As you suggest, A Bold Proposal for American Sport (July 27) by a bold man, Robert F. Kennedy, is certain to stir new discussions and appraisals of our athletic status.
I am sure everybody will agree that it is time for self-examination in our sports-governing bodies, AAU, NCAA, U.S. Olympic Committee, and it would be nice if the International Olympic Committee could be included. Maybe a little too much self-perpetuation has crept into the sports organizations. I, for one, don't have the easy answer that will make everything rosy. But the Attorney General makes his case a little too simple by his proposal that a big foundation will suddenly solve all the problems. One way we can move a bit ahead, however, is to support Michigan Congressman John Lesinski's bill to terminate the excise tax on all sporting goods equipment, a bill now before the House Ways and Means Committee. As Congressman Lesinski says, "The economy would be greatly stimulated by the elimination of all these excise taxes and in the long run the government would receive greater revenue from sales to people who now hesitate to buy because of high prices."
RALPH A. DES ROCHES
New York City
OLD HEM AND THE SEA
I would like to extend my warmest commendations to John Dos Passos and to SI for a truly fine article (Old Hem Was a Sport, June 29)! Robert Cantwell is absolutely right in considering it "the best and simplest portrait of Ernest Hemingway in American literature, and one of the most brilliant and engaging of Dos Passos' works." As Publisher James wrote, "It is a beginning that cries for more!"
DAVID T. HANSON
John Dos Passos' article induced in me a great feeling of nostalgia because I loved those days. Today's new, fast tuna fishermen with their towers can never capture that man-against-big-game-fish feeling that we enjoyed. For years the stuffed head of Ernest's fish hung in the old Captain's bar at Cat Cay, Bahama Islands, probably because Cook, then manager of Cat Cay, hooked it aboard his own boat, Cookie. Dos Passos is mistaken when he says it was hooked by Hemingway. Cook hooked it around 10 in the morning and played it until about 3 in the afternoon. Then, with hands bleeding, he gave in to Ernest who jumped aboard Cookie and took over the fight. I was in a launch off my own Moana watching with several other fishboats, three to five miles offshore. I was so excited I forgot everything but the submachinegun. Until it got too dark and the sharks too close to the Cookie, I used it to keep them away from the fish. Then I had to quit for fear of a ricochet killing someone. For this I was roundly cursed by Ernest.
Ernest never got the submachinegun from me at that time. It was not until he decided to mix in the Spanish Civil War that I gave it to him as a going-away present. It had been given to me by Colonel Marcellus Thompson, the son of the inventor, so I was much attached to it. But a civil war is a civil war.
There are a couple of other things: there were no blondes aboard Moana. My wife of 28 years, who was then my fianc�e and whose hair was black, was aboard with her chaperone, Mrs. Dorsay, whose hair was red. She remembers Dos Passos as very charming, but we neither of us remember the lady called Katy. Also, Dos Passos never spent the night aboard (I was particular, too), and there never was any air conditioning in Moana.
Thanks for making me look up old diaries. I found much more of Ernest in them to give me nostalgia, but pleasant nostalgia. I liked the man you call "Old Hem" very much indeed.
WILLIAM B. LEEDS
St. Thomas, V.I.
?Rather than inject our own two-bits' worth into the disparate recollections of two old timers, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED asked Author Dos Passos himself to reply to Mr. Leeds. His letter follows.—ED.
Memory is indeed tricky. There are two points on which I think Mr. Leeds's recollection is correct. It is quite possible that the fish was, as he says, hooked on some other man's boat and that Hemingway took it over in midbattle. When I put down those recollections something between 10 and 15 years ago, I had, I am afraid, quite forgotten that detail.
Also, saying that the yacht Moana was air conditioned was an anachronism. There was a very powerful ventilating system aboard that pumped air into the staterooms. For the rest I must disagree. Mr. Leeds really was kind enough to insist that my wife Katy and I spend the night.