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October 12, 1959
Symptoms of the Week
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October 12, 1959

Events & Discoveries

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Symptoms of the Week

Nikita Khrushchev left for China just in time. If he had loitered around into World Series week it's pretty doubtful that he would have commanded much of a listening audience; certainly his Trendex would have gone down with a swoop. Because last week the Series was working its old fascination on the U.S. mind, a fascination scarcely interrupted even when Khrushchev's rocketeers sent up a space camera to girdle the moon. Signs of our national October preoccupation are all around, but these are a few worth setting down as examples of the symptomology:

The shrimp fishing fleet went to sea again off Charleston, S.C. after three days of sheltering from hurricane Gracie. There is an FCC ruling which prohibits unnecessary chatter on shrimp-boat and other marine radio frequencies. But the rule was forgotten last week as the shrimp fleet yakked back and forth about baseball. Skippers with handy standard-broadcast receivers picked up the play-by-play accounts from NBC and relayed the action by radiophone to skippers without them. Captain W. D. Coons, a White Sox fan, livened up the Atlantic Ocean with blasts on his boat horn every time the Sox scored in that 11-0 game.

In Honolulu the state legislature found itself in busy session, but—so as not to be cut off from vital incoming intelligence—instructed staff messengers to circulate inning-by-inning scores.

A baseball lover in the other new state, an Eskimo named Paul Tiulana, found he could delay no longer in setting out for the Bering Sea walrus hunt, so he pushed off from Nome with a reliable transistor set stowed in his skin boat.

In a way, though, maybe it's too bad Khrushchev had to leave when he did. When he visited the set of Can-Can at the Twentieth Century-Fox lot in Hollywood and made his well-known sharp remark about preferring humanity's face to its backside, Actress Shirley MacLaine, the star of Can-Can, was properly upset. She thought it was unfair of Nikita to blame a French can-can, as he seemed to be doing, on some defect in American culture. And she was inclined to criticize the Los Angeles arrangements a bit, too. "Had they wanted to show him something typically American," she said, "they should have taken him to a baseball game."

Nikita might have had a hard time getting a couple of tickets to the sold-out Coliseum last week, but if he'd been there the sight would have been worth his attention.

Contest in Manhattan

They settled the Scotch pouring championship of the world in New York the other day by finding out which of 11 experts could fill 10 whisky glasses in the shortest possible time. The event took place on a golden fall afternoon at a prepossessing pub known as Sardi's East, and the experts included two bartenders from Britain, winners of an elimination contest in London in August; a man from the Royal York in Toronto; and eight Americans, from the Waldorf Astoria, the Plaza, the Harwyn, Sardi's East and such places; including the reigning American champion, Nick Aiello, of the Eden Roc Club, who won a strictly U.S. contest two years ago. Several young and pretty girls acted as timekeepers, carrying stop watches borrowed for the occasion from Abercrombie & Fitch.

The rules had a frank simplicity. Frosted lines were etched around each shot glass at the one-ounce level. Penalties were as follows: one second added to a bartender's time if he filled the glass above the line ("cheating the house"), two seconds for filling below the line ("cheating the customer"), one second for spilling the stuff on the bar ("does nobody any good"). To prevent misunderstanding, it was agreed the third penalty would be invoked only for a good-sized puddle, not for a drop or two.

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