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A FINAL VISIT
One of the fascinating, not-so-grim sidelights to the Andrea Doria's sinking last week was a final call, paid on her by two sportsmen. The ocean holds some awesome sights for those who plumb the depths, but the chance to examine this lovely, sad vessel in her grave was like a skin-diver's dream.
The men for whom the dream came true were Peter R. Gimbel, 26-year-old son of the New York department store executive and sportsman, Bernard Gimbel; and Peter's friend, Joseph M. Fox, 29. Chartering a cabin cruiser from Nantucket the day after the disaster, they anchored off the yellow buoy marking the sunken ship. Both experienced divers, they put on masks and rubber suits, and each strapped a pair of compressed-air tanks on his back. Then they dove.
"The Andrea Doria is a stirring, unbelievable thing to see," Gimbel recounted later. "She makes an unbelievable impression because she seems so completely out of place. She seems almost alive.
"She is lying on her starboard side, and her port side seems in excellent condition. Her paint isn't even blemished. The portholes are unbroken. Even the lights along the promenade deck are unbroken.
"The only thing out of place that is apparent at first glance is a lot of loose rope which, I suppose, would be used to let passengers slide off the ship. Some blankets are piled against the portholes, and you can see some furniture floating about inside. The vessel has a great deal of air. The whole stretch of water in the area is seething with bubbles that make the water a very light blue."
After about a half hour on the ship's hull, Fox was overcome by carbon dioxide poisoning. "It was a little touchy getting him up," Gimbel explained. "I inflated a rescue pack and hung onto him until we surfaced. We shot up pretty fast from 160 feet down." Fortunately, neither was the worse for this sudden ascent and both were able to take home a memory few can share: the first—and possibly last—visit to a great ship in her grave.
Until this year the personality of Jackie Burke, the golfer, was far more winning than his tournament play. His affability and boyish charm made him a favorite of fans and fellow pros, but the top championships always eluded him. Then, in April he won the Masters. Last week, with a rare display of chipping and putting in the clutch, Jackie added the Professional Golfers Association championship to his honors (see page 46), thus giving him two of the pros' Big Three titles. Gene Sarazen, who was PGA champion in 1923, the year Jack Burke was born, spoke for many when he said, "A nicer player couldn't have won, and few could wear the crown so well."
The approval that surrounded Burke did not extend to the tournament itself. Five days of play at the Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Mass. drew fewer than 10,000 paying spectators, and the host club, which had put up a $42,500 guarantee for the tournament, lost money. Although there was some criticism of the condition of the course, the "slow greens" and the poorly handled crowd, the real trouble with the PGA lay deeper than the immediate problems at Blue Hill. It is a chronic trouble: too many top pros either pass up the event or lack the seniority to enter. This absence of big names has cost the PGA dearly in prestige and interest in recent years.