Chapter 11 Golf & Travels Page II of IV
While he was in Tucson to play in the Dean Martin Open a couple of years ago Lee Trevino revealed an interesting thing about his golf game. Before teeing off on the second day of the tournament, he and his caddy went to a practice area where Lee began hitting trap shots to a target. He was within two or three feet on nearly every shot, causing the small crowd of onlookers to express admiring comments to Lee, who kept up a continuing line of chatter.
After listening to the compliments from his private gallery, Lee said, "You know, I just learned how to make the trap shot in December about two months before." When the crowd laughed, he added, "That's the truth. I was a lousy trap player, and I was determined to learn to play the shot properly. Every day in December I hit 1,000 trap shots. Christmas Day was the only one I didn't practice trap shots. Now I have confidence that I can make the shot almost as well as anybody."
All of which proves that champions are made, not born, and that they generally are willing to pay the price to attain perfection. As Ben Hogan once told a pretty good amateur player, "The only difference between your game and mine is 600,000 practice shots."
After Lee hit the balls out of the trap his caddie took his shag bag and began picking up the balls to give them to Lee so he could continue practicing the trap shot. Lee picked up the rake and was smoothing the sand where he was going to drop the balls for more practice. I said to him, "Lee you handle that rake like you did that before and knew what you were doing."
Without looking up Lee replied, "Yeah, I know how to do a lot of things that I will never have to do the rest of my life."
When a group of golfers from the La Jolla Country Club were on a People-to-People golf tour in Europe in 1964 one of the players was John Hill, formerly of Texas and Oklahoma. John and his wife, Helen, together with Rex Ellsworth, owned a horse that ran in and won the Grand Prix race near Paris, just a week before we gathered in Dublin to commence our tour.
When John met us in Dublin he confidentially told me that he was not worried about running out of money while on the trip, since he had brought with him from Paris $25,000 of the prize money, in $500 U.S. bills. He also said that he had a run-in with the manager of the American Express office in Paris, and had destroyed his American Express card and left it on the manager's desk.
About a week later John came to me and said, "Roy, I'm in an embarrassing financial bind. I need your help." Before he could say anything further, I asked him if he spent or lost all of the $25,000 he had shown me a few days before.
"No. I've still got the fifty $500 bills. The trouble is that no one will accept them. They say that they will send them in for collection, but hell, we are moving around so much I'd never get the money," John continued.
He asked me to take him to the American Express office where I could use my card to get a $300 check cashed. As he pointed out, it was a hell of a mess when a guy with $25,000 cash in U.S. money in his wallet has to ask a friend to help him get more money.
A few years later, when on a trip to Russia, one of the men in our party lost his wallet with all his money and a letter of credit for $5,000 from a Dallas bank. Angus Wynne, Jr., and his wife, JoAnne, were sitting right across the aisle from me on the flight from Leningrad to Moscow, and when we arrived at the hotel in Moscow he found that his wallet was missing.
In Russia it was practically impossible to make contact or have communication with an other count . Angus had to wait until we arrived in Berlin to cable his bank and contact the American Express to report his loss. Luckily, our in-tourist guide had collected all of our passports and his was not lost, or he might have had to stay there for a long time trying to establish his identity and nation of origin.
While in Moscow, a couple from Hartford, Bruce and Susie Hayden, and I decided to get a cab and see something of night time life in that great city. All the rest of our party were too timid to leave the hotel, although the in-tourist guides told us we could go almost anywhere we wished (contrary to the printed material sent us by the State Department when we applied for visas to visit Russia).
We were staying at the Ukraine Hotel, which at that time was the best in the city. I went out to the cab line and asked the driver of the first cab if he could speak English. He said, "Ya, ya," which I assumed meant yes. The Haydens got in the back seat, and I sat with the driver.
We drove about a half mile when he pulled over to the curb of one of the broad "prospects," which is what they call their boulevards. I soon found out that he could speak about as much English as we could Russian. It was plain that he was trying to find out where we wanted to go. We said Red Square but that meant nothing, but finally got through to him when we said, "Kremlin," which we knew faced Red Square. He repeated the word Kremlin several times and laughed about our communication with him. He was a friendly fellow, and we soon were communicating with him in a crude fashion.
