POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
Bil Gilbert's article on the Masters, The Other Side of Paradise (April 5), would have been more correctly titled The Other Side of Truth. I have attended the Masters for five years and have had the opportunity to observe every area that Mr. Gilbert chose to dissect. I came away from the article with some very negative feelings about your magazine's and Mr. Gilbert's journalistic intent. Obviously, any human endeavor can be picked apart and scrutinized to the point where it is made to look foolish. Perhaps a comparable story should be done on Bil Gilbert, with conclusions about the man based on an analysis of the holes in his socks, his moles, dandruff and the dirt under his fingernails.
W. H. ANDERSON
Once again the Augusta National, the Masters tournament, the gallery and the officials have received undue criticism from a "gentleman" such as Bil Gilbert. What is so wrong with the traditions Southern or otherwise—that are followed at the Augusta National and at the Masters? I admire the Augusta National for preserving its traditions in an era in which traditions are quickly forgotten because they take up too much time. Also, I would like to offer my congratulations to Clifford Roberts on his direction of the Masters. Of all the tournaments that I have attended, I have always found the Masters to be very well-organized and very enjoyable.
Edgefield, S C.
Here's a tip for Cliff Roberts. Save one of your 135 Pinkertons for Bil Gilbert. If a reporter or a "crazy" doesn't get him, one of today's "average dirty, dopey, degenerate kids" might sneak in and succeed. But cheer up! If that happens, at least we wouldn't be losing much of a writer, would we?
DAVID J. VAN LENTEN
Bil Gilbert's article on the Augusta scene has provided us with the real reason for Lee Trevino's refusal to play in the Masters: he clearly could not concentrate on golf at a club where "there is a suggestion that the place was built to conform to a rich, white, Anglo-Saxon. Protestant concept of what Heaven would look like if God only had enough cheap labor." Old Cliff's 19th-century outlook should offend more of the PGA players and officials. Hurray for Lee Trevino!
Bil Gilbert has done a great service to expose a true farce. Let's face it, the Masters is no better and no worse than any of the other tournaments—except for the pomp. Let's look at the Masters for what it is. An exhibition in uptight snobbery by the Establishment of golf.
May I also add that the issue of April 5 was one of the best from a literary standpoint that I have ever received.
JUDD CRYSMORE II
Kew Gardens, N.Y.
Regarding Vo Requiem for a Heavyweight (April 5) by George Plimpton, Muhammad Ali looms larger in defeat than he ever did in victory. The interview with the two white high school students was beautiful.
Ali almost seems too nice, too decent, too intelligent to ever beat a brawler like Joe Frazier. I never before thought so, but perhaps he fits Leo Durocher's description: "Nice guys finish last."
PAUL F. CASE
George Plimpton has participated in and written about many pro sporting events, but his feature story No Requiem for a Heavyweight has to be one of his greatest achievements. SI's readers owe thanks to Mr. Plimpton for giving us a ringside view of the light, the locker room, the hospital and, most of all, of Muhammad Ali's home.
Will it ever cease? Another story on Muhammad Ali! The light has been over for weeks. Do you really believe your readers are that much interested in him?
ROBERT P. RUSSELL
I suggest a series of 19 articles, each exploring a new facet of the man. Things like Muhammad Ali goes to Disneyland, Muhammad Ali Meets Toots Shor, Muhammad Mows the Lawn and Muhammad Ali on Ecology. I'm sure you can think of others, if they're not already on the agenda.
I think that it is about time the public realized just what kind of man Ali is. His being different or holding a different viewpoint just docs not justify the enormous volume of abuse and ridicule that has been heaped upon him. And yet Ali has accepted this unjust treatment with dignity. I would advise the critics of this man to observe how he has reacted in defeat. I do not recollect Muhammad Ali ever insulting or attacking his opponents after the light has ended. On the contrary, he has often praised his defeated opponents.
It seems that we never learn. We are justly ashamed of the treatment meted out to Jack Johnson in his day, and yet we go about doing the same shameful thing to Muhammad Ali. And what really bothers me is that the date is 1971, not 1915.
JACK PETRILLI JR.
Never in my life did I think I would seethe day when the American Croquet League would be castigated in such a cavalier manner as it was in that piece of yellow journalism entitled Right Out of Their League (April 5). Why is it that in any decent American professional league the black sheep and malcontents get all the publicity? Alfred von Helsing was never more than a second-rate third offensive mallet and was lucky to even make his team for three years, let alone be given any credence as a writer. Let me clear up a few things just to set the record straight:
As coach and general manager of the Grosse Pointe Cadillacs, I was in charge of hosting the Oyster Bay Titans on Earth Day of last year, the day Von Helsing claims he was gassed. It is our expressed policy as ecology-minded people (the team was interested in ecology even before it became a national issue I to share our playing held with our little brothers the insects whenever possible. Our ground crew is trained in the use of insect tranquilizers, and prior to home games the insects are put to sleep and vacuumed up, lest they be struck by a 15.75-ounce maple ball. The insects are then returned to the held after the game is completed.
