A Sub of One's Own
We've been admiring the boom in powerboats for some time now, just as you probably have, and wondering what form it would take next. Well, we invite your attention to a German engineer named Ernst Wagoner who has not only been wondering about, but working on, the form it should take next. His proposal: the sportsman's submarine.
Wagner, an old Luftwaffe designer who switched after the war and created the famous Ewa line of powerboats, is building light, inexpensive subs at his yards at Ueberlingen on Lake Constance and will offer the first of them for sale at the New York boat show next January. He vigorously opposes the notion that a submarine must be both dangerous and complicated. His ship is a 5-by-12-foot rectangle of metal tubes, and looks like a miniature lighthouse on a raft. The center part consists of a plexiglass dome—the conning tower—with a gooseneck tube sticking out of it: the periscope. The sub's total displacement makes it always lighter than water, so that if anything happens to the two electric motors it automatically rises to the surface. Wagner has designed it to cruise at about 15 mph submerged and to be able to stay below for two hours. Weighing half a ton, it can be towed behind the family car and launched in four feet of water.
But what are sportsmen going to do in submarines? Wagner believes that we are approaching a whole new kind of sport. He thinks pleasure subs will have all the attraction of skin-diving—he is an enthusiastic skin-diver himself—but with added attractions. "There will be an unfishlike human dignity," says the sporting submariner, "in moving through the undersea realm."
That's Ernst Wagner talking—not us. We're not yet sure what we think of the idea of motorized underwater spectators staring at us skin-divers—possibly through monocles and lorgnettes. But, for better or worse, the first pleasure submarine will be retailing soon for around $2,500, f.o.b. New York: probably less when mass production sets in.
Next to Mike Lyman's grill at the Los Angeles International Airport there is a typical airport newsstand, harshly lighted and eternally busy. This one was doing a fair business early one morning last week when Blinky Palermo, fight manager who acquires some of his prestige from a long cronyship with Frankie Carbo, casually wandered in while waiting .for a plane to his home in Philadelphia.
A conservative dresser, Blinky is a man of taste in other areas, it appears, for his soft pink fingers selected a copy of Sports Illustrated from the magazine rack; then he chose a copy of the monthly magazine Sport, two newspapers and a couple of packages of gum—all told, 80� worth of merchandise. As he approached the cashier he held the magazines and papers behind him and picked a package of peanut butter crackers from the counter. He paid for the crackers and ambled on out into the cool night air.
It was neatly done, on the word of a Los Angeles plainclothesman whose job is to spot hoodlums entering and leaving Los Angeles. He had "made" Blinky almost as soon as he stepped up to the newsstand.
When the policeman picked him up Blinky was a practiced picture of offended innocence. Blinky has been picked up before. Oh, asked Blinky, did I really forget to pay for them? Well, it was a mistake. How about paying for them now? And, finally and inevitably, the classic line: "It's a dirty frame."