Puppygitwok, a poker-faced fellow with straight black hair and penetrating black eyes, took the big city in stride. He obliged his host by eating some blubber which had been especially flown in too. "How," he was asked, "did it taste?" Said Puppygitwok: "Good." Then he slipped into a loud sport shirt, a flashy necktie and khaki pants and submitted to a press conference. During the process he talked a bit about Eskimo relations with Arctic mice. The relations are good. The mice spend the summer storing small succulent roots known as Eskimo potatoes in little mounds. In the fall the Eskimos walk out on the tundra, open the mounds and steal the roots—not, however, without substituting dried fish to keep the mice alive and thus able to gather more roots during the following year.
When he was asked what aspect of the great city impressed him most he said: "I saw a horse. I had never seen a horse before." What did he do on sighting the beast? "I opened the taxi-cab window and looked at him."
Puppygitwok, however, did not drive his skin boat across the bay to the Statue of Liberty. It snowed on the appointed morning and the harbor police refused to let him go. Puppygitwok did not blink an eye, although the police attitude reflected something like a lack of confidence in Eskimos. Could he have made it, snow notwithstanding? "Yes," said Puppygitwok.
A winter's tale
It snowed in England and Scotland last week and the temperature fell below freezing. Forty-one of 62 scheduled English and Scottish league soccer games were postponed because of "frozen state of the grounds," and three games were halted in mid-play because of the elements. British soccer fans will have their soccer, elements or no elements, and the wholesale cancellations roused them to a state of rather turbulent discontent. This seemed like a reasonable reaction—after all, U.S. football games are sometimes played in driving snow and near-zero temperatures and nobody can deny that U.S. football is rougher ('ere now, none of that) than soccer. But on closer inspection it developed that the fans weren't really dying to sit in the cold and watch soccer (although enough turned out for a game in London to pelt one hapless goalie with snowballs). The discontent stemmed from a subsidiary manifestation of the weather—the Pool Promoters Association canceled all soccer lotteries, and for the first time since 1947 it was absolutely impossible to bet on a game—even on a game which was played. In short, it wasn't the cold, it was the cupidity.
Diplomacy is fine, but as the man said when he threw his sponging brother-in-law out of the house over his wife's doubtful objections, direct action beats legislation every time.
The National Football League has been plagued for several years by the Canadian football leagues' practice of luring American players north of the border with fat checks. It was bad enough having the Canadians capturing the cream of each year's college crop, but when supposedly safe professional veterans were signed off the NFL rosters onto Canadian teams, the American clubs steamed. They blustered, they argued, they sued, all without success. Finally, they fought back. "They want a war?" said NFL Commissioner Bert Bell. "Well, then, let's have war."
The Americans began to raid Canada, recapturing a player here and a player there to offset the players still being lost northward. After the 1954 season the big blows struck. The New York Giants persuaded their former star, Tex Coulter, to return. Then they exploded a bombshell. They signed Alex Webster, an American whose entire pro career had been in Canada and who had developed into one of the best backs in Canadian football. The Chicago Cardinals exploded a bigger bombshell. They signed Sam Etcheverry, Canada's Most Outstanding Player in 1954. Now Canada was hurt and seething. Almost at once the Montreal Alouettes re-signed Etcheverry (an amiable young man who seemed unable to say no to anyone) over the Chicago Cardinal contract, so that Etcheverry was in the position of having jumped two contracts almost simultaneously, thus angering everyone and setting the border, one might say, ablaze.
But Canada, as with many a carefree raider when war is carried into his own back yard, suddenly lost its taste for fighting. Last week the Big Four League sued for peace. This eastern half of the Canadian professional football setup announced a new ruling. From now on, it said, no player under contract or option to play elsewhere in 1955 would be eligible for Big Four play. It recommended that the rule be adopted by the entire Canadian Rugby Union and added that Bert Bell was being contacted directly. If Bell accepted the peace terms—recognition of the Canadian leagues' place in professional football but respect for one another's option clauses—then this latest of professional football wars would be done.