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United with fellow Americans in the friendly skies last week, President Nixon still had a good word for the Washington Redskins, who ran out of gas—and the playoffs—a few days earlier in Minnesota. "Wasn't it too bad about the Redskins?" he asked the son of a team official during his surprise tour of tourist class. "For a while I thought they were going to pull it out," said the young man. "Well," said the President, finding a silver lining above the clouds, "I thought it was the best of the playoffs."

Just before Christmas the Toronto Maple Leafs hung up their hockey sticks and headed for a rendezvous with Conductor Victor Feldbrill and a performance of Haydn's Toy Symphony. Jim McKenny played wooden sticks, Paul Henderson tooted the toy trumpet, Coach Red Kelly blew the whistle, of course, Dave Keon was on triangle, Denis Dupere on wood blocks and Eddie (The Entertainer) Shack on the maracas, whatever they are. "What are you playing?" a woman asked him. "The meringues," he replied, but there was no flying lemon pie in sight. The Leafs were a small smash.

Adolph Rupp, 72-year-old former Kentucky basketball coach, on a trip to Orlando, Fla. made an unscheduled visit to the hospital when a perforated ulcer struck him down. "He hasn't slowed up since he retired," said his wife. Grumbled Rupp from his hospital bed, "I didn't have time for ulcers when I was coaching."

"I can't stop," wailed Mrs. Helen O'Donnell of Birmingham, England, referring to her nightly sessions in bingo parlors. One four-month orgy cost her $2,000; a dozen years of constant playing eventually cost her the family home. Mrs. O'D. finally decided to see a psychiatrist. It didn't take. She stopped in at a bingo parlor on the way to her appointment.

During the summer King Olav V of Norway sails, and has been a frequent winner of national and international competitions, but at the first sign of a snowflake he takes to the slopes and tries to leave his weekends free for skiing. He often runs cross-country accompanied only by a one-man police escort who frequently has a hard time keeping up with the tough 70-year-old monarch. Last Easter, when there was not enough snow at his regular winter dwelling in a valley north of Oslo, King Olav had his royal railroad car hitched on to the regular Oslo-Bergen cross-mountain express, then shunted off on a siding at Haugast√∏l, a desolate mountain station. Happily isolated, skiing buff Olav skied the surrounding mountains all day and retired at night to his unpalatial sleeper.

How does one switch from football to ballet? Ask Julius Whittier, former tight end for the University of Texas and star of last year's Cotton Bowl game. He appeared in Austin's Civic Ballet holiday season production of The Nutcracker but had to lose 25 of his 210 pounds—to get his none-too-tight end into the costume.

Is it possible that hockey's Hubert (Pit) Martin of the Chicago Black Hawks has not heard of the current fuel shortage? A pilot who has his own plane, Martin says flying is the ideal way to relax after a couple of tough games. "I get up in the air, turn off the radios, turn on the automatic pilot and I'm at peace with the world." There was nothing about checking the gas gauge, but it's an idea.

Meanwhile Hollywood was doing its own bit in a pinch. Puffing up something called Cinderella Liberty, 20th Century Fox staged the "World's First Energy Crisis Premiere"—without klieg lights but with plenty of alternate transportation. Edy Williams arrived atop an elephant, 13-year-old Kirk Calloway mushed in on a dogsled pulled by huskies, James Caan and date trotted up in a horse and buggy, and assorted luminaries appeared briefly on roller skates, tandem bicycle, golf cart and a camel, but oddly no pumpkin. One other oversight: the gaggle of spectators in Westwood was able to see its favorites mount their gas-savers in an adjoining lot, where they had parked their classy fuel-devouring limousines.

After 15 enthusiastic years as a bass fisherman, country and Western singer Merle Haggard decided he wasn't bringing home his share. So last year he began taking lessons from a professional. "He's an old man, 60-something," Haggard crooned. "He's partly paralyzed now and he's been fishing since he was 13. Just following his instructions I got seven bass in two hours. One important thing I learned: ain't no need to cast more than 30 feet. Any more is an ego trip."

Burning, Pamela Marlborough, one of Britain's few female soccer referees, decided that blue air is no atmosphere for a lady, and is retiring from officiating at schoolboy matches. "I can't stand the swearing anymore," said the 38-year-old mother of four. "It's enough to make a sergeant-major blush." Damn!