John Grindrod: Glimpses of America, 1957
A few years ago, one of my sweet readers, Mary Crider, gave me a large stack of my favorite childhood magazine, Sports Illustrated, mostly from the year 1957, about three years before Mom and Dad buy me my own subscription to what was then a weekly magazine, both to satisfy my growing interest in sports and to encourage me to read. It was Mary’s husband, Frank, whose name appears on every mailing label, someone who I suspect has followed the sports scene as closely as I have pretty much all my life.
I’ve gone through the stack of issues, read several articles along the way to see the world as it once was, a welcome respite from so much that’s so depressing now, from a pandemic that just won’t break free not its hold on us to the chaos on our southern border to the rising prices we pay at the pumps and in our grocery stores and the kids shooting classmates in the same kind of school hallways that I’ve walked for more than three decades without a thought something like this could ever happen. As I turn the pages of magazines over six decades old, there are so many things that provide a history lesson about how the collective “we” in our country once was.
First of all, I’m still interested in old magazines with the subscription card still stapled on, and there were some for this issue, dated December 9, 1957. For what was then a weekly (rather than the monthly he is now), Frank Crider paid his $7.50 for a full year, not quite fifteen cents per issue.
In my readings, I always spend some time looking at the advertisement, feeling that it always gives an indication of what the largely male demographic the magazine has always considered desirable. There were ads for dress shoes, shaving lotions and colognes, sportswear, men’s watches, and lots of booze, like Old Smuggler Scotch.
However, the most interesting aspects when I read this issue came from quotes from two very prominent coaches of that era, quotes that talked about a couple of pretty important core values, values that some might say were much more on display in the years 1950.
As for the core value of the industry, the quote comes from arguably the biggest professional football influence the game has ever seen, Paul Brown. After a poor 1956 season, when his Cleveland Browns went 5-7 in that era of 12-game schedules, the Browns were in the midst of a huge turnaround in early December, thanks in large part to their superb rookie running back, Jimmy Brown. And, he wasn’t the only freshman Brown brought in.
When asked by reporters what the key to the turnaround was from season to season, Brown replied succinctly, “We got rid of people who were no longer willing to pay the price.” In so many cases these days, it seems to me that it can be a little harder to get rid of those who are simply unwilling to expend the effort and energy necessary to ensure our national success.
In this old magazine’s cover story, titled “Dixie’s Yankee Hero,” about New York native Frank McGuire, the North Carolina basketball coach ready to embark on a new season after the NCAA championship from the previous year, his coronation as a coach, I found a quote that speaks so powerfully to the importance of humility, a virtue so often absent from sports personalities of the “It’s all about me “.
The previous March, McGuire coached his Tar Heels to a perfect 32-0 season, capping the season with a 54-53 win over a heavily favored Kansas Jayhawk in triple overtime. McGuire devised a game plan that neutralized the most dominant force of his era or, for that matter, any era, 7’1 “Wilt” The Stilt “Chamberlain.
In the article, writer Gerald Holland recounted that McGuire was asked to be the keynote speaker in Columbus at the newly opened St. John Arena in a clinic for 1,800 high school coaches. In his closing remarks that day to a packed house hanging on to his every word, he reminded his fellow coaches of the importance of a single point.
He said that because of this point, he was named college basketball coach of the year. He went on to say that because of this same point, he was asked to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show. And, because of that same point, he was asked to speak to them that day, and in his dramatic conclusion, raising a single finger, he ended with: “One point and the players and I will never forget that’s the difference between us and a lot of teams and a lot of coaches.
Although I enjoyed the advertisements in this 1957 magazine and wished I had one of those now classic cars in the same immaculate condition that I saw in those advertisements, what I enjoyed the most, thanks to Mary Crider’s gift, it’s a reminder of the industry’s core values. and the humility I found in the words of two iconic coaches, values that I’m not sure are as prevalent in today’s world.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, freelance writer and editor, and author of two books. Contact him at [email protected]