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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 3, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta MOK'M J, ms THE LCTHIRIDC1 HIHALB 8 Remember the Chevrolet four-ninety? By Frascr Hodgson, free-lance writer SATURDAY TALK -By NORMAN SMITH Being raised in a garage at- mosphere, I can easily recall most of ths cars that are to- day's antiques. Nearly all ot the Swift Current cars made a call at daci's garage sometime during thetr short lives, and I remember many of them. The most popular of course was the Ford Model-T, also Mc- Laughlin, Overland, Gray Dort, Maxwell, Ktudebakcr, Dodge Brothers, Chevrolet, find doz- ens of less numerous names like Case, Moon, Scrips-Booth, Nash, Grant-six, and Hupmo- bile. I think it was about 1922 or '23 that Chevrolet came out with their greatly improved Su- perior after staying quite a few years with their 4-90 model. I'm sure it was the most ag- gravating, ornery, exasperat- ir.g, cussed machine ever bull' by anybody, and now this many years later I hope they wilJ for- give my outburst and agree. It was about 1SH9 or '20 I got to know her. Jack McLean batched with his dad and two younger brothers about 10 miles southeast of town, and I got to know them because' Jack rent- ed land from my Dud. I was always out with liim every cliancc I got away from school either at his place or ours. Sometimes Uiey must have been pretty fired of me underfoot, but Uiey didn't chase me home too often. One Saturday morning I went along Central Avenue to see if any of them were in town, so .1 could get a rice tut to the farm for the weekend. I often .worried about how to get out rthere, but never how to get back for school on Monday. That morning I ran into the whole family in front of the Chev gar- age. Jack had just bought a sec- ondhand 4-90. None of them knew how to drive. The salesman had been instructing Jack in that fine art, but he wasn't doing so well. When Jack saw me he holler- ed, "come on kid, drive us home." I don't think to this day I've ever run into a more thrill- ing experience, unless maybe my wedding day. Here were four grown men depending on me to get them home, and I just a "wet eared" kid, as they often called me. I got in behind the wheel and stepped on the starter, the gang piled in and we were off with a neck-cracking jerk. On Rail- way Street, across from a popu- lar outlet, Jack stopped me with, "I'll just be a minute." He came back with a parcel wrapped in newspaper under his arm. We crossed the track east of town, then .Hie bridge over the creek, and then started up the long Sykes' hill. Everything was going beautifully. Then I realized in my limit- ed, driving experience I had never shifted a car down from Book Review high gear, always just from low through second and up to high. So I stepped on the gas pedal all the way to the floor, and just barely made the hill in liigh gear. By tills time the bottle was out of the parcel, and Jack and his dad felt well fortified to take over the driv- ing, so they stopped me and I reluctantly gave over the wheel to Jack. He killed the motor a couple of times, but finally got going, and alter a terrible gear clashing and grinding, got into high gear. Soon his dad decid- ed it was his turn, and the or- deal started over again. The old man was feeling pretty nopd by then, and started stepping it up to about 30 miles an hour. Then Jack and his brothers began hollering for him to "slow down, slow down, you're goin' too and they kept at it till we were just creeping along. Finally the poor old car jumped and jerk- ed to a standstill. It took a lit- tle while to get it started again, and with everybody trad- ing driving privileges around, it was late afternoon when we got home. I didn't get much chanco to drive all weekend, but I felt pretty good as chief inslruclor. I wasn't loo good at gear shift- ing myself up till that day, but my skill improved greatly show- ing them how it should be done. We drove up and down the road bouncing around the pasture till we ran out of gas and had to hike to borrow some from a neighbor. After we got go- ing again I graduated Jack Into the art of shifting down on a hill. First I had to try it myself, and was very lucky the first time, and jammed it into sec- ond with fnly a small clash of gears. From there on it was easy and I felt wonderful. I suppose the 4-90 was a no rougher riding car than a lot ot others of that era but I though it was. It had stiff semi- sllptic springs front and rear, high pressure tires, no snubbers or shock absorbers, and rode as hear to the comfort of a lumber wagon