"Here," he said, opening a scrap-book. He peered at the book, turning the pages slowly. "Here." His heavy fingers thudded on a letter of praise from an Olympic Committeeman. "Here." They thudded again on a citation from the city of Santa Barbara, California—where Brundage has a home—for "outstanding civic contribution," and again on an award from Northwestern University for "a lifetime of distinguished service."
There were newspaper clippings, too. His fingers tapped one from the
Chicago Sun headed: BRUNDAGE TAKES IT—FOR NOTHING, TOO! CHIEF ABUSED BUT SELDOM WRONG, and another, a column by the veteran
sportswriter, H. G. Salsinger, praising Brundage, and another, by the Scripps-Howard sports editor, Joe Williams, headed: WHAT'S THIS? A KIND WORD FOR BRUNDAGE!
He continued to flip slowly through the scrapbooks, glancing briefly over each page. The clippings in the scrap-book were by no means unanimous in praise of Brundage. Many were harshly critical. One, for instance, described him as "a sanctimonious snob with a long record of asinineantics." Brundage chuckled.
"That's pretty good," he said. "Oh, I don't blame the newspaper men for writing what they do. It doesn't bother me. If your conscience is clear you don't have to worry about what people say about you."
He sat down again, folded his hands and looked out the window.
"This Eleanor Holm thing, for instance. That's usually the first thing people want to know. Why did I throw the girl off the Olympic team?"
He turned halfway around toward the desk, his arms resting on the arms of the chair, his body erect but leaning a little forward, away from the back of the chair. He gestured abruptly with his left hand.
"In the first place, I didn't throw her off the Olympic team. I didn't have the authority to. The Olympic Committee threw her off. There were 20 men on the committee, and they voted unanimously to do it. I was the chairman of the committee, and it was my duty to announce its action, which—let me make this clearly understood—I approved of 100%.
"Well. I announced the committee's decision, and the headlines shouted: 'Brundage throws Eleanor Holm off the Olympic team!' "
He stared out the window at the wintry sky over Chicago, thinking back to that heated summer 20 years earlier.