Leo Diegel, a very well-known golf pro, came to Tucson from Jenkinsville, Pennsylvania, during the early part of the Second World War and assumed the job as the professional at the El Rio Country Club, the community's only private golf club. At one time private pro to Adolph Zukor, chairman of Paramount Pictures, at his private golf course in the New York area, Leo was still a close friend of the Zukor family. Mildred Zukor Loew, known affectionately as "Mickey," had moved to Tucson in 1935 with her two children. Leo and his wife, Vi, occasionally visited Mickey, and this gave me the opportunity to play with Leo.
Leo loved Tucson, and indicated to me on more than one occasion that he would like to move to our city if the right opportunity came along. When the job at El Rio opened up I suggested Leo Diegel, but no one took the suggestion seriously because they thought Leo would not take the job for the small salary they could pay. I asked them to give me two or three days, and I would ask Leo if he wanted the job. The salary was only the paltry sum of $75 a month, plus the concessions in the pro shop. To tell the truth, I never thought Leo would accept the job.
Much to my surprise he did take the job and moved to Tucson, where he stayed until just before his death in the late forties. Leo was responsible for the establishment of the Tucson Open Golf Tournament whose purse the first year was $5,000. It grew until it reached $250,000, and the tourney is one of the oldest on the winter tour.
Leo was at one time among America's finest players. He was a grand guy as well. I have been told on good authority that when he was at his peak he would regularly beat Walter Hagen in private matches, and that for a while Hagen demanded, and received, from Leo, a one up handicap on each nine before he would bet him. Leo didn't deny this when I asked him about it.
Leo was the fellow who originated the odd putting position of having his elbows in a position extended from his body parallel to the line of the putt with his left elbow pointing towards the hole. He was also one of the most nervous, high-strung men I have ever known. He was a real student of the game and had some interesting theories about teaching golf, but he was impatient with his pupils who didn't do exactly as he taught. One time, while giving a lesson to his close friend, Henry Dahlberg, he said disgustedly, "If you won't do as I tell you, I'm going to walk into the clubhouse."
Hank assured him he was trying as hard as he could to follow his instructions but that it was hard to do. After a few more minutes Leo said, "Oh, to hell with you! You won't follow my instructions. I can't waste my time with you," and he walked to the pro shop.
Leo was constantly experimenting with his putting stroke and with different putters. He told me that one time he went to England to play in some international matches and took twenty-one different putters with him on the boat. He told me that he practiced putting so much on the ship, using different grips, stances, etc., that he reached the point where he had to look at a picture of himself to ascertain how he normally putted.
Several years before he came to Tucson, Leo had been pro at the swank hotel and casino resort at Agua Caliente, across the line from San Diego in Mexico. Joe Schenck, of Hollywood fame, was one of the owners of Agua Caliente and had hired Leo for the job. He had been used to hiring movie stars, producers and writers by the week at high salaries. As a starter he offered Leo $500 a week, and Leo jumped at the offer. This was several times what any pro had ever earned at a club job. In fact, as a guaranteed salary it would be a good one today when added to the income from the concessions.
Leo once told me about a humorous incident that took place when he was at his peak. He and Walter Hagen met in the finals of the annual PGA tournament, which in those days was a match play event, with the winner declared the best of all the members of the Professional Golfers Association. Hagen knew Leo was a devout Catholic, and played a trick on Leo in order to give him, Hagen, an advantage in the final match. Hagen called a priest and told him his name was Leo Diegel and that he had an almost uncontrollable urge to jump from his window.
Hagen said to the priest, "Father, I want you to come here to my room, and sit with me tonight to prevent my jumping. When you get here, please ignore my protests that I didn't call you, or don't need you. Please insist on coming into the room, and please don't leave me until daylight."
The priest, ready to serve a good member of his church, went to Diegel's room, insisted he be admitted and spent the night with him. Naturally, Leo didn't get much sleep, which is what Hagen had in mind. Of course Hagen defeated Leo the next day.
Golf at El Rio in those days was an important part of the life of most prominent Tucsonans. The club was small and everyone knew each other, how well or how poorly each member played, and how much each preferred to bet on the matches. When the club first opened in 1929 the bets were usually $.50 Nassau, which meant that you would lose a couple of bucks or at the very most-under the worst conditions, no more than $5.00. However, things got so tough during the depths of the Depression that everyone was playing, believe it or not, for $.10 Nassau. The caddies were paid $.25 for eighteen holes.
El Rio barely survived and wouldn't have if Hi Corbett, George Stonecypher, a local baker, and Don Fogg had not financed the losses for a couple of years. The three of them had promoted it as part of a real estate development, but the location was such that it never caught on.
It was on the wrong side of the tracks. The residential lots around the golf course were not bought by those who could afford to build the kind of homes which might have triggered the successful development of a nice subdivision. The developers finally gave up on the idea of selling large lots, and sold off the land facing the golf course, in small lots, to Mexican-American families who lived in that general area. There was no sewer line to serve the area at that time, and every homeowner had an out house in back of the home, facing the golf course. Once when the famous woman golf professional, Babe Zaharias, played an exhibition match at El Rio, she remarked after a few holes, "Most country clubs have mansions facing the course, but this is the only one I've ever seen that has shit houses facing every fairway."
Every New Year's Day El Rio would stage its annual match between the teams of the Sure-Shooters versus the BlankShooters (those who had children versus those who had none, at least none of note). The losers paid for the brunch and booze served after the match. It was always good for a lot of laughs, and a lot of drunks.
One event I have never forgotten was a challenge match between four of us older fellows, all over 40 (except for myself and I was about 38), and four young studs who hit the ball a mile and who thought they could prove they were the better players. Tim Cusick, Harry Talmade, Sr., Harold Tovrea, Sr., and I played Charles Lamb, Knox Corbett, Fred Porter and Tom Rasmussen. Lamb was state champion a year or so later, and Rasmussen was the current state and southwestern champion.
