Although he is most remembered for his novels The Poseidon Adventure and The Snow Goose, Paul Gallico began his career as a sportswriter for the New York Daily News. Gallico was published in the Post continually throughout the 1940s and ‘50s. His story “The Monster and the Infant,” (1942) about a high-stakes golf championship, showcases Gallico’s folk tale writing style. Above all, he considered himself a storyteller.
Originally published on September 19, 1942
Funny how the mind works, isn’t it? You’ll see something in the papers that brings up memories and, bingo, back you go, living it all over again, as though you were sitting in a movie and seeing it on the screen.
It was just like that when I picked up The Morning Blade the other day and saw that picture on the front page and the story that went with it. It took me back eight or ten years, and presto! there I was on the eighteenth tee at Braewick, for the finals of the National Amateur Championship.
The handsome Infant, chalk-faced from strain and worry, was just setting to hit that life-or-death drive. Behind him, his back turned, a sour look on his big red face, stood the Monster. Down the fairway running between woods to the green stretched ten thousand spectators in an ugly mood.
There were the worried golf officials trying to calm the gallery while state troopers and harried marshals penned them behind ropes. There was that blot on an otherwise beautifully manicured landscape, by the name of J. Sears Hammett. And there was also yours truly, William Fowler, Esq., getting ready as usual to hold that sack.
Brother, it sure took me back, and I can’t say I enjoyed the trip. Because that was one tournament where your Uncle William took it right on the chin.
I know. You’ve heard that one before. And then it goes on to tell how in the end I wind up signing the star golfer for my outfit, A. R. Mallow & Co., makers of Far-Fli Woods, Tru-Distance Irons, and the Thunderbolt golf ball, straighten out the course of true love, and foil the villain, the same being that aforementioned understudy to a cottonmouth, J. Sears Hammett.
Not this one, chum. Maybe it’s time I let you in on one of my lemons.
Remember the finals of the Amateur back at Braewick between Francis Ogden Medford, of the Social Register and Boston’s Back Bay, and Ted Wilson, the high school kid from Lincoln Cross, Iowa? I thought you would. But what you don’t know is that it cost the good name of William Fowler, plus two hundred and fifty pesos in cold cash. For two years after, my best friends wouldn’t speak to me. And I used to be a pretty popular guy before upsetting those frijoles.
Why, I couldn’t even pick up a golf game with the club dubs, I was that shunned. Me, the sassiest advertising-promotion manager in the golf-equipment business, a pariah. And all because if it hadn’t been for my — Well, never mind that now. Let’s get on to the gruesome details.
What was I doing at the Amateur Championship? Just buzzing around to meet old friends, follow the matches, and help out with the lying in the locker room afterward. It was supposed to be a kind of vacation. Some vacation!
Those were still the dear, daffy days when we could run a temperature over a couple of comparative strangers beating a genuine rubber ball cross country with assorted hardware, and our idea of a hero was someone who could tank a putt from thirty feet when the chips were down. And did the country get heated up over young Teddy Wilson!
When the tournament started on Monday morning with the qualifying rounds, nobody had ever heard of Ted Wilson or Lincoln Cross, Iowa. By five o’clock of the same afternoon, that situation had been considerably remedied when he steamed in with a 67-68 for 135, to win the medal by five strokes and break the course record twice. And by Thursday, when he had ripped his way into the quarter-finals by knocking off four of the best amateur golfers in the game, there wasn’t anyone in the U. S. A. and possessions who didn’t know all about Ted Wilson. The newspapers took care of that.
You couldn’t blame them. He was a story. Sixteen years old, with dark, curly hair, apple cheeks, a sensitive kisser coupled to a square fighting chin, and those deep-set gray-green eyes under long lashes that had the hearts of females in the gallery from seven to seventy doing nip-ups, he was Young America. That was Ted Wilson — everybody’s kid, or what everyone hoped his kid would be like someday.
He was as poor as a church mouse’s second cousin, and supported his widowed mother in Lincoln Cross, Iowa, caddying, and doing odd jobs after school. I’m only refreshing your memory, since you read it all in the newspapers at the time: How he got to the tournament by hitchhiking across the country, sleeping in barns on the way, and arriving at Braewick with a canvas sack of rusty clubs, eleven dollars, and two clean shirts.
He got a room for two bucks a week about five miles from Braewick, and walked to and from the golf course every day. He lived on hamburgers and milk, and wouldn’t take a gift or a handout from anybody. Every night he washed out his shirts and ironed them in the morning before going to the club. Wow! Did the sob sisters go to town on him!
