Carol and Maren
discussed their peripatetic childhood. When they were youngsters, Walt
Seidler's construction business had taken them to New Jersey, Long Island,
Georgia and back to New Jersey. "At one point we both went to P.S. 102 in
Brooklyn," said Maren. "Which all the Westerners think is heartless—to
give a school a number. California schools are all Skylark at First Dawn
School, or Shady Oak Grove and Babbling Brook Free Junior High School."
not Big People coffee cups," said Carol. "You can't get a finger
through the hole of the handle."
weakest strongest man," Maren said fondly, nodding toward Oldfield, who,
defeated by the ribs, was dozing. "I do think size has a lot to do with not
being aggressive. Society won't accept that from Big People; it's too much,
with a big body, to be aggressive. Big People are expected to be mellow. It's
the only way we can be managed."
She mused on the
variety of responses which size occasions. "Letters are funny. Most are
positive in their kind of hysterical way, like 'How strong are you?' but some
have the tone of a closet trip: one guy wanted to write what sounded like a
pornographic weight-lifting book." These diverting missives seem to come in
flurries, she said, following bursts of publicity. A stack arrived after a
Strength & Health article. "It fabricated things, like my arm-wrestling
men for drinks in bars, and there was the usual 'Gorgeous in an evening
quickly upright in his chair. "I sure am glad I ain't a girl! Always having
to primp and shave and worry about my figure...." As the Seidlers howled in
delight, he returned to slumber.
this little girl, maybe eight, who watched me lift weights in the San Jose
Y," said Maren. "After I was done, this child came up to me and said,
'You're really strong,' in the most impressed, respectful way. I was startled
that she had not by then learned it wasn't encouraged. I deduce from that that
things are getting better."
Seidler won the
1978 AAU women's shotput by seven feet, saying, "I know very well why there
are no American women challenging. We understand what it takes to be a good
thrower. Sure we know you have to be strong and quick and explosive, but it's
the potential, the kind of improvement that's possible with years of work, that
we don't grasp. The U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. meet isn't competitive experience, it's
just getting buried."
It used to be.
But in the U.S.-Soviet meet in Berkeley last July, Seidler beat 1972 Olympic
discus champion Faina Melnik-Veleva with her 59'9¾", though she finished
second to Svetlana Melnikova's 61 feet. "It was good, close
competition," said Seidler. "For the first time, when I went into my
last put, it mattered."
to Germany to train with Gehrmann, made her American-record put of 62'3¼"
there, then won at an eight-nation meet in Tokyo. Now she is back in
California, living in a hillside home in Los Gatos. Asked if she could deal
with real success, say 75 feet, she rolls her eyes in dismay. "Maybe you
get used to it, the media glare," she says, shuddering. "Now Brian,
it's wonderful for him. He wants attention. I just want to find my minor hole
in the sky."
Soft winter grass
grows up among the seats in Stanford's great earthen bowl of a stadium. Perhaps
it is this that makes it a sound-absorbent place. It is hard to hear across as
Oldfield and Seidler warm up with the Stanford track team. Seidler eventually
stops jogging and stretching, puts the silver rings she is wearing in her
warmup shoes and spends an hour throwing different weight shots, trotting
purposefully after them.