Once Upon a Time in the Vest

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary.  Our eyes and hearts turn to Paul O'Shea for that task.  Here is Paul's latest review on a superb book about a superb athlete:  The Mercurial Emil Zatopek by Pat Butcher.       George Brose ed.   

The Zatopek Bookshelf Is Nearly Full

 A Book Review

 By Paul O’Shea


The following conversation could have taken place recently.

 Tereza had just gotten home to their Prague apartment after her writing group session where writers exchanged memoir drafts and new project ideas. “Tomas,” she tells her husband, “we were just kicking around potential subjects, and my friend Olga said: ‘We haven’t had a new biography of Zatopek in almost five years. Tereza, you know about him, your parents saw him run, he’s a national treasure. Why don’t you write a new biography?’

 “Tomas, what do you think?”

 I have a suggestion for my mythical Tereza. We probably have gleaned all we can from books about the life of Emil Zatopek, athlete extraordinaire, national hero, icon. No need for another life story.

 In 2016, three biographers each published their account of the Czechoslovak immortal. The books and their authors: Endurance: The Extraordinary Life and Times of Emil Zatopek, by Rick Broadbent. The second: Today We Die A Little!: The Inimitable Emil Zatopek, The Greatest Olympic Runner of All Time, by Richard Askwith. The third: Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek, by Pat Butcher.

 Collectively, these works bring to life one of the sport’s three most famous brands—Bannister, Bolt, Zatopek.

 I reviewed Askwith’s Today We Die A Little! for Once Upon a Time in the Vest four years ago.  I found it “a well-written treasure for the distance running buff that wants to return to a largely forgotten era.” You can retrieve the review here.  Once Upon a Time in the Vest

 For those who need more Zatopek, if you haven’t read the Broadbent or Askwith entries, Pat Butcher’s Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek (209 pages, $34.09, Amazon) is a valuable addition, highly recommended.  You may also acquire this book by ordering directly from Pat Butcher, signed to the buyer for $24.99 (incl post) at   https://www.globerunner.org/books/

To be sure, these weren’t the only books published about him over the years. BBC Radio athletics commentator, Bob Phillips, wrote Za-to-pek! Za-to-pek! Za-to-pek! in 2002. There is a 2009 novel, titled Running, by French author Jean Echenoz. Zatopek, a graphic novel, the work of Jan Novak, appeared last year.

Butcher’s Quicksilver is richly researched, comes alive on virtually every page as the author interviews coaches, friends and competitors.  He makes extensive use of the Zatopeks’1960 co-autobiography, As Told By Dana and Emil, having had it translated from the original Czech. The book is not available in English, unfortunately.

Pat Butcher combines his own impressive track and field resume with a premier journalism career.  The Brit’s PRs, set in the nineteen-seventies are marks of 3:49.6 for 1500 meters, 4:09.4 for the mile, and 14:30.2 for five thousand meters. In 35 years Butcher’s byline has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Financial Times, GQ, and major UK publications. He wrote and produced documentaries for the BBC.

He is also author of two other books, one about the Coe-Ovett rivalry (The Perfect Distance), the other, The Destiny of Ali Mimoun, the Algerian-born Frenchman who won the l956 Olympic marathon.  National-class runner, world-class writer.

 "If I couldn’t run like Emil Zatopek, the next best thing was to write a book about him," Butcher says about the book’s genesis. He travelled throughout the Czech Republic, talking to Zatopek’s training partner and coach. Butcher met with the Zatopeks, interviewing Emil two years before his death in 2000. He even had access to the Czech government’s secret police files about Zatopek, who was a thorn in the side of the Communists while at the same time a symbol of its athletic excellence.

Pat Butcher 
photo by nancyhoney.com

When histories of our sport are written decades down the road, Zatopek’s achievements will still be cherished.  Foremost is the 1952 Olympic Gold Medal Triple when he won the five and ten (failing only in a five thousand heat to finish first), wrapped up with the marathon victory where he defeated world record holder Jim Peters. All were Olympic records. Zatopek’s first Olympic win came four years earlier when he beat Belgium’s Gaston Reiff.    

The l952 Olympic win in Helsinki has been called the finest race ever run by Zatopek, archived by the photo of the Czech leading Alain Mimoun and Herbert Schade, while Chris Chataway lay crumpled on the track. Fourth entering the final turn, Zatopek mounted what later could be called a Billy Mills sprint to the finish, winning by less than a second. 

The Czech might have won more major medals but IAAF Worlds were still a gleam in the eye of national governing bodies and their corrupt bureaucrats. 

Sprinkled through his world-class decade of 1946 to 1956 were eighteen world records. He was the first runner under twenty-nine minutes for ten thousand meters, the first to run twenty kilometers in less than an hour. Runner’s World named him the Greatest Runner of All Time, in 2013. 

Butcher tells us about this runner who probably trained and competed excessively. Zatopek was one of the first to explore interval training. The competitions took place in the midst of a training regimen notorious for its punishment. Sessions of eighty to a hundred repeats of 400-meter runs, sometimes several in a day were routine.  In one two-year period he raced 32 five thousands and 18 ten thousands. No rest for the successful. 

In his visits to the Czech Republic Butcher spent hours with Dana, who we are charmed to learn won the javelin competition just after her husband was winning Olympic gold in ’52. That seemed ordained: Dana and Emil shared the same birthday, September 19, 1922.  “We could get married on the same day, too,” he dryly told her. The book is dedicated to Zane Branson, manager, runner and Butcher’s close friend. Branson died suddenly of a heart attack in Iten, Kenya in 2015.

The British author recounts Zatopek’s political stubbornness in the face of the Russian invasion of the country. A member of the Czech Army, he was forced to join the Party. For criticizing the Soviet Union’s l968 takeover he was deprived of his colonelcy and Party membership and exiled for four years. The four-time Olympic champion was forced into a series of menial jobs including picking up trash and working in uranium mines.

 One of the well-known anecdotes revealing Zatopek’s generosity and empathy involved another running legend, Ron Clarke. Though he was a multiple world record setter, the Australian never won Olympic gold, although he was the favorite in several of the races.

 In 1966 Zatopek invited Clarke to a meet in Prague.  Before Clarke boarded the plane for the return to Australia, the Czech handed him a small package, saying, “Not out of friendship, but because you deserve it.”  Uncertain about its contents, he waited until mid-flight to open the gift.  Inside was Zatopek’s 1952 Olympic gold medal for his win at ten thousand meters.

 Gracing Quicksilver’s cover is Zatopek’s photo, arms and hands punching an invisible opponent, the runner’s glistening, grimacing face above a vest with stop-sign numbers. We can imagine the galumping stride, the locomotive’s connecting rods driving the carriage irrevocably forward. “I wasn’t smart enough to smile and run at the same time.”

