Thursday, October 27, 2016

V 6 N. 79 September , 1966 A Tale of Two Milers

Roy wrote to me that very little happened or was reported in the September, 1966 T F & N, but noted that there were two nice pictures of two young men running sub four minute miles.  One was the second high school miler to break four minutes,  Tim Danielson from San Diego's Chula Vista HS and the other was Ricardo Romo, a recent University of Texas graduate.  Both men's pictures appear in the issue. As most of you already know, both men's paths took very different turns in life.

Ricardo Romo

Tim Danielson and Ralph Gamez

Danielson would go on to BYU but return a year later and finish his college career at San Diego State.  He would become an engineer and live a quite below the radar life working in the aerospace industry.  An introverted individual, whose life in later years would take a horrible turn when he would be charged with killing his ex-wife and then unsuccessfully attempting to kill himself.  He was defended on the plea that he was suffering from depression and one of the side effects of his medication was possible erratic behavior and suicidal tendencies.  The jury didn't buy it, and now he will probably spend the rest of his life in the California penal system.

Tim Danielson article NYT by Jere Longman  "After the Mile"

On the brighter side, Ricardo Romo's life was well underway with All American status, the mile record at the U. of Texas which would last 42 years, a running career on the rise, although he would be injured by 1968 and see his dreams of Olympic achievement go by the wayside.  However Ricardo had a plan.  He was already beginning graduate work in Los Angeles and would complete a PhD. in History, write a hugely successful book on Latino history, and begin an upward climb in the academic world culminating in the presidency of the University of Texas at San Antonio.   He recently announced his retirement, but I'm sure this will not be the last of Ricardo's public service.  For more about Ricardo's remarkable life you can find an incredible piece on Wikipedia, but a year or so ago I asked Ricardo about his own thoughts on his early life.  He sent me a copy of a short memoir of his early days which I have already put on this blog , but it is certainly worth repeating:

Ricardo Romo Memoir

Ricardo Romo's retirment announcement

Seeing these two accounts of very different lives, one wonders how this can happen,  how one individual can turn out so well and another turn out so badly.  It is certainly one of life's mysteries.  We are often told as children that achievement in sport will enhance our success in life, in our careers, that it will open doors,  but sometimes that is woefully not so.  There are so many other factors that will influence us on the way, and probably the one that is least recognizable or controllable is our mental health.  How we see relationships and who we partner with leads me to suspect that pure blind luck is also a significant factor.  If we are born into a good family, we are incredibly lucky.  But we still have to make difficult choices along the way, and when bad choices are made to recognize them, accept them as  error and move on toward something better.  Some people overcome growing up in a bad family, but many, many never do.    For anyone to run a sub four minute mile requires a tremendous drive and at least a modicum of intelligence and self control.   But that ability to be challenged and to succeed must constantly be renewed as we go through life.  A sudden unexpected tragedy or illness or the  illness of a partner can change everything.   I truly wish the best to both of these men.  Even a life in prison is still an opportunity to do better.  Life on the outside with a wonderful family and career  also presents many challenges.  Best to both of you.  GB

On the lighter side I thought I would put some of the ads that appeared in the Sept., 1966 issue of TF&N in this post.   Many of the mainstays in today's shoe world were already operating in their infancy.   Nike had yet to appear, well, they really were there in the persona of Blue Ribbon Sports.  Also this ad for 'corners' to put down in gymnasiums was a hoot. I distincly remember that ad from fifty years ago.  Did your A.D. ever buy these?

Basketball uniform? Canvas gym shoes?  Call Sam in Marketing, we need to have a talk.

We called these  'tank treds'

All of Peter Snell's Secrets for $4

Blue Ribbon Sports, the precursor of Nike

I enjoyed Ricardo Romo's memoir again.  You put me in touch with him about my father's ministry in the Mexican Missions in San Antonio.  He was very interested and very kind.   Bill

Those photos of the shoes really brought back memories:
  • 1959/60 - Going from high school & the red dot wilson rummers to the Adidas three strippers at Mizzou made me feel like I was in a whole new world Such luxury!
  • 1963/64 - Then the Peace Corps provided me with the New Balance Trasksters with the waffle soles It became my trademark shoes for my Moroccan runners, They would spot my waffle traces on our loose cinder track or in the sand where we ran dunes and know that I had already been there that day, Even José still makes remarks about that!

You guys are always putting out good stuff. 


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