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DECISION AT BURNING TREE
A golf course is not always the proper stage upon which to conduct diplomacy; there is something about the game, in fact, which sometimes lacerates a man's central nervous system to a point at which he cannot resist breaking a club across his knee—thereby staving off the wild impulse to break it over his partner's head. Both the personalities and athletic capabilities of the Messrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Nobusuke Kishi, however, seemed to complement each other last week when the President took Japan's Prime Minister—with whom he was engaged in a series of top-level talks—to Washington's Burning Tree Club for 18 international holes of golf.
The engagement was launched on a note which must have afforded both men a good deal of pleasure. The President, aware that Kishi is a very decent (high 80s) golfer, called Max Elbin, Burning Tree's professional, on the telephone some days ahead of time and ordered a gift (charged against his personal bill) for his opponent-to-be: eight irons, four woods and a putter tailored to fit a 5-foot 4-inch 130-pounder. Kishi was delighted, as most golfers would have been: they were Ben Hogan clubs and the bag containing them bore a gold plate on which was inscribed, TO PRIME MINISTER KISHI FROM PRESIDENT EISENHOWER.
The President (who wore tan slacks, a short-sleeved cotton sport shirt and a fashionable straw hat) could hardly have been human if he did not feel a certain added kindliness toward the Prime Minister as they stood on the practice tee. Kishi (white cap, black polo shirt, gray slacks) had trouble with his backswing, was obviously nervous and hit his shots badly. The President was relaxed and showed it. When he introduced Senator Prescott Bush, a fine golfer, who was to be Kishi's partner, he started: "He's a Harvard man." Bush interjected: "Oh, no, Mr. President—Yale," and the President threw both arms into the air, laughed, and cried, "Oh, no—a Whiffenpoof."
When the Prime Minister belted his first drive into the rough the President shouted: "What's that long word—Moichido!" (freely translated: take a Mulligan) and beamed in a proprietary manner when Kishi then hit one 170 yards down the middle. Ike also looked extremely satisfied when he himself then hit a sound drive of 225 yards. The game was not quite that lopsided, however; the Prime Minister's short game was more effective than his driving. In the end, Ike and Takizo Matsumoto (a member of the Japanese Diet and an old friend of Kishi's) and the Prime Minister and Bush came out all even—muscles loose, honor satisfied and a truly diplomatic atmosphere achieved.
It would be improper to suggest that the game had anything at all to do with the fact that the U.S. agreed, shortly thereafter, to withdraw its combat ground forces from Japan. Just say simply that at Burning Tree both parties involved afforded the world an exhibition of give-and-take such as seldom openly occurs between the leaders of great powers.
THE 24 HOURS
To a French farmer in a distant barnyard, the roar of Le Mans is like the drone of bees. From near by it is a gigantic sound that writhes unceasingly in the air for 24 hours. It began at 4 p.m. last Saturday, and with it began fear and apprehension. Two years ago, 83 were killed at Le Mans when Pierre Levegh's Mercedes hurtled over a barrier and into the crowd. Last year there were changes in the track and pits, made in the interest of safety. There was also a limitation on fuel consumption which made the race dull and slow. Now the fuel restrictions were relaxed, and the prospect was for greater speed than ever. With it came the possibility of another disaster.
As night fell, mist rose here and there on the 8.4-mile course. The headlights of the racing cars streaked through it like tracer bullets. Behind the grandstand and in woods along the road, carnivals set out to attract with their rival noises some of the 250,000 spectators who came to Le Mans. There were freaks, thrill rides and a tent-show revue called The Pearl of the Nile.
For the first 25 laps the race had developed as expected into a duel between Italian cars: Maserati versus Ferrari. From the second to the 25th lap the English driver Mike Hawthorn kept his Ferrari grimly—and barely—ahead of the Maserati driven by Jean Behra of France. Then Hawthorn pulled into the pit with mechanical trouble, and Behra took the lead only to lose it in his turn—and for good—with a leaking fuel tank. First place was taken over by the Englishman Ivor Bueb in a Jaguar.