Points were to be given for individual matches, two ball matches and a four ball match. My opponent was Tom Rasmussen, and I beat him one up on each side, which was probably the highlight of my golfing career. This match was naturally played without handicap, and, when we won the matches, we older fellows told our opponents not to bother us further until they built a reputation. We never played them again, which was probably the wisest thing we ever did.
About 1930 I won the city golf championship, which was played on the city municipal links, a skinned course -- no grass on the fairways, and greens made of oiled sand. It was a somewhat different game when played on that kind of a layout. A couple of years later when the El Rio Club was open, I won the city title again. It was a 72-hole medal-play tournament, with half of the rounds played on the grass course at El Rio, and the other half on the skinned course at City Municipal. However, I was city champion of a very, very small city.
A few years later, right after the Second World War, a man by the name of "Ti" Thomas came to Tucson to make his home. He was better known as Titanic Thompson, a famous figure in the sports world. He was what is known as a "proposition bettor." He'd bet on almost anything, but most generally on something where he had an edge or the best of it.
I got to know him quite well, and he told me tales of some of his antics. He was a man of very unusual talents. He could do just about anything, play any game. And he excelled in many sports. He was a good enough golfer when he was in his prime tha the could play any of the professionals. When I say that "could" play any of them that doesn't mean that he did play them without getting some kind of a handicap.
When Bryon Nelson was at his peak Ti played him often and held his own. He was a crack trap and skeet shot, winning the Arizona Trap Shooting Title several years in a row. But Ti had a strange quirk about him. He could have made a fortune at golf legitimately, but much preferred to hustle guys for big bets, generally when he had a big advantage. He seemed to prefer to win money by his "smarts" rather than by sheer ability, of which he had more than his share.
He was a super poker player, bridge player and gin player, and he was involved in the famous poker game played in a New York City hotel after which Arnold Rothstein was murdered, supposedly for welching on a very large gambling loss resulting from this particular game.
Ti told me the details: He had left his overcoat hanging in the closet of the hotel room where the game was played. The police traced the coat to him, and he was the first man arrested for the murder, but soon was released because he could prove his innocence through witnesses who knew he was not at the scene of the crime when it was committed. He told me that, although the crime was never solved, he knew who killed Rothstein.
Whenever he hit a new town he would get acquainted with the professional gamblers there, and such men exist in every town. In Tucson he associated with the gamblers, beat them at cards and hustled them on the golf course. Of course, none of them could even touch him as a golfer, but the gamblers would get some of the better local players to play against Ti and they would bet on the local "horse."
I, like other members of El Rio, had heard about Ti playing some of the members for big stakes, with the local gamblers betting against Ti. After a few weeks gamblers from Phoenix, Miami, Arizona and other cities would come to Tucson every Monday for a round of betting on all kinds of things against each other, and especially against Titanic Thompson, about whom all of them had heard. They must have considered it an honor to lose money to a hustler of international fame.
One day I got a call from Jimmie Aarons, a well-known gambler from Phoenix. I had known him when he went to college in Tucson. He was a graduate of the U. of A., a nice guy and very well liked and respected in Phoenix. He asked me to play a golf match against Ti the following Monday. I readily accepted, as I thought it would be an interesting experience. And it turned out to be just that.
I met Ti and the gamblers, nine or ten of them, most of whom I already knew, on the first tee at El Rio. Ti was very pleasant, a tall, angular sort of man, with slightly gray hair and a rather strange pair of eyes. He asked me if I would like to have "a little match of $l0 Nassau. "I said "Let's make it $5" which he readily and pleasantly agreed to. I had told Jimmie Aarons that I would play providing they would not tell me how much they were playing for in their bets with Ti. That was agreeable.
I was playing in the low or mid-seventies in those days, and at the end of the first nine I was one down. Ti was a left-handed player, although he told me later he could play pretty well right-handed if he had to.
When we got to the 18th tee I was one down on the backside. Before we teed off on eighteen, the gamblers and Ti retired to the back of the 17th green for a lengthy conference. They argued for at least ten minutes. Finally they said we could strike our drives.
Up until this hole my drives were usually only five or ten yards short of Ti's. I was always a short hitter so was not surprised that he outdrove me. After the bets were made on the eighteenth hole, Ti turned his drive loose and passed my ball at least fifty yards!
The 18th hole was a 5 par but not terribly long, something like 490 yards. My second shot was about 60 or 70 yards short of the green, but Ti sailed his ball onto the green in two. I made a good chip but left myself about a 15-foot putt, which I did not make. Ti won the 18th, and a bundle, I heard later, by rolling his first putt up close, for a tap in and a birdie. When he wanted to, he could play just about as well as the situation demanded.
I enjoyed the match very much, but I was sorry I could not win for the local boys, although I later realized that I had as much chance of beating him as I would Arnold Palmer now.
I saw a lot of Ti around Tucson for the four or five years he was here. He always had some kind of gimmick going that he wanted someone to go in with him on, to put up some money on a sure thing. I never fell for any of his propositions, but I liked him.
A few weeks after he and I had played our match, he hustled the local gamblers into a golf game consisting of playing only one hole -- with hammers. I used to go to El Rio on Monday for lunch just to listen to the conversation and betting that would go on between this bunch of characters. On this particular Monday, which was after Ti had tapped them out of several thousands of dollars each on various kinds of propositions, he suggested, "Hell, let's play one hole, each of us will use a hammer to hit the ball. Anyone can hit the ball with a hammer, just like driving a nail." They finally agreed. Ti sent one of the caddies to a hardware store to buy seven hammers.
The seven players, each of whom had put up $1,000, teed off the first tee with hammers and continued to beat the ball down the fairway using the carpenter's favorite tool as a golf club. Naturally, Ti killed them all. He won by several strokes.
A few days later I ran into him in the barber shop and asked him, "Ti, how long had you been practicing hitting a golf ball with a hammer?" He readily told me, "About three weeks."
He often would have a diamond ring or an expensive watch which he would offer to sell me for a bargain price. I don't know where he acquired those things and I never asked, but I also never bought.