He drove us to one end of the square and stopped the car. There was practically no traffic or people around. We wanted to walk to the entrance to the Kremlin, which we knew would be closed, and to several other places we had seen from our bus when we drove to our hotel that afternoon.
We got out of the car but suddenly grew afraid he might drive off and leave us there. I took off my light raincoat and placed it in on the front seat, thinking that he would then realize we would be returning shortly. We had heard that no one in Russia steals anything unless it's something big.
We started to walk away and had gone about fifty feet when he whistled to us. We stopped, wondering what we were doing wrong. He jogged up to us and put his arm through mine, indicating he would accompany us on our walk.
We went to the two churches on the end of the square, to the GUM department store which is opposite the Kremlin, facing the square, to the tomb where Lenin rests and other points of interest in the area. He took us to a raised area on the square, which was fenced off and guarded by sentries. They allowed us to enter, and we walked up some stairs to a circular platform made of stone, in the center of which was a large block about three feet high.
Our cab driver-turned-guide indicated by gestures that this was the chopping block for the removal of heads that contained evil thoughts about the rulers of Russia in days long gone.
We returned to our cab and pointed to the new large hotel that we could see a few blocks away. He referred to it as the "roosia" and indicated he would drive us there. Some of the public space in the new Russia Hotel was open, and we learned later that about 200 rooms had been opened also. We parked in front in the parking area, got out of the cab and started to walk away. He stopped us and grabbed my coat, which I was now carrying over my arm, and suggested I put it on the front seat as I had before. Then he let out a hearty laugh, and I knew he was ribbing us about our previous fears that he might desert us. We joined him in enjoying his humor.
When we came out of the hotel, Susie had walked ahead. When Bruce and I reached the parking lot, the cab was not where he had left it -- nor was Susie. We became a little apprehensive, but soon he flashed his lights. We found Susie in the cab where she explained that when she came out he had hurried her to the car and moved it to play a joke on us.
We found this guy to be a very friendly man, who had served in the Russian army, had been captured by the Germans, and had spent time at one of the infamous prisons. He showed us his number tattooed on his forearm.
We told him we next wanted to go to Moscow University, which he understood almost immediately, perhaps because he had taken people there often. It is located quite a distance from the center of the city. As we drove along a wide prospect at a speed of over 60 miles an hour, our driver suddenly shouted, "New York, Chicago, Philadelphia," without much of an accent. Then he laughed heartily and repeated the names of three of America's great cities. He did this several times during the time we were with him, always followed by a loud guffaw. Those were the only English words he spoke.
He drove us around the campus, which consists primarily of one large high rise building designed like a gigantic wedding cake. The next day we visited the interior, and found that it is truly a busy place. At night it was very quiet, although lights were burning in many of the upper story windows.
Right near the university, we visited a point overlooking the Moscow River and the major portion of the city. We could see the Red Star over the Red Square and other points of interests he identified for us. It was a beautiful sight.
From there he drove us past the various embassies, including the U.S. Embassy, the French, the British and others. He also drove us to the cemetery where Stalin's wife and daughter are buried. He explained this by mentioning Stalin's name and then pointing to Susie in the back seat to indicate Stalin's wife, and with more gestures, informed us that her daughter was buried beside her.
He drove us around through some of the other more important streets and then returned us to our hotel to end a two-hour experience none of us will ever forget. It is remarkable how well people can communicate regarding simple matters if they have to.
We asked him how much we owed him, he told us the fare was four rubles. A ruble at that time was worth a little more than our dollar. When we produced the four rubles he shook his head and said he wanted "dollars," and held up two fingers. Bruce produced two paper dollar bills, which he gladly accepted, and then gave Bruce and me each a special commemorative ruble coin struck recently to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ending of the First World War.
Our driver wanted the U.S. dollars to spend in the "Dollar Stores," as they are known in Russia, and which carry the better merchandise, sold primarily to tourists. These stores accept only foreign currency. The regular stores, offering the standard type of merchandise which is not as good as that found in the Dollar Stores, will accept only rubles, no foreign money of any kind. The Russians prefer to shop in the Dollar Stores but have trouble obtaining foreign currency with which to do so.
On this same trip we flew in a Russian Aeroflot flight from Moscow to East Berlin, where we found controls over visitors and attitudes towards visitors more rigid than those in any of the Russian areas we visited. We were taken by bus from the East Berlin airport to our hotel in West Berlin. We had to clear through "Checkpoint Charley," where we were carefully pursued by East German police. The bus was thoroughly searched, from top to bottom, and even the bottom was carefully checked by mirrors placed on little hand carts which were rolled under the bus to give the police a view of it.