And those clubs of his! No two alike; they were patched, taped, warped, and held together with wire. He’d never had a new ball in his life, and used twenty-five-cent repaints. He played in sneakers because he couldn’t afford spikes. He would have carried his own bag if they had let him, but the day after he got there, old Pete the Grouch, assistant caddiemaster of Braewick, took his bag for nothing. He was that kind of a kid. Everybody fell in love with him.
And golf? Brother! It was just like the days when Bob Jones first popped over the horizon. From the first moment I saw that beautiful swing I followed him around in a kind of daze, hoping that maybe if I watched him long enough, some of his golf might come off on me. The first three days of that tournament were just like a beautiful dream for your Uncle William. Fun, no worries, and supergolf.
And then, blooie went the dream!
It went up with a loud bang when The Blade came out Thursday morning, the day of the quarter- finals, carrying an interview with Ted by Una Odell, one of the damper sob sisters. I still have the clippings, and I quote:
I asked him whether he intended to go to college when he finished high school.
“Gee, Miss Odell,” he said, and his wonderful deep gray eyes turned serious for a moment, “I’d like to go to college, but I can’t. We’re too poor. If I win the championship I’m going to turn professional right away and get a job, if I can. Golly, Miss Odell, I’ve just got to win it.” And here a look of tragic sadness came over his handsome young face, and his childlike mouth quivered a little. “We haven’t been able to pay the interest on the mortgage since dad died, and we’ll lose the house if I can’t make some money. But if I win the title, maybe I can get a good job with some club, and…”
Maybe! That was just putting it mildly. The facts in Una’s bilge were straight. The balloon went up shortly after. There were three telegrams on my plate when I came down to breakfast that morning:
IF WILSON WINS DO NOT FAIL TO SIGN FOR A.R. MALLOW & CO. STAFF. WORTH THOUSANDS IN PUBLICITY TO US. A.R. MALLOW, PRESIDENT.
EXERT ALL INFLUENCE OFFER EVERY ASSISTANCE TED WILSON WIN CHAMPIONSHIP MAKE ANY OFFER WITHIN REASON. ADVISE AND HELP HIM, INSTILLING FEELING OF GRATITUDE TOWARDS OUR COMPANY. WHOLE COUNTRY TALKING ABOUT HIM. IMPERATIVE YOU SIGN HIM IF HE WINS. WILL PAY SALARY AND BONUS ALSO MORTGAGE ON HOUSE. STRONGLY URGE YOU LEAVE NO STONE UNTURNED. WE ARE PREPARING ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN BASED ON WILSON. GO TO IT. A.R. MALLOW, PRESIDENT.
RE MY FIRST TWO WIRES. DON’T FAIL. MALLOW.
That was the Old Man for you. What he didn’t know about golf tournaments, if laid end to end, would reach from here to California. “See that he wins.” Huh! The Amateur Championship! What was I supposed to do, slip Mickeys into the soup of his opponents, or jog their elbows when they went to putt?
I tucked away a double of ham and eggs and coffee to give me strength and went out to try to tie an option on the kid in case he should come through. I found him finally off in a corner of the locker room, surrounded by the one guy in the world who can give the itch to poison ivy, J. Sears Hammett, advertising-promotion manager of the Fairgreen Company, our biggest rivals in the golf-equipment manufacturing field.
He had the youngster pinned up against a locker and was giving him that codfish eye and grade-B clabber smile. Before I could get in a word, he said, with that nasty, horse-cough laugh of his, “Ha-argh, ha-arrgh! If it isn’t my old friend, Bill Fowler, late again as usual. I’ve just finished telling my young friend here what Fairgreen is going to do for him. Too bad about you, Fowler. Asleep at the switch. Ha-argh! He’s practically signed with me, haven’t you, Teddy? Ah, what happy times we have over at Fairgreen.”
The kid blushed under the fuzz on his cheeks and stammered, “Well, gee, sir, I — I didn’t exactly. I mean — ”
I could see right away that Hammett was bluffing, but the kid was too decent and well-mannered to show him up in front of me.
Hammett waved a finger at him. “Ah-ah! Now, Teddy. I shall hold you to your word. Remember what I promised you.”
