It was only 7:30 o'clock in the morning, but Kay Elliott (who was Katherine O'Malley before she married Jumbo 19 years ago) already had served seven bacon-and-egg breakfasts, packed four lunches and now was circling the table in the dining room of the big stone house in Haverford, Pa. passing out vitamin tablets.
At the head of the table, reading the sports pages, sat Jumbo himself: James Francis Elliott, highly successful salesman of heavy building equipment, three-handicap golfer, chairman of the greens committee at the Aronimink Golf Club and famous coach of Villanova University's track and field teams.
I was there to spend a day making the rounds with Jumbo and to investigate reports that he was coming up this year with the best team he has had since 1957, when Villanova had, among others, Ron Delany, the miler, and Don Bragg, the pole vaulter, and had won practically everything in sight, including team championships in the National AAU indoor, the IC4A indoor and outdoor and the NCAA.
"Let's see the homework," said Kay Elliott, sitting down for a cup of coffee. Joy, 7, Jeffrey, 8, and Tommy, 11, passed over their notebooks. Jimmy Jr., 14, a high school freshman, didn't bother, nor was he expected to, for he is a remarkably fast study and gets consistently high grades.
Jumbo folded his newspaper and slapped it against the table. "By golly," he said, looking around as if he had just decided the point, "I love sports. I love all sports."
"You don't love tennis," said Joy softly.
Startled, Jumbo looked sharply at his red-haired daughter.
"Why, that's right," he said. "I don't love tennis. But I don't dislike it. I don't hate tennis. I'm just not crazy about it."
"Dad," said Jimmy, "do you think Frank Budd will turn professional?" Frank Budd, Villanova's great sprinter, the world's fastest human as holder of the world record of 9.2 for the 100-yard dash, has been drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles although he hasn't played football since high school.
"Why," said Jumbo, "that's up to Frank, Jimmy. I think he could make it in pro football if he wanted to. Of course, I'd like to see him stay eligible for the next Olympics. I'd like to see him stay on at Villanova and study law. I think Frank would make a very good lawyer. He could turn pro and still study law. He's thinking it over."