You will forgive me, or not, if I think Avery Brundage was one of the more disgusting men this country has ever produced who rose to any manner of prominence. He did not have the moral authority to scoop dog shit, but he led the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Or maybe you will argue, "He was typical of his time. We can't blame him for thinking what he thought."
You will forgive me, or not, if I don't give a shit how some of people of his day thought. Escaping the philosophical errors of one's day is doable; one only has to question them and discover they are baseless.
And Avery Brundage, of all people, had the opportunities and missed them as if proudly so.
But I am getting ahead of myself. For this diary is about three men, and Avery Brundage qualifies on the biological level, not the honor level.
You have heard or read or been told the story of how James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens won basically every race he started from 1935 to when he stopped running for a living because it wasn't enough of a living.
You've encountered the story of how he won four golds at the 1936 Olympics, only to be snubbed by Hitler (which he said didn't happen and a reporter covering the event says didn't happen, but never let facts get in the way of a good story).
You might have read my previous diary on this story, discussing Brundage's moral shortcomings.
But there is a fantastic story easily missed in all of this, and you should know about it.
You don't know about Marty Glickman or Sam Stoller without you have done your own reading up on the real and true story of the 1936 Olympics, but that ain't no matter. That story is usually not known, and it ain't a terrible thing; you would do better to know about the former college track stars turned Olympians turned Olympic spectators turned nearly forgotten men, but you know a lot already. I never knowed anybody but didn't know a thing or two, without it was Ken Jennings or Mr. Wizard or the folks at Wikipedia, maybe. Wikipedia tells most of the Owens man's story, but it leaves out the part about Marty and Sam, as I said before.
Now, the way that the story starts up is this: Marty, Sam and Jesse they were all college track stars, and Sam and Jesse were busy finishing second and first in about every race. Only Sam was a Jew and Jesse was colored (that is what they call them now, and that is fine by me because I used to call them what everyone else called them, and none of them ever told me nothing against it), so they had to work to pay their school bills and Jesse had to live off-campus and probably had to do some other things too, on account of he was going to school in Ohio, but a man who don't like colored men could live in about any old place in 1935, and what was a body gonna do about it anyhow?
Roundabout a couple of years before 1935, a man by the name of Adolf Hitler had been named to be chancellor of Germany. I never heard anyone say anything good about him except after when they said, "Thank God they killed that SOB," and I was raised not to cuss but I figure he probably deserved it, and besides that he was dead anyway, so it ain't no matter. Anyway, Hitler invaded a lot of countries and killed a powerful lot of people, and in the end, he didn't do what he wanted to do, which was to kill all of the Jews (and basically anyone else he didn't like) and have the third great world empire.
Now, the man they called Avery Brundage he thought that Hitler had some pretty good ideas, and he was part of a group called America First, which if you ask me should have been called Americans Who Support Adolf Hitler. Now, this was a pretty bad time to be black or a Jew around here, on account of you couldn't have slaves but you could be just plain mean to a man, and you couldn't stop him from from being a Jew, but you could sure get him to thinking think long and hard about it while you were busy changing his nose around.
Anyway, Marty, Sam and Jesse were all set to run together in the four-by-one-hundred-meter race. Polly she told me that is a race where one man starts and then he passes a stick to another man, and that man passes it to another man, and then another man is involved, and eventually a different man entirely finishes for the rest. I think that sounds like an awful stupid thing to do unless one man gets tired, and I never saw a man get tired from running but if he had been running a spell, but maybe that is just me.
Then this Avery Brundage fellow comes in and he says the Germans have been saving two dynamite runners and so the team had to lose the Jews to get faster. Only he did not say it just that way, but Jesse replaced Sam in the race and a fellow named Ralph, who was also colored like Jesse, he replaced Marty. Now, that got Sam and Marty real mad, and it made Jesse say he was tired of running and couldn't Sam and Marty do what they'd been practicing all along, but the coach said that was the end of it, and so it was because what was a colored man and some Jews going to do about it? And so Jesse and Ralph and two white men (but not Jews) won the race and made a record. Another colored man, Mack Robinson, who was Jackie Robinson's brother, was qualified to run in the race, but he didn't and nobody has told me why. But they won anyway, so I guess that is what matters.
Well, what happened after that is that a lot of people wanted to know why Marty and Sam had not run in the race, and their coach he wanted people to look at how they had won the race and made a record and why would anyone ask about other runners? They won, and that is the point. But a lot of people said they could have won with the fellows who were supposed to be running the race and that passing the stick takes a lot of work. I do not know a lot about that, but I think if I was running and I had to give something to someone else who was running, I would throw it and he would go get it and then keep running, but if we had to hand it over like they say you do, we would probably stop running and I would hand him what I had to give him and then he would start running. But that would take a while, so I guess it makes sense that they did not do that.
After the Olympics, Jesse had four gold medals and wanted to make some money for his abilities, and I happen to think that is the way a man should go about his business. When Tom and me found that money that the robbers hid in the cave, we got it. Well, we got the money that it made, and that don't make a lot of sense to me because the money is just sitting there, but it got us a dollar a day, and a man could do a lot with a dollar a day, I tell you what.
Sam and Marty went their separate ways. Marty went to work talking for a living, which is about the easiest thing in the world I think you could do. I would love to get paid to just talk all day, but there is nobody who is looking to hire me to talk all day and get paid money for it, which is a pity because I would like to make money off of talking about the money we found in that cave, but that ain't no matter because I have a dollar a day, only I already told you about that part, so I will go on from there.
Anyway, Marty made a big name for himself as a talking person on the television screen, so that is good for him. A lot of years later, they gave him a plaque to recognize that he should have been on that relay team but he wasn't, and I bet that pleased him a touch. But I bet he would still have wanted that medal.
Sam went into the pictures, so I guess he and Marty had gotten to liking talking all day and being looked at. And one of the pictures was about Tom Sawyer, only I wasn't in it, but someone who looked like me. I never got in to see it on account of I know what happened because I was there, so what is the point? I will spend my nickel on something else.
Jesse he tried to make money off his running, like I said, but they did not like that and I do not know why. So he went into business, like racing horses and helping out at a gas station. He beat a lot of the horses he raced because the gun would go off to start the race and he would be off in a flash, the fastest man you ever saw, and the horse would be spooked. But I do not know why he worked at a gas station except maybe he was the fastest man back into the station after he pumped a man's gas, only why would you run back?
I get to thinking sometimes if some guys listened to Marty calling a game on the television screen and knew about 1936 and felt a touch sad for him, or if a fellow ever got gas from the station Jesse worked at because he was trying to be nice.
But they are all dead now, everyone of them that was involved in all of that big mess about the race. And there are blacks and Jews and all types of other people running and jumping and all of the rest of that stuff, even the ones that can't walk and the ones that need a special teacher, so I guess it shouldn't be no worry to nobody. But I still think Hitler probably would have gone running around screaming if those two Jews and those two coloreds had won that race. That would have been a sight.
I would have given a nickel at the office to see that happen.