“Oh, boloney,” I said. “I don’t know what he promised you, Ted, but Mallow wants you if you win this thing and we’re prepared to double any offer this man made you right now, and what’s more — ”
“Gee, sir,” Wilson began, “that’s wonderful, but — ”
Hammett began to wave his arms and howl. “Don’t you listen to him, Teddy. You admit I spoke to you first. That’s as good as a contract. We’ll — ”
“Hammett, you’re a cockeyed — ” was the best I could come up with, when Ted extricated himself from the corner, saying: “Say, look, you’re both very kind, but I can’t sign with anybody until I win and the tournament’s over, or I’ll get in Dutch with my amateur standing. I just can’t. I have to go out and play golf now. I’ll see you both later. G’by.” And he ran down the aisle of the locker room and out the door.
I said to Hammett, “You’re a fine lug, trying to bully a sweet kid like that.”
“Ha-arrrgh! I suppose you think you’re going to get him.”
“You can just bet we’re going to get him.”
“Ahem. I take it you would wager on it.”
“Ya-a-as. I wanna bet. Make it easy on yourself.”
“I don’t bother with chicken feed, Fowler. Care to risk two hundred and fifty?”
“You’ve got a bet.”
“Okay, Mr. Sucker. Two hundred and fifty you don’t sign Teddy Wilson. Be seeing you out on the golf course. So long, sap!”
I guess I’ve told you there’s something about J. Sears Hammett that puts me right off my chump. When I’m face to face with that patent leather louse, getting that buck-tooth sneer out from under those six bristles he wears for a mustache, my brain addles like an egg dropped into a concrete mixer.
And this was no exception. Two minutes after he had gone out, I was still standing there banging myself on the brain box with the heel of my hand, and moaning: “Stung! Stung again!”
I had just realized what Hammett had put over. Like a copper-riveted, triple butt-welded boob, I had bet two hundred and fifty of my hard-earned piastres that we would sign up Wilson. And he hadn’t even won the tournament yet. He still had his two toughest matches to play. If he lost, nobody would sign him. I had given Hammett even money on a five-to-one shot, because even if he came through, I still had to put the deal over with him. That’s Fowler.
Maybe you think it was too early in the morning to start inhaling tall ones, but brother, I needed a couple. Of all the prize clowns, yours truly topped the bill. After the medicine had taken hold I went out to look at the bracketing on the scoreboard to see what my chances were of Ted Wilson winding up with the championship. It didn’t take much of a look, either. It was sure to be Ted Wilson against the Monster in the finals.
Of course you may not know him by that name, but just as the sports writers nicknamed Wilson the Infant, they hung the tag of the Monster onto Francis Ogden Medford, millionaire bachelor, socialite, blueblood amateur sportsman from Boston’s Back Bay. Nobody liked Mister Social Register Medford.
Most of my information on Medford came from the sports writers, whom he avoided and invariably refused interviews. They pegged him as a platinum-plated snob and stuffed shirt. And just hanging around the tournament, I could make out that he wasn’t exactly an ideal companion on a golf course.
He was as hard as nails, and a pretty tough customer, I guess, because he piloted a Spad in France in the last war. You had to hand him that.
At the start of a match he never more than nodded to an opponent. He shook hands at the finish, and if anybody got more than a grunt out of him at any other time during a round, it was scored as a double eagle. But I never saw a guy concentrate more on the game. His application was terrific. He played like a machine, and he played all out to win, which is all right in my book, except that I like to think of golf as a kind of sociable game.
But not Brother Medford. He didn’t seem to have any friends around the clubhouse, and as soon as it was over he would climb into his sixteen-cylinder chariot, piloted by a couple of Senegambians in livery, and buzz off to parts unknown. I told you he had a hot golf game, didn’t I? He’d been runner-up several times in previous amateur championships.
I was asleep at the switch again, and J. Sears Hammett snagged the Infant at noon recess and bought him lunch. I passed them on the terrace and Hammett was filling the kid full of chicken salad, ice cream, cake and lemonade. As I went by, J. Sears gave me that triple-fang smile which meant that he was feeling cocky, and said, “Haw-haw, Fowler. Sorry I can’t ask you to join us, but there’s no room. Anyway, Teddy and I want to talk over his contract with Fairgreen. So long, old boy, and never mind the check when you pay off. I’ll take cash. Haw-haw!”
I had one of my pure strokes of genius when I saw what he was feeding the kid, and went to the locker room shop and bought a box of indigestion tablets. It was a good thing I did, too, because halfway around in the afternoon the Infant got sick as two pups and blew four holes in a row, going three down to the Canadian champion. I went up to him and slipped him a couple of tablets. He felt better right away and began to pick up again.
