Four little guys
Japs’ showing at 1932 Winter Olympics serves warning they are tough, ambitious
By Joe Williams
New York –
Several aggressive letters reached our desk today. One of them had to do with skiing, a sport about which we know very little.
What we know about skiing goes back to 1932 and Lake Placid. That was when and where the Winter Games of the Olympics were held. One of the features was the first appearance of the Japanese.
They turned out to be rather heroic in the sporting page sense. They hadn’t seen much snow; they certainly had not seen those long slides from the top of which guys shot off into the great open spaces – a very daring thing.
We remember writing about them. We remember writing how they put on skis for the first time and fell on their faces just trying to walk around the main street in the town. We were wearing skis for the first time and falling down too, but we weren’t in the Olympics. We weren’t going to try to slide down those long hills.
The Japs did. Everybody did it better than they did. but there wasn’t a day the Japs weren’t in there trying. They knew nothing about skiing but if anybody else could do it – or at least try it – they could, too.
Japs show courage
So, most of our stories out of Lake Placid that year in connection with skiing were about the Japs, the four little guys who wore glasses and skied with glasses, and how they went up to the very top of the championship slide and waited for the starting gun, and how they went down the ice-boated alley, a very dangerous thing, with all the lean and confidence of an old-timer.
That seemed to us to be the story of the skiing program at Lake Placid; these little fellows who couldn’t even stand up on skis as they tried to walk around the town; but when it came to the big test, the Olympic test, they took their places and whisked down the snow lanes with all the bravery and confidence of the old-timers.
They didn’t do very well. The fact is they didn’t place. Most of us laughed at them, that is, at their lack of ability. But none of us laughed at their capacity for trying; it was a capacity that took on almost heroic dimensions.
Proud, reckless race
Of course, in those days you could not sense the treachery of the race. Looking back, even as of today, we doubt there was any treachery, there was only this: If the Americans can do it, so can we.
The war is telling us more and more about the philosophy of the Japs. They are a very proud and determined race, and very imitative. They care nothing about their lives.
This brings us back again to the little Jap – we never took the trouble to remember his name – who stood at the top to the ski slide, the first time he had ever been on any ski slide, and when he was told to go he went. He not only went but at that moment he tied the best record that had been made in the Olympics.
We can still see him. We can see him soaring through the air. We can see him landing at the parked-in space. We can see him tumbling head over heels. There was an ambulance there, we were sure he would be picked up as a hospital case. Instead, he got up and bowed to the right and to the left. We couldn’t hear what he said. We were at the top of the slide. A little golden-haired girl stood next to us.
He’s saying, “how do you like that?”
The little golden-haired girl was Sonja Henie.
Implications now clear
To us that was the big thrill of the winter Olympics of 1932. It had no war implications at the time. It has now, of course. It shows how tough the Japs can be. It is plain warning to Americans that they think they can do everything we can do. It shows, further, that they are determined to do just that.
When we look back on this little incident, we wonder what certain Naval and Army leaders are thinking about when they refer to the Japs as monkeys. To your Sentinel, they are no more than that, but it so happens we know they are sports. They are tough to beat. They think they are just ads good as us. What’s more, they have the idea, as they showed at Lake Placid, that, given the chance, they can beat is, that they are better than we are. That adds up to a strong psychological force. It should not be underestimated, by any of us.
All of which reminds us of a letter we received today from a skiing fan, who protests that Torger Tokle, who is the Joe Louis of the icy lanes, was not mentioned in the annual sportswriters roundup of greats, you know that voting business that decides who’s the No. 1 this and who is the No. 1 that. Tokle wasn’t even mentioned. The sportswriters decided a pole-vaulter, Cornelius Warmerdam, the only pole-vaulter who ever went above 15 feet, was the athlete of the year.
Our correspondent doesn’t gripe at that. What he gripes at mostly is that Tokle was entirely ignored.
We wish to say we agree with him entirely. It so happens we saw Warmerdam break a world record, and it left us cold. We have seen Tokle jump – and just seeing him jump is a thrill. Personally, we don’t care much about records.
We think we can explain why the sportswriters of the country ignored Tokle. So many of them never saw him. There is no snow in the South, for instance, hence there is no skiing. The facilities for pole vaulting are not restricted. You can pole vault in your backyard. That might explain the vote for Warmerdam but it would never justify the total ignoring of the greatest ski jumper this country ever saw.
Golf head says game has place in war
New York (UP) –
George W. Blossom Jr., president, told the 49th annual meeting of the United States Golf Association today that golf was a patriotic and proper form of exercise for men and women and not in poor taste in these serious times.
Blossom said he believed the sport played a dual role in the conditioning program of the country, providing physical exertion out of doors and relaxation at the same time.
It is my considered opinion that all who can afford it should continue, financially and otherwise, to sponsor their clubs and thereby make them available for men in armed services as well as themselves.
We would be derelict in our duty to our country if in the coming months, as the strain of war increases, we did not provide some sort of relaxation. It is surprising how morale is benefited and troubles dissipate on the golf course.
WMC says players can quit winter jobs
Washington (UP) – (Jan. 8)
War Manpower Commission officials today described as “ridiculous” a controversy which has arisen in Cleveland over whether baseball players who took winter jobs in defense plants can return to baseball in the spring.
The controversy arose when a job stabilization program was adopted in Cleveland by WMC, industry and labor to prevent pirating of labor and to cut down labor turnovers due to other circumstances.
A number of members of the Cleveland Indians, American League team, had taken jobs in defense factories for the winter, but planned to return to baseball when the training season starts. When informed that their status was being questioned in Cleveland, officials here said:
Of course, it doesn’t mean they can’t return to baseball.
It was pointed out that the only prospect they face – and not because of the stabilization plan – is the loss of any occupational deferment they might have enjoyed while working at a defense plant.
Baseball is not an essential occupation, so when they report for spring training, they lose their occupational deferments.