He told me that he had never spent a night in jail until he came to Tucson. After he was here for three or four years he was found guilty on a morals charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He had asked his girlfriend to get dates for a couple of his traveling friends who were in town. The gals went to California with these men, and their parents preferred charges against them and Ti, since the girls were under age. Ti had to serve thirty days in the county jail on what he claimed, and I believe, was a trumped-up charge by somebody whom he had beaten in a card game.
Ti was a soft-spoken man, who seldom got into any kind of arguments. I knew he was a sharpie, as did most people who knew him wherever he went. Once I asked him if he was ever going to write the story of his life, and he said he might someday, like most men say but seldom do. He told me numerous writers wanted to do the story for him, but that he had not yet gotten around to go to work on the project. Much later I heard about his death, and while they'll never build any monuments to him, I think the world is a poorer place with Titanic Thompson gone.
The first television golf series ever made was filmed at the Tucson and Phoenix Country Club courses. A man named DeMets, from Chicago, who had made the first televised bowling series, approached Lolita Linn, owner of a promotion and travel agency in Chicago which did much to enhance our state's resort business, about the possibility of using golf courses in Arizona to produce a series of professional golf matches.
Lolita called me, and I got busy in Arizona lining up the two courses for the production of the series that DeMets had in mind. Six of the episodes were photographed in Tucson, and seven were made in Phoenix. They were the very first attempt to bring golf to sport fans other than in live telecasts of tournaments. They triggered a concept that has been very successful.
Neither the board and officials of the Tucson Country Club, nor officials of the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, had the slightest idea of the value the series could be to our community. They actually charged the production company for a list of minor expenses, including damage to the golf course. Today communities are paying several thousand dollars to have one of a series photographed there. DeMets was justifiably pushed out of shape and swore he would never make another film in Tucson.
On a Sunday afternoon, when the group of golfers were at the Tucson Country Club, Gary Middlecoff played a practice round of nine holes with our club champion, Dr. Ed Updegraff. I was in the men's grill when they came in. Ed Furgol, former U.S. Open Champion, was sitting in the grill visiting with some of us. He was to play a match for the televised series the next day.
Gary Middlecoff came to our table and said to Furgol, "Ed, you can get anyone you wish: Demaret, Hogan or Nelson. I'll take the good Doc here and we'll play you for anything you wish, on this course, anytime. I just shot a 37, one over par, and he had me down five down!" All of which made us local golfers very proud of our friend Ed Updegraff.
Updegraff played on the Walker Cup team, made up America's finest amateurs, on three different occasions, and, in the 1975 matches with the players from Great Britain played at St. Andrews in Scotland, Updegraff was captain of the American team which scored a resounding triumph.
Updegraff is probably the most popular golfer in the state and most certainly one of the very best. Once three of us, who played at the time to handicaps of 8, but who were short hitters, told Ed Updegraff that if we could hit the ball as far as he did we would play him without asking for strokes. He accepted the challenge and agreed that on the following Saturday he would play us and would not use a club which would give him more distance than we could get with our driver.
The following Saturday we went to the driving range and ascertained that he could hit a 5 iron as far as we could hit our drivers, about 190 yards. He used nothing longer than a 5 iron for the 18 hole match, three putted the 17th and 18th holes and still shot a 74, 2 over par on what is not considered to be an easy golf course. Naturally he beat us, at our own game.
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.
When I returned to Tucson a few days later, I went out to see Bill Veeck and told him what Fred Saigh had said about the Browns. Bill listened very attentively and remarked that that was very interesting. A couple of days later he came to my office and asked if he could use one of the vacant offices and the telephone for a couple of days. He was there every day for a week, phoning, arguing, selling and doing all kinds of planning. I never bothered him, but I did ask him how it was going, and he said pretty well.
One afternoon the next week, I got home about five, and my housekeeper said that Mr. Veeck had called, was on his way to pick me up, that I should pack a bag, and that he and I were going to San Diego. I grabbed a bite, and was ready when he showed up about six to leave for San Diego, an eight-hour drive. He had a date for breakfast with a man from St. Louis who held a note from the DeWitt brothers, owners of the Browns. Bill had to see him before he could close his deal for the Browns.
We got to the Del Coronado Hotel about 2 a. m. and grabbed a few hours sleep. We met Bill's friend for breakfast. He said he wanted to make a few phone calls and asked us to meet him at the Del Mar Race Track that afternoon in his box, the number of which he gave Bill.
After lunch we drove up to Del Mar. As everyone knows, Bill Veeck was famous for never wearing a tie; in fact, he doesn't even own one. However, the Del Mar absolutely would not allow us to enter the club area without a necktie. They were adamant, and Bill Veeck, the all-time-champion necktie hater, had to put on a necktie to get through the gate in order to make it possible to close the deal to buy the St. Louis Browns. As soon as we got into the club area the tie came off, but I can testify that Bill did one time in his life wear a necktie.
Bill and some of his investors completed the deal for the purchase of the St. Louis Browns, which for years had been the doormat of the league, both in the standings and at the box office, although in the mid-forties they had won the pennant once.
Bill built a home as part of the improvements he made to the St. Louis ball park. His and Mary Frances' first-born child, Mike, had the biggest fenced yard in America to play in, except when the Browns were playing in it.
I visited Bill and Mary Frances over a long Memorial Day weekend in St. Louis and it happened that the Cleveland Indians were meeting the Browns while I was there. It was great to see again the Indian officials and sportswriters. We had quite a weekend.
I was staying at the Chase Hotel, where Frankie Lane was the featured attraction at the roof garden. Bill, Mary Frances, Harry Jones, one of the Cleveland press crew, and I had dinner there on Saturday night. The place was jumping and, of course, everyone knew Bill, including Frankie Lane who spent most of the evening at our table.
I found out that night that a man can drink a great number of Cherry Heerings, a Danish after-dinner drink, without getting loaded. After our last course, Bill ordered four Cherry Heerings for each of us in little liqueur glasses. It has been a favorite with me for years so I enjoyed the generous servings. In a little while he ordered four more Cherry Heerings for each of us. Bill kept this up for an hour or so; at one time I think I had seven or eight lined up in front of me.
