Let's all wish a happy 50th anniversary to Neil P. Home, a 74-year-old retired ad man in West Caldwell, N.J. For 50 years, Home's hobby has been taking 16 mm. movies of celebrities, many of them from the world of sports. It all began in 1928 when Home bought a camera "to take some home movies." A former quarter-miler at Columbia, he arranged to meet Charlie Paddock—the sprinter known as "the world's fastest human," who was then appearing at a theater in Newark—at a local stadium. "I bought a tape from the five-and-dime store," Home says, "and I made some footage of Paddock doing his famous last-yardage flying leap through the tape."
Since then, Home has gone on to shoot 2,137 more celebrities. He shot Thomas Lipton on his yacht and John McGraw in the Polo Grounds. He got George Gershwin playing Rhapsody in Blue on his own piano and Bernard Baruch sitting on a park bench. Babe Ruth was a big coup because, as Home says, "I found that if I had Babe Ruth I was O.K. in sports." Another coup was Dr. James Naismith. Home heard from one of Naismith's relatives that the doctor was staying at New York's Hotel Commodore. They met, but before they went up to the hotel roof for pictures, Home remembered there was a sporting-goods store on the ground floor. He skedaddled down there and said, "The inventor of basketball is here. Could 1 borrow a basketball?" Home got the ball and took it up to the roof where Naismith tossed it around for the camera.
Horne's footage on celebrities is almost endless. It averages 15 to 25 feet per celebrity and includes Connie Mack, Bill Tilden, Charles Dana Gibson, John D. Rockefeller, Gertrude Ederle, Secretariat winning the Triple Crown, Pope Pius XII, Ty Cobb, Henry Mancini, Billy Sunday, Barbra Streisand, Toots Shor, Winston Churchill, Andy Pafko, F.D.R., Joe Pepitone, Greta Garbo, Red Auerbach, Thomas Edison, Jim Bunning (the day he pitched a perfect game), James J. Jeffries, Tex Rickard, Doc Blanchard, Howard Hughes, Joe Namath, Douglas MacArthur, Ben Hogan, Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Grantland Rice, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edgar Guest ("as wholesome and genial as his poetry would indicate"), Liberace, Luis Tiant, John Philip Sousa, Spencer Tracy, Bobby Fischer, Huey Long and Gump Worsley.
And Home hasn't hung up his camera. Just this season he shot 164 NBA players. "The New Jersey Nets have been very kind to me," he says. "They let me set up just outside the visiting locker room. I can now say I have every coach and the top players in this fine sport."
If you cross a basketball with a snake, do you get a bouncing baby boa?
FIGURING THE ANGLES
In the Olympics and in international track and field meets, sophisticated electronic devices are used to measure distances in the throwing events. Now professor Dave Gibson of the University of Florida's College of Engineering and a staff of professional and student surveyors have come up with almost instant pole vault readings.
Ordinarily, measuring the height of a vault is time-consuming, calling for a ladder or cherry picker so the official can get up to the bar with his tape measure, but Gibson and his colleagues have been able to cut the time drastically by means of two theodolites and a small computer. The theodolites, used by surveyors to measure vertical and horizontal angles, are planted on tripods at a predetermined distance from the bar, and the angle readings are relayed to Gibson. He then punches the reading into the computer and gets a fast printout of the height to the lowest quarter inch.
The system was successfully used at the recent Florida Relays, and Dick Dale of the College of Engineering says, "I watched one instance in which our people had figures in seconds, but because the height was approaching a record level, the officials made their measurements in traditional fashion. They took 20 minutes or more. Our numbers were exactly what they finally came up with. In another instance, the upright scale reported one height and we showed it was an inch low. They corrected fast."