It was with trepidation that senior editor Julia Lamb first viewed the pictures that illustrate Jack McCallum's story on BASE jumping (page 82). Lamb, who edited the story, has a fear of heights, and she winced when the first slide was projected onto the screen. She toughed it out in the time-honored manner of some people who go to see horror movies—by peeking through her fingers.
Lamb grew up in Michigan, N. Dak. (pop. 502), a dot of a town in the middle of a very flat prairie, so she didn't know she was a closet acrophobiac until her senior year in high school. "Late one October night," she says, "two friends and I decided it would be a lark to climb the town water tower and paint our class year on it. The 10 o'clock curfew siren had gone off, barring anyone under the age of 18 from the streets. Lugging stencils, paint and brushes, we climbed the icy rungs of the tower, keeping a sharp eye out for the town constable."
About two-thirds of the way up the 124-foot tower, Lamb stopped and looked down. "I suddenly felt quite ill," she says. "Unfortunately, because someone was behind me, the only way to go was up. Somehow I inched up those last 30 feet." While one of her friends painted the tower, Lamb kept her eyes closed and held up the stencil, fighting off waves of dizziness. "Somehow I made it safely back to earth," she says. "It was one of the few times I have been driven to prayer. Never, I vowed, would I do that again."
Oddly enough, Lamb has no fear of flying. She once accompanied her older brother John, a licensed pilot, in a single-engine Mooney on a trip around the perimeter of the contiguous U.S. and up to Alaska. "We flew through passes in the Canadian Rockies and down into the Grand Canyon, and never once was I bothered by heights," she says. She decided to take up flying herself and logged about 50 hours in a small plane. She passed both the written and solo test but then decided flying was too expensive and gave it up.
Lamb usually edits stories that are firmly rooted to the ground. Two weeks ago she handled our 21-page special report on artificial turf, which, she says, "is about as down-to-earth as you can get." She is also our horse racing, winter sports, swimming and gymnastics editor. She says, "Though I've been bitten by a horse and knocked over by a runaway skier, those sports don't begin to fill me with the dread that looking at those parachute pictures did."