After a while two couples were seated at the table next to ours. They were friends of Bill's from Kansas City, one of the men being an official of the Muelbach Hotel in that city. Shortly after they arrived, Bill left for a few minutes, and, while he was gone, another order of four Cherry Heerings apiece arrived at our table. When Bill returned he noticed them and asked if we had ordered them. When we said we had not, he asked the waiter who had ordered them. He said the newly arrived folks had bought us a drink.
Bill likes to do all the buying of drinks when he is out in the evening and apparently didn't appreciate the hospitality of his friend at the next table. He asked the waiter what they were drinking and was told two were drinking scotch, one bourbon and the other gin. Bill told the waiter to bring a bottle of scotch, a bottle of bourbon and one of gin to the other table with his compliments. Soon the bottles were delivered, and thanks were expressed.
In a few minutes the waiter brought a large punch bowl with a few cubes of ice at the bottom and two bottles of Cherry Heering, which were promptly poured into the bowl. A ladle was added, and we were set for the next three days.
Bill whispered to us, "They want to play a game, huh? Well, I'll show'em!" He softly gave orders to the waiter, who disappeared, but soon returned with a small handcart on which he delivered to Bill's friends a case of scotch, a case of bourbon and a case of gin. That ended the exchanging of hospitality for the rest of that evening.
Bill Veeck was a most imaginative guy and dreamed up the darndest gimics to attract crowds to a ball park. The list of things he did is much too long to discuss; however, while his dad was president of the Los Angeles Angels that club did something that I don't think Bill has ever copied. On the day of a game a man on horseback, in a baseball uniform, would ride through the downtown street of Los Angeles, announcing through a megaphone that there was going to be a ballgame that afternoon between the Angels and their opponents for the day.
During the late twenties and through the thirties, baseball fans in the larger towns in Arizona, and those in Albuquerque, El Paso and Juarez, formed the Arizona-Texas Class D league. I was very much involved, as the official league scorekeeper. I also filed a short press report for the United Press after each game. I never missed a game played in Tucson for several seasons.
Those games got to be terribly important events, and excitement was rampant during the later part of the season especially if the home team was involved in the pennant race. The Bisbee team and Tucson became mortal enemies. The games between the two teams were ding-dong affairs, and many times ended with fisticuffs and near riots.
Many of the later stars in the big leagues started in the Arizona-Texas League. Most of the teams in our league were sponsored by the Coast or Texas League teams, who sent players to the Class D teams, hoping they would ripen into stars of tomorrow.
When World War II interrupted play in the minor leagues, the Arizona-Texas League went out of business, mainly because of the travel restrictions, and because most of the young men were called into service.
The first summer was pretty dull with no baseball games. I had an idea that I tried on the sports editors of the two daily papers. They liked it, so I called a meeting in the office of the Fox Theatre of the managers of the local semipro teams and suggested that we form a city league to play games six nights a week at the municipal park, which by this time had lights for night games.
We started with six teams, the Aztecas, a local social club made up of Mexican-Americans, the Elks, the American Legion, the Southern Pacific, the Davis-Monthan Air Base and the Marana Field, also an air training base. I was elected president of the league.
We began playing to very small crowds, although we charged only a quarter for admission. The newspapers were generous in coverage of the games and within a few days crowds began to build. The games were well played, and the teams, as a whole, were evenly matched.
By the end of the first month of play, sports fans, who had little to do during the war in a town like Tucson, responded to our efforts to keep baseball alive in the Old Pueblo. Crowds of a couple of thousand became commonplace.
The military teams had a few professionals to spark the interest. One player for the Marana Field team made his mark in big league baseball. Gene Mauch, who became manager of the Montreal team in the American League, and was considered one of the game's better managers, played in the infield for his base team and even at that time was a standout. However, despite Mauch's efforts, the Marana team was probably the weakest team in the league.
In one of the most important games, before the largest crowd drawn up to that time, a serious argument between the umpire and the manager of one of the teams got out of hand. The shoving match culminated in the umpire quitting in the middle of the game. He took off his chest protector, shin guards and mask, piled them up neatly on the home plate and walked over to where I was sitting in the stands. He told me he was through and would never umpire another game for the league.
Without an umpire, no game; naturally, as president of the league, I was in a pickle! There was a tall black man by the name of Slim Williams who had umpired many semipro games around town for years, but because of his color was not used by any of the school teams, including the University of Arizona. He had applied to umpire in our league, but the managers vetoed the idea of using him.
I knew he generally came to the games, so I had him paged. He responded, and when I asked him if he had his equipment with him, he said he did. He got it out of his car, and he umpired the rest of that game. He did such an outstanding job that everyone who had opposed him before, readily approved of my hiring him as the regular umpire.
That job led to his umpiring games for all the schools and the U. of A., which eventually employed him as their trainer for all sports. He was an excellent official and very popular with the players and fans.
The city baseball league continued to operate for several years until the war ended and professional baseball could be restored. It provided many evenings of enjoyment for thousands of fans and was another example of how people pitched in during the war to make the best of a bad situation.
Back in the mid-twenties there were three or four local semipro ball teams, the strongest of which usually was the Southern Pacific Rails, managed by a wiley character by the name of Mike Robles, who never donned a uniform, but who scheduled the games and handled what money there was to split among the players.
I was just out of school and was the team's regular shortstop. I and another gringo by the name of Joe Wagner, were the only members of the team who were neither Indian nor Mexican American. We had all grown up together, with the exception of one or two of the players, and played as a team for several years.
We played one unforgettable series in Bisbee on the Fourth of July against a team which included one of the members of the Chicago Black Sox of the infamous 1919 World Series. Buck Weaver played third base, and another famous player, who had been banned from baseball for life for some unsavory acts, Hal Chase, played first base for the Bisbee team in that series. They beat us with ease, but it was exciting to watch these former big leaguers perform.
