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Original Issue


Your article, Hot Team in the Old Town (April 29), was excellent—except for one point. Philadelphia does not like a loser. Just look at professional football. The Eagles have averaged almost 60,000 fans per game during the past four years. If that isn't supporting a winner, what is?

Give the Philadelphia baseball fan a chance to get used to the resurgent Phils and you will see Connie Mack Stadium packed to the center-field scoreboard, where, by the way, there are no seats.

Your superb article on Art Mahaffey and the Phillies was heartening to me as a long-suffering Phillie fan, whose masochistic martyrdom is often misunderstood by the general public.
Cambridge, Mass.

I think that if William Leggett wanted to write about a surprise team he should have written about the Kansas City Athletics. As long as I can remember your magazine has seemed to consider the Athletics as some kind of bad joke. This year, after dropping two games to the Yankees, the A's have won 15 out of 21 and are in first place. This is a much better record than the sixth-place Phillies' 10-11 record. A picture of Norm Siebern smashing a home run in his nice new green-and-gold uniform would sell more copies than Art Mahaffey in his old, dull red-and-white uniform. So wise up for your own sake. The A's are the team to watch this year.
Frazeysburg, Ohio

For shame, Alice Higgins, for shame. By guzzling your way down the Current River (Not So Gently down the Stream, April 29), you have set canoeing back 50 years. A plague also upon your St. Louis friends. How many dead soldiers did you cast into or along the Current to enhance the other beauties of the stream?

Understand, Alice, I am not a member of the WCTU, and I help support a couple of St. Louis breweries, but not on canoe trips. It doesn't matter to me how much you imbibed. The fact you made such frequent mention of it is what irks me. Someday I will invite you on my canoe club's Labor Day trip on the Current when we will clean up the river from Cedargrove to Round Spring, mostly of beer cans.
Kansas City, Kans.

•The Labor Day cleanup party will find no trace of Alice Higgins' trip. Not only is Miss Higgins a native-born St. Louisan, she is also a firm believer in the natural beauty of the Current. Part of the essential equipment in her canoe was an army entrenching tool—which served to bury all beer cans.—ED.

Congratulations to Alice Higgins for her story on the Current River float trip. She has captured truly the qualities of the river and of the bona fide "floater," who, while a race apart from such earnest types as the camper, the canoeist, the fisherman and the water-borne bird watcher/botanist, combines something of each of these with what most of us like to consider a healthy attitude toward creature comforts.
St. Louis

This note is to say thanks for your coverage of the charges made concerning my father, Wally Butts, and Bear Bryant (A Debatable Football Scandal, March 25, et seq.).

As a journalism major and former reporter myself, I say thank God for writers who believe in questioning what they read. A good healthy make-them-prove-it attitude speaks so much better for our American idea of freedom of the press than a where-there's-smoke-there's-fire one does.

My father has many faults, as does Mr. Bryant and all the rest of us. But his faults do not include disloyalty to Georgia. If I thought you had time for a book full of information proving my point, I could write it. I expect there are a million Georgians who could add chapters on the things he has done for the state and people of Georgia.
State College, Miss.

I would like to comfort the mad Angelenos in this their hour of grief, now that their Basketball Capital of the World has fallen (Up to Their Old Tricks, May 6). I am certain that they will be less than pleased with second-best, but this is in keeping with the Los Angeles tradition, and they can always wait till next year to launch their two-man "dynasty"—you should pardon the expression. I wish I had the names and addresses of some of those savages from way out West who wrote in September of all the dreadful things that were going to befall the Celtics when the playoffs arrived. We farmers from Boston would like to write to them, urging them to even greater heights and reminding them that next year Cooz will be gone, the old men will be older, and all that dynasty talk can begin anew.

I will admit that entrants for McDonald's Hamburgers and the Peace Corps did add color to the Boston Marathon this year and were undoubtedly worthy of mention (Everybody Runs to Boston, April 29). After all, Author Walter Bingham was trying to write a colorful article. And he did succeed.