as possible. It had a cone clutch, so shifting gears was a hit-and-miss night- mare. transmission was far from syncro-mesh, just straight-cut gears, and they must have been of indeslruct- able alloy to stand the constant grinding caused by a grabbing clutch. All drivers could have improved then- shifting tech- nique by double-clutching, but that fine art wasn't learned till trucks came along several years later. The old cars all had their failings compared to modern models, but evolution is slow with machines as well as ani- mals. In the early days there- were no four-wheel brakes, very few hydraulic or air brakes, and no syncro-mesh transmis- sions or hypoid differentials. Driver and passenger comfort wasn't catered to Ull much later, and though there is quile a demand for automotive an- tiques, 1 don't think many would want to operate these old buggies every day. One tiling I'll always remem- ber about the 4-90 was its ig- nition switch. You pushed it in to start, and if the motor didn't catch and in your frus- tration you went away without pulling Ui'e button back out, It would buzz in about 20 sec- onds and jump out itself. I often demonstrated this advanc- ed innovation to others with less technical knowledge than I had, till one day it didn't work and ran our own battery dead. These little failures and ad- vances result in progress, and make belter products. I often wonder what man will come up with for comfortable travel, Red iox pup when ha runs out of coal and oil. How will he build a smart looking runabout, while, having, to provide space for wood and' water to fuel his steam-engine powered vehicle. Maybe atom- ic power will be harnessed sa-3ly, but maybe it won't, then the old much -maligned cars might not be so funny. I tope you'll forigve me for running dawn the old 4-90 a little. What classic antique did you cuss the most? Photo by Tom Willock, Milk River Facing the truth could prevent future follies "The Best and the Bright- est" hy David Halberstam (Random House, Ml. 6S8 Three kinds of people will have trouble reading this book. The first are the skimmers. All of the big pages in small type need to be read to get the im- pact of the hook because every- thing the anecdotes, the pro- files, the extracts from official transcipls, the historical rec- ord is essential. It means that the reader lives a long time with one book and some people are too impatient for that. Those who have managed lo cling stubbornly to the thesis that the Americans fought an honorable war in Vietnam will probably avoid reading this book. But if they start they will be. so pained that they might not be able to proceed through tile whole story of men deceiv- ing themselves and others in a great charade, at untold cost in lives, material, and values. A third kind of reader who will experience difficulty will be the believers in that shallow estimate of human nature which is char- acterized by trust in the essen- tial goodness and rationality of men. No assault could be made CM that dogma than the evidence in this book that it was the best and brightest men who directed their country into a messy and immoral yes, immoral war, Pavid already had the of a giant among journalists. With the publication of (his important nnd admirably crafted book he enhances his stature. Not only was Halberstam able to draw on his experience of covering the early days of U.S involve- ment in Vietnam in I96Z and 1963 as a reporter for the New York Times, but lie sifted through a mass ot documenta- tion and did some five hundred interviews. For moro than two and a half years he worked full time interviewing people, in- cluding some of the principals. To be able lo stitch all this ma- terial together and produce such an eminently readable book is marvellous. The book is roughly chronol- ogical but with many flash- backs as the main actors are probed. The main question is how Uie United States came lo take over the colonial war ot Ihe French in Indochina. The answer is not simple. It was partly the result of anti-Com- munist hysteria, partly a fear of being considered soft and unmanly (remember Lyndon Johnson's scornlul reference to "nervous nellies" at a later and partly accident. But all this was christened with loftly idealistic phrases about preserving the right of free men (o govern Uiemsclves, and so on. China's engulfmenl by Com- munist forces was a shattering thing for most Americans. The missionaries had glamorized China and there was almost a feeling that China belonged to (he U.S. Suddenly all this changed. Quickly China became on enemy and was seen as the place from which the vims of atheistic