A pitcher by the name of Tom Seaton, also a former big leaguer, pitched for Bisbee. He did something I had never seen before or since: Between innings, when he was on the bench, he would somehow get hold of the baseballs, and, with a large nail, would mutilate the balls so he could make them do all kinds of tricks. We tried to get the umpires to do something about it, but since they were also from Bisbee, our pleas landed on deaf ears.
Several other of the Black Sox players played in and around the border towns of Arizona and New Mexico, besides Bisbee, also Douglas and Ft. Bayard. What wasted talent those men possessed! Hal Chase lived in Tucson for several years. He used to visit me regularly while I was running the Opera House and the Rialto, generally for the purpose of "borrowing" a dollar or a half-dollar to buy something to eat. He became a pitiful example of a fallen man, who had great talent, great opportunity, but had a crack in his character that led to banishment from baseball, the only thing at which he could make a living. Once he came in to see me and I told him that all I had in my pocket was fifteen cents. We visited for awhile, and when he got up to leave he said, "Roy, can I have that fifteen cents? I can buy a loaf of bread." I gave it to him and couldn't help but think that a man in the position of needing such a pittance was really near the end of the line.
Hal Chase had two sons who came to visit him in Tucson. I became acquainted with them, extremely fine young men at the time attending Santa Clara University in California. Hal used to get his mail at the Opera House, and his sons had to see me in order to find their father who was constantly moving from one shack to another.
Many baseball people have said numerous times that "Prince Hal" was the finest fielding first baseman who ever wore spikes. He was accused of making wagers on games in which he played and of doing things which made him very unpopular with the players of his era. I don't know what crime he committed, but he paid the price in full measure.
The first World Series game I ever saw was in 1945 when Detroit played Chicago. Despite the fact the war had ended by the time the Series was played, there were still transportation restrictions. The first three games were played in Detroit, with the balance of the Series to be played in Chicago. It turned out to be a seven games Series, much to the delight of all of us from Tucson. Hi Corbett, Jack Martin and I were seeing our first Series, and we couldn't get enough in less than seven games!
Jack had sold his ice company in Tucson to a large corporation that owned plants throughout the Midwest, including Chicago and St. Louis. He knew the owner of the St. Louis plant (who happened also to own the St. Louis Browns) Dick Muckerman, member of a well-known family in Missouri. Muckerman invited us to join his group at several parties. We were staying at the same hotel in Detroit and spent most of our time in one of the suites of the Muckerman group, which included the business manager of his team, Bill DeWitt, his attorney, Tom Dunbar, who carried a revolver with him for some strange reason, and quite a few other friends, all very nice folks.
Dick Muckerman carried a small icebox full of ice with him at all times, in his hotel room, on his special railroad car, wherever he went. It provided ice for drinks, or for throwing from his hotel window.
Don Barnes, owner of the Browns before Muckerman and the man who sold the team to him, was also along during the Series. Baseball was the principal subject most of the time, which was great with us as we had never been around club owners, business managers and such big league baseball executives. We were invited and rode in the Muckerman private railroad car from Detroit to Chicago, and once we arrived in Chicago we continued to enjoy their company. We country bumpkins were flying high and liking it!
In Chicago we had reservations to stay at the Ambassador East Hotel, owned then by Ernie Byfield, who also controlled and operated the Ambassador West, the Sherman Hotel, the Pump Room, the College inn and other famous booze and food dispensaries. Ernie had taken over the operation of the Playa Hotel at Guaymas, Mexico, on the Gulf of Lower California. I had served as his agent in Arizona, through which goods and people flowed down the S.P. de Mexico rails to Guaymas. He shipped all kinds of furniture, equipment, foodstuffs addressed to me, and I would trans-ship them into Mexico for him.
He had promised to have rooms for the three of us in Chicago for the Series, but when we arrived we learned that he had forgotten to tell any of his hotel people of his commitment to us. The town was jammed and even he could not get us in with a shoehorn.
He allowed us to occupy his personal suite as his guest no less, during the Series. The place was well supplied with plenty of booze, and, of course, the service to his suite was excellent. We enjoyed ourselves to the fullest-another example of beginners luck at their first World Series.
Ernie told us that one of his sons had just been discharged from the service where he served with the army in Germany. He had been in the first contingent to reach Adolph Hitler's private mountain retreat in Bavaria. Ernie said he had brought back some interesting souvenirs. In Ernie Byfield's suite I notice a silver cigaret box on the coffee table with the initials A. H. on it. I guessed right, it was one of the souvenirs young Byfield had brought back from Hitler's den.
While in Chicago, Ernie arranged for us to be entertained at the Pump Room and the College Inn, where a chorus of lovelies provided campany at our tables between shows.
The Series was a very exciting one. The Cubs hadn't played in a Series in several years, and the town was all excited over their favorite team.
While in Chicago that week, I had spent considerable time with my old friend Irving Phillips, a man of huge proportions and with the nerve of a second-story man. For the seventh game, we arrived at the ball park a couple of hours before its starting time in order to see the warm-ups and the crowds. just a few minutes before the game was to start, Irv Phillips showed up, down on the field in front of the section where our box was. He was calling my name to the top of his voice, and I finally heard him and walked down to the rail where a guard stopped me from going onto the field. Irv told him to step aside and let me through, which he did. Why, I don't know. I still was hesitant as I knew I didn't belong on the field just ten minutes before the seventh game of the Series was to start.
But I stepped through the little gate onto the diamond where there were numerous sportswriters, photographers and other guys like Irv Phillips, who just wanted to be there. He introduced me to Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and the originator of the baseball All Star Game and the annual College All Star-Pro Champ Football game. He then took me over to where Hank Borowy was completing his warmup as the starting pitcher for the Cubs and introduced me to him. Next we went over to the dugout of the Tigers where Hal Newhouser was sitting quietly after warming up to pitch for the Tigers. I shook hands with him, as Irv introduced us. What nerve that guy had! And what a thrill for a yokel from Arizona, to be down on the field meeting the two pitchers just before they hooked up in the final game of the Series.