 The gregarious and cosmopolitan athlete (he spoke eight languages) might be amused today to see the number of books about him available at the library, not just because of national pride, but also because he deserved it.  


Paul O’Shea’s grandmother and mother were skilled at preparing Czech recipes that included duck and pork roasts, knedliky, strudel to finish. And the fruit dumplings, the fruit dumplings… see (The Spruce Eats) for Knedliky recipe, by Barbara Rolek


Paul O’Shea is a lifelong participant in the track and field world, as competitor, coach and journalist.  After retirement from a career in corporate communications, he coached a girls’ cross country team and was a long-time contributor to Cross Country Journal. He now writes for Once Upon a Time in the Vest from his home in northern Virginia, and can be reached at Poshea17@aol.com.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

V 11 N. 2 Walter Buddy Davis 1952 Olympic High Jump Champ R.I.P.


Over the bar at Helsinki

Walt 'Buddy' Davis passed away on November 19, 2020 in Beaumont, Texas.  The former Texas A&M athlete starred in track and basketball as an Aggie.  In his childhood he had been stricken with polio and wore a leg brace for three years.  He did leg strengthening exercises and eventually became an outstanding athlete.  At 6' 6" he had the talent to move on to the NBA after his track career. He played for the Philadelphia Warriors and the St. Louis Hawks winning two NBA championships.  

Just for fun, can you name another Aggie who played both those sports in college and was an Olympic gold medalist.  See answer at bottom of this post.

In 1953 before Walt Davis became a pro basketball player he made one of his last appearances at the national level in Dayton when the national AAU championships were held there.  I was able to acquire the use of several photos courtesy of the Wright State University-Dayton Daily News archives housed at that library.  Here they are.  

Walt Davis being presented the 'Courage Award' by 
Ed Pollock of the Philadelphia Sports Writers Assn.
in 1954.  The other recipient that year was another Olympic
Champion Babe Didrikson Zaharias who had been
battling cancer as a then pro golfer.  She was unable to attend.

photo by Homer Hack Dayton Daily News
Wright State University Archives

photo by Homer Hack Dayton Daily News
Wright State University Archives

Olympic Jump youtube   Link

In those days the NBA was small peanuts, and I may have actually seen Davis play in Dayton, Ohio as a ten year old.  One night my parents and most Dayton basketball fans filled the old U. of Dayton arena to watch the Harlem Globetrotters.   There was an NBA game that served as a warmup  before the Globetrotters game.  Goose Tatum and Marquis Haynes were the men of the hour for the Trotters.   I do remember former Ohio State star Neal Johnston for the Warriors, but not Davis that night.  

Walter Buddy Davis , Obituary    This is worth a look, much better than your average obituary.  ed. 

Several have noted in this obit that Walt is credited with being the first over 7 feet, much to the chagrin of anyone who knows that Charley Dumas was that man.

He apparently Davis jumped 7' several times in 'exhibitions'.  He worked for a car dealership and they would have sales promotions.  He would appear there and do a little high jumping.  I'm sure there weren't any certified officials there measuring and so no official credit.

And by the way, that other Aggie to earn a gold in track and play basketball at College Station was  Randy Matson.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

V 11 N. 1 Clem Eischen Olympian 1948 1500 Meters R.I.P.


Clem Eischen  (B. Dec. 24, 1926 - D.  Dec. 7, 2020)  age 93

Clem Eischen born in Nebraska in the 1920's and moved with his family to Vancouver, Washington, where he went out for track his junior year in 1944.   He thought he wanted to run the 880, but the spot was already taken according to the coach who wasn't all that welcoming to the newcomer.  So Clem moved up to the mile, both he and the half miler won state titles that year, and Clem won again his senior year.  That bought him a ticket to Washington State in Pullman where he was an All American in the mile though never an NCAA champ finishing 2nd in the 880 in 1951 and 5th in the mile in 1946 and 6th in 1948.  He surprised  a lot of people with his third place finish in the 1500 at the Olympic trials thus earning the trip to London.  His personal bests were  880 1:51.3 (1951), 1500-3:52.5 (1948), Mile 4:13.5 (1948) -

In London he was eliminated in the qualifying heat when a British runner cut in front of him causing him to lose his footing and clipping the offending runner's heel.  That kept him out of the final.  

But where Clem really made his mark in sport was as a physical therapist.  After six years of teaching high school in Washington, he went to Stanford and got a graduate degree in physical therapy and opened his first clinic in Vancouver.  The field was not recognized as a valid treatment by the medical profession at that time but Clem was noted for lobbying for better recognition of physical therapy and winning that effort.  He eventually had six clinics at his retirement, and they are now run by his son and grandson.

The following article is from a website called PTPUBNIGHT that tells about Clem's work to get recognition for the profession so that people on Medicare could get physical therapy.

Clem Eischen was a physical therapist for all of four years when he stood up during the 1966 national convention of the Private Practice Section (PPS) in L.A. to express frustration about how physical therapists were “shut out” of Medicare, the national program that had been established just the year before.

The problem: physical therapy wasn’t included as a reimbursable medical service in this new health care program.

Clem Eichen PT Pub Night on the Hill

Clem Eischen (second from right) poses with Keith Glasser, private practice attorney Diana Godwin, and PT Pub Night founder Tannus Quatre (far right) during a 2014 advocacy trip to Capitol Hill.

“I was pretty harsh,” Clem recalled. The nation’s PT advocates had been “asleep at the wheel,” he announced that day, which was forcing him to turn away elderly patients at his Northwest practice.

“The little old ladies were kind of the thing that set me off,” said Clem, now 88 and still a licensed physical therapist. “When an old lady would come in the office and I’d say, ‘I can’t treat you,’ they could really make you feel bad. They don’t say anything, but there’s that look on their faces.”

Clem’s impromptu speech, and the criticism it contained, undoubtedly struck a chord in the room. The PPS quickly moved to make him the chairman of its legislative committee, an assignment that came with two committee members, no budget and two goals: lobby Congress to change Medicare to include physical therapy in private practice, and ensure this change is funded.

By 1972, Clem had accomplished both of these goals.

“It can’t be overstated how incredibly important Clem’s legacy is to both the physical therapy profession and the millions we serve across the country,” said Tannus Quatre, PT Pub Night founder, a licensed physical therapist, and recent physical therapy advocate through the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). “I met Clem during a trip to Washington D.C. last year, and it was an honor to work by his side on Capitol Hill, this time fighting to repeal the sustainable growth rate and therapy cap.”

Clem Eischen PT Advocacy

Clem Eischen, member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic team.