communism would spread and engulf the rest of Asia, if not the world. :t was Ihis view thai gave rise lo (he policy of of com- munism and led lo the trans- formation (in the eyes of Am- ericans) of a colonial war in Vietnam into a war of freedom against Communists. John Foster Dulles, the great moralist, has usually been cred- ited with laying the groundwork for U.S. intervention in Viet- nam. But Halbcrstam gives Ihe honors lo Dean Achcson, the secretary of state in the Tru- man administration, and Ache- son's deputy, Dean Rust (later secretary of slate for being the architects of the pol- icy of containment in Asia which became the rationale for the war. It is ironic that Ache- son didn't get the credit he de- served in earlier years. During the Joe McCarthy "ysleria Ach- eson was assailed as "soft" on communism (Richard Nixon re- ferred to the stale department as "Tha Dean College for Cowardly Containment of Anolher prize goes to journal- ist Joseph Alsop for his great contribution in promoting Ihe China bonsy Halberstam calls Alsop "a journalistic extension of Acheson." Through the years Afsop "wrote not to enlighten but to cffccl, to move the prin- cipal plovers on decisions" re- garding the war. In 18W Alsop played on the manhood theme to such an extent lhat Walter Lippmann said that "if John- son went lo war in Vietnam, at least 50 per cent of the re- sponsibility would be Alsop's." (One needs to be reminded of Alsop's enormous vesled' inler- cst in the notion that China is THE enemy to appreciate Iho column.! he has been wriliug about his recent China trip. Imagine. Nixon and Buckley and Alsoji hnvc all been io China now! Alsop's favorable columns nn Chinn drew a let- ter lo Ilic Wathinploi) Post from John Kenneth Galbraith who a.skecJ in mock M'omlcr whether the "distinguished columnist, Mr. Chou En-alsop" was relal- ed lo "Capiain Joe who for years felt so antagon- istic toward Ihe People's Re- public of China.) As far back as nl NIC time of his election, John Ken. would admit in private that U.S. policy on China was irrational. Yet he and his bright boys (MeNamara, Rusk, the Bundys, etc.) despite all Iheir brilliance got hooked on the manliness bit and de- cided to display a little power in Vietnam. Once the military establishment got unleashed it developed a life of Us own and grew till it devoured poor Lyn- don Johnson and those bright boys he inherited from Ken- nedy. 'flic deception practised by Ite top men in the military and in the White House through the Kennedy and Johnson years is appalling. In early 1965, for instance, Colonel William Cros- sen, a top intelligence officer, did a study un the capacity of North Vietnam to send rein- forcements south. What he found staggered the U.S. com- mand in Saigon, One of the generals said, "if we tell this to the people in Washington we'll be out of the war tomor- row. We'll have to revise it So the figures were scaled down. Early ii) the book Halber- stam has a paragraph which is a kind of summary of the poisonous ingredients that went into the making of the war: "serious misreading of aspira- tions of a non-white nation; bringing Western, Caucasian anti-Communism to a piaco where il was less applicable: iiistilulJons pushing forward with Iheir own ideas and programs which lendcd to justify and advance the cause of the institution at the expense of the nation; too much secrecy irilh too many experts who knew remarkably little about the country involv- ed or about their own country; loo many decisions by the pri- vate men of Hie adniinislraiion as opposed (o Ihe public ones; and loo little moral Let's get on ivith it Two weeks ago "Saturday talk" argued that all Canadians should enter the spirit of the Olympic Games, for the sheer fun of it and to make It a good step in our journey to maturity, as was Expo. This week I tell of a visit to the wind- bloivn site in ten below zero and report, not on finances of which we've heard plenty, but on what, where, why, who and when of it all. The "where" is easy; about six miles from downtown Montreal. It Is now a bleak undeveloped area of about five million square feet, perhaps a mile long. All that's on it now is a moderate size rink and swimming pool which will be used only for practice places by the Olympics. Between July 17 and Aug. 1, 1976, the site will present: A seat Olympic Stadium which after the Games will be shorn of seats for continuing use; An ultra modern Olympic swimming pool; A semi-indoor velodrome for bicycle races and other events, to seat and offer standing room built so it can be roofed over after the Games (the Olym- pics prefer fresh Assorted