I guess it was small wonder that I decided that I should not miss any future World Series. My baptism to the World Series had been awfully nice. Having been discharged in June of that year from the army as a lowly private, it was a little difficult to become accustomed to the bit of high-flying life I enjoyed for ten days.
One of the most famous baseball parks of all time was Ebbets Field in Brooklyn where the Dodgers played for many years.
It was not a very comfortable stadium from the fans' viewpoint but it was a great place to see a game because it was rather small and afforded the fans the feeling of being part of the action. It was torn down many years ago and the site now is occupied by an apartment complex.
One thing I remember about Ebbets Field was the large men's room on the second deck floor of the stadium. It had 32 urinals, a half dozen toilet bowls, and one (1) wash basin! I don't know exactly how to interpret the implications of such a situation, but I do know that usually one didn't have to wait to wash his hands because 98% of the fans were in a hurry to get back to the game and their hotdogs or bags of peanuts.
With all the recent interest in sharks, I think often of a fishing trip that Ted Blue, Herb Askins and I took off the coast of San Diego a few years ago. We were in a 28-foot Criss Craft fishing around the Coronado Islands, which lie in Mexican waters some twenty miles south of San Diego.
We reached the island waters about 7 a. m. and soon were involved with the denizens of the deep. I hooked a bonita of about eight pounds and, just as I was about to pull it aboard, a giant hammerhead shark followed it right up the side of the boat, it' s ugly head within about three feet of Ted and me. Ted yelled to drop the bonita back in the water and perhaps the hammerhead would take it and I might hook the big fish. I don't know what I would have done if he had taken my hook, what with my 20-pound test line!
The hammerhead did take the bonita, and I let him run with it. Then I "set" the hook with a sharp tug with my pole. For a second I could feel the shark on the line, and then nothing. I reeled in my line to find the head of the bonita securely hooked but severed from its body as though it had been done by a butcher with a meat cleaver. The hammerhead had what he wanted -- all the fish but the head.
Later that morning we spotted a fin, the fin of a marlin. Ted had brought a couple of frozen flying fish, the favorite feed of marlin and the bait generally used for fishing them off Southern California. He quickly rigged his heavy pole and line, put one of the flying fish on the hook and threw the bait in the water to the stern of the boat as we circled to drag it in front of the marlin.
The marlin took the bait. Ted let him run with it as that is the proper technique for fishing marlin. Ted set the hook and had the marlin on his line. But the leader on the line near the hook was not the right type and the fish soon snapped the line .
Ted had brought a steel leader along and told me to get it for him, and also to get the other flying fish ready to be used for bait. We could see the marlin a hundred yards away and Ted wanted to get another pop at him. I threw him the fish and the steel leader. He unwound the leader and put the flying fish on the hook. Herb had circled the fish. It was just off our stern. Ted threw the bait and the leader in the water towards the marlin which moved forward towards the bait.
There was only one thing wrong. Ted had forgotten to tie the leader to the line. To make matters worse, the marlin took the bait and swam off without even thanking Ted for his free meal. The leader would soon disintegrate in the salt water. Of course, we didn't allow Ted to forget about his great booboo.
About noon I caught another bonita, which are a member of the tuna family but not very good to eat. We usually threw them back without injuring them. Ted asked me to hand him this one, which he placed on a large hook with a heavy line, 90 pound test nylon, and lowered it some 150 feet to the bottom where Ted hoped he might pick up a large black bass, also known as a jew fish. We went on fishing for yellow tail, not paying any attention to the heavy line with the bonita on the bottom.
Soon the heavy reel started singing that lovely song when line is being stripped from the reel. Ted grabbed it, tightened the drag and soon realized that he couldn't stop the fish. He yelled to Herb to start the boat and follow the fish. I pulled in our other lines, and we started following the direction of the line on the end of which was some kind of big fish.
We fished the monster for over two hours before we got him to the surface so we could see what we had on the line. We had a book aboard which had pictures of hundreds of fish and the details about their weight and size. The fish was a giant lemon shark. We got the fish alongside the boat, or perhaps we got the boat alongside the fish, and I marked the distance on the boat from his tail which was even with the stern of the boat. We later measured the distance to be seventeen feet.
We had only a small hand-gaff aboard which would be of little or no use in landing this big baby. We usually carried a breakaway spear-gaff with a steel cable, and with it we might have been able to land the huge shark.
However, we continued to work the fish, with Ted doing most of the fishing. We took turns on the pole during the six hour period we had him on our line. We felt that he was weakening a bit, but when they put the harness on me connecting me to that po le, line and fish, I realized that he could have pulled me over the rail into the water if he made a sudden run. I insisted that they wrap a rope around my waist which Herb held as he sat on the deck. I still didn't feel too comfortable.
We got the fish up alongside the boat on numerous occasions. Ted tried to throw a rope around his tail, hoping that if he could secure it to one of the davits on the boat we might drag him backwards and perhaps drown him. But it was "mission impossible."
It began to get dark and we had no radio aboard to notify our wives what we were up to. We decided to tighten the drag completely and hope for the best, but I suddenly felt the line give way. Our hopes of catching the beast, which must have weighed 2,500 pounds, came to an end.
So far as I can ascertain, there never has been that big a fish landed with pole and line. Ted and I have mentioned the incident many times and wish that we had stayed with the task, even if the Coast Guard would have been looking for us before the night was over.
San Diego and its delightful village of La Jolla have long been favorite vacation spots for Arizonans trying to escape from the scorching summer weather. In July and August, it is a toss up whether you see more Arizona or California cars on the streets of La Jolla and Mission Beach, both of which are part of San Diego.
The Del E. Webb Company built a 28 unit apartment complex right on the bay in Mission Beach in the late '50's and it immediately became infested with Phoenicians, and a few families from other parts of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. My family and I moved in the day it was completed and kept an apartment, which also served as an office since I was active in real estate developments in the area for many years.
