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The Pennsylvania Fish Commission may be excused if it comes to the conclusion that some anglers are not worth helping. Recently a mining company pumped toxic waste into the north branch of the Susquehanna River, killing I 16,280 bass and walleyes and ruining the stream for at least three years (SI, Nov. 6). Instead of twiddling its thumbs in the manner of some fish commissions, the Pennsylvania group landed on the mining company with every legal means at its command and intends to bill it for the exact amount offish killed.
For its pains, the commission now finds itself inundated with demands by Susquehanna anglers for refunds of their license fees. We admire Executive Director Albert Day's forthright stand on this matter, too. He told the anglers, in a nice way, to go whistle up a rainspout. "The position which you appear to take," he wrote each fisherman, "is that the unfortunate disaster can in some strange fashion be improved by financially penalizing the agency that has been working tirelessly to force those who are responsible for the tragedy to repair their damage to the river." He returned all the licenses and denied all the refunds. A tough cookie, Albert Day, and Pennsylvania is lucky to have him around.
DEATH OF POOL
The image-makers are moving in on another sport. This time it's pool—oops, we mean pocket billiards. The agency that will reshape pool in the national consciousness calls itself the Billiard Room Proprietors Association of America. Get a load of a few of the things the BRPAA intends to do:
"Cooperate fully with civic and law enforcement officials and agencies in every manner possible to solve a major problem of today's youth—what to do with leisure time.
"Maintain uniformly high standards of conduct and deportment and provide a wholesome recreational atmosphere at all times."
If that isn't enough to turn your stomach, here's the clincher: BRPAA will attempt to "attract potential women players to the game." In this connection the new organization is already gloating over widely printed newspaper pictures of Queen Mother Elizabeth wielding a cue at London's Press Club.
To all of this nonsense, we say: BRPAA, go home. Or go out and organize the Tiddly-Winkers. Let pool alone. Pool is the last refuge of the harassed male. The pool hall is the last place you can tell a gamy joke without lowering your voice. It is the last place you can tell a guy what you really think of him and then whip him on the table at a nickel a ball. Pool shooters don't want "a wholesome recreational atmosphere at all times." They revel in the thick pall of blue smoke and the shiny spittoons and the seedy hustlers and bums sitting around lending local color.
We realize, alas, that the press agents probably will prevail. Just as they changed bowling alleys to lanes and gutters to channels, they will change pool halls to "billiard rooms" and cue sticks to "directional rods" and cue balls to "primary spheres." We can see their slogan of the future already:
"Fight juvenile delinquency! Take a child to a billiard room today." A catastrophe has befallen a grand old game.