Clem was no stranger to performing under pressure, though before he was practicing physical therapy and meeting members of Congress in D.C., his stage had typically been a cinder track. An All-American track star at Washington State University, Clem earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and competed in the 1,500-meter run in the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

Following a brief career as both an athlete and coach, Clem received his graduate degree in physical therapy from Stanford in 1962. The very next year, he started his own private practice, SportsCare Physical Therapy, leading to his involvement in the PPS and its legislative committee.

Once appointed as its chairman, Clem said he quickly got to work, creating valuable relationships over time with members of Congress as well as advocates from other groups such as the Oregon Medical Political Action Committee (OMPAC) and the American Medical Association.

Rep. Al Ullman, the U.S. Representative from Oregon’s 2nd District at the time, proved to be his most valuable advocate. When Ullman became chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he assured Clem that expanding Medicare to include physical therapy was on his agenda.

“He said, ‘I know what you want. I’ll stand tall for you in committee,’” Clem recalled. “And he did. He took care of it.”

In 1972, Medicare expanded to not only include physical therapy, but speech and occupational therapy, as well. It was also that year when Clem helped form PT-PAC, which later became the political outreach arm of the APTA.

Since this milestone legislative victory, Clem has continued to serve as a long-time physical therapy and private practice advocate. He also enjoys encouraging others to serve in a similar capacity, citing his own experiences as an example of how passion, persistence and advocacy can change the world we live in.

“I tell people that you live and die by the legislation in Washington D.C..” he said. “Legislators can hurt you or they can help you, but you’d better talk for yourself. If you don’t, there are plenty of voices that will speak on your behalf, and it won’t always be good.”

Vancouver's Clem Eischen Was Master of the Mile, The Columbian May 12, 2020

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

V 10 N. 87 The Dassler Brothers' Rivalry , Adidas vs. Puma - The Dumpster Reveals More of It's Secrets

Dec. 30, 2020

Today I received a few more photos from my source who discovered the abandoned pictures of Cliff Severn, the early Adidas rep in Southern California.   One of them I'll put in today because it comes from the little town of Hezognenaurach just 10 kilometers north of Nuremburg, Germany. 

Herzogenaurach, West Germany 1965

This was probably taken by Cliff Severn on a visit to the Adidas plant in 1965.  Note the two signs pointing in opposite directions, one to Adidas and the other to Puma.  The Dassler Brothers came from this town and founded their shoe company in 1919 as Gebruder Dassler Schuh Fabrik  (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory).  They started out in the family home but by the late 1920s had grown too big and set up a small factory in the town.  By the Berlin Olympics, they had made it big in the sport shoe world with their shoes winning 7 gold medals including some of Jesse Owens' victories as well as 5 silver and bronze.  During WWII the company converted and produced armaments.  But after the war the brothers had a row and went their separate ways, each setting up their own factories still in Herzogenaurach.  Rudolph led Puma and Adolph led Adidas.  They never spoke again.  The people of Herzogneaurach also divided.  You either worked at one factory or the other, but no one in your household would be working in the other factory.  The Dassler families maintained their separateness until the ownership when public.  They divested of their shares for the most part and some peace was made between the companies, although each still supports a separate football (soccer) club in the town.  The mayor is one of the few people to display logos from both companies in his apparel.  

Hannah Schwaer reported more on this fascinating story in Business Insider on Oct.1, 2018 at the 70th anniversary of the rift.  Here is the link:
Adidas and Puma, How It All Got Started

photo:  Hannah Schwaerr

Early logo of the Dassler Brothers sport shoe company

Walter Mizell

6:18 PM (29 minutes ago)
to me
Hey George, as you know I lived in Bavaria the last three years of the fifties, and in about 1958 acquired a pair of red Adidas spiked track shoes.  I think they were the first pair of spikes I ever owned.  They were a suede material, with approx 1 inch spikes (non-removable, as best I can recall) incredibly light, and I used them through my junior and senior years.  I had no idea they were made just a 3-hour drive from my home or that Puma’s  even existed.  But I took loving care of them and they served me well.  I wish I had kept them but somewhere over the years lost sight of them. At OU they gave us those heavy canvas cross country shoes. (blister machines) and that was it for cross country for the first couple of years.  I first saw Pumas at Arizona State on the feet of Ulis Williams, I believe.  Walt Mizell

Yep many of those great shoes, and tee shirts, I might add, got disappeared by our spouses I do believe.  

 "Honey, Have you seen my Blueberry Stomp tee shirt?"

"Oh I think it disintegrated in the the dryer, stud.  Why don't you wear that Calvin Klein tennis shirt I bought you at K-Mart? 


Monday, December 28, 2020

V 10 N. 86 Angels in Combat Boots, a book review by Wilfred "Bill" Schnier

                                               Angels in Combat Boots

A Review by Wilfred Schnier

As with all good books, Angels in Combat Boots unravels its story in layers; not the three plotlines characteristic of all television sitcoms crammed into 30 minutes but rather a multitude of vignettes chronologically told, interdependent upon one another.  The central figure of this true-life story, Coach Chuck Hunsaker, encounters many others along his journey, much like Homer during his Odyssey, making each episode interesting enough to keep the reader captivated until the next stage.  If one reads a book because it reveals his own story, then Angels in Combat Boots is certainly attractive to anyone who was once young and looking for his way.  If the reader has ever been frustrated, or battled the system, or been thwarted as often as being rewarded, then this book will keep your interest as well.  If one reads to enhance his knowledge, Angels also provides that benefit since few have been privy to the inner workings of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a mysterious and even misunderstood institution to most Americans.  The time period of the book was 1967-81, allowing the story to follow many of the national topics of that era:  feminism, civil rights, military, and athletics.  The backdrop is sports, specifically running, but unlike most sports stories, this one has layers which draw in those who love physical competition as well as others who are athletically neutral.  

Although this book is not great classical literature, don’t allow that to dissuade you from picking up and reading this fascinating book.  The story flowed beautifully and increased in interest as the pages whizzed by.

