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Original Issue


Setting off from Chicago to Washington on a month-long "marathon" run to dramatize the worldwide shortage of food, most spectacularly in drought-stricken regions of Africa, erstwhile Comedian Dick Gregory contended that conditions in the U.S. also deserve attention. "There are shortages here that nobody wants to talk about," he said. "Middle-income people are eating beans and rice now because they can't afford their usual food, and they're forcing the price of beans out of the reach of poor people."

Though this run will be his longest, Gregory is not a novice. He was Missouri high school champion in the mile in 1951, and was the third-fastest small-college half-miler in the country while attending Southern Illinois University, where he captained the track and cross-country teams and was named the school's outstanding athlete of 1953. And how does he feel running 40 miles a day? "It is constant pain." Not making it easier is the fact that he is fasting—taking only liquids—en route. When Gregory talks about hunger, he means it.

Jim Whittaker, the first American on the summit of Everest, (in 1963), runs an outdoors store in Seattle at which climbers often spend an entire afternoon just selecting a new pair of boots. It's not that the store doesn't carry an assortment large enough to fit everyone from Tinker Bell to the Sasquatch. It's more that acquiring a new pair of Bavarian Kletterschuhe has become a competitive sporting event. You see, Whittaker used to have some unusual problems in his shop. Boot buyers liked to test purchases by climbing on windowsills and counters—some even chimneyed up doorframes. This was hard on the sills, counters and doorframes. Before customers started trying out ice axes, crampons and pitons on his walls, Whittaker decided to take steps. He found a spot on the floor of his establishment (a former autoparts warehouse) that could take the stress and installed a rock wall 12 feet high and 30 feet long. "But now, every morning when I come in," says Whittaker, "I find the employees seeking new routes and handholds on the wall instead of tending to business."

Junior Johnson had a busy week. The former stock-car racer, now a successful builder and preparer of racing cars, started it in Daytona, where two of his machines were entered in the Firecracker 400 (page 20). Then it was up to North Carolina to face a federal judge. Eighteen years ago, it seems, Johnson was fined and sent to jail for bootlegging whiskey. Junior, in the good ol' boys tradition, learned his racing skills by keeping ahead of revenooers on bad back roads. Johnson served his time but never paid the $5,000 fine, and he told the judge that he did not have the money to do so now. He maintained that his only income is expense money paid by Junior Johnson & Associates (in which he owns only one share of stock), that his large house and chicken farm in Wilkes County, N.C. are owned by his wife, and that anyway he was told back then that the 30 extra days he spent in jail were in lieu of the fine. The court said it would think the matter over. Johnson said thank you and flew back to Daytona for the race, where two of his cars were hot. Cale Yarborough finished in a dead heat for third in one, and Earl Ross finished 13th in the other.

Wilbur Young, 285-pound defensive end for the Kansas City Chiefs and one of the rising stars of the NFL, has taken up sewing as a hobby. Not only does he make many of his own clothes, he has been asked to tailor for teammates such as Willie Lanier, Buck Buchanan and Nate Allen. Young, who is 6'7" and wears size 50 trousers, had been laying out a cool $40—at least—for his pants, most of which had to be specially ordered. Now he stitches a pair for $4. "I hunt for material all over," says Young, who must be formidable at basement fabric sales. "Just the other day I picked up some double knit for $1.99 a yard. I can make an outfit in a day if I need to finish it in a hurry." He bought a standard home sewing machine but soon outgrew it and now has a commercial machine, which enables him to work faster. "My clothes are conservative," Young says, in a style note. "They aren't 'fly.' I want to make a suit jacket and an overcoat. The only constructive thing I do is sew."

Why is Bobby Goldsboro a Country-and-Western singer and writer instead of, say, a professional football player? Not because he's a peanut or lacks the will, but because he's brittle. "I broke my ankle the first day I went out for track at Auburn University, and in high school I broke my hand the first day of basketball practice," he recalls. "In baseball, I spiked myself—behind my right knee. Eight stitches. I ran into a light pole catching a football. That cost me 13 stitches over an eye. I broke my wrist minibiking in South Dakota." The upshot is that Goldsboro's contract for his new television series specifically prohibits him from such risky activities as skiing, among other things. At a recent show at the Astroworld in Houston he was able to laugh about his latest injury: "I cut my toe on a Rice Krispie that had hardened on the floor overnight." So far Goldsboro has never been maimed during a performance. "I guess it's because I just sit on a stool," he says.