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Since District of Columbia law requires drinkers to be seated and to put the mug on a table when not drinking, the Senators installed tables in front of the seats. Anyone seeking a peaceful environment for a spot of refreshment will find Washington's new beer garden ideal, even though the entertainment frequently lacks foam.
TALE OF A WAYSIDE INN
The lonely wayside inn—particularly one with a corpse in a closet—is one of the hoariest of fictional devices, and it is a stubborn author who has not marooned a set of antagonistic characters in one and let them rub nerve-ends and bate breaths for at least a chapter or so. It is doubtful, however, that literature has ever provided a setting quite as cramped as the six-room (one bath) Fairview Inn at Talkeetna (pop. 85), Alaska, or a ghost quite as lively as that of the late explorer, Dr. Frederick A. Cook, or an atmosphere as intimately charged as that which prevailed last month when Cook's most fervent modern defenders and detractors found themselves—to their mutual dismay—eating three meals a day together around Fair-view's single dining room table.
Cook died in 1940, twice damned as one of the most flamboyant frauds in history for claiming to have been the first to climb Mount McKinley back in 1906 and also to have beaten Admiral Robert Peary to the North Pole in 1908. He eventually managed to get himself a federal prison rap in the 1920s for questionable promotion of Texas "oil" lands, but this year his daughter—a plump, middle-aged Buffalo housewife, Mrs. Helene Cook Vetter—decided to rescue his reputation as a mountaineer. It seemed like an awful task. Cook was drummed out of the Explorers Club 47 years ago for his Mount McKinley tale and most climbers agree that it is completely implausible. Yet Mrs. Vetter found an unexpected ally—a big, rawboned mining geologist from the state of Washington named Walter L. (Moose) Gonnason.
The Moose, who had climbed Mount McKinley in 1948, was stubbornly convinced that Cook had made the top and offered to lead a party of three others up the doctor's purported route to prove it. Mrs. Vetter staked him to $1,500. This was too much for famed Mountaineer Bradford Washburn, who is director of Boston's Museum of Science and acknowledged as the world's leading authority on Mount McKinley. As Gonnason set out to attack the heights, Washburn—who was also planning a trip to the great (20,270 feet) mountain—announced with some heat that he would devote part of his time to proving once and for all that Cook's photograph of the peak was a fraud, and that other landmarks described in his book, To the Top of the Continent, were miles away from the mountain and 10,000 feet lower than he had claimed.
Thus resolved, Washburn duly arrived with two companions at the Fair-view Inn. It took him only seconds to discover that Mrs. Vetter was already there, attended by a press agent, and proudly awaiting Moose Gonnason's return. Talkeetna is the gateway to the mountain chiefly because a flier named Don Sheldon bases there for flights to Ruth Glacier; so Washburn & Co. had nowhere else to go. The two groups settled down, cheek by jowl, in an atmosphere of horrible cordiality. It did not last.
"How many black balls do you need after all these years to keep this man down?" the press agent cried angrily to Washburn one day on the road outside the inn. "Why are you going out of your way after all these years to continue to stick knives in Cook?"
"My ulterior motive," said Washburn, standing chin to chin with his adversary, "is to find out the truth and my only real regret about this thing is what you guys are doing to that poor lady over there in the inn. You're taking her for a ride!"
The situation grew even steamier when Moose Gonnason was flown down from the mountain to announce that his party had failed by 10,000 feet to reach the top. At this point the weather closed in, marooning Gonnason, Washburn & party at the inn. The Moose was not a man to take Washburn's criticism lying down.
"Hell," he bawled, "the man was there. Why should there be an argument? There's no argument. I base it on the summit picture."