buildings for administration, security, first aid, the media, restaurants, parking and such. The long distance bicycle race will circle the top of Mount Royal several times, and the marathon run miles) will traverse the city of Montreal over a route not yet decided. Not on the Games site but within 8 mile or so will be a supplementary playground for work outs and practice, Also in the vicinity, but not "on site" will be the Olympic Village which must satisfactorily house separately the male and female contestants and tbs Games and team officials and attendants. The "village" will be newly built and de- signed for this purpose and to Games' ap- proval. The Stadium area will be served by an extension of the Montreal subway sys- tem now under construction. Sculling and canoe races will be held on the canal by St. Helen's Island, the old Expo site. All sailing events will be held on the St. Lawrence at Kingston, Ont. Lord Killanin, the new pi-esidcnl of the International Olympic Games told the Montreal Gazette at Lausanne recently that he thought and hoped that Montreal's games would be smaller than last year.' The trend to gigantism was dubious, Xil- lanin said; "in almost every sport where we now permit three athletes per country we are now looking at proposals to cut it down to two." In that same interview Lord Killanin seemed optimistic of Canada's putting on a good Games and stressed that, as to fi- nances and politics, "all cities hosting a Games seem to run into a lot of criticism right about the point Canada is at now. Munich did too, and In many ways you are far ahead of them." It must be a nice task, running a Games. How make plans for crowds when you don't know how big they'll be or whit ticket price in 1976 would be a price? The Canadian president, Roger Rousseau, said the oilier day Montreal had already received firm orders for tickets. Some will want seats for the whole two weeks, some for only a day; soms will want hole! space, some not. Will 25 or SO per cent be from Montreal and environs? There is less guesswork in setting down plans for construction and development that will meet Olympic standards and cal- endar demands. It reminds me of slashing about on site as Expo was a-building and examining with the head man their daily charts of progress and delay. In his official report to the Internal tional Olympic Committee in Lausanne this month, President Rousseau submitted, as obliged, a detailed assertion of lus "Critical Path Planning." "In simple he said, "it is a mat- ter of identifying projects and we have M9. Then of identifying signifi- cant milestones in those projects, and we have identified 397 spread out over the next 42 months We can reasonably expect a network plan of 119 projects comprising more than scheduled Organizing Committee ac- tivities to be ready this spring." President Rousseau gave punch-line env phasis to the following statement that should give some ease to those sceptics who seem fearful that "the gang in Mon- treal is going crazy." He said: "Our col- leagues and slaff are convinced that it is possible to bring the Games back to moro modest proportions, thus enabling any country to submit its invitation to you in the future." But tliis story has thus far been of bricks and mortar and statistics of staging a Games. The heart of 'the matter is of course something else: "The most impor- tant thing in the Olympic Games Is not to win but to take part." The French word "Olympisme" should help. It smacks of dynamism, Idealism, optimism and internationalism. You hear it frequently around the Olympic people in Montreal, a touch almost of magic or myth- ism in it, which won't hurt. Once the Games take on the human di- mension of all-Canadian support, the known obstacles on that "critical planning path" will slither away. Youth should be given a real chance ta help build the Olympics for the were designed to help build youlh. The great universities In Montreal should, put their shoulders behind the Games' declared desire that the sports should accompanied by exhibition and dfernon- strations of fine arts, architecture, litera- ture, music, painting, theatre, ballet sculp- ture, photography. All provincial governments should indsi tify themselves with the Games, imagine-, lively and generously. And, Ottawa! Surely the federal ment will now put away its petty politics: these International games have been held since 776 B.C. before getting around la. Canada; are we to fumble them? The question now is not whether tha Games should be held anywhere any more; or whether Canada should ttaga theiru They are going to be held m 1976, and in