Morris R. (for nothing) Werner, whose engaging tale of racing in the mountains begins on page 50, may be the youngest man in the world on the wrong side of 60. And this despite the fact that he has cashed winning tickets on 322 daily doubles—enough to shorten anyone's life by 20 years. His friends also attribute his prolonged youth to his low boiling point, which permits him to fulminate against the things that displease him with uninhibited fervor, a sesquipedalian vocabulary and an eye that flashes fiercely from the sanctuary of his bifocals.
Associate Editor Werner has 16 books published (and a book of reminiscences now going the rounds of publishers) plus a large number of small pieces for this magazine, most of them buried (but not lost) in the anonymity of our SCORECARD section. His biographies of P. T. Barnum and Brigham Young are classics—indeed, your child may have read one or the other in his English class. Some of the biographies have been published in England, France, Germany and Denmark.
He is a small man, hunched by the weight of overfilled years, peering around a majestic nose through thick glasses at a world he never made and frequently does not approve of. His story in this issue is about different kinds of racing—harness, dog and flat—but his only real love is the last.
"I was taken to the races by a disreputable uncle at the age of 4," he says. (He was 4, not the uncle.) "I won a banana, but that did not set me off. It was later when I worked for the OWI and had Thursdays off. I felt the need of fresh air, and I discovered that horses were handsomer and more exciting than people, so I went to the track on my day off. I have been going ever since."
Werner began by writing obituaries for the New York Tribune in 1919. Later he interviewed Sun Yat Sen, wrote political essays for various publications, books on Tammany Hall, the Tea Pot Dome scandal, William Jennings Bryan and numerous other subjects. He has also written many Reporter at Large and historical pieces for The New Yorker. He was New York correspondent for the Paris edition of the Herald Tribune and for 23 years was correspondent for the Yorkshire Post of Leeds, England. He joined this magazine in 1960, mostly as a racing expert. But he can, of course, write about anything, since he has done everything and is not loth to admit or write about it.
"Betting on horses," says Werner, "is fun. It is not a passion. I am utterly devoid of any talent, except for writing. I can give up betting on horses, but I don't think I could give up writing. I enjoy the process."
So, luckily, do we enjoy the process, as practiced by Morris R. (for nothing) Werner—and we think you do, too.