Angels in Combat Boots is primarily about the meteoric coaching career of Chuck Hunsaker in Lima, Ohio, the University of Cincinnati, Southwest Missouri State University, and eventually at West Point.  Although his coaching time frame was only 14 years in duration with only three at the USMA, Coach Hunsaker accomplished wonders which allowed him to be recognized in six athletic halls of fame.  His organization, passion, and love of the sports of cross country and track and field should lead anyone interested in those topics to be attracted to this book.  Confronting the obstacle of integrating women into a school with a mammoth, 174-year, all-male history presents a side of education and athletics seldom seen.  As with the frequent lack of support at Cincinnati and SMS, different yet serious obstacles continued at West Point with an anti-female bias shown among many older students as well as “old guard” instructors and administrators.  There was an “us against the world” element in this story which made it more intriguing, yet Coach Hunsaker’s witty “Thoughts of the Day” as well as brief training logs grounded the book for those coaches looking for an edge.  Had the book been written about any old team at any old school, then it would still be worth reading, but it was written about two-time NCAA Division II cross country team champions at Southwest Missouri State and Eastern Champions and AIAW national runners-up at the United States Military Academy in 1979.  A real highlight is the Appendix of Army runners who comment on their time at West Point and list their significant accomplishments throughout their lives.  Its wide appeal will attract readers from all walks of life making it a story well worth reading.

Should you wish to purchase Angels in Combat Boots visit the Xlibris website.  It sells for $16.99 soft cover and $28.99 hard cover.  It will soon be available in e-Book format at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.


Monday, December 21, 2020

V 10 N. 85 Court of Arbitration for Sport Relaxes Ban for Russian Doping


December 21, 2020

Sean Ingle, one of my favorite sports journalists reports today that the Court of Arbitration for  Sport (CAS) has all but wiped away the ban on Russian participation in next year's Olympics.  The ban requested by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA)  had been for 4 years, but now has been drawn down to two years which includes time served and  will bring mother Russia back on the field in full glory, almost.  Of course many international athletes and their home organizations are screaming foul.

Russian teams will be allowed to wear their colors, have 'Russia' printed on their jerseys, but shall have to have the term 'Neutral Athlete' also printed on the jersey.  How tough is that?  Ingle compares it to the perps of The Great Train Robbery getting a couple hours of community service.  It makes me wonder what the Russians have on the three judge panel of the CAS?  Are they threatening to expose their mistresses, display their proclivities for nude mud wrestling or some such? There are some other stipulations in the ruling, but for the most part the door is now wide open for Russian participation in international sport.  If the doping incidents were just by individuals  seeking their own personal gain, that would have been one thing, but this was state sponsored doping including manipulation of drug samples at the Russian hosted winter Olympics in Sochi.  Add this to the recent exposure of Russian cyber-hacking, and it makes the likes of Turgenev, Dostoyevsky,  Tolstoy and the defenders of Stalingrad wonder where their pills were when they needed them.  Ingle gives us a much more detailed reasoning in his article.


 Athletes Need to Understand Why Russia Is So Important To The IOC    by Sean Ingle, The Guardian, December 21, 2020.

Vlady has always had the cahones lil’ Donny hasn’t.  Just read the account of Navalny himself conning the agent or agents who poisoned him into confessing.  Mother Rouge Russia. This MO is not going to change with their fearless leader having locked in his position thru 2036.   Richard Mach

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

V 10 N. 84 Remembering a Long Forgotten Sprinter, Eddie Morris

 A few days ago, Mike Solomon, U. of Kansas, sent me a note about a long forgotten southern California sprinter named Eddie Morris.  Mike had been reminiscing with his old high school buddies about  Eddie who was one of the top sprinters in the US in 1940, hampered by injury, then WW II and Korea from fulfilling his dreams of track and field glory.  Here is his story as reported in the L.A. Times  by Barbie Ludovise February 13, 1988, followed by a link to his obituary.   Thanks, Mike

This picture courtesy of Russ Reabold of Trojan Force

Eddie Morris’ Dash to Fame Came Quickly at Huntington Beach


He’s one of the handsomest specimens you ever saw. Just under 6-feet, he weighs 175, has wide shoulders, a trim waist, magnificent legs that taper at the right place . . . . He has average likes and dislikes. He’s a big eater, prefers steak to any food.

Eddie Morris’ story is not unlike any other boy’s except that he can run faster . . . “

--Huntington Beach News commentary, May 9, 1940, the day before Eddie Morris, a senior at Huntington Beach High School, tied Jesse Owens’ world high school record of 20.7 seconds in the 220-yard dash.

Eddie Morris, a.k.a. the Blond Bullet, the Beach Bullet or the Human Bullet (depending on which publication you subscribed to), was big news in Southern California in the late 1930s and early ‘40s.

“He got so much publicity, he even got a five- or six-page spread in Pic magazine (a popular national magazine) ,” said Bob Clabots, a former teammate and longtime friend. “Everyone knew about Eddie’s running.”

Almost 50 years later, Morris’ achievements would still make him a sprint champion on most high school--and many college--tracks today.

But this is not something Morris, now 65, often thinks about. Though he attends a few track and field meets every year in Portland, Wash., about 25 miles northeast of his home in Washougal, Morris says he seldom dwells on the moments of his championship past.

“No, truly I don’t reflect too much on that sort of thing,” said Morris, who retired in 1981 after a 39-year career as a pipeline controller for a Long Beach oil corporation. “It’s been so darn long ago. And I had never paid much attention to all of that, anyway.”

But many others did.

Huntington Beach was a sleepy oil community of 3,500 when Morris was a senior in 1940. His father, Earl E. Morris, a wildcat oil driller, moved the family there in 1931 from Augusta, Kan., after accepting a job with a Long Beach oil company.

The Morris family lived in a single-story beach house at 624 9th St., now the site of an apartment complex. The next closest house, separated from theirs by an oil well and a lima bean patch, was more than 50 yards away.

In the spring of 1937, Morris, 14, joined a freshman after-school gym class. He was sprinting down the runway approaching the long jump pit when he was spotted by Huntington Beach Coach Harry M. (Cap) Sheue.

Sheue, a 39-year Huntington Beach High coach and teacher who died last June at 91, knew immediately that Morris was a gifted sprinter.

“I didn’t know who Eddie Morris was. He was just another freshman to me,” Sheue said in a 1974 interview with The Times. “But when I saw him running down the runway the first time, I knew he wasn’t going to be doing any more broad jumping.”

After one year under Sheue’s tutelage, Morris had become a track star and somewhat of a town celebrity.

In June of 1938, Morris, a sophomore, was advertised in a local paper as “the featured event” at an exhibition football game between Huntington Beach and Fullerton high schools.

Morris, who had never run a race longer than 220 yards, was to race the Oiler 440-yard relay team in a one-lap race during halftime.

He lost by less than a second. But his time--50.8 seconds--set a school record.

Jim Stangeland, a former teammate and longtime friend of Morris, said many people came to the Oilers’ track and field meets just to see Morris anchor their otherwise mediocre 440-yard relay team.

“We’d always be 20 or 30 yards behind the leaders,” said Stangeland, a former Cal State Long Beach football coach.

“Then Eddie would get the stick and with this great lean and tremendous burst of speed, he would just blow the others off the track. It was almost comical to the people in the stands. It looked like a cartoon.”

