There was unanimous testimony during the hearings of the House Interstate Commerce Committee that prizefighting must have a federal commissioner to save it from itself. An instant applicant for the job was Rocky Marciano.
If there is anything boxing does not need it is a czar drawn from its own ranks. Such an appointment would make the office suspect from inception. No one who has a single friend in the sport should be assigned the post. With all due respect for Rocky, his selection would be a reminder that in his boxing days he was managed by Al Weill, a man whose deals could bear little scrutiny even today. Rocky might even owe a favor here and there.
This presumption could apply, with substantial justice, to almost anyone identified with boxing. If the proposed bill should become law the job would indeed need an expert—not on prize-lighting, but rather in the arts of intrigue, plotting, machination and conspiracy, and one with a deep aversion to them all. In other words, a law man with administrative talents.
Around the first of each month there comes from the U.S. Interior Department a magazine called Water Resources Review, and usually it is pretty dull reading. The government maintains 8,000-odd streamflow gauges in creeks and rivers throughout the U.S. The Review reports the streamflow in terms of cubic feet per second and compares it with past records. Do not think that because there are streamflow gauges on the Rouge, or the Box Elder, or the Brandywine or other beautiful rivers the Review is going to give you any outdoor poetry or hints on where to fish. No. After assembling and digesting information from all these murmuring streams, the Review comes out with something like its report on Iowa in the June issue: "Soil moisture was generally adequate."
But the Review has now become as absorbing as an old-fashioned thriller in installments; it can keep you awake nights. The report on New Jersey in July begins: "Drought conditions continued for the 50th month..." After five years of declining rainfall (from an average 47 inches to about 32) New York and neighbors are faced with a critical drought. Fishing in some famous areas has been all but nonexistent; The New York Times pictured a child walking in the bed of the Delaware River. Even the scenic turnouts on highways overlooking the Hudson have been closed because of fire hazards; 150 brush fires started in one county on one weekend. A 42-inch rattlesnake was killed in a suburban backyard, and the curator of reptiles at the New York Zoological Park explained, "The snakes are coming down out of the wooded hill country looking for moisture." The flow of the Susquehanna at Harrisburg was the second lowest for June since the streamflow gauge began whirling on that river in 1890. In Connecticut, unless July turns out to be rainy, streamflow will "be near the lowest for any month since records began..."
What can be done? Restrictions have cut daily consumption in New York from 1.25 billion gallons to about 1.075 billion. There are some 238 billion gallons in the reservoirs (down from 386 billion last year). Last week, at a conference in Newark, it was disclosed that such great fishing and boating sites of northern New Jersey as Greenwood Lake and Wawayanda Lake may be tapped if necessary. One of the scientists in the Geological Survey, asked for advice, said practically: "Pray for rain."
Olympic Games sites start out as a dream and not infrequently wind up a nightmare. When the French persuaded the International Olympic Committee to hold the 1968 Winter Games at Grenoble, they dreamed that the entire south of France would be transformed into a playground of pleasurable indolence and profitable industry. To equip the pleasure dome, France staked $125 million and the national pride.