Canada. So let's do them and ourselves proud, not wasting but not being miserly with either money or spirit. And finally, too little common sense." The portraits which stud the text are brilliant. The studies of Rusk, MeNamara, Johnson especially Johnson are ab- solutely fascinating. Johnson's earthy talk will shock some readers but the quotes are em- ployed with great effect in de- veloping the picture. Not all of the best and the brightest were villains; Halberstam has h i s heroes: Harriman, Bowles, Ball notably Ball who tried to fight the madness of going to war. One of the things that makes for readability is tha abund- ance of anecdotal material. There is John Kennedy surrep- titiously taking Michael Forres- lal into a bathroom so they can talk in private and asking the young man, anticipating some great advancement, if he can get Averell Harriman to wear a hearing aid! Another lells how General Westmoreland ate lu's breakfast in his underwear to save the press in his uni- form. There are people now who say that President Nixon is right in trying to steer Ameri- cans (and the rest of us, no doubt) away from dwelling on books such as tins one. It was an honorable war, they insist. They are ivrong. I! was a mis- erable, immoral war, and that fact needs lo lie faced. If il isn't faced z hcallhy skepti- cism about men even thn best and brightest of them will not develop lo save man from perhaps worse follies. Most people probably fcol they have read about all they want to read about the Viet- nam war but il would be a mis- take, just of weariness of the subject, to miss an en- counter wr'11i Ibis enormously important book. DOUG WALKER 1 Who's keeping who? We columnists who provide secondary treatment of the news adding chlorine, emulsifying, screening out the solid mat- ter before piping the effluent into the set- tling ponds of your mind must be con- stantly vigilant against cynicism. "Do not allow yourself to become cyni- an elderly lady wrote to me not long ago. At least, she said she was elderly. She could have been lying about her age. I pride myself on resisting cynicism whenever it tries to lean on my naturally sunny disposition. For example, when Mayor Prapeau estimates that million is the amount of the profit to be realized from sale of specially-minted coins commemorating the 1976 Montreal Olym- pic Games, I hear a voice that I recog- nize as that of Cynical Nicol (Cynicol for "In a pig's valise, he'll make mil- lion from the sale of Cynicol says, in a tone reminiscent of the late Ned Sparks. "Drapeau will be lucky if he flogs those slugs to pay for the blanks in the starter's gun." Instantly, in a burst of white light, Ihe (rusting me appears, throwing back his cloak lo reveal Clean and Shine. "Out, he cries. "You shall not pec oil our parade. H's people like you that are threatening to kill the Montreal Gajncs. Negative, negative, negative! What's the mailer with you? Somebody lie a Snot in your noodte? night away, I feel ashamed of myself. Only the most perversely doubling Thom- ases envisages anything hul long queues nf persons in every cily of the world London, Paris, Rome, Lps Angeles, Pe- king, yea, even Toronto lined up lo buy Canada's Olympic Games commemor- ative corns, shoving and cursing in their eagerness to pay twice the cost price. Somebody may even get hurt. What mora can the Canadian laxpayer ask for? C. and S. has no sooner folded his and dozed off than Cynicol sneaks sneering and snickering. "You never learn, do you sucker? You're still paying the conk for Expo, yet you believe the same good mayor. when he reckons that there will be no, major deficit from Ihe Games. Honestly, Clyde, isn't it lime you booked in at the home lor Ihe He's right, of course, I could kick nvjv[ self. It has been plain since 1967 that Canadian taxpayer who lives outside 100-mile radius of Montreal is-entitled; to. hang on his wall the diploma that registers him as a fully-qualified patsy. Mug of Year. Cancel the Montreal Games that's the sensible thing to do. Refuse to fall for ths; fiction that the Olympic committee can cut costs by eliminating Iho lorch lit by marathon runner and instead having': Mayor Drapeau's restaurant set fire lo a crepe to go. Bang, hands on hips, Mr. Kloan is "How cheap can you gel? Is this how- C'anada will be remembered: Ihe first na- tion lo cancel the Olympic Games sines' the Second World War? A land of sour- balls? Tlic Un-country? Great day, man, where is the Canadian spirit that's as big' as all I'm looking for il. Honest I am. Mayor t Drapeau is my brother, and I am my brother's keeper. And if I can just shake off my keeper ;