But Morris wasn’t laughing, at least not on the track.

“Eddie Morris was all business when he got going,” said Don Potts, editor emeritus of Track & Field News. “You could see it in his eyes he was dead serious.”

At Huntington Beach, Morris was a three-year state and Southern Section champion in the 220-yard dash, and a two-year Southern Section champion in the 100.

His best of 20.7 for the 220, set in a 1940 Southern Section qualifying meet, was four-hundredths of a second faster than the winning time of the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. championships the same year. His best in the 100--9.6 seconds--would have tied the NCAA mark the same year.

Although making comparisons between past and present sprint marks is difficult because of several factors--including faster track surfaces, improved racing spikes, the use of starting blocks and automatic timing--Morris’ marks are considered by many to have been way ahead of their time.

“Eddie Morris was a very impressive runner,” Potts said. “Though with all the changes it’s difficult to compare, he’d probably have been one of the top 10 (high school) sprinters in the nation last year.”

Bulletin: Compton Invitational meet officials announced this morning that Eddie Morris’ starting time in the preliminaries has been set for 7:45 p.m. Those who plan to attend and want to be sure of a seat, may secure tickets from “The News” sports editor before Friday noon.

----Huntington Beach News, Page 1, June 1, 1939.

Morris was Huntington Beach’s main event during track season. People expected a lot from him. Every track season, Morris’ race results were printed, analyzed and scrutinized.

Charley Paddock, 1924 Olympic silver medalist in the 220, wrote a lengthy analysis of Morris’ sprinting form, criticizing his slow start but adding that Morris definitely had Olympic potential.

Sharkey Plumlee, sports editor of the Huntington Beach News, wrote about Morris every week in his “Scrambled Sports” column.

In the spring of 1938, Plumlee wrote: “If Morris can cut his furlong (220-yard) time down to around 21 flat, and we see no reason to believe he will not, he’ll board the boat for Tokyo (1940 Olympics) two years hence.”

The boat never boarded, of course, as the 1940 Olympics were canceled because of World War II.

After high school, Morris attended Santa Ana Junior College (now Rancho Santiago College) for 1 1/2 years. It was there that the end of his career began.

In an early-season practice meet between Santa Ana and the USC freshman team, Morris was entered in the 100-yard dash against Jack Trout of Bakersfield, a longtime rival. About 40 yards into the race, Morris pulled up and limped off the track.

“It was just horrible,” Stangeland said. “Eddie had a knot in the back of his thigh the size of a softball. I’d never seen anything like it in my life. It looked like the muscle just snapped, then rolled up into a big ball.”

The injury never really healed. Though Morris went on to accept an athletic scholarship at USC in February 1942, the injury continued to hamper his performance. His last race was in the Coliseum in a USC-Stanford dual meet. The hamstring gave out midway through the 220.

“I still have a great knot in it,” Morris said. “It feels like a big egg. They (athletic trainers and coaches) didn’t know what to do with a hamstring injury in those days, other than rest it.”

Morris enlisted in the Army, was summoned to active duty in 1942 and was stationed in the South Pacific. He was injured by shrapnel and flying coral in both legs, both arms and his back about a year later and returned to the States.

“After the war, I thought about running again,” Morris said. “I tried, but it just wasn’t there. It just wasn’t there. So I went to work. I had a semester to go, but I didn’t go back. If I couldn’t run . . . well, I just didn’t.”

Morris, who will be inducted into the Orange County Hall of Fame Monday night, says he’s sorry his running career ended the way it did, but he isn’t resentful.

“To tell you the truth, I was very shy in those years,” he said. “I wasn’t particularly interested in all that notoriety. It really didn’t do a whole lot for me. I just enjoyed running and having Cap for a coach and making some good friends.”

Including Clabots, who, in a few weeks will be Morris’ next-door neighbor. Morris and his wife, Linda, are moving to Lake Havasu City, Ariz., to join Clabots, his wife, Vivian, and the warmer weather.

EDDIE MORRIS Age: 65. Hometown: Huntington Beach. Residence: Washougal, Wash. Accomplishments:

Was a three-year state and Southern Section champion in the 220-yard dash.

Was a two-year Southern Section champion in the 100-yard dash.

Ran personal bests of 20.7 seconds for the 220-yard dash, and 9.6 seconds for the 100-yard dash.

Won national junior AAU titles in the 100 meters (10.4) and 200 meters (20.6) in 1940.

The following article also comes from Russ Reabold of Trojan Force

Another newspaper article from Trojan Force which I was unable to successfully download describes a dual meet in which Eddie Morris participated against Fresno State.  He placed second in the 100 yard dash to Payton Jordan whose time was 9.7.  Jordan was running for the Southern California Athletic Association.     Eddie  won the unusual distance of 140 yards in 13.2.  My guess is this was run out of the hurdles chute and they didn't have a full 220 yard straightaway.  As stated in the first article, Eddie Morris never really blossomed at USC due to his injury while running his freshman year at Santa Ana JC.  Then WWII caught up with him.  

National HS Track and Field HOF

Eddie passed away in Vancouver, Washington in 2002.  Here is his obituary link:

Eddie Morris, Obituary


Paul Williams sent me this from his personal collection. In those days in California they had varsity, "B" and "C" classifications.  "B" and  "C"were determined by exponents of age, weight, and height.....  So you could actually be a high school senior and still compete in the "C" group.
This is the "B" records at Huntington Beach High.
Paul was favored to win the state 880 in '68 but said that the heat was unbearable ( growing up on the beach) and ended up having a great career at UCLA.
Mike Solomon

   My understanding is this old record board was consigned to the dumpster by Huntington Beach High School and retrieved by Paul Williams now of Boise, ID. His brother was the one who saved it for him.  It now hangs in Paul's garage.  ed. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

V 10 N. 83 Jim Allen The Season of '63

More than five years ago, our blog was covering the 1963 track season and we made some mention of the US tour to Europe. The US-Russian dual meet was the biggest international of the year in non-Olympic years, at least from our point of view. A tall, thin hurdler from Washington State had appeared on the scene as the number two 400m IH runner. Jim Allen had what could easily be called a meteoric rise to the top of his field from one season of track in high school to a walk-on his freshman year at Washington State, and now a member of the US team that would challenge the best the Russians had to offer and on their home turf. That meet was followed by duals in Poland and West Germany and for Jim finished off in England and Scandinavia.  

Jim's son Jeff Allen found reference to that blog post and contacted me about any additional material I might have on his dad. We began corresponding, and on my way to the Prefontaine meet I stopped in Seattle to meet Jim and Jeff at Jim's home. We hit it off, and from that meeting I wrote a much more detailed piece about Jim's track history and that East European tour.  

