TURF: EXIT THE REAL HORSE
Although a New Yorker, I now live out here in California where I am happy to say that, among other pleasures, children are permitted to enjoy a holiday with their families at the track, watching the sport of kings. Of course they cannot make a bet, which is highly proper, but they can watch sleek, beautiful horses carry flashy, colored silks in contests of speed, which are both exciting and entertaining. That's why I was delighted to read last spring that John W. Hanes, president of the New York Racing Association, was going to allow children into the New York tracks with their parents.
Now I am amazed to discover from your editorial, But Don't Go Near the Races! (SI, Aug. 11), that Governor Harriman was led by a resolution of the New York City Council to "suggest" that the New York Racing Association think twice about permitting children to go to the races with their families. Since then I understand that Hanes's very fine move has been rescinded.
As a close friend and admirer of the governor's, it is surprising to me that he would do this. I believe it's far better for children to accompany their parents to the races and enjoy a day together in the open than to be left home in the hands of an unfamiliar baby sitter, or even alone. It also gives city kids a chance to see real (not TV) horses, so fast disappearing from the city streets.
By the way, I am the producer of The Fiend Who Walked the West, the film which you mentioned in your editorial. I think if you take time out to sec the picture you will find it by no means a "gimmick" film. It is well acted, well written and, I hope, well made. It has terror in it, yes, but it also has humor and provides great entertainment.
HERBERT SWOPE JR.
Thank you so much for devoting a page of your fine magazine to the nasty television shows, movies and books to which our children are exposed.
Several years ago we knew some of the drivers at the Hamburg track, and Saturday mornings they let our 8- and 10-year-olds "drive" the horses. It was a big thrill and also a big thrill that night for our kids to sit quietly, outdoors, in a box and watch those same nice men drive their favorite horses. Shortly thereafter kids under 16 were barred from the track and our kids had to go back to looking at horror movies on television. It is not a change for the better.
Your point-blank comment about banning children from New York's race tracks and the typical boorish advertisements for TV and movies was excellent. Many states outlaw gambling, but the type of "entertainment" that is allowed on our screens is abominable. Thank you for an enlightening editorial.
RICHARD SCHAEFER, D.D.S.
DAWSON VS. WASHINGTON: REBUTTAL
"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men." So says Abraham Lincoln, and surely this great President, who delayed affairs of state lest he miss his turn at bat, would walk at midnight if the national game were removed from the nation's capital. Therefore, though a mere girl and not very brave anyway, I must protest the brutal and completely unfair letter of Mr. Clyde Dawson of Fort Stanton, N. Mex. (19TH HOLE, Aug. 18).
"Washington simply is not a baseball town," says he. The Senators are deeply entrenched in the public's heart; the problem is that the public is not entrenched in Calvin Griffith's heart.
Mr. Dawson claims to have done serious research. This I doubt, because of some of the things he declares or proposes. First, that the Nats are not making money. Ah, but they are making money; not much, the ballplayers are told at contract time, but a profit, and it looks as if it will be more this year.