When we finally reached West Berlin the whole atmosphere was so different it is difficult to describe. Even the air smelled fresher. It was like entering the United States again.
A couple of days later we went on a tour of East Berlin. We were taken to the point of entry through that awful wall and boarded a bus. The driver spoke excellent English. I was sitting in the front seat and visited with him. He knew the city well and described the various points of interest, including the bunker where Hitler died.
After a while I remarked that he spoke English well and asked him where he had learned it. He said he had studied it in school, but didn't really learn it until he was in the U.S. during the latter part of the war when he was a prisoner. I remarked, "I bet you were in a prison camp at Florence, Arizona." This startled him, and he asked how I knew that. I told him that I lived in Tucson, about 65 miles from Florence, and that I knew that many German prisoners were incarcerated there during the war years. He confirmed that he was indeed there, and that he liked the area except for the intense heat of the summers.
I visited with him for quite a spell and learned that his family lived in Cologne, but that he was being treated well in East Germany and had no desire to leave. When I asked him if he could leave if he wanted to, he said he didn't know and was not going to ask.
While we were sitting in the bus alongside a park in the center of the city, three or four men in their forties were looking at us. I motioned to them to come join us on the bus and go with us. One of them raised his hands as though praying and placed them under his chin. He, like most of the people we saw in East Germany, looked rather dowdy and certainly had anything but happy faces.
In 1970 a group of people associated with the Urban Land Institute, a national non-profit real estate research organization based in Washington,. D.C., went on a trip to the Orient and continued on to Thailand, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. I had been to Japan and Hong Kong before and was amazed at the growth that had taken place in Hong Kong during the intervening years.
On Sunday morning a half dozen of us were invited to join our old friend, John Galbreath, owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, a couple of Derby winners, and much real estate all over America, on his yacht for a tour of the Hong Kong harbor, which is certainly one of the most interesting and busiest in the World.
He also wanted to show us from the water side a tremendous new housing development he and the Mobil Oil Company were constructing. It consisted of 50 twenty-story apartment buildings which would accommodate 80,000 people. It also contained recreational facilities, shopping centers and schools, as well as medical clinics.
The next day we visited the interior of the buildings and learned that there was not a single closet in any of the buildings. The Orientals who were to live there had no need for storage space for clothes. Each apartment had its own exterior utility room where clothes can be laundered and hung for drying. As anyone who has visited Hong Kong knows, clothes are hung on long poles extended from the windows over the streets to dry. The new buildings will not permit clothes to be hung outside, except in the utility rooms where they are concealed from the street.
Another feature that surprised us was an area on the ground floor, identified by a sign reading, "Dog Toilet." It was an area of about 20 by 20 feet, covered with soil and containing a series of iron posts to which the animals could be tied while they visited the toilet.
While we were on John Galbreath's boat on that rainy Sunday morning, all the men, approximately eight or ten of us, gathered at the stern of the sixty-foot vessel, with the ladies being together in the front area. After cocktails were served, and the men introduced to each other, Bill Wong, the Hong Kong architect for the large housing development, suggested that we go up and meet the ladies.
He took me by the arm and we approached the group. As we did, I spotted the most beautiful oriental woman I have ever seen in my life. She was tall, slender and magnificently dressed. I thought to myself that that lovely creature was certainly some internationally famous beauty, probably from Canton or Peking.
Bill addressed this lady, saying that she was Mrs. Priscilla Wong and telling her he wanted her to meet Mr. Roy Drachman. She smiled, and said, "Mr. Drachman, you must be from Tucson." I nearly fainted and wondered how this lady of the world could know about me. When I recovered my composure, I asked, "How would you know that?"
She nearly knocked me over when she said, "I was born in Tucson and lived there for many years. My grandmother lives there as do several of my aunts and other relatives." I happened to know several of them, especially Mrs. Esther Tang, one of her aunts, and a prominent person in our city.
I never realized Tucson could produce such a lovely creature. Bill Wong has an architectural office in Dallas as well as Hong Kong, and occasionally I hear from Bill or Priscilla when they are in our part of the world. Both are very nice people.