Jim Allen No. 2 in the 400IH

The following year, 2016, Jim and Jeff travelled to Eugene, and my blog partner Roy Mason and I met them for dinner at The Wild Duck Cafe near Hayward Field. There were other luminaries in the hall that night, but Roy and I were focused, enthralled on hearing stories from Jim and Jeff. Lest it be forgotten, Jim and Jeff are both track and field All-Americans. Jeff earned that honor as part of Stanford's Distance Medley team at the NCAA indoor meet. Not many fathers and sons can put that in their resumes.  

Since then we've remained on each other's mailing list and conversed by email on a number of occasions always enjoying what each had to say. I got regular comments from Jim.

A few weeks ago, Jeff wrote me that Jim had passed away, and it was with great shock and sadness that I absorbed that information, being reminded many times the past few weeks how fragile life is and how 'our generation' is beginning to run out of time. Jeff did a masterwork of a tribute to his dad and sent it to be put on our blog. It is with great honor that we have placed it here today in its entirety. As some of you know we tried this a week ago and pictures were not showing up. Jeff and I got over that technical hurdle, and now the article is ready. Good reading to all of you this holiday season.    George Brose  Roy Mason and Steve Price

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Reaching out to share some sad news. Jim passed away Sep 10th. Here is the link to his obituary: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=james-warren-allen&pid=196826555.

I wanted to share with you how much he (and I) appreciated getting to meet and know you. The blog and your post on Jim a few years back had a wonderful impact on his life.

Ever since we first connected with you Jim really found a lot of joy in reading the blog posts, the memories it stirred, and the connections he made with folks like you, Blaine, and others. It’s also what prompted Jim and me to go to the 2016 and 2017 Prefontaine's. Had we not connected with you, I don’t think he and I would have ended up traveling to see the meets in person. I have incredibly fond memories of those trips with my dad.

The connections, memories, and experiences that you, Roy, and Steve bring about for so many folks like my dad and me are an incredible thing. Jim’s moment in the spotlight in 1963 was very unique but also very brief. He really enjoyed being able to revisit those times and share with you and others.

Since Jim passed I’ve come across a number of items I thought you guys might find interesting. I’ve included photos below and more information on each. I actually started this email weeks ago with just a handful of items but kept uncovering new pieces of info. So what started as a fairly brief message has grown into something much larger. I hope it’s as much fun for you guys to read through as it was for me to put together.

Thanks again for all you guys do. I wanted you to know how much Jim enjoyed the work you guys put into the blog and the impact it had on him.


Jeff Allen



17-year-old senior from West Seattle High School competing in the Seattle High School All-City Track Meet at Husky Stadium on May 15, 1959:

Jim was sort of an accidental athlete, and an accidental Coug. As a senior at West Seattle High School, in the fall of 1958, he happened to be in the gym one day jogging laps with some buddies that were on the football team. The football coach (who was also the track coach) approached him and insisted Jim turn out for track as a hurdler. That spring (1959) when Jim didn’t show the coach knocked on my grandparents door and spoke with them about it. At their urging he reluctantly gave it a try. That season he ended up winning the 180yd low hurdles in the city championship and qualified for the state meet in Pullman. He got smoked at state but loved the Washington State campus. However, he had planned to attend college at Pacific Lutheran in Tacoma, WA and was already enrolled. So after returning home from the state meet he changed course, de-enrolled from Pacific Lutheran, and enrolled at Washington State instead.

As a freshman at WSU he tried out for basketball but got cut. So in the spring (1960) he tried track again, mainly for a PE credit. He improved significantly in what was only his 2nd season. And with his long legs found he could adjust to the added height of the college highs better than most. He set many WSU freshman records and beat the guys he’d lost to at state the year prior (they were now running for other NW colleges). So he stuck with track from then on.

Coincidentally, it was his long legs and stride that helped him later develop into one of the best 400m hurdlers in the world. Jim was a shade under 6’ 5” but had a 36” inseam. 13 steps was just his natural stride pattern between hurdles. He’d carry that to the 7th hurdle before converting to 15 steps for the last few. I remember we were talking about all this once…the high school coach, the state meet in Pullman, de-enrolling from PLU, getting cut from freshman basketball, the freshman track records, 13 steps, making the US Team, etc. He said you know I was just the right guy in the right place at the right time.

Unfortunately he struggled with muscle pulls regularly, especially his hamstrings. It actually confounded the WSU trainer who could not understand how such a long, lean, limber guy could get muscle pulls so often. He was incredibly flexible. Even with a 36" inseam Jim could stand with straight legs, lean over forward to stretch, and put both hands flat on the ground.

Funnily enough, many of the newspaper clippings my grandmother kept included photos of Jim running with leg wraps or long underwear. The latter gained him some notoriety in the local press. He wore them to keep his legs warm and loose in the cold and wet northwest weather. The writers seemed to get a kick out of it. Articles frequently referenced Jim’s  “longies” or “long johns” and even sometimes called him “Long John Allen."

The muscle pulls limited his 1961 season, cancelled his 1962 season (he redshirted), and even in 1963 during his breakout season gave him trouble. He missed the Russia meet (which was devastating) and another meet later in Hässleholm, Sweden. It also really limited his final season in 1964. Ultimately ending his career when he injured one badly at the NCAA’s that year and could not recover in time for the trials. I remember we were talking about all this once too and he simply said you know it just wasn’t meant to be.

Since he passed I’ve discovered a lot of interesting items. Mostly from 1963 which was really his only healthy and full season. I’ve listed many below and included some additional info on each. It’s been fascinating to uncover and connect the dots on all of this. I thought you, Roy, and Steve may enjoy as well.

Apr 27, 1963 - WSU vs Oregon Dual Meet at Rogers Field in Pullman, WA

Schedule of events (and some results). Jim set Rogers Field records in winning the highs (14.5) and 330yd intermediates (38.1). I noticed Jim beat Mel Renfro in both events. The year prior in 1962 Renfro was the NCAA runner-up in the highs.

May 4, 1963 - WSU vs UW Dual Meet at Husky Stadium in Seattle, WA

Seattle Times clipping below. Jim set a meet record in the highs (14.3) and a stadium record in the 330yd intermediates (37.4). The meet came down to the mile relay. Jim led off. Jan Bentzon ran 2nd. He was a half miler and Norwegian exchange student. Clarence “Clancy" Williams ran 3rd. He was a halfback & defensive back on the football team, an All-American defensive back in 1964, and played 8 seasons for the LA Rams. The anchor leg was team captain John Chaplin whose name I figure you guys are familiar with. Incidentally, I remember my dad telling me a number of times Chaplin was one of the smartest guys he ever knew. The Cougs won the relay and the meet. The papers noted that 2 wins by a local Seattle kid wearing long johns who fled Seattle for the Palouse helped do in the Huskies.

