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Miss Blakely smiled and left.
Brundage studied the papers for a few minutes and then placed them to one side on the desk, which was already piled high with notes and correspondence. He runs his business enterprises from this office, as well as the affairs of the International Olympic Committee, though in recent months, right up to his departure last week for the Winter Games in Italy, his Olympic duties almost certainly took up more of his time than business did.
Brundage is a genuine, original, 14-carat Self-made Millionaire. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1909 with a degree in civil engineering, started his own construction company a few years later and was amazingly successful, partly because of a nicely timed combination of Brundage zeal and energy with post-World War I building boom. He constructed dozens of important buildings in Chicago and elsewhere. Today, he has interests in various business enterprises, including the Montecito Country Club in Santa Barbara and a number of hotels, including the La Salle. (When Brundage was asked if he owned the La Salle, he replied slowly, "No. A corporation owns it." Then he added cheerfully, "But I own the corporation.")
His three-room office is a jumble of apparently unrelated objects that have as their common denominator his interest in them. There are, throughout the three rooms but particularly in Brundage's own office—on the floor, on tables, on shelves and in cabinets—myriad objects of Oriental art: jades and ancient Chinese bronzes, statues of many-armed Indian gods and goddesses, examples of fine lacquer work, large urns and vases of delicately painted china. Brundage has always been fascinated by Greek and Oriental philosophy and religion, and he extended his interest to Oriental art at about the time of his marriage, in 1927. He is said now to possess one of the finest private collections in the world. Two rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, of which Brundage is a trustee, contain part of his collection.
BRUNDAGE THE ATHLETE
There are also Olympic posters throughout the office and books on the Olympic Games, pamphlets and booklets on amateur sports, a color photograph of Emil Zatopek leading the field into the home stretch of the 1952 Olympic 5,000-meter run, one of the most memorable races of all time, and medals, plaques, trophies and other souvenirs of his own career in athletics, both as official and competitor. Brundage was a superb athlete in his youth and three times won the U.S. National Ail-Around championship, a competition that is a sort of older, stronger brother to the more popular decathlon. It comprises 10 separate events, like the decathlon, but the 10 events are run off one after the other on the same day, rather than being sensibly scheduled over two successive days, as in the decathlon. Moreover, the list of events is slightly different and considerably more demanding; instead of tossing the discus and the javelin, All-Around competitors wrestle with the 56-pound weight and the 16-pound hammer. In place of the 400-meter sprint, the All-Around has the grueling 880-yard heel-and-toe walk. Brundage with bitter pride once described the latter event as "the closest a man can come to experiencing the pangs of childbirth."
Although his forte was his strength and his almost inhuman endurance—he could take the physical punishment of the All-Around then almost as well as he takes the verbal punishment of his critics now—Brundage was also a beautifully coordinated athlete. A scrapbook in his office yielded a striking testament to this in a yellowed clipping in which Daniel J. Ferris, secretary-treasurer of the Amateur Athletic Union, discussed the great athletes of his experience. Ferris grouped Brundage with Martin Sheridan, the hero of the famed Irish-American A.C., and the legendary Jim Thorpe, which is compliment enough, but then added the comment that, all things considered, he had to say that Avery Brundage was the greatest athlete he had ever seen.
When this clipping was pointed out to Brundage, he read it, smiled and said, "Umm. Good for Dan."
Then he beamed and looked through a few more pages of the old book.
"I've forgotten about these scrap-books. I haven't looked into most of them in years. The only reason they're out now is that we're trying to reorganize things. We've been digging things out of closets and trying to find new places to put them in."