SWINGING AN AX
The ridiculous and recurring conflict between the Department of Agriculture, which administers the Forest Service, and the Department of the Interior, which governs the national parks, never has been more evident than in the dispute over Mineral King Valley in the Sierra Nevada. By historical quirk the valley, one of the most beautiful in the West, is not in the Sequoia National Park, which borders it on three sides, but in the Sequoia National Forest. The Department of Agriculture sought to convert Mineral King into a $35-million year-round resort, which would be constructed by Walt Disney Productions, and to build an eight-mile access road through the national park. For the past year an argument has raged over the advisability of such a plan.
The dispute was never one of simple black and white. On the positive side, the resort would offer an outlet for Californians seeking wholesome recreation—skiers would have access to superb slopes, and summer visitors would be able to hike, pack trip or ride the lifts to see the views. And the Department of Agriculture would receive half a million dollars in revenue each year from the Disney company.
On the debit side, another sliver of American wilderness would disappear, and part of a national park would be paved over. Those opposed feared the project would be scaled too large for the valley and would introduce, for instance, air- and water-pollution problems.
Last week, upon getting absolute assurance from Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman that the Disney resort "will be a model project that will be copied, not criticized," Interior Secretary Stewart Udall decided to go along. A Forest Service official says strict controls will make certain that the resort "very definitely will not have a honky-tonk atmosphere."
There is no reason why Americans cannot use the resources of their land, but continual tugs-of-war on such issues settle nothing. What the country needs, as we have said before (SI, Dec. 11), is a National Council of Ecological Advisers, a reasonable, concerned group of men who can study a proposition and make wise—and authoritative—recommendations.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY
We received word the other day that Private John Wooden Legs of Lame Deer, Mont, had posted the highest score ever recorded in basic training combat-proficiency tests in Company E, 4th Battalion, 3rd Brigade at Fort Lewis, Wash. He ran the mile in 5:34 in full combat uniform and boots. The letter noted that running was nothing new to the Wooden Legs family, who are Northern Cheyenne Indians. Great-grandfather Richard Wooden Legs, the first to bear the name, was given it because he could walk great distances. He also apparently could fight, being on the winning side in the Battle of Little Bighorn against General Custer. Just coincidentally, Lieut. Colonel George Armstrong Custer, a great-grand-nephew of the General Custer, commands a battalion at Fort Lewis. Private Wooden Legs has never met him.
When Australia overwhelmed Spain last week 4-1 in the Davis Cup Challenge Round in Brisbane, there were so few people in the grandstands it looked like a tea party in the outback. The best single-day attendance was 6,500. Tennis officials recalled the days back in the '50s when the cup would draw 25,000 people on an afternoon, but they now would have a hard time giving away that many seats. Like everyone else, the Australian tennis fan has become disenchanted. A representative of a sporting goods company said, "Our tennis sales are off 40%. When people aren't interested enough in a sport to go out and watch it they don't play it either. We need open tennis badly, including open Davis Cup play."
Australia votes next month on whether or not to allow its amateurs to play in an open Wimbledon. New South Wales, one of the six states within the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia, has already voted yes. If three other states do so, Wimbledon wins.
Vehemently opposed to any change is the 300-pound president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia, Charles Edwards. Edwards has proved to be a formidable barrier, and not just because of his size. "What we need over here," he says, "are the Yanks. They will fill the stands for us just like they did in 1958. People know it will be a real good fight when the Yanks are playing, so they turn out to watch. They're bored with easy matches, like Spain. Why should Wimbledon introduce open tennis when their tournament is an automatic sellout? The only time to change is when you're in trouble."
Well, Mr. Edwards, we Yanks are in trouble. And it sounds to us like you are, too.
ON THE BEACH
There is a man in Miami who has a jug filled with 300 sets of false teeth, the majority of which have been found along the shore at Miami Beach in the past year and a half. Matthew Comito, an instructor in dental technology, adds around two dozen sets of teeth to his collection each month. On a holiday weekend, he says, as many as five or six dentures are washed ashore. He believes some are lost overboard by members of fishing parties; others are jarred loose from swimmers' mouths by waves. Most of Comito's dentures probably were lost in the Keys and carried north by the surf. Ones lost off Miami, he says, should turn up in Fort Lauderdale or West Palm Beach. Although Comito would like to return the false teeth to their owners and has even gone so far as to hold a public showing of them, he has never been able to match man and molar. He suggests that people investing in dentures have their names or perhaps their social security numbers engraved on the plates.