May 11, 1963 - WSU vs Idaho Dual Meet at Rogers Field in Pullman, WA

Not sure what newspaper this clipping is from. Jim wins the highs (14.3) and 330yd intermediates (37.6). Both marks are faster than his Rogers Field records from the Oregon dual meet 2 weeks prior. But the highs time doesn’t count as a new record because of a tailwind.

May 18, 1963 - Far West Championships at Rogers Field in Pullman, WA

Meet program below with John Chaplin on the cover. Also on the cover is Eilif Fredriksen, another Norwegian exchange student (like half miler Jan Bentzon). Eilif was a triple jump NCAA finalist in 1962 (2nd) and 1963 (4th). Eilif and Jim were fraternity brothers too. I recently learned a funny story from a 3rd fraternity brother named Roger. May 17th is Norway’s Independence Day and Eilif had to party because that was his nature. There was a celebration that night and all the Norwegian students on campus were there (including Jan). So Eilif invited along his fraternity brothers Jim and Roger. Roger planned to watch his buddies compete the next day, drank too much, and didn’t make it to the meet. Jim, Eilif, and Jan nearly missed the meet but each still fared pretty well. Jim won the highs (14.2) improving his Rogers Field record and narrowly beating Renfro again. He also won the 440yd intermediates (52.0) tying Jerry Tarr’s meet record from 1962. Eilif won the triple and was 4th in the broad. Jan was 4th in the 880yd. Jim and Jan (with Clancy and Chaplin) also helped the mile relay to a close 2nd behind Oregon.

Spokesman-Review (Spokane newspaper) clipping from May 21, 1963 about Jim and his wins at the Far West Championships:

May 25, 1963 - AAWU (Big Six) Championships at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley, CA

Meet program and medals below. Jim placed 2nd in the 440yd intermediates (51.6) to Cawley (51.5) and helped the WSU mile relay to 2nd behind USC. In the prelims of the highs he hit the first hurdle and wasn’t able to recover enough to make the final. Eilif won the triple and placed 4th in the broad. Jan dropped 1.6 seconds off his best time to place 2nd in the 880yd. Unfortunately, Chaplin pulled up injured during the 220yd and was out the rest of the meet.

Jun 8, 1963 - Northwest AAU Championships at Thunderbird Field in Tumwater, WA

Meet program and medals below. WSU won the meet team title behind two wins each for Jim (highs & intermediates) and Eilif (broad & triple). Jan is 3rd in 880yd. Jim and Jan run legs on the WSU mile relay which also wins. What is interesting about this meet location and program is about a decade later he and Rae moved to Olympia (which neighbors Tumwater). They started a family and he began a 30 year insurance career. Many of the local businesses advertised in this program became his clients years later. Also, about 3 decades after the meet we visited this stadium often for my football games and track meets because Tumwater High was a rival of my school in Olympia (Capital High).

Jun 13-15, 1963 - NCAA Championships at University Stadium in Albuquerque, NM

Below are photos of the meet program, competitor pass & ticket, medal (3rd), and All-American award. I remember a couple stories Jim told me about this meet. In the heats of the highs he kept banging lead arms with the runner next to him as they cleared each hurdle. Eventually at the 5th or 6th hurdle one of the collisions stood him straight up. Which slowed him just enough he didn’t advance. But he still ran a PR at 14.1 so thought he might’ve made the final otherwise. Turned out the runner next to him in the heats was the guy from Southern Illinois who ended up winning the title. In the final of the intermediates, he stumbled badly coming off the first hurdle. It through off his steps and he just about came to a stop at the second hurdle. At which point he panicked and ran almost full out to catch the field, eventually passing everyone but Cawley. However, he was so gassed coming to the final hurdle he said he’s not sure how he got over it. As he tied up going to the tape he felt really lucky that only one other runner caught him and he was able to hang on for 3rd (50.5) behind Whitney (50.3) and Cawley (49.6).

Jun 21-22, 1963 - AAU Championships at Public School Stadium in St Louis, MO

Below are photos of the meet program, medal (2nd), AAU letter, Seattle Times clipping, and Track & Field News clipping (from July 1963 issue). I’m disappointed we were never able to track down this race footage. I know it’s out there somewhere and someday I’ll come across it. I remember Jim reflecting on how thrilled he was to have made the US Team. Once back at the hotel that evening he called his parents and Coach Mooberry to tell them the news. I also recall him saying the meet broadcast was playing on the TV in the hotel lobby so he was able to see his race. While going down the backstretch he remembers the commentator saying Allen out in lane 8 is only taking 13 steps!

Jul 20-21, 1963 - US vs USSR Meet at Lenin Stadium in Moscow, Russia

Below are photos of many items with a little context on each. These were all interesting finds. What really struck me as I uncovered these and researched some of this online was the extraordinary significance this meet represented to each country and the athletes. It was such a rare thing at that time to visit Russia. An incredible honor to represent your country in this meet. And a heartbreaking disappointment for a 21-year-old to be injured and unable to compete.

Propaganda pamphlets distributed to athletes and a luggage tag:

Postcards Jim sent home the week leading up to the meet. He injures his hamstring in practice on Tue 7/16. The disappointment and frustration is discernible in these short letters. But it appears by Fri 7/19 he’s feeling better and thinks he might even be able to run his event on Sun 7/21. Also, I thought his comments on the food were amusing. He’d pay $1 to get a hamburger if he could!

The balalaika Jim bought in Red Square with Darrell Horn:

Jim took more photos in Moscow than any other stop in Europe. It seems there were more scheduled sight seeing opportunities for the athletes that week. Here are a few more images I don’t think we sent you back in 2015.

A cleaner image of Lenin Stadium:

Jim & Eleanor Montgomery (high jump) in front of Moscow State University building. I remember Jim saying Eleanor would always call him Skinny Minnie:

The State Historical Museum in Red Square and a line of Russians waiting to enter Lenin’s Tomb:

Jim outside Lenin Stadium with Novodevichy Convent buildings in background:

I recall a story Jim used to tell about Bob Hayes while they were out sight seeing one day. Jim, Bob and a couple others were walking around Moscow. Jim noticed two Russians subtly tailing them everywhere they went and mentioned it to the guys. Unconcerned, Bob quipped what are you worried about you don’t think they can catch us do you?