He said, “I’m mighty grateful to you, sir. I don’t know what I’d have done if you hadn’t come along.”
Maybe you think that didn’t make me feel good. I stuck with the boy the rest of the round and did what I could to help him out by keeping too-enthusiastic galleryites and sob sisters off his neck. He just squeaked through with a birdie on the eighteenth to go into the finals the next day.
Fellow students, do you remember the papers that Saturday morning when Francis Ogden Medford, of Boston, and Ted Wilson, of Lincoln Cross, Iowa, met for the amateur championship? They pulled out all the stops, didn’t they? Without actually calling Medford a safecracker and second-story man, they made it clear that the forthcoming battle for the Amateur Golf Championship was the final and decisive struggle between wealth and poverty, freedom and tyranny, Good against Evil.
Of course, you couldn’t blame the press entirely. The contrast was right there before your eyes: Medford equipped with the best that money could buy — forty-dollar shoes, sharkskin slacks and Irish linen shirt, as immaculately groomed as a wealthy man can be. His personal African toted a tooled-leather sack of mallets that had been handmade and designed especially for him, each one a masterpiece of matching and balancing; he played the best and fastest ball on the market, each one neatly stamped with his initials, F.O.M.
And there, on the other hand, was the Infant, in sneakers, khaki pants and cotton shirt, with a torn canvas bag of miscellaneous warped, mismated hardware, and a handful of cheap, repaint golf balls that wouldn’t go over two hundred and thirty yards if you fired them out of a trench mortar. The papers didn’t miss any of that either.
The last time the country got as steamed up over who was going to win a big sports event was when Helen Wills played Suzanne Lenglen. Only this one was going on right under our noses, where the folks could get out and hiss the villain.
They did too. In the key of F. By the time the Infant and the Monster had finished the morning round of eighteen all square and had called a truce to take aboard some groceries, that golf match was a shambles and the unhappy officials had sent out a hurry call to the state troopers and fly cops to come over to the golf course and maintain law and order for the last holes that would decide the championship.
I can give you a picture of it in one line. Not even the gamblers were rooting for Medford.
Wilson and Medford played ding-dong golf in that morning round, but the gallery was brutal. There were nearly ten thousand of them out there, and they believed all the stuff they had read in the papers. Besides, they were seeing it with their own eyes: Medford, surly, taciturn, big and beefy, tough, conceding nothing, applying the rules and making them stick, never so much as by a smile or a gesture acknowledging anything the Infant did, while Ted battled on valiantly, the perfect little sportsman, applauding Medford’s good shots, and there were plenty, and conceding putts as much as a foot away from the hole. The Monster conceded nothing. He made Ted putt them out from two inches away. When we got onto that first tee after lunch for the final round, that gallery was loaded for Siberian bear.
Hammett and I were following the match together. He wasn’t exactly the kind of companion I would pick unless I were locked in the cooler with him, but we both had the same objective, which was to root that kid through.
Then the series of stymies happened. The Monster laid the Infant three stymies in four holes, and won them all. Of course it was only a coincidence, because anyone who knows anything about golf can tell you that if a man can putt well enough to lay three dead stymies he can also putt well enough to drop them into the can, which is a lot more conclusive. But that wild-eyed mob booed and hooted and yelled.
Hammett was trying to show off to the Infant by shouting with the rest: “Make him stop that! Bad sport! For shame!” to the kid’s distress. The behavior of the gallery toward his opponent was upsetting him.
I said to Hammett, “Oh, shut up, and don’t be an ass! You’re making Ted nervous. This isn’ t a prize fight. It’s supposed to be amateur golf.”
“Amateur golf, my eye,” said Hammett nastily. “It’s business, and I’m protecting my client. Of course, if you want to pull for Medford — ”
What was the use?
Ted was one down on No. 9 and lay on the green with a chance for a half, The Infant addressed his ball to putt, when he suddenly straightened up and stepped back.
“I’ve got to call a stroke on myself,” he said. “I moved the ball more than half a turn.” Nobody had seen it happen but the Infant himself.
Hammett was livid. “The young idiot,” he stormed. “He could have got away with it. We’ll soon cure him of tricks like that at Fairgreen.”
I was sick to see Ted lose that stroke and the hole, too, but, doggone it, I was proud of him! That’s golf. If you start out by not cheating yourself, you’ll never cheat anybody else.