On a recent Sunday morning in a Milwaukee hotel room Bart Starr, Carroll Dale and various other Green Bay Packers gathered for church services with a new NFL personality, Dr. Ira Eshleman, a retired minister who calls himself the sports world's chaplain. Dr. Eshleman, who prefers the name "Doc," has been traveling the pro-football circuit all year. He decided on this self-appointed mission, he says, because "often visiting teams cannot get to church on the day of a game. I knew players like Don Shinnick and Raymond Berry of the Colts, Buddy Dial of the Cowboys and Bill Glass of the Browns had organized such chapel services for their teams. But I also, knew that coaches worked hard to get their men in the right frame of mind for a game, and I wasn't sure they would let me speak to them just before they played." But the coaches do.
Doc has been accepted by people like Green Bay's Vince Lombardi and Detroit's Joe Schmidt. Schmidt, in fact, asked him to lead prayers of thanks in the Lion locker room after the team beat the Giants last month. Everyone knelt down and, the minister says, "when I had finished, I got a most unusual tribute—all the players applauded."
He conducts his services wearing a red Bombay blazer and white turtleneck. "I think it helps me to communicate with the players," he says. So far he has handed out more than 200 Bibles to those players and coaches who have asked for them. He receives no pay for his ministry and will have spent $5,000 on travel and Bibles by the end of the season.
So popular is Doc that he cannot fill all the requests for his services. When the Packers first asked him to speak to them before the playoff game in Milwaukee he had to tell them that he would accommodate them, but only if the Colts, to whom he had pledged himself on the same day, were not their foes. Maybe the Colts should have sought Doc's help the previous week, when they played Los Angeles.
FOLLOWING THE LINE
The Loyola of Chicago-Colorado State basketball game received heavy play with bookmakers across the country. One widely circulated tout sheet featured the game as its Wednesday Night Special, and another, which sells each week for $2, advised that Loyola "should be able to take this one on speed and shooting alone."
On Thursday newspapers and wire services were flooded with telephone calls from bettors trying to find the results. There were no results. The game was called off months ago and rescheduled for Jan. 6. Any bets?
SET FOR A KILLING
Arlington Park, the Midwest's leading Thoroughbred track, has made a bid to hold half of its 1968 programs at night. Five weeks ago the track requested the change in programming, but the petition to the Illinois Racing Board was made surreptitiously, Arlington apparently hoping the board would approve its plan before opposition—primarily from harness-racing interests—could be mobilized. The board, which is traditionally compliant in dealing with the track's requests, was expected to hand down a favorable decision.
However, 24 hours before the board was to decide on the matter the Arlington proposal was leaked to the Chicago Sun-Times, presumably so that the decision would not appear to be a behind-the-scenes deal. Opposition to the plan was immediate and so intense that the chairman of the Illinois Racing Board suggested it go into executive session to examine the matter and, quite possibly, to approve it. Attorneys for anti-Arlington groups declared secret sessions were against the state law; so the board retreated, and it will hold public hearings on the matter this Saturday.
The group that will suffer most if night Thoroughbred racing is approved will be the local harness tracks, which already race at night and have dates that overlap Arlington's. "We will not be able to compete," one harness official says. "Night Thoroughbred racing will mean less revenue and therefore less purse money at our tracks. It would be the death knell of our business."
Harness racing has built itself into a major sport by catering to night crowds. Now Thoroughbred racetrack owners are eying the market they once scoffed at as nonexistent. William Miller, former chairman of the Illinois Racing Board, declared recently that "night Thoroughbred racing cannot be avoided for long in any state simply because that is the only avenue of survival."
Survival for whom?
SAND OF ANOTHER COLOR
There was a report going around recently that the sand in the bunkers at next week's Crosby Pro-Am would be pastel-toned. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, the sponsor of the telecast of the tournament, makes a pastel sand, and the company suggested that viewers might like to see more colorful explosion shots.
Del Monte Properties Co., the owner of the golf courses on which the Crosby is played, agreed to the idea, figuring that 3M would use a color spray on the existing sand. When Del Monte officials learned later that 3M would bring in tons of its own sand and would substitute it for that which is now in the traps, 3M was told to keep its trucks in St. Paul. It seems Del Monte is also in the sand business, and all that fine-grained Monterey stuff that glistens so white on TV is for sale.
In a recent issue of The New York Times these two brief items appeared, the one immediately following the other:
The Chicago Cubs won their last National League pennant in 1945.
DO NOT FORGET THE NEEDIEST
THEY SAID IT
•John McKay, USC coach, asked about the extra work of a bowl game: "Any coach who says it's extra work going to the Rose Bowl ought to get out of coaching and become a fry cook."
•Pepper Rogers, Kansas football coach, claiming that pressure is most intense when it comes without warning: "I was third clarinet in the high school band, and I faked a lot. Then one night I had to sit in the first chair. That's my idea of pressure—trying to do something you're not qualified to do."