SI Vault
May 18, 1959
A Sub of One's Own
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May 18, 1959

Events & Discoveries

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In Municipal Judge Delbert E. Wong's court Blinky pleaded innocent to petty theft and later made a $500 bail bond. A jury trial—for which no one expects Blinky to show—was set for June 16. He left for Philadelphia that night.

A petty incident, but revealing in its way, and of course by no means detrimental to Blinky's influence in boxing.


One of the tragicomic fictions of the modern world is the psychiatrist so steeped in the dark innuendoes of his specialty that he meets every simple "hello" with the question: "What did he mean by that?"

It may be that this suspicious medico has his political counterpart by the hundreds in totalitarian bureaucracies where the wrong nod to the wrong man may mean instant eclipse, but we like to think that in our country at least any man can offer greetings to any other without suspicion or unwelcome inference. We particularly like to think so when the greeter in question is the President of the United States.

Such was definitely not the case when President Dwight D. Eisenhower recently undertook to send his greetings to the national convention of a group of Americans deeply and sincerely dedicated to a problem which has long worried him: the problem of national fitness. The group in question is the official professional organization of the physical education teachers of the U.S., known by the deep-breath name of the American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The new AAHPER program, Operation Fitness—U.S.A., was hailed here (SI, Jan. 26) as "the first constructive nationwide program for fitness of American youth since President Eisenhower became concerned about the problem in 1955."

The President's own cabinet-level Council on Youth Fitness, headed by Interior Secretary Fred Seaton, is semicommitted to Operation Fitness, but some of the council's advisors nurse a private fear that the AAHPER program for getting U.S. youth to flex its muscles leans too much on arbitrary tests which might almost be considered un-American.

We won't even bother to argue that point. We will, however, argue strenuously the right and taste of any bureaucrat, no matter how dissident, to suppress a greeting from the President of the U.S. to any group of his fellow Americans, which is exactly what happened at the AAHPER convention at Portland, Oregon.

President Eisenhower's telegram saluting Operation Fitness was drafted in one division of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (Arthur Flemming, Secretary), okayed by the White House and duly dispatched to the physical education teachers. But it had failed to receive the approving initials of the Secretary's Special Assistant for Health and Medical Affairs, and this would never do. The Special Assistant to the Secretary for Health and Medical Affairs, who was one of those disapproving of Operation Fitness, got on the phone to Portland, and told the physical education boys that there had been a lamentable foul-up; that President Eisenhower's good wishes had not been properly reviewed before dispatch, etc., etc., etc. Not wishing to offend the S.A. for H. and M.A., the officers of the physical education group sadly made their decision: better not read Ike's message to the 2,500 delegates assembled.

Well, we have a copy of the President's greeting at hand, and, the S.A. for H. and M.A. to the contrary notwithstanding, we would like to read it to everybody right here and now. We doubt if Ike would take a line of it back:

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