During the peak summer period, the place was a bee hive of beach picnics, bridge games, and day long cocktail parties. Everyone seemed to have kids. At times, there would be twenty to thirty kids from one to sixteen running in and out of each other's apartments. Chris Jacobson, wife of the then president of the Webb company, L. C., aptly dubbed the place "Spawn Row. "
The adults did their share of partying, and it was a sad evening if there weren't at least two cocktail parties going on. I've heard of floating crap games, but up until these Tierra Palmilla apartments were built, I had never known what a "floating cocktail party" was. The only requirement was that you had to bring your own glass since none of the places had enough glasses for a large group.
One evening as dusk was settling in, Bob and Mazie Johnson, he's now president and chairman of the Webb company, and who were staying at another Mission Beach apartment, drove their 18 foot speed boat to our complex to have a drink or two and check the action at the bridge tables.
Since there was no dock near our apartments, he beached his boat and joined the group on the second floor balcony which faced the bay.
Soon after arriving, he looked down where he left his boat and he noticed that it had started floating away from the shore. The tide had risen and the wind from the west was pushing his craft farther out by the minute.
Bob was wearing only a pair of shorts, no shirt, or sandals, and he ran down the stairs, out across the sand about 200 feet to the water's edge, and since it was almost dark, he dropped his shorts and in his birthday suit started swimming after his boat, which by this time was three or four hundred feet away.
It wasn't long before he realized that he was in a losing race, although he had been swimming his hardest to overtake his boat. Soon he was "done in" and decided he had better turn back and head for shore. He was completely worn out and feared he couldn't make it. He started yelling for help. Luckily for him, there were a couple of teen age girls in a small sailing boat, a sabot, which is not much larger than a surf board, who heard him and sailed over to him.
He knew he couldn't get on their boat for two reasons, he was naked as a jay bird and it wasn't large enough anyway. He asked them to let him hang on while they took him to his motor boat a hundred yards or so away.
When he got there, he swam around to the other side, got aboard his boat, and then realized he didn't have his keys to start the engine. Wouldn't they go up to the apartment where the light was on and ask Mrs. Johnson to give them the keys to bring to him? Sure they would, and they wouldn't accept his offer of a $10.00 reward for saving his life and his boat.
When they reached the shore, they were met by Mazie Johnson and two of the men from the party who had become alarmed when Bob was gone so long. The fellows were Ted Blue and Joe Ashton, both long time Phoenicians and friends of the Johnsons.
They were dressed in suits and ties, which meant that they were going out to dinner because no one, but no one, ever put a tie on around the beach. That didn't keep them from offering to take the keys to Bob, if the young ladies would loan them their sail boat.
Joe noticed that the seat at the end of the boat he was going to occupy was damp. He saw Bob's shorts laying on the sand and used them to sit on. After all, he didn't want to get wet, at least not as wet on the outside as he and Ted were on the inside. The martini patch had been invaded by them while playing bridge.
Since neither was able to handle a sail boat, they were paddling their way with their hands and making pretty good progress when Joe yelled, "Hey, I'm getting wet!" Blue was in the same boat and was getting wet too. In fact, in about a minute the sabot went under from the excess weight. They were now swimmers. The sabot had capsized and they hung on to it as they continued their trip to Bob and his boat.
They climbed aboard Bob's craft, gave him the keys, shook themselves off and soon were back on the beach in front of the apartments.
Bob looked for his shorts and of course couldn't find them. They had gone to the bottom of the bay when the sabot capsized. And to make matters worse, Bob's wallet with a couple of hundred bucks in it was in the shorts as were the keys to his car whi ch he had driven down from Los Angeles.
Mazie borrowed some shorts from one of the other fellows and Bob went back to the party for a drink which he badly needed now. He called his son in L.A. and told him he'd have to drive down the next day with the other set of keys for his car.
Joe and Ted changed their clothes of course. Joe noticed that Ted had taken his paper money and cards, etc. from his wallet and placed them in the oven to dry. When Ted retrieved his valuables from the oven, Joe put four $100 bills and some other bills and papers in the oven to dry.
Unfortunately, Joe got back in the martini patch and forgot about the drying-out job he was engaged in. You're right, when he went to get them they were a nice little pile of ashes at the bottom of the oven! He scraped them together, hoping he could convince a sympathetic bank teller the next day that he had indeed had a misfortune befall him.
It truly was a sad event, and all because a guy didn't secure his boat when he came calling!
Hi Corbett and I not only went to many World Series together but we also followed our University of Arizona Wildcat football team to many of its out-of-town games.
Perhaps one of the most eventful trips was one to Chicago and Milwaukee in the late 40's to watch them play Marquette University in Milwaukee. We scheduled the trip so we could spend some time in the Windy City both going and coming.
We both had friends in Chicago. My favorite at the time was Irving Phillips, a vice president of the Northern Trust Company, a large bank. Irving had grown up in Tucson. Together, we worked as ushers in my dad's Opera House, the local movie palace, while going to high school. Irv was born with only one and a half arms. His left one ended just below the elbow, but with the aid of a "wooden arm," he got by very well. He learned to write and drink with his good one, and these were two of his favorite activities, especially the latter.
Hi's friend was a fellow named Frank Quigley, a part time bank robber and a permanent parolee. He had gotten acquainted with Frank when he was paroled to Hi from the state pen at Joliet. Hi was, at the time, a Republican National Committeeman for Arizona. Frank developed tuberculosis and, between his doctor and his attorney, he convinced his keepers that he should be sent to a dry climate to spare his life. Tucson was selected, but he had to be paroled to someone, and since Hi was well known by the then Illinois Republican bosses, he was appointed as Frank's keeper in Arizona.
Frank Quigley and a buddy of his of several years before were the subject of a long article that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post about two famous bank robbers who had spent more of their lives in jail than out. That's how we found out what Frank 's principal claim to fame stemmed from. He was a very affable sort of guy who didn't mind talking about some of his escapades and encounters with the law.
