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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Crowds were large (15,000 turned out for the last two rounds) and enthusiastic, but the marshals, who carried gay, peppermint-striped poles to augment the usual tee-to-green gallery roping, had only to ask "Silencio, por favor," to command the utmost in discipline.
The gallery was not only one of the best behaved in the world, it was probably the most beautiful. Luscious Argentine girls turned out in colorful, tight-fitting Capri slacks. "'Distractions, distractions, distractions," a golfer moaned appreciatively. "Why do you think I played so horribly? I could hardly keep my eye on the ball, but I wouldn't have changed things for anything."
Of course. Better by far to be distracted by a well-turned figure than by an ill-turned mob.
The Pickwick Bicycle Club, founded in England in 1870, the year Charles Dickens died, is the oldest cycle club in the world. Members address each other by the names of characters in Pickwick Papers, meet periodically to smoke old shag in churchwarden pipes, to drink rum punch and to recall the halcyon days of penny-farthing, or high-wheeler, cycles, so called because one wheel is large, like a penny, the other tiny, like a farthing.
The high-wheeler is coming back, and England puts on a penny-farthing race annually. Old and young alike pound away over a London track for four laps, roughly equivalent to a mile. And now Americans arc getting interested. Leo J. Cohen, president of the Los Angeles West Coast Cycle Supply Company, which supplies about a thousand dealers all over the U.S., recently placed an order at London's Cycle and Motor Cycle Show for a hundred penny-farthings at $280 each.
The fad for penny-farthings began in the 1870s, and reached its zenith during the Gay Nineties here and in England. In April 1884 Thomas Stevens started from San Francisco to ride round the world on a penny-farthing. He made it by December 1886.
It takes a lot of work to make a good penny-farthing. The front driving and steering wheel is the main problem. For tall men in the old days they ranged up to 62 inches in diameter. The Falcon model Mr. Cohen has ordered will have a 48-inch front wheel. Its tires are solid rubber and weigh some 50 pounds. Mr. Cohen will have his Falcons in time for Easter. He anticipates a big demand, and is planning to order more than his initial hundred. "Everyone will want to ride them in the parks," Cohen predicts. It's about as easy as mounting a horse, with the aid of a step, but once up look out for low-hanging branches.
PEACE AND COEXISTENCE
The student exchange system has helped improve understanding between nations. Now Maine and Florida are about to try to understand each other via tourist exchange. During January Floridians will go to Maine to study skiing, clambakes, square dancing, skating, dog teams and maple syrup poured on snow. A body of Maine tourists will visit Florida for courses in salt water fishing (southern style), water skiing, skin diving, tennis, golf and beachcombing. Total cost, $259 for six days and five nights, including round trip air transportation.