Tuesday, November 17, 2020

V 10 N. 77 A Rare Find in a Dumpster - Cliff Severn Rises from the Ashes

     Several months ago, I received an email from a gentleman in Southern California telling me that he had discovered some interesting photographs in a dumpster behind a commercial building where he had an office.  The man was not a fan of track and field but in going through the photographs he saw that many of them were probably taken at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.  Some had captions written on the back of them.  Others did not.  It was evident that the photographer was most likely Cliff Severn who in the 1960s was the Adidas shoe distributor on the West Coast.  

My first thought was, "Go back to that dumpster and see if there are any mint condition, or any condition, old Adidas shoes in there.   My source informed me there was nothing else of significance. 

               In numerous postings on our blog, my colleague, Roy Mason, when writing about Track and Field News issues would always mention Cliff Severn's advertisements which appeared for years in the journal.  Cliff's shoe store in West Hollywood was a magnet for track and field athletes and the sole source of Adidas shoes.  Many of our readers have mentioned that store and Cliff.    We even did a story on Cliff in this blog.   See this link:

Cliff Severn Article

This posting must have shown up when our contact googled the name of Cliff Severn.  In that was I was found and contacted about the pictures.  

Spoiler Alert!  Spoiler Alert!

Just as I was writing the work above we were in a major wind storm here on Vancouver Island and a forty foot section off the top of a Douglas Fir snapped and hit the front of the house.  Exciting, minor damage to eaves on the roof and a lot of tree in the front yard.    Will continue this in due time.

As I was saying:  Cliff, on his own, was material for a book.  Born in England, a child actor in the 1930s in Hollywood,  international cricket player, and shoe distributor.    I am posting a number of those pictures below on this piece, but there are quite a few others that I will post in subsequent articles.  I don't want to overwhelm you with all of them in one shot.   The candidness of these photos is what I feel makes them unique.  They often tell their own stories without my comments.  So here is the first batch with Cliff''s comments in italics and mine following each one.


Cliff studying bkb shoes being made at Adidas France.  Dec. 64

     Blaine Lindgren , hurdles  and Morgan Groth, 800m - Olympic Village Cafeteria, Tokyo '64
Robbie Brightwell, Ann Packer, and John Cooper being interviewed just after lunch.  Olympic Village  Tokyo '64

Ann Packer silver in 400, gold in 800 was the darling of the British team.  It looks like there is some serious competition going on between Brightwell and Cooper for her favors.  Brightwell would win that race.  Several years later,  Cooper would die in a Turkish Airlines crash near Paris.

Here is the official Tokyo 64  film.  You can see the finish of Packer's win in the 800 meters and who is greeting her after she crosses the finish line.

Go to 1 hr. 1 min 10 sec on the film to see the finish of her 800.

Horst, Ray Schiele, a Polish beauty, and Hayes Jones hurdler par excellence.
Tokyo 1964
Horst and Ray?  Adidas reps perhaps?  The Polish beauty a mystery.  She appears is several other photos.  Hayes Jones of course the 110M HH champ in a narrow win over Blaine Lindgren.  

Ron Clarke and Valerie - at lunch-  The International Mess Hall 
Australian Olympic Team  Tokyo '64
Theron Lewis  and Ralph Boston
US Team Olympic Games  Tokyo '64

Look at Peter go- He's absolutely running away with the 
1500m.- A fine victory and such a treat to see! Tokyo Olympic Games '64.
Had a terrific view of Peter's winning runs- I sat near the last curve and beginning of the home stretch.  He poured it on in the 800 and 1500 at the beginning of the last curve and just crushed the opposition.  It was a real treat to see him win and in a pair of white with black  "9.9" model 141 which I gave him two years previous.  

Wait,  Peter was wearing two year old shoes?  My God where were the shoe sponsors in those days?

Stay turned for more of these great photos.  There are several subjects, some less interesting than the Tokyo Olympics including some lesser known and unidentified athletes and places.  


What a fabulous find! A real time capsule with some of the track heroes of my youth.

I got my first pair of blue, white-striped Adidas trainers at Clifford Severn's West Hollywood store in Fall 1965 and later a pair of white, green striped Melbourne spikes from there that Christmas. Wore them out in my junior track season in Spring '66.

Thanks for the story!

Jim Mosher

Good post.   I was in Santa Clara during the ’64 Olympics.   So swimming was the big American sport in those Olympics.      That’s wild seeing how the athlete’s dressed when they weren’t competing 



Mike Waters  

Dear George:

Two thoughts:

The picture of Snell is such a great reminder of what a truly outstanding runner he was.

Why was Severn wasting his time photographing those athletes when he had Valerie, Ann and The Polish Beauty to snap?

Take care,

Tom Coyne

1:42 PM (58 minutes ago)

Very interresting a lot of souvenirs, two best Olympics on my opinion Rome 1960 & Tokyo 1964 .  Thank you again pour ces souvenirs de notre jeunesse   Jose Sant, Montreal, Repentingny, Quebec

1 comment:

Felix Cabrera said...

Back in 65/66, I got my first 9.9's and the Olympia (what a great shoe!) at Carlsen's Import Goods in downtown Manhattan..Sports Beconta sold the Pumas..I kinda remember that they were in the upper East Side...Ralph Boston looking good in that photo!

Felix Cabrera

V 10 N. 82 An Olympian in Dire Straits, James Kerr (Modern Pentathlon), But With a Silver Lining

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