THUNDER DOWN UNDER
The bright and long career of 27-year-old Dawn Fraser, Australia's durable swimming champion, has come to a bitter end. Through three Olympic Games, Miss Fraser boldly and gaily dominated a sport that commonly verges on asceticism. But in the process of winning four Olympic gold medals and setting world records in four different events, Miss Fraser managed to remain a lively individual. She loafed when she felt loafing was what she needed and she drank a beer when she was thirsty. She occasionally kicked over the traces and she sometimes told off officials. She provoked laughter in a sport that in recent years has forgotten how to laugh.
Suddenly, last week, the Australian Swimming Union, notoriously prim, banished Miss Fraser from amateur competition for 10 years. The ASU refused to give its reasons for banishment, but the fact is that she had written a book about her career and scandalous goings-on at various Olympic Games. Its title, Below the Surface: The Confessions of an Olympic Champion, is justified by the contents. Although the Australian officials have not made a point of it, it is known that at Tokyo Miss Fraser refused to wear the regulation swimsuit on the ground that it did not fit. It is also known that, at the end of the Games, she snitched a flag from a plaza near the Imperial Palace, offending the polite Japanese more than they admitted publicly.
The Union would perhaps be justified in not wanting Miss Fraser to swim on the Australian national team, but to deprive her of the right to compete as an amateur ever again, anywhere, is unjust. Without submitting a jot of evidence to prove that Miss Fraser is a professional, the Australian Union has decreed that she is no longer an amateur.
HOW NOW, DRY FLY?
The fly-fishing gentry of Britain have been stricken in recent weeks by the discovery that poultrymen no longer are cooperating in the production of mature roosters, from whose necks come the hackles essential for the making of dry flies. It seems that the cocks are being slaughtered for market before they are old enough to grow hackles stiff enough to float the fly and, almost as important, of the proper dun color to attract trout. Gloomily, Peter Deane of Eastbourne, Sussex, a professional trout and salmon fly dresser, has reported to the magazine Creel that "unless something is done at once, dry-fly fishing will come to a halt."
The ugly situation is not confined to Britain. Harry Darbee of Roscoe, N.Y., himself a flytier of renown, confirms that the U.S. chicken farmer "butchers his chickens as soon as economically feasible, and usually long before their neck hackles are good enough for tying flies.
"Flytiers used to buy quality necks from the Far East," says Darbee, "but that trade source is shut off now. The only way is for the flytier to raise his own chickens but it will cost easily $10 to feed a rooster for two seasons—and then you may not get the right color hackles. A top-quality rooster neck, in blue, rust and honey dun colors, is worth $25.
"Of course," he added, "we are far more particular than the trout are. You can catch trout on dyed hackles, but that wouldn't be half as much fun."
Which is the heart of the matter.