So when we got to Chicago, we had things to do and people to do them with. There were several Tucsonans who decided to make the trip also. We stayed at the old Sherman Hotel in the heart of Chicago. I knew Ernie Byfield, who was one of the owners of the Sherman. He arranged for us to have a nice suite and ample bedrooms on the top floor, which didn't please Hi at all. He never liked being above the third floor in any building or even sitting in the upper deck of a grandstand, but he went along, un comfortable every bit of the time he was in the suite.
Quigley and Phillips became permanent members of our group and helped guide us around the town. Quigley took several of the men to the race track one afternoon while Hi, Irv and I took in a stage show in the Loop.
We got back to the hotel about four in the afternoon and were having a drink when we heard the usual sirens always prevalent in America's big cities. The La Salle Hotel fire had occurred a few months before and was fresh on our minds, what with the death toll reaching into the forties. Hi made no bones about feeling damned uncomfortable at the moment.
The noise of the sirens kept increasing by the minute. Hi started pacing the floor and settled down only when Irv suggested we all have another drink. He explained that sirens were constantly heard in the Loop and not to worry.
However, the sound increased to the point that it was quite apparent that there was a whole gaggle of police and/or fire vehicles right below us. Finally the sound subsided and we were relaxing with our new drinks, when three helmeted firemen burst in to our suite to announce that, "This hotel is on fire!"
Naturally, they got our attention. Hi jumped up and started throwing clothes into a suitcase, not necessarily his own clothes or even his suitcase.
We went out into the hall towards the elevators from which smoke was pouring. We went back towards our rooms and saw an "exit" sign over a hall window which we promptly opened. Hi was carrying the suitcase but would not think of stepping out onto the fire escape. Irv and I did, but we couldn't persuade Hi to follow us.
Hi felt trapped, of course. He was wild eyed but didn't know what the hell to do. Irv and I looked down, and on the fire escape landing immediately below us were a couple of cute gals who seemed to be taking the whole matter in stride. We invited them to come up and join us for a drink while we waited for the fire to either go out or burn the joint to the ground.
About that time the fire ladies returned to announce that the fire was out, that it had been a fire in an elevator shaft caused by sparks, etc. The most relieved guy in town was Hi. And, frankly, we all felt very much better. Furthermore, the girls turned out to be a couple of good fellows who joined us that evening for dinner.
On Friday night, we went to several joints including the famed Chez Paree, where top entertainers, including the biggest names in show business played before large crowds of traveling salesmen, conventioneers and localites. One of the top acts was an old vaudevillian I had known in my theater days. I sent him a note and he joined us to make the fun even greater for a bunch of local yokels from Arizona. We were the butt of several of his jokes in his second show -- in good fun, of course.
On the way back to our hotel, Quigley said, "I've been sponging off you guys for the past three days and nights. On Monday night, when you get back from Milwaukee, you're all going to be my guests. I'm working on a deal that will make me a few bucks and we'll see some new spots on Monday night," he said.
After watching our Wildcats get their annual walloping at Marquette's hand on Saturday, we returned Sunday morning so we could watch the Chicago Bears play Pittsburgh that afternoon in the old Chicago White Sox park, which is even older now and still being used.
After the game, we came out looking for a ride to town. The streetcars were jammed, with people hanging on the steps. That was a hopeless situation, so we looked for a cab. All taken, and many others looking also.
Irving Phillips was a giant of a man, about "six two or three' and with a heavy overcoat looked like Man Mountain Dean without a beard. We were following along behind him and it looked like we'd have to follow him on foot to the Loop. Suddenly, there was a break in the traffic on the street we were on, he stepped in front of the first car that came along, held up his hand and commanded the driver to stop. He was a guy out for a Sunday drive with his old lady. He stopped.
Phillips said we were detectives and had to get to the City Hall at once. The startled guy didn't know what else to do but tell us to pile in the back seat. That's how we got back to the Loop. It's a good thing he didn't drive us to the police stati on, as I'm sure we would have had a free night's lodging, at least!
Monday morning before breakfast, our phone rang and when I answered it, Quigley was on the other end, in the lobby. He asked, "Can I come up. I need a drink right now!" He was there in a couple of minutes and was obviously shook up.
He said he was very embarrassed, that he couldn't take us out to dinner, as he promised, that his deal had fallen through. We assured him it was not important and to forget it, but "what happened, Frank?"
He said he had the worse luck on Sunday. "We've been casing this jewelry store for three weeks and the owner never comes in on Sunday afternoon. We got in through the roof and had the front door off the safe and were about to get into the goodies whe n the guy and his girlfriend stopped in for some damned reason. We mussed him up a bit and had to get the hell out before he set off the burglar alarm." Frank was just a tough luck guy we agreed.
So we had dinner, including Frank, only it was paid for with money we brought with us from Tucson rather than by the earnings from a "deal" that fell through in Chicago. That jeweler never did realize the embarrassment he caused Frank that Sunday afte rnoon, or that he had almost been our host for the evening.
The Caruth family is one of Dallas' pioneer families, represents great wealth, and donated most of the land on which Southern Methodist University is located.
Will Caruth is the contemporary head of the family and is heavily involved in real estate investments and development. His late sister, Mattie, was married to Colonel Harold Byrd, distant relative of Admiral Byrd. There never has been much love lost between Will and his brother-in-law, Harold.
Three or four years ago while attending a meeting of the Urban Land Institute in Vancouver, B.C., I got into an elevator with Will Caruth. Soon it was filled with men and women, most of whom were attending the same meetings.
I asked Will, "Is it true, Will, that a couple of years ago your brother-in-law, Harold Byrd, was attending a football game at which his favorite team, University of Texas, came from behind in the last few minutes to score a couple of touchdowns and turn a sure loss into an unexpected victory. And when the game was about to come to an end, Harold stood up and yelled, 'Everyone within the sound of my voice is invited to come to my home this evening for cocktails and dinner to celebrate this great victory.' And is it true that 600 people showed up?"
Will responded immediately, "that's not true. A thousand people showed up. That loud mouth son-of-a-bitch could be heard farther than that!!"