There used to be a vaudeville adage: "If you think you're good, play Oakland." Nobody or nothing ever went over there except the other end of the Bay Bridge until Al Davis made the Oakland Raiders a reputable football team. Their success stimulated the city to erect its splendid coliseum, which was also designed, perhaps forlornly, to attract an American League baseball team.
So Oakland's big league now? No, it's still bush. The other day its citizenry voted down, by almost a 2 to 1 margin, Proposition K, a bond issue that would have assured the survival of such extracurricular high school activities as band, drama and athletics.
As a result, the Oakland Athletic League, which produced Bill Russell, Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson, among others, is dead, and Oakland has evidently achieved the distinction of being the only major city in the U.S. without an interscholastic sports program. The athletic budget for 10 sports and some 1,500 participants had been only $170,000 a year.
It makes one wonder what these kids are going to do now when class lets out. Most of them are Negroes, and Oakland had already been tabbed as potentially another Watts. As Mel Caughell, president of the Oakland School Board, put it, " Athletics keep more kids in school than any other phase of our educational program."
To which another school board official bitterly added, "These people may think they saved themselves a few bucks, but just wait until they see the bills for law enforcement."
HOW FAST DOES A POSSUM TROT?
A snail paces at .000361 mph to .03125 mph, tops, but how fast does a possum trot? Considerably slower than a taxiing jet, at any rate.
The way Jim Hammett, the former mayor of Claremore, Okla. tells it, he was returning from New York to Tulsa. His plane touched down on the runway at Tulsa International Airport and was trundling toward the terminal, when suddenly it braked to a stop and then crept slowly ahead.
A minute or two later, Hammett says, a voice came over the cabin loudspeaker: "This is your captain speaking. Some of you may be wondering why we applied the brakes awhile back. Well, there's a big fat possum trotting along the runway right ahead of the plane and he won't get over."