Out of the silence that fell over the crowd as they realized what the boy had done, came a man’s voice.
“I’ll bet the Monster’s going to take it, too, the big bum.”
Of course they didn’t know that Medford had no choice in the matter. But the Monster didn’t make matters any better by failing even to acknowledge the kid’s fine gesture. He simply picked up his ball, turned his back, and walked off to the next tee.
That angry gallery really got articulate. “Boo-o-o! Why, he didn’t even say thank you! Oh, you big fat snob!” You could tell they’d been reading those newspaper stories. A woman threatened Medford with her parasol and screamed, “Aren’t you ashamed of picking on a fine boy like that?”
After that, some of the coppers and marshals formed a ring around Medford and the match got on a little faster. The Infant really began to pour on the golf, pulled up even, and went one up on the Monster at the sixteenth, when he tanked a thirty-footer for a bird and the crowd went nuts.
I was beginning to figure already how I would get his name on the dotted line for A.R. Mallow & Co., when he ran into a piece of tough luck on the dog-leg seventeenth. He tried to carry the corner of some houses with that cheap ball, and pulled a little. The fore caddie didn’t see it fall, and the ball was lost.
It was lost, too, because ten thousand people tried to find it. You never saw such a trampling as that landscape caught. I saw the Monster glance at his wrist watch and say something to the referee, who nodded, immediately called time, and ordered the Infant to play another ball, which of course he did, a nice spanking shot, which, however, wasn’t going to do him much good.
When word got around the gallery that Medford had notified the officials that the five minutes allowed under the rules to find a lost ball had expired, that mob really began to boil. I had never seen cops on a golf course at a championship match before, but, believe me, comrades, I was glad to see them now. They did a lot of circulating around and the sight of the uniforms cooled the populace off a bit. Still, that didn’t help our side. Ted lost the hole and the two men walked up to the eighteenth tee all square.
That eighteenth was a sight too. The fairway was lined solidly on both sides with people, and they were banked twenty deep around the green, four hundred yards away. And you couldn’t hear a sound as the Monster stepped up to drive.
Strangely, this time, the gallery didn’t make any noise or try to rattle him. I guess the drama of the match had got them. But, boy, you could just feel it. Ten thousand souls concentrated on hating one man and wishing him into trouble.
They got their wish too. The Monster made the only bad shot of his entire round. He hit a whistling hook that curved for the thick woods on the left. The crowd scattered in all directions to let it go in, running right over the fore caddies posted there. And that ball went bye-bye too.
Then the Infant teed up his ball. Even before I heard the yell of delight from the partisans, I knew from the clean “snick” that it was a honey. It was low, hard and perfectly placed. It left him with an easy mashie shot to the island green.
The Monster strode down the fairway, headed for the rough. You’d have thought there was poison oak, smallpox and mustard gas in that woods the way the crowd kept away from the spot where the ball might be. The only ones looking for it were the caddies, officials, Medford, and young Ted. But the citizens had plenty to say.
“There, how do you like some of your own medicine now? . . . Hope you don’t find it… Hey, kid, let him find it himself, if he can… Two minutes! Two minutes!”
Somebody had made note of the time the search began and the spectators took up the chant: “Two and a half minutes! Three minutes… Three and a half!”
There was a lot of tangled underbrush at that particular spot in the woods. Hammett and I walked past it through the edge of the rough on our way to the green just as the crowd let out a joyous roar of “Four minutes!”
One more minute, and the kid was in. With that position, he was a sure thing to get a four to Medford’s five. Some of the color had come back into his face, as the seconds ticked off. Well, you couldn’t blame him. It was the luck of the game. He had taken it on the chin at the last hole. Now it was his turn to get a break when he most needed it.
The mob chanted, “Four and a half minutes.” The kid’s face was working. He was trying so hard not to look happy about it. The Monster was preparing to go back to the tee and drive another.
And that was when I saw the ball.
It was buried almost out of sight in a tuft of thick grass in the rough in a wide space between trees that gave a difficult but clear shot to the green. It hadn’t been found because no one had seen it hit a tree and bounce back.
Hammett saw me goggle and stare and spotted it at the same time. It was the Monster’s ball, all right, because down through the grass we could see the red stamped initials, F.O.M.
Hammett grabbed me by the arm hard. “Hah!” he whispered. “By gad! Teddy’s won. They’ll never see it there.”
