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The stakes in Vietnam were apparently higher than anyone could have imagined—the stakes, that is, in the midmorning poker games of some wives of prominent South Vietnamese officials. Last week when Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Nguyen Huu Co was ousted from the ruling military junta on charges of corruption, the wheeling and dealing of his pretty, young wife was cited as a substantial cause. A free-spending sport, she had been winning and losing huge sums of money playing poker or a Vietnamese variety of five-card stud called phe. It was not unusual for a single pot in the housewives' game to be one million plasters ($8,400). At the recent trial of the treasurer of Dalat Province, it was revealed that the official had lost $70,000 at poker to Madame Co and her friends and had lifted the money from the treasury to square his debts.

For years now the Swedes have not paid a great deal of attention to royal form, but Princess Birgitta changed all that last week. Plastered on the walls of Stockholm subway stations were eye-catching life-size posters (below) showing the six-foot princess, a mother of three and a former gymnastics teacher, busy with her daily calisthenics. "Keeping fit with Birgitta" was the caption. The posters were advertisements for a 10-part series on fitness that the Princess is sponsoring in a women's weekly. Enthused by the opportunity to keep her countrymen on their toes, Birgitta has also agreed to make a record to exercise by, providing her own hup, two, three, four. Hup!

The report was that an advertising agency for a New York cosmetics firm offered Joe Namath "a bundle of money" to shave off his goatee with its lather, but Namath, who is recuperating in Florida from his knee operation, declared the offer—received through his lawyers, Bite, Bite and Bite of Birmingham—was "a piddling amount. I didn't feel like going all the way back to New York to do the commercial for what they offered." All hope for the deal went down the drain last Friday when Jet Set Joe shaved unobserved. "I grew the goatee because I saw the ma√Ætre d' at Jilly's South in Miami Beach with a really great one," Joe said. "But I guess I'm the only one who liked it. Sonny Werblin was about to have a nervous breakdown over it. Abraham Lincoln had a beard, and nobody got after him for it." Not even an ad agency.

Just about the time that CBS bought the Yankees, it sold Columbia Island, a deserted transmitting station in Long Island Sound, to Actor-Singer Peter Lind Hayes, together with a 38-foot boat to ferry his visitors back and forth to the mainland. But not long afterward the boat, like the Yankees, began settling to the bottom. After two years, Hayes has come up with a remedy for his sinking ship, a newly developed plastic paint called Sav/Cote. Is there something called Sav/Teem?

The topic of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's TV sermon last week was false compassion, and in it he denounced "soft judges" and social workers who go too easy on murderers, robbers and dope addicts. False compassion, he declared, was a product of the times. Then he went on to list other evils. Alcohol, he said, was the great evil of the past and dope the greatest evil at present. "And do you know what I suspect will be the next evil to take over our society?" he asked his audience. There was an uneasy hush. "Bullfighting!" said the bishop.

While attending a harness horsemen's banquet in Boston recently, Minnesota Twins Manager Sam Mele was summoned onto the stage, given kilts and a bagpipe and asked to perform for the 800 dinner guests. He rolled up his pants, wrapped himself in tartan and piped a piece (right). "It was my first experience with either the bagpipes or kilts," Mele explained later. "Actually I'm not very musically inclined." It did not matter. Backstage a phonograph played an appropriate tune, and Mele was simply lovely in a kilt.

Cathy Douglas, the 23-year-old wife of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, showed Washington society the other night that she was no babe in the woods. While attending a White House dinner, she was explaining to Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall that she preferred wilderness areas to national parks. She was interrupted by Actress Joan Crawford, who was sitting four seats away at the dinner table. Said Miss Crawford acidly, "Now that you've come up in the world you can afford to like the wilderness." Unawed, if not un-clawed, Cathy Douglas replied, "There's nothing that costs less than taking a sleeping bag into the woods for a vacation."

In at least one way the British found out last week that Prime Minister Harold Wilson is not enjoying his taste of power. Twice a year, since the days of Charles I, the king's ministers and a few other important officeholders have been offered a quarter of a stag shot in the royal park of Richmond in the center of London. The price, £1, is a paltry sum for a princely meal. Two weeks ago the head gamekeeper at the park put on his deerstalker's hat and set off with his rifle to fill this winter's orders for venison. One came from the Bishop of London, another from the Lord Mayor, and there were six from members of the Cabinet. But the Prime Minister declined his share.