Our head groundkeeper, who witnessed the incident in question, stated that, without a doubt, a somewhat drunken and crazed Von Helsing attacked one of the sprayers, whose only defense was to tranquilize him. Further, our team physician reported that an analysis of Von Helsing's blood revealed he had recently ingested large amounts of Geritol and dextrose! To thine own self be true, Von Helsing!
As to what goes on in the Titans' locker room, I cannot say. I only know that my coaching staff and I treat our team members as they should be treated—like little gentlemen, regardless of creed, color or school.
GROVER (DUTCH) WEMBLY
I hanks for the frightfully funny parody of the works of Messrs. Bouton, Flood and that bearded Syracuse lineman whose name I don't remember and couldn't pronounce if I did.
ROBERT W. WOOD JR.
•It's Dove Meggyesy, pronounced Meg'-uh-see.—ED.
ON THE BEAM
Great job! Your article on girls' gymnastics (Don't Tell the Girls How Pretty They Are, March 29) was a long time in coming but worth the waiting. It was great to see you do an in-depth review of this technical sport as opposed to superficial exposures of the past. A fine personality report on Coach Vogel and his girls.
Congratulations for a line article on gymnastics Coach Herb Vogel and some brilliant photographs of America's finest girl gymnasts. Vogel seems to be a combination father, drill sergeant, teacher and friend. But his methods must wink because the girls are improving. By the way, the girls are very pretty.
Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan
NO HOME ON THE RANGE (CONT.)
It was with great interest that I read Jack Olsen's series of articles on predator control by Government trappers and sheepmen (The Poisoning of the West, March 8 et seq.). While agreeing that no species of wildlife should be eradicated, including coyotes, mountain lions or any other predators, I disagree in that I feel that some measure of control is necessary in the man-made environment in which we now exist. The reasoning behind this is that if predators, meaning primarily coyotes, are allowed to run unchecked, they not only depredate sheep herds but also deplete game herds. In our own immediate area (southern Wyoming) one can find many oldtimers who can recall when the sight of a deer was not common, as it is today, and the antelope population was depleted in contrast to the numbers of today. Now, through proper control, these game populations are up, thanks in no small part to the two villains of Mr. Olsen's article—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the sheepmen.
The reason for the tardiness of this letter is that I was very interested in the response you received (19TH HOLE, March 22 et seq.), particularly the fact that the majority of the pro letters you printed were from Eastern or West Coast people, while the letters in favor of control came primarily from areas where the depredations of coyotes are to be found. In line with these facts, it should be pointed out that both the wildlife and the sheep industry are very important economically to the areas in which coyote control is taking place. It should also be pointed out that, despite man's efforts, Mr. Coyote is in no danger of eradication and probably never will be because of his very nature, that of easy adaptability to the situation at hand. Because man is constantly upsetting the balance of nature, however, man himself must also control the balance of nature to insure the survival of all species. Under this must necessarily come predator control.
Jack Olsen's unwarranted criticism of the Wildlife Services' predator control program can only have an effect quite opposite to the one obviously intended. If misguided conservationists are successful in abolishing the federal program, livestock losses in the Western states will certainly increase to an intolerable level. Deprived of professional assistance, irate stockmen will be forced into a do-it-yourself poisoning program, the ultimate effect of which could be disastrous to our valuable wildlife.
I have represented my local government in its contract with the Division of Wildlife Services for necessary predator control services in Modoc County, Calif. and am quite familiar with the actual operation of the program. Predator control is earned on only in those areas where livestock losses actually occur and only upon request of the concerned stockman. Coyotes and other predators are left completely unmolested over a large portion of the county where they do no damage. Our local trappers are not Ph.D.'s, but they are knowledgeable, experienced and conscientious, and they have a deep regard for and probably a much better practical comprehension of nature than most academicians and self-styled ecologists. Operations are highly selective, and the area is most certainly not being polluted with deadly poisons.
I am not familiar with comparable operations in the other states mentioned, but I doubt that they differ radically from those in my own county.
Your frightening series, The Poisoning of the West, arouses a great deal of concern about the practices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The short rebuttal by hick Berryman, chief of the Government's Wildlife Services, is consistent with the typical Government attitude that intelligent criticism can be swept aside by denial that any problem exists. We deserve an answer to the very specific questions and accusations that Jack Olsen has raised.
JOHN W. BRANTIGAN, M.D.
Congratulations on your excellent series of articles by Jack Olsen. It was a good, open examination in rather prodigious detail of a challenging problem of great concern to everyone everywhere.
The most alarming aspect is our increasing and thorough chemical pollution of our environment from the city and industrial areas to rural predator and pest control programs to cottage settlements. Nature is on the losing side of the advancement of our civilization. It is our loss, too.
Jack Olsen's Poisoning of the West brought in some interesting letters. I noticed one slight defect in the note from Paul Limbach of Silt, Colo. (19TH HOLE, March 29) regarding who pays for the poisoning. He is correct that a 40-mill predatory animal tax is collected by man) Western counties, but, to the best of my knowledge, it is assessed only against the actual owners of sheep or goats. The rest of us get to pay our share of the bill through the federal income tax.
ALFRED G. ETTER
Thanks to Jack Olsen and SI for trying to help correct our country's greatest fault—our wastefulness.
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