"I expected to see a cop or a soldier on every street corner," said Swimmer Don Roth, "but they weren't there. Hungary doesn't seem to be a real police state. The people I spoke with weren't afraid to be critical of conditions in the country. They appear to be happy."
Observed Basketball Captain Bradley: "I was impressed with the overwhelming friendliness for Americans. They were frank and free-spoken and open-minded. I chatted with women taxi drivers, workers in the streets, people in stores and on trolleys. They all wanted a U.S. athletic pin or something symbolic of America. I was disappointed, though. I never got to talk with an avowed Communist."
If the Americans did not hesitate to bring up 1956, the Hungarians were not less reticent about Negro civil rights and the Los Angeles riots. The most articulate answer was the playmaking and the togetherness of the U.S. basketball players, white and Negro, Northern and Southern. In Budapest you could not miss them.
Of greater concern than politics, however, was the barbershop in the lobby of the If jusag Hotel (called "If-you-shag" by the Americans, which was not far from right) and its attractive lady barber. Randy Matson wandered in one day and got a haircut. The bill was 20 cents. "I'll be back tomorrow for a shave," said Matson, and he did return. The shave cost 13 cents. "It wasn't the best I ever had," he drawled, "but it sure was the prettiest barber."
Probably no American athlete is better known in Hungary today than Mat-son, and he performed as a champion should. When he warmed up there was a gasp of admiration—a 60-foot heave from a standing position, without pivot. When the track and field events began on the sixth day it was cold, wet and wintry at People's Stadium. Under those conditions there was no chance for a record. Matson's 66-foot 7?-inch winning throw, however, was eminently satisfying.
As in all competition, there were disappointments. American Sprinter George Anderson, for example, finished second to Japan's Hideo Iijima in the 100-meter dash (both were clocked in 10.1) and second in the 200 meters to Russia's Edvin Ozolin (both were clocked in 21) and wondered aloud how come he was as fast but always lost. A German, Hans-Joachim Klein, won the 100-meter freestyle swim, upsetting Don Roth (no relation to Dick Roth, who won the individual medley). But the only defeat over which the Americans could justifiably complain—and not because of the handling of the games, for that was splendid—was that of top-seeded Allen Fox of Los Angeles in the tennis finals.
Things had gone badly with Fox from the beginning. First he and his playing partner, Don Dell, in a mix-up of dates, were in Poland competing in the Polish Nationals when play began. After an overnight train ride from Katowice to Warsaw and a flight to Budapest, they arrived to learn that they had been scratched. With Hungarian support and Fowler's appeals they were reinstated. Fox promptly won two singles matches back to back with a 15-minute rest. In a match with a French player who was being coached from the sidelines, Fox snapped, "Cut it out! You know that's illegal." The Frenchman replied: "It's illegal to be two days late, too," and kept it up. Finally the Hungarian officials intervened on Fox's behalf.
The next day Fox and Dell played three doubles matches—the entire tournament in one day!—and beat the crack Russian combination of Sergei Likhachev and Tomas Lejus (doubles winners over Dennis Ralston and Chuck McKin-ley at Wimbledon in 1963) 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the finals. "Huj, huj, hajra!" cried the approving Hungarian spectators.
But there weren't enough natives around the next day when Fox took on Rumanian Ion Tiriac in the singles semifinals. It was raining, windy and cold, and the fans who showed up were the noisy, strategically situated Rumanian rooting section. They hounded Fox, got his goat by applauding his errors and Tiriac's fine shots and the American was badly beaten in two straight sets. When the Rumanians were at their worst the referee tried in vain to quiet them, then asked Tiriac to intercede. "I am not the interpreter!" shouted Tiriac. Afterward in the locker room he and Fox had a violent argument and Tiriac, who is better than he sounds, cried, "I could beat you and Dell together."
Still and all, Fox's discomforts were drowned out by a general feeling of well-being on the part of the Americans and the unqualified admiration of the Hungarians. "We must go to the next one [in 1967, probably in Tokyo]," said Olympic Champion Bob Schul. "With a really big American team."