"The Olympics," reports the Times, "are contests of world products, too." And, as might be expected in industrial Japan, manufacturers are vying with one another to get their products accepted by the Olympic Organizing Committee. A Japanese printing company offered to rent 50 machines free and supply the printers as well but, when the committee accepted with thanks, other printing concerns screamed that the deal was crooked. The committee accepted watches from several Japanese manufacturers, but then a Swiss company, which has supplied watches to countless past Olympics, wrote a letter "full of sarcasm" in protest. Exclaims a committee official: "Receiving gifts is most strenuous!"
The Tokyo Hire-Taxi Tourist Committee is smoothing the way for visitors. A member of the taxi committee says Tokyo cab drivers are so well trained that none of them would create an international incident. "He meant," says The Japan Times, "that none of them will dare to act fresh with a beautiful athlete, for instance, from Hungary, even if they are so attracted by such a customer. He didn't clarify why he and his drivers are particularly concerned about Hungarian beauties. He simply said that Hungarian female athletes are long-legged and beautiful." Another official, says the Times, fears some Japanese women interpreters may go too far to promote international friendship with "those Italian athletes, men who have reputation of making advances to women."
So far, the Japanese have not done anything about the Italian menace, but a good reception is assured visitors from the U.S. and the British Commonwealth. The taxi committeeman says, "Our drivers have studied English conversation since 1960 and are ready to speak in English. Not only that, they can tell stories to please foreign customers." All drivers, he says, are equipped with a handy book, Stories of How to Please Foreign Tourists and to Become Good at English Conversation.
The Brow, Itchy, Mumbles, Pruneface, Mrs. Pruneface, Gargles, Nothing, B-B Eyes, The Mole, Flattop, Shoulders and Shakey are some of the villains who have tried to outsmart Dick Tracy, granite-jawed detective of the comic strips. But, aside from a character called Nuremoh ("Homerun" spelled backwards), a baseball player who tried to murder Tess Trueheart back in 1939, sporting villains have been rare. Now, however, there is a new one, Smallmouth Bass, a slippery character who goes around delivering hearts cut out of people for an evil genius named Doc Orta.
How did Chester Gould, the artist who draws Tracy, dream up Smallmouth? Pure creativity. Gould has not fished in years. As he recalls it, he was sitting at his drawing board one Sunday morning when inspiration struck. "I just made a period for the mouth and sat back and thought, 'That's a Smallmouth,' and I put Bass at the end of the name. I was just trying to get a quick, catchy name." The whole thing took only 15 minutes, the usual time it takes Gould to draw any character for the first time.
Gould has no plans for any other fishy characters, say, Cousin Largemouth or Pickerel Puss, and he isn't saying how Tracy will lure Smallmouth to his net or scale him down to size. (One guess: Flyface will reappear and prompt Smallmouth to leap out of hiding.) Neither will Gould say how long Smallmouth will be around. Usually Gould knocks off a villain at the peak of his popularity with readers. Judging from past history, that should be in about six weeks, around the time smallmouth bass season ends in New York. But Tracy may not catch Smallmouth by then. Tracy is a Chicago cop, and Illinois has no closed season.
A BOOKIE IN THE BUSHES
Rugged American bettors, like their Prohibition forebears, will not tolerate a vacuum. Their ingenuity is boundless. Just the other day Westchester County Parkway Police spotted men parading along a path near the Saw Mill River Parkway. Thinking this uncommon behavior for midday, the coppers trailed a threesome. Peeking around a bush, they discovered Ralph J. Morrella of Yonkers, N.Y. making book. He explained that he had moved into the shrubbery three weeks ago because of the nice weather, and if there is one thing Morrella likes it is long green.
NO MORE DOUGH
Sports took a beating from a couple of philanthropists last week. In Mount Carmel, Pa., Joseph H. Deppen, an eccentric lawyer, left an estate of more than $2 million. About $800,000 goes to Bucknell University for scholarships. To qualify, a student must "not be the habitual user of tobacco, narcotics, intoxicating beverages, and shall not participate in strenuous athletic contests." At his own request, Mr. Deppen was buried in a $6,000 bronze casket. He leaves a 1935 Cadillac in first-class shape.