This year Blind will have a European-type starting barrier for the International. The barrier looks like a tennis net of wire mesh, and shoots up and out at the starter's touch. It is an effective block to an overanxious horse, threatening to hang him up like so much wet wash, Russian horses included. It should make this year's International start easier, but Eddie Blind is still worried. "I've got a lot to think about on International Day," said Eddie last week. "I'd like to please everybody or somebody'll say, 'That lousy Eddie Blind.' " Then his eyes took on a dreamy look. "Everything I hit these days goes to the right," he mused. "I think it might be my driver. I hit my three-woods O.K."
At one time or another the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has officially adopted the keystone as its state symbol, the hemlock as its tree, the ruffed grouse as its bird, the mountain laurel as its flower and the white-tailed deer as its animal. (A doubtful honor for the deer, which sports-minded Pennsylvanians slaughter by the tens of thousands annually.) But, by some oversight, Pennsylvania has no official dog. Neither, for that matter, has any other state, but there are those in Pennsylvania who feel the lack deeply.
The leading canine candidate before the state's legislature at this reading is the great Dane. This nominee was put forward by Mrs. Henry Peirsol of Swarthmore, who has lobbied for her pet project these 12 years past and maintains somewhat mystically that the Dane "is our theoretic state dog" in any case because of its historical connection with William Penn. He apparently owned one.
Mrs. Peirsol herself owns, as it happens, a beagle, but the beagle, she declares, is long on ears and short on dignity and hence unqualified as state dog. Representative Charles Jim of Westmoreland County is outstandingly pro-beagle, but much too blunt about it. His motion in favor of beagles—"The beagle is hereby selected and adopted as the state dog of Pennsylvania"—was so unadorned with the fancy phrases of legislative majesty that it was squelched in the House 81 to 111. The great Dane bill, on the other hand, inspired by Mrs. Peirsol's drive, contained eight "whereases" and one "therefore," and consequently swept the lower chamber 113 to 77. Included in its rhetoric were some challenging thoughts: "Whereas the great Dane is prominently depicted in the Governor's reception room painting as the 'best friend' of the founder of this commonwealth, William Penn, and; Whereas the outline of the great Dane's head resembles the outline of the commonwealth's boundaries...and; Whereas the physical and other attributes of the great Dane—size, beauty, intelligence, tolerance, courage, faithfulness, trustworthiness and stability—exemplify those of Pennsylvania.... Therefore...the great Dane is selected, designated and adopted as the official dog."
Early debate on the dog bill was punctuated with scattered barks in the House until Democratic Majority Leader Stephen McCann reminded members, "It is undignified to bark in the House." Some representatives, being mildly disposed toward dog legislation, voted for both the Dane and the beagle; some, on the other hand, would have neither. "A state canine," said Representative Charles Auker (R.), "would be asinine." Even famed Pennsylvania dog-breeder Lina Basquette, the onetime Ziegfeld Follies and silent-cinema darling, was inclined to this point of view. Now Mrs. Frank Vincent Mancuso, Lina says that great Danes make better pets than husbands do (she has had dozens of the one, a half dozen of the other), but says, too, "I can't see that the great Dane should be a state dog. It's a damn silly thing."
Maybe the Republican Senate, which got the dog bill from the Democratic House, felt the same way. In any case, it promptly recessed.
Years before the meteorologist and the toothy TV girl insinuated themselves into American life, men put their trust in home-grown weather forecasts. And seldom were peas planted or picnics planned without scrutinizing groundhogs, muskrats, crickets, ducks, frogs, leeches or woolly-bear caterpillars. Along with a lot of other oldtimey ideas, the forecasting faculties of bugs and things have been laughed away by stuffy old scientists. But they haven't dashed cold water on one poor fish—the perch. "They can't," says Mathon Kyritsis, a weather wizard of Waukegan, Ill. "Perch as forecasters are infallible."
Like geese flying south, says Mathon, perch in Lake Michigan strike out for deeper water at the first ripple of winter. The deeper they go and the farther they swim from the shore line, the harder the winter will be. Mathon knows this is so because he has fished perch from the lake for 40 years. And in 18 years of prophecy, he's been wrong only twice—errors in interpretation, he gladly acknowledges, no fault of the fish.