DOWN WITH MARY POPPINS
A life-size statue of Mary Poppins has been proposed for New York's Central Park, where it will complement similar statues of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen, and Parks Commissioner Thomas P. F. Hoving is asking New Yorkers to contribute to the Mary Poppins Fund. Nobody asked New Yorkers whether they wanted a life-size statue of Mary Poppins in their park.
Although the Mary Poppins books are popular, their heroine got her chief renown in a treacly movie in which she was played by Julie Andrews. Indeed, the first (and most improbable) objection to the statue was that in the sketch Mary Poppins looked too much like Julie Andrews. The second objection was, as The New York Times commented, that the statue is bad art (as are those of Alice and Hans) and a trespass on park land.
If, however, New Yorkers wish to defile their park with junk art, we feel Hoving can surely come up with a more suitable subject for New York children in this day and age than an English nanny with a resemblance to Julie Andrews. For example, kids would flip over a life-size statue of Mickey Mantle swinging from the heels, or one of Willie Mays making a spectacular catch, his hat, by some trick of the sculptor's art, shown in the very instant it flies off.
HEAR NO EVIL
For the past six weeks Jackie Gleason has been picking the NFL games on a TV show called NFL Countdown to Kick off, and, according to Gleason, "I've had only seven wrong out of 30, maybe even better." Last Saturday Gleason made his picks, but not as usual. Something was missing. The—if you'll excuse the expression—point spreads. The NFL and CBS had asked Gleason to "stay away from the points." Apparently they feared someone might get the idea you can bet on pro football. Which confirms our suspicion that we don't entirely understand the game. For instance, just the other day Pete Rozelle was explaining why the supergame between the NFL and AFL champions couldn't take place unless a bill was passed exempting pro football from the antitrust laws. Said Rozelle: "We can't compete aggressively, as we have, with player raiding and all, for the whole year and then get together for one day and play each other."
OFF AND RUNNING
Two weeks ago we related the athletic fortunes of the University of Plano (of Plano, Texas), which opened in 1964; this week we would like to acquaint you with those of the College of Artesia (of Artesia, N. Mex.), which opened October 12, making it, indubitably, the newest college in the nation. Artesia is going to run to catch up. In fact, Dr. Thomas C. Stevens, its president, has decided that the 334 students will be known as the Artesia Roadrunners, and he has hired a marathoner, Charles R. Solberg, to be director of athletics. In a way, this is a providential choice; Artesia has no gymnasium, but there are 300 acres of campus to run around on.
To get Artesia on the road, Solberg—who finished 222nd out of a field of 389 in the 1965 Boston Marathon—is scheduling a five-mile run on November 19, which will begin on campus and wind up in the heart of downtown Artesia (pop. 12,600). President Stevens is delighted. He feels the race will symbolize the fitness and hustle he wants to see at Artesia. "Our motto is 110% effort," says Stevens. Solberg is impatient. "I would eventually like to run in the Boston Marathon with many of my former students," he says. "I hope to make it the most prestigious class reunion in the world."
OF MICE AND MEN
Last year gerbils (pronounced jerbils) were big. The fuzzy, four-inch rodents (plus three-inch tails) were hailed as the perfect pets, being clean, cheerful, friendly and, for all we know, thrifty, reverent and brave. They are also playful, as Creative Playthings, a toy firm that sells gerbils for $15 a pair, has recently determined. According to its Christmas catalog, Creative Playthings "confronted our own gerbils with various toys" and "the ones they've had the most fun with we have packaged together for your gerbils." The package, known as Gerbil Toys, includes a little ladder, a little seesaw and a little tunnel and retails for $4.50.