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Haydon's doctor described his symptoms as the civilian equivalent of battle fatigue and prescribed a new way of life—a highball before dinner, nine hours of sleep a night, 30 mg. of vitamin B a day, an occasional weekend off and exercise. Haydon continued in community work for three more years, mornings and evenings, but in the late afternoons he took time to stop off at the University of Chicago Fieldhouse to work out. He was too old for the hurdles by then, but he threw the hammer and gradually became a sort of volunteer assistant to his old college coach, Ned Merriam. In 1950 Merriam, who was ill and about to retire, asked Haydon if he would like to take over, and Haydon, seeing an opportunity to finish the master's degree he had begun in 1933, took the job.
"One day after I left social work I saw Saul Alinsky, who was by that time with the Back of the Yards Council," Haydon says. "He said, 'What are you doing back in the ivory tower?' I said, 'In social work you go round in circles. Now I get points for it.' " Haydon paused. "Alinsky's dead now, of course. Joe Lohman is dead. That's a hard racket. I'd probably be dead now, too, if I'd stayed in that work."
In his first year in his new job Haydon founded the track club and persuaded the university to open its facilities, first to alumni and others connected with the university who wanted to work out, and then to more and more athletes from every background whose common need was help to keep going. He was paid then, and still is, only for coaching the Chicago varsity and teaching a couple of classes in the physical education department. He runs the track club almost on his own.
Haydon does rely on a small volunteer army of people like lawyer Arthur McLendon; a young college coach named F. Lee Slick; a 74-year-old former Boys Club official, Anthony Nicolette; and Jack Bolton, a construction superintendent in his 60s who was a world-class miler in the 1930s. These and a dozen or so like them show up at 8:30 a.m. on the day of a meet to rake out the sandpits and set up the hurdles and time the finishes, and they remain to help until the sun has gone down and the Port-a-Pit and the ticket booths have been stowed away in the Fieldhouse. During a meet, if there is an extra medal for the taking, some of them will jump into the competition. Slick throws the hammer, Bolton runs in Masters distance races, McLendon is a walker. But most of the time they work.
"My theory is," Haydon says, "if you look helpless, somebody's going to help you."
Haydon looks most helpless in the paper confusion of his office in Bartlett Gym, a sort of clerical compost heap with a 20-foot ceiling and a dusty schoolroom clock that stopped at 3:24 some months or years ago. Piles of letters not yet answered and schedules and programs and back issues of track magazines spill over onto an adjoining desk that is unoccupied, as if long ago a timid office mate had retreated in the face of the approaching deluge. Dozens of trophies covered with a layer of fine dust are on shelves, in cabinets, under tables and on the seat of an overstuffed armchair with lumpy brown cushions. A cardboard carton filled with mangled squash racquets rests under a coatrack, along with a bottle of Pepto-Bismol and an old maroon warm-up jacket with U OF C STAFF embroidered across the heart (Haydon says, "They give them to phys ed teachers just in case they forget who they are").
Howls of anguish come from the handball court next door, and sneakered feet pound on the running track overhead. Everything seems hopelessly out of control, yet from seeming chaos emerges one of the biggest track programs in the country. The New York Athletic Club sponsors no meets, the Pacific Coast Club is essentially a very effective booking agency for an exclusive troupe of about 20 stars. The only club that is comparable to UCTC is the Oregon Track Club in Eugene, which also uses a university's facilities and reaches out into the surrounding community, offering programs and asking for assistance. But the community that surrounds the Oregon Track Club is a medium-size college town with medium-size problems. UCTC exists in the middle of a huge urban ghetto with massive problems rising out of bad housing, poverty, joblessness. Across Cottage Grove Avenue from the west end of Stagg Field is Washington Park, where cross-country runners train and where the body of a woman was found in a ravine during a UCTC competition. Yet at Stagg Field there have been no instances of real vandalism.
"When they put in the all-weather track," says Haydon, "I thought we'd see 'Mighty Blackstone Rangers' or something painted on it, but it never happened. They put a fence around the field, but the only person it ever kept out was me. I was the only one who couldn't climb it."
Stagg Field in the summer and the Fieldhouse in the winter have become neighborhood recreation centers just as surely as the storefronts and church basements of the Near North Side were. Every afternoon children with pails and shovels dig in the sand of the long-jump pit as runners patter by.
"We know that if the little kids play in the sandboxes there'll be no glass and broken bottles," says Haydon. "The mommas will take care of that."