Nevertheless, we in Seattle are disappointed that Bingham did not mention the performance of Jesse Earl Eblen in his article. Eblen, 27, representing the Seattle Olympic Club, was sixth in the field of 245 men and was the second American to finish. His performance might well place him on the American Olympic team for 1964. In fact, the Seattle Olympic Club boasts of a trio of fine distance men—Eblen, Earl Ellis and Doug Rustad. Each of them has beaten the other two in different Pacific Northwest AAU meets this year, at distances varying from 10 miles to 25 kilos (15.5 miles).

The yacht club designed by Architect Bill Ficker (An Ideal Yacht Club, April 22) may be a "dream club" to him but to a hotel operator it seems more like a nightmare. You state that kitchens, storerooms and rest rooms are on the first level, while dining rooms, ballroom and bar are on the second level. Anyone familiar with the mechanics of restaurant and beverage operations knows that this violates all modern concepts—making for delays in service, difficulty in providing hot food and numerous other inconveniences. What comes up must go down—so glassware, dishes, soiled linen and what have you follow the reverse route to the kitchen area. This is doing things the hard way.

While Mr. Ficker's club has much to recommend it artistically, it is no more practical than a yacht with engines installed on the main deck, while the wheelhouse is located below.

However, all is not lost—with a little professional help one might eliminate the bugs and make your ideal a real nice club.

As an ex-commodore, I was instantly arrested by your article on Ficker's ideal yacht club. What a challenge, I thought as I first read it! Right from the pages of America's most authoritative magazine on sport. It must be the answer to every commodore's aspirations. Then I reread it. Opening a can of beer (which is both food and drink to all commodores, present and ex), I began to look out across the docks and anchorage that had been my charge for five years. How would it be to be commodore of a club such as Bill Ficker so vividly described? The more I thought and compared it with the modest place we call a yacht club, the more I wondered. Alas, doubts began to mount. Opening another can of beer, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Ficker had never been a commodore. I will not challenge his ability as an architect or as a sailor, for these are facts of record. However, to assume that he was qualified to design a yacht club without having served as a commodore was a mistake. And it is obvious he never was a commodore or he would know there is no such thing as an "ideal yacht club." There never has been. There never will be. All yachtsmen hope that beyond the pearly gates there will be a place for them to gather over their ambrosia to relive America's Cup races, long hauls to Bermuda, cruises to Block and Down East to Maine. But it won't be "an ideal yacht club"! The ambrosia won't be cold enough. Somebody will have tied up their wings in somebody else's slip. The angels will have laid out a lousy course. Lord Dunraven will be tied up to Commodore Iselin's mooring. The celestial launch service stopped too early. If the club were ideal, nobody would enjoy it.

There may be some that say I am critical of Mr. Ficker's Taj Mahal of a yacht club because of the tab—$500,000. Nonsense—$500,000, $400,000, $100,000, what's the difference? Obviously Mr. Ficker has never tried to get $56.89 to have the head on the committee boat replaced. Mr. Ficker talks about integration in his club, but integration is just what a yacht club doesn't need. "Where's Dad?" the boy asks. Someone answers that he took the station wagon down to the boatyard. A likely story. Dad is in the bar. He has had two Bloody Marys. He is going to have a third because he has lost twice rolling for the drinks. Furthermore, it is none of the kid's business. If he were my brat he would be out in the Lightning, pumping it out, getting the sails on and putting the spinnaker in stops. A fig for Mr. Ficker and his integrated club! "You can see everything that is going on." Is that good? How about the guy that wants to take that blonde divorcée out to his yawl to show what he makes in the "itty bitty kitchens you have on yachts"? Mr. Ficker, you have got to think of these things.

I don't want to seem hypercritical, but I didn't see any arrangements in Mr. Ficker's plans for the following: a swimming pool, tennis courts, a badminton layout, a basketball court, a skeet range, paddle tennis courts, a bowling alley, a billiard room, a place to pitch horseshoes, a solarium, a nursery. Doesn't Mr. Ficker know that as soon as people join a yacht club the first thing they say is, "Tennis, anyone?" What kind of a yacht club has he got, anyway?

For obvious reasons, I hope you will see fit to withhold my name from this communication.
Long Island Sound