New five-year plan?
Just now, as all the world knows, Russian athletes are being drilled and polished to win the 1956 Olympics. After that? A member of the Soviet delegation to the U.N. lifted the curtain just a bit in a moment of relaxed conversation last week: "We are now beginning to train some of our best athletes to play American baseball."
Wired for sound
During 25 years of coaching football at Columbia University, Lou Little, a large, amiable and wonderfully preserved specimen of 61, has endured endless travail, both mental and physical. He has literally broken his neck and lost his voice. He had to wear a steel brace for three months and sleep with his head propped between two sandbags to get it swiveling properly again after a scrimmage collision with a couple of beefy players. One of his vocal cords had to be removed after he tore it into ribbons while roaring at another group of his muscular charges. Though he has been in the Rose Bowl (1934), upset the Army in 1947, and enjoyed many another gridiron triumph, he has never gone through a Columbia season without losing a game, and he is a man who can sorrow over defeat 15 years after enduring it.
He has, however, remained outwardly unperturbed; for 25 years on nights before home games, he has lounged about his five-room apartment on New York's upper West Side as calmly as if he faced nothing more stirring than a bout of ping-pong on the morrow. Last week, on the night before his underdog Lions played Cornell, he spent a quiet evening at home in full view of U.S. televiewers as a "guest" on Edward R. Murrow's program, Person to Person. But in the process he was sucked up and spit out, as it were, by the electronic age and there were times when he seemed genuinely shaken.
The evening, taken all in all, was undoubtedly the longest Little has ever experienced. Electronically speaking, it began six whole weeks ago, when a crew of CBS technicians arrived at his apartment, photographed its interior, mentally catalogued its furnishings, stared gloomily at its cream-colored walls. It went on, by way of interviews, through the intervening weeks, and began reaching a series of climaxes on the afternoon before the game.
A big CBS truck pulled up in the street before the apartment building shortly after lunchtime, and within minutes a crew of harassed and husky workmen were struggling into the coach's abode with clanking burdens of complex-looking electrical gear. As the afternoon wore on, a black cable, as thick as a boa constrictor, was hauled six stories up the side of the building into one of the Littles' windows. Another was hauled six stories farther up the side of the building to the roof, where a parabolic metal "dish" as big as an elephant's ear was waiting to beam Little's face by ultrahigh frequency across town to receiving devices on the top of the Empire State Building.
Three television cameras, complete with tripods and dollies, appeared in the apartment; so did eight huge lights known as "buckets," eight spotlights, twelve "clip-on" lights, and six devices known as "polecats" on which to clip them. Furniture was moved and piled in the dining room amid boxes of equipment. Cables appeared like coiled snakes across the floors. A dozen men tinkered and muttered in the corners; among them was a specialist who painfully placed matchsticks behind scores of framed photographs on the walls of Little's den, delicately tilting each to prevent its glass from reflecting light into a camera.
Amid this confusion, the coach's pleasant, gray-haired wife, Loretta, wandered anxiously with a bird cage in one hand. "Cupie," she called, "come Cupie!" But Cupie, a blue-breasted parakeet, obviously thought the world was coming to an end; it perched atop a high mirror, listening in astonishment to a loud-speaker which was trilling and chirping just like another bird across the room. It took a long time to get Cupie caged again.
By the time Little got home at six (after a two-hour lunch with Murrow and a last-minute session with his football team), his home looked not unlike the control room of a spaceship. A man in a topcoat hurried in, grabbed a voice pickup device from one camera and cried into it: "Let's wait until we get lights, Ed," and hurried out, calling, "I'm going up to the roof!"
A young man carrying a stuffed lion, which wore a whistle about its neck, glasses on its nose, and a Columbia baseball cap, arrived, beaming. The program's editorial assistant handed Little a peach-colored script containing the 15 questions Murrow was to ask him, and carefully pointed out those which were cues for movement about the apartment. A technical man approached with a microphone, a packet of batteries and a small radio-sending device, and wired Little for sound. "What's this wire?" said Little, who had broken into a light sweat. "Do I tie it to something?"