Francis G. Palmer
appeared to have every reason to be content. The pheasants had cooperated
magnificently. His guests were luxuriating in the empyreal warmths of a
November log fire and a bottle of Scotch, filling his hunting lodge on Pelee
Island, Ont. with the life-is-wonderful air so gratifying to a host. But
Palmer, too worried for self-congratulations and too restless for camaraderie,
paced the rustic living room like a caged tiger.
leaving from the island," he muttered, running nervous fingers through his
gray hair. "Ridiculous. The weather isn't that bad."
He paused at a
window, peered into bleak, thick fog which pressed relentlessly against the
pane, shrouding even the birch he knew stood five feet away. Then he turned
abruptly, strode to the telephone and called a bush pilot in Windsor who often
flew him to his favorite fishing spots.
Mr. Palmer?" the pilot demanded. "There are easier ways to commit
"But I have
to get to Detroit right away," Palmer said, urgency in his voice. "I'll
pay you double. Triple."
okay," came the reluctant reply, "if it's an emergency."
afterward, none the worse for wear and prayer, Palmer alighted at Detroit. He
telephoned his friends at the lodge to reassure them he was safe and would
return to Pelee on the morrow, and sped to town—to the Detroit Athletic Club.
His "emergency" flight in weather that had grounded all planes in the
Great Lakes region was not to rush to an ailing member of his family. No crisis
had arisen in the Middle Atlantic Transportation Co., the truck firm of which
he is president, or at the New York Union Motor Truck Terminal, of which he is
one of five principal operators. It was Thursday Bowling League night at the
Palmer is one of
approximately 100,000 leaders of industry, finance, the professions and
politics who bowl regularly at 200-odd athletic, golf and yacht clubs
throughout the country. An estimated 800,000 and their families roll in country
club and fraternal leagues at public alleys. Although they comprise less than
5% of bowling's 20 million adherents, a recent survey by an equipment firm
indicates they purchased at least 14% of the bowling balls and nearly 10% of
the shoes sold last year. Peter Revelt, who for 30 years has been chronicler of
the Inter-Athletic Club tournament—an annual event for the bowlers of the
Detroit, Buffalo and Cleveland AC's and the Pittsburgh AA—figured that the
average member spends $5,000 a season for his one league night a week and trips
to compete against other clubs.
Many of these
bowlers take the game as seriously as professionals. On the day that Palmer
flew from Pelee, Albert M. (Bert) Wibel, executive consultant to American
Motors, cut short a business conference in New York in order to arrive on time
for the same league session—the third week he had commuted from the East—and
Harry M. Taylor, a vice-president of Firestone Tire & Rubber, barely beat
the fog on a flight from Akron. The distance record was set in 1953, however,
when Dr. Lester Knapp of Buffalo hurriedly ended his speech to a medical
convention in Rio de Janeiro, dashed to a waiting taxi, changed from evening
clothes to a business suit during the ride to the airport, caught his plane—and
arrived at the Detroit AC lanes just in time to roll with the first squad and
win the Inter-Athletic Club singles title.