through September 30, when he finally walked a man, Bill Fischer of the Kansas City Athletics pitched 84‚Öì walkless innings, far surpassing Christy Mathewson's 49-year-old major league record of 68 innings. And how many games did Fischer win during this record period? Two. How many did he lose? Nine.
The electronification of sport continues. Coach Hank Strain of the Dallas Texans recently tried out a closed-circuit television system to give him a better bench-side view of the football game. It paid off rather handsomely, too. Running a play over on tape, he noted a Buffalo Bill linebacker was defending inside and so directed Frank Jackson to go outside. Jackson made 10 yards. There will be no mad rush to TV, however. The setup, manufactured by Ampex, cost $75,000.
When a man is told to divorce a car he has cherished for almost a score of years he may, in England anyway, go to court about it and obtain judgment that only death may tear them apart.
Londoner John O'Grady is owner of a bewitching little MG named Hortensia. A while back a pile of scaffolding fell on Hortensia, leaving her crushed and broken in Regent Street. The insurance company held that Hortensia was worth $98 as scrap and offered O'Grady $490, the market value of a 1939 car. O'Grady refused. He spent $708 to have Hortensia resuscitated and another $560 in car rentals. Then he went to court about it.
British law confirmed that a man is entitled to love his automobile and to remain faithful to her forever. O'Grady collected. Setting bowler squarely on head he seated himself behind Hortensia's wheel, reminiscing that he had paid $1,330 for her, that he had just turned down almost that much for her, that she has hit 84 miles an hour and that she "still goes like a bomb." She was, he said, one of only 100 MG TB models ever turned out.
"I love her," he said, and tooled happily away. Hortensia purred and winked her taillight.
THE GOURMET FORAGER
Pickled sunfish that rival the best Bismarck herring, sugar from milkweed, beer from birch sap, pigweed pancakes, boiled day-lily buds—these are unusual fare, but you might find some of the ingredients in the vacant lot next door. How to find and prepare them is the subject of a superb new book, Stalking the Wild Asparagus (McKay, $4.95), cooked up by a onetime cowboy, beachcomber and newspaperman turned schoolteacher. Since Euell Gibbons was a boy in Texas, he has been foraging for food in the wild. The summation of his experience will fascinate anyone who loves both the outdoors and good food.
Good wild food is everywhere, says Gibbons. Around a pond outside Philadelphia he noted 18 different edible plants. In a vacant lot in Chicago he found 15. The common cattail is, to Gibbons, the "supermarket of the swamps." Its green bloom spikes of May and June make a fine cooked vegetable. The bright yellow pollen is a good sifted flour. In winter the central core of the rootstocks provides a white flour for use in breadstuffs or as a food starch. The dormant sprouts on the leading ends of the rootstocks can be used as salad or cooked vegetable.
To cap their foraging, Gibbons and his wife throw "wild parties." One fall menu starts with wild grape juice and wild mushroom soup, followed by a main course of fried sunfish fillets, baked arrowhead tubers and wild apples done in butter and brown sugar. Salad is wild Jerusalem artichoke tubers and ripe ground cherries. Dessert: persimmon-hickory nut chiffon pie, topped off with chicory coffee.
There are illustrations to guide you in your search for pokeweed (Hoosiers fry it), mustard greens, or spring beauties (their tubers may be cooked as one would cook potatoes). And there are recipes for sage wine, raccoon pie and acorn bread. Of course, there are some plants of which the novice forager should be wary. Chief of these are mushrooms. These fungi require some study, Gibbons cautions, as the uninstructed amateur is "likely to poison himself." Our advice to beginners: start with raccoon pie and cattail salad. They never hurt anybody.
THE INSIDE TRACK
•At the Chicago Black Hawk opener of the hockey season in Chicago attendance was announced as 11,774, though all seats were filled and there was an SRO crowd in the aisles. Capacity: 16,666. Suspicion: The Hawks may be trying to build a "poor attendance" record against the day when players will be demanding bonuses and raises.
•Frank McGuire, who left a $35,000 contract when the NBA Warriors went from Philadelphia to San Francisco, has visited the East Carolina College campus several times, may yet be taken on as basketball coach.
WHO'S TOUGH WHERE?
Addressing U.S. attorneys at the White House the other day, President Kennedy reported on the success of the administration's drive against organized crime, which draws much of its basic revenue from illegal gambling. We had reported on this, too, in our September 3 issue (The Bookies Close Up Shop) and the President apparently was drawing on that article when he told the attorneys:
"One Las Vegas gambler is supposed to have said he hoped we'd be as tough on Berlin as we've been on Las Vegas. Well, we intend to be."
What the gambler, an embittered fellow, actually said was:
"They lost in Laos, they lost in Cuba, they lost in East Berlin, but they sure are giving the gamblers a beating."
Although the President is guilty of misquotation, we would like to believe that his statement—and not the gambler's—reflects our international position.
ON STAYING AMATEUR
Recently it was reported that Philip Morris (Australia) Ltd., had offered Aussie tennis champs Rod Laver and Roy Emerson public relations jobs at about $10,000 a year, contingent on their remaining amateur. The reports were accurate but incomplete. They failed to mention that the offers did not originate in Melbourne but in the New York offices of Joseph Cullman, the American president of the American parent company.
Joe Cullman is a longtime tennis buff as well as a shrewd cigarette salesman. Besides wishing to please his Australian customers, he believes that his deal, if accepted, would be good for tennis as a whole. Too many top amateurs, in Cullman's opinion, have turned pro. In case open tennis comes (an eventuality Cullman favors), the presence of Laver and Emerson as amateurs would provide a wholesome balance in tournaments.
Thinking big, i.e., globally, all this could be true. Thinking small, i.e., nationally, it is a bit painful to see U.S. Davis Cup prospects go up in our own smoke.
A FACULTY FOR MISCHIEF
Since prep football rivalries are seldom limited to football alone, imaginative competition in bonfire-burning, statue-redecorating and parade-sabotaging flourishes each fall. It was with confirmed hatred, then, rather than surprise, that students at Eau Claire (Mich.) High School discovered the name of next week's opponent burned into their football field. A policeman who had given unsuccessful chase was unable to identify the perpetrators, but a student was more observant. He fingered four Eau Claire faculty members, including the principal. Pleading an attempt to fire up their team for the big game, the four confessed. Eau Claire lost the game 66-6, and the student council president is pondering disciplinary action.
THEY SAID IT
•Darrell Royal, Texas coach, asked what he used to think about before the Texas game when he was an All-America quarterback at Oklahoma: "Self-preservation."
•Barbara Romack, after playing a round of golf with Jack Nicklaus: '"My tee shots felt like I was hitting overripe tomatoes."
•Tallulah Bankhead, incurable Giant fan: "There have been only two geniuses in the world—Willie Mays and Willie Shakespeare. But, dahling, I think you'd better put Shakespeare first."
•Steve Stonebreaker, Minnesota Viking receiver, on long pass he caught in game with Chicago Bears: "It looked as if I was completely uncovered. That wasn't so. George Halas [Bear coach and owner] followed me all the way down the sidelines."