Bill, it should be explained, is a fine, amateur flytier. It should further be explained that the sports department manager of the Dartmouth cooperative store, Stan Starzyk by name, is aware of his prowess. Starzyk is a friend of New Hampshire's ex-Governor Sherman Adams. Adams, now a top White House aide, is, of course, a friend of President Eisenhower. When Starzyk heard that Adams had high hopes of taking Ike fishing on a stream near Lincoln, N.H. in June, he called on Bill instanter. The State of New Hampshire, Starzyk felt, should equip the distinguished anglers with a pair of distinctive fly patterns. Would Bill consent to tie them?
Bill was delighted to do so. In fact, he agreed to appear for a demonstration in the cooperative store, arrived laden with furs, feathers, hooks and vise, and promptly whipped up the West Pointer (featuring military gray feathers) and the Adams' Rock (tied with New Hampshire barred rock chicken feathers). "I thought of calling them 'Ike' and 'Sherm' at first," said Bill, "but I decided I'd better not."
With the West Pointer and the Adams' Rock conceived and manufactured, Bill looked up and discovered a square and imposing man watching him work. "Are these special flies?" the stranger asked. Bill admitted they were and explained why. "Good," said his auditor. "Fine Republican names. How about making three of each for me?" He scribbled a sizable check-thus making Bill a pro on the spot—and passed it over with his card, which read: "Sen. Ralph Flanders, 311 Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C."
What happens to Bill from now on is strictly up to the trout. But news travels fast in Washington. If the President, his top aide and the senator all start catching fish, pressure from the national capital might force Bill to forsake shrews altogether and to go on and on inventing new flies—the Treasure Dun, the Foggy Bottom Belle, the Election Night Streamer, the Upright Constituent, the Embassy Reception Nymph, the Invisible Fellow Traveler (to be fished with a Baited Witness) and perhaps, at least until 1956, even a few Blue Democrats.
A MATTER OF MANNERS
Quite obviously, the championship tennis court will never replace the finishing school as a place to learn good manners. Although in tennis the snarl, the sneer and the sulk are as much a part of the champion's equipment as catgut, Art Larsen, the 1950 U.S. champion, is in a class by himself when it comes to tantrums. If things are going badly for him, Larsen chivvies the ball boys, hurls his racket, glares at linesmen, disputes the umpire and puts on a fine imitation of Humphrey Bogart at bay. Larsen's apologists will tell you this is due to a psychopathic hangover from his harrowing wartime experiences as an infantryman and that he originally took up big-time tennis as therapy. That may well be, but he is still not a pretty sight when he is losing.
This spring Larsen has been campaigning in European tennis and undoing about a billion or two dollars' worth of Marshall Plan good will. Reaching Genoa and playing on the losing side of a doubles match, he focused his pique on a 13-year-old Italian ball boy who had been scurrying about the court a bit too enthusiastically. Finally he banged a ball in the boy's direction, and the lad scampered away in tears.
By the time the press got hold of the incident and put it on the overseas wire, Larsen was reported as having struck the child in the face with the ball. Reading the story in New York, the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association sensibly forbade him to play in any more matches (under penalty of losing his expense money) until a full airmail report was submitted for study. Gloom hung heavy over Larsen and the promoters of a tournament in Rome, where the temperamental Californian was to be a big attraction.
Overnight the Italians, who wanted to see more of Larsen (and are not above an occasional tantrum themselves), were dismissing the Genoa incident as "minor." It was pointed out that even the Genoa fans felt Larsen had acted with some justification, and had applauded him at the end of the match. The USLTA was left with only one friend in Italy—the Communist daily, L'Unita, which declared, "The decision is sacrosanct and redounds to the honor of the sport."
All this later hubbub ignored one major point: if the USLTA discipline is not too late to help Larsen's court manners, it is at least long overdue.