Meet program and photo of the stadium crowd during day 1 of the meet. The meet recap in Track & Field News (from August 1963 issue) said the two day attendance was 140,000:

I found this Russian decal, Russian embroidered patch, and a few AAU/USA stickers. My guess is these were items provided to athletes from both teams so they could exchange souvenirs. I looked up Vadim Arkhipchuk who signed the back of the decal. According to the meet recap in Track & Field News, Arkhipchuk’s 46.3 was the second fastest 400m time ever by a Russian. He was a surprise (and very close) 2nd to Ulis Williams (46.2). Online I discovered the emblem on the decal is a Russian sports club called CSKA Moscow, I assume for which Arkhipchuk competed:

TV Guide and Newsweek issues with meet coverage. I thought these were interesting indicators of how important the meet was, considering the time period. By the way, in the Newsweek article photo I think I can make out Jim and Cawley sitting next to one another toward the back left:

Jul 26-27, 1963 - US vs Poland Meet at 10th-Anniversary Stadium in Warsaw, Poland

Below are photos of postcard, meet program, medal (2nd), and Seattle Times (AP) clipping. I found AP articles online noting two day attendance of 80,000 for the meet. Jim’s leg was better but unfortunately he was really sick ever since the end of the Moscow trip. I remember him saying that by race day he was 159 pounds and incredibly weak. But he still ran and beat the two Poles, finishing 2nd (50.9) to Cawley (50.8). We talked about this meet just a few months ago actually. At one of his last oncology appointments in August they had him get on the scale. He weighed 159 and remarked to the nurse with a smile, I haven’t weighed that much since I was a young man running track in Europe in the 60’s!

Jul 31-Aug 1, 1963 - US vs W Germany Meet at Lower Saxony Stadium in Hanover, W Germany

Below are photos of postcard, meet program, medal (2nd), and Seattle Times (AP) clipping. I found AP articles online noting two day attendance of 70,000 for the meet. With a healthy leg and stomach Jim had his strength back and ran his best time ever. Cawley got him by a hair at the tape and both were timed in 50.1. I recall Jim saying Germany was really nice. The food was great, girls were pretty, people friendlier, and overall quality of life seemed much higher compared to Moscow and Warsaw. There was one story from Germany he told often and for which I’m reminded each time I visit my parents home. Jim and Darrell Horn were in a shop and Darrell insisted Jim get a set of cutlery because Germany made the finest in the world. Jim said why would I buy a set of cutlery and Darrell’s response was because someday you’ll be married and you’ll need it. To this day we still use that cutlery at my folks house.

Aug 3 & 5, 1963 - US vs Great Britain Meet at White City Stadium in London, England

Photos below of letter, meet program, medal (2nd), and AP photo. In 2016 I did an internet search and uncovered the AP photo, similar to how I found your blog in 2014. Someday I hope I’ll do a search and find that some organization somewhere has posted a video from their archives that includes one of Jim's races. But it hasn’t happened yet. For this meet I found AP articles online noting a standing room crowd of 35,000 on his race day (Aug 5th). What I remember Jim saying about the London meet is that he was feeling stronger each week in Europe and in this race felt his best. He had even just decided to stay on and run a series of four additional meets in Sweden and Norway over the coming weeks. In this race he had a big lead and then clobbers the 10th hurdle (AP photo below). He said he nearly fell, even going down to his hands on the track before recovering his balance. This allowed Cawley to come back and catch him just before the tape so he finishes 2nd (51.7) to Cawley (51.4). I remember he said he was surprised when they announced the top 3 finishers because there was polite applause for 3rd and 1st. But the crowd thundered when they announced him for 2nd. Which he assumed was because he had an English surname (Allen), combined with the dramatic 10th hurdle and finish.

Aug 6-16, 1963 - International Meets in Stockholm, Sweden (8/6), Hässleholm, Sweden (8/8), Oslo, Norway (8/12-13), Gothenburg, Sweden (8/16)

Photos below of meet programs, Hässleholm letter, Oslo postcard, and Seattle Times clipping. Jim ran in London the evening of Aug 5th. The next morning he was on a flight to Sweden and that same evening ran the open 400m in the Stockholm meet but his hamstring acted up again. Perhaps due to the travel and short turnaround between races. So he didn’t run the Hässleholm meet but in his letter home was confident that if his leg and weather were good in Oslo he might take a shot at the world record. There was a scratch in the highs on the first day (8/12) so the meet organizers asked him to run, just to fill out the field. He ended up 2nd (14.2) to Hayes Jones (13.9). The next day (8/13) he won the intermediates (51.5) running cautiously in overcast, wet conditions. For the final meet in Gothenburg 8/16 it rained hard and I’m not sure if he ran. On 8/17 he was on a plane headed over the north pole for home. One of my favorite stories Jim told was of Norway. After landing in Oslo he and Paul Drayton emerged from the plane together. To Jim’s surprise, standing down on the tarmac with cold beers in hand to greet him, were his WSU buddies Eilif Fredriksen and Jan Bentzon. Drayton said you know those guys? When Jim said yes Drayton lit up and said man I’m hanging with you this trip!

Below are two items from Track & Field News. The first is a clipping from the Aug 1963 issue of an article that looks ahead to the Tokyo Olympics and references Jim’s gold (and WR) potential. The second is a clipping from the Jan 1964 issue of the final 1963 World Rankings which list Jim #4 in the 400m hurdles. Unfortunately, the Olympics wasn’t meant to be (as Jim would say). But I know he cherished the 1963 experience and was grateful for it. Likewise he really enjoyed the blog, getting to know you, and especially appreciated the great article you posted about him.

Jim’s USA uniform, WSU singlet, and some of his “office” decor:

2015 Prefontaine when you stopped in to visit on your way down to Eugene:

2016 Prefontaine when Jim & I connected with you & Roy:

2017 Prefontaine (you were at the Indy 500 so we settled for a photo with the Duck):


This is one of the greatest layouts that has ever been done by your blog. I love it. Kudos for Ernie to bring it to my attention. Thanks for both of you. What a fabulous piece of work.  


How long did Jim Allen last in topflight competition? I remember watching him in the NCAA meet in Abq in 63. He didn’t make the finals in the HH, but got third in the IH in 50.5 behind Rex Cawley.


This just reinforces the contention that hey-days of T&F were the decades of the 50’s and 60’s.


What an incredible collection here. Don't we all wish we could lay our hands of this many memories from long ago. I see that Jim and I both graduated HS in '59. He had quite a career for sure. Thank you for sharing this man's story.

Darryl Taylor

V 11 N. 3 "Quicksilver: The Mercurial Emil Zatopek" by Pat Butcher, a Book Review by Paul O'Shea

When we come across books to review, we know that there is a particular skill set needed to be fair and honest and at the same time literary...