I guess I was just the biggest fool in the world that day. But, you know, golf is a funny game. You either love it or you don’t. And if you do love it you like to see it played the way it’s written.
I knew it was only a matter of seconds before time would be called, but I certainly managed to think about a lot of things while they ticked off. Sure, I knew all about Medford and his money and social position, and that it was just a cup he was playing for, maybe to bolster his own ego. And I remembered Ted, too, and how much he needed that victory, and what it would mean to lose. I even had time to toss a thought at my bet with Hammett and the value it would be to Mallow & Co., in publicity, to snag the Infant.
But, dammit, they were playing for the amateur championship of the United States, and that’s more than just a bunch of words. It was an honor to hold it. And no matter what kind of a slob he might be, as long as he stuck to the rules and played the game, Francis Ogden Medford was just as much entitled to a fair chance to win it if he could as Teddy Wilson.
Anyway, we’d all gone cockeyed on that newspaper publicity. What did I really know about Medford? Bob Jones used to play with that sick expression around his mouth, and it was nothing but just plain nerves. Maybe Medford was a snob, but that was his business, too, though I’ve seen a lot of shy men accused of the same thing. And he was no more responsible for the position into which he was born than as Ted. He had taken an awful horsing around from that gallery without a single beef.
But the point I couldn’t get away from was that those two weren’t out there to see whether Ted Wilson could get a job as a professional and lift the mortgage on the old homestead, or Medford add another pot to his collection. They were there to settle who was the best amateur golfer in the country that day.
Yes. You guessed it. I did the sappy thing. I yanked away from Hammett, raised my arm, and shouted, “Found!”
Just in time, too, because already the crowd was beginning to chant, “Five minutes! Yah, yah, Medford.”
The Infant turned as white as his shirt. Gee, I felt rotten. Medford didn’t even say, “Thank you.” He just walked up to the ball in a kind of daze and began studying the lie. After a while he pulled out a No. 3 iron, whaled with all the power of his burly body, and spanked it out of there and up onto the green a foot from the cup.
My pal, J. Sears Hammett, sure was a help at that moment. He ran up to the Infant, pointing at me and screaming, “He did it! There’s the man who did it! That’s your fine friend. I told him to keep quiet. That’s the kind of a deal you’ll get from that Mallow outfit!”
The kid, with a tired and kind of sick look on his face, just said, “Oh, please, leave me alone,” and walked away.
He still had plenty of guts. He went up to his ball and hit a good shot up to the green, but it wasn’t good enough. He took two putts to the Monster’s one, and that was that. Francis Ogden Medford was the new amateur champion.
There was only a bare handful of people stayed around for the cup presentation ceremonies. And for just a moment, when Medford accepted the trophy, that curdled expression left his face and he smiled like a human being. He turned to the Infant, stuck out his hand, and said: “You played a fine game. Thank you.”
The kid grinned like a sportsman and replied: “Thank you, sir. I enjoyed playing with you. I learned a lot.”
Medford smiled again, and patted Ted’s shoulder awkwardly. His big beefy face was redder than ever. If it hadn’t been Medford, I’d have sworn he was blushing.
I wired Mallow and asked to be allowed to sign the boy anyway, because he was such a comer, and stuck around the wire tent until the answer snapped back:
R. MALLOW & CO. NOT INTERESTED IN RUNNERS-UP. FEEL YOU HAVE FALLEN DOWN ON THE JOB. A. R. MALLOW.
And so that tournament melted away into the litter of torn programs, sandwich wrappers, squashed drinking cups and paper admission badges. I told you it was one of my lemons, didn’t I?
That’s how it ended. Except that as I stood waiting for a cab to get back to town, Francis Ogden Medford’s thirty thousand-dollar special Mercedes Hispano Snoozer went growling down the gravel driveway. There was somebody sitting next to the Monster for a change. I got only a flash of him as the car went by, and for a moment I thought it looked like the Infant. But of course it couldn’t have been.
The golf world never heard of the kid any more. It was too bad, but it often happens that way. They zoom up out of the unknown like skyrockets, take a licking, and that’s the end of them.
So that’s why I got such a kick out of that picture in the newspaper I started telling you about. It was a photograph taken in Washington recently, and showed Brig. Gen. F.O. Medford pinning the Distinguished Flying Cross to the chest of Capt. Ted Wilson of the U. S. Army Air Force for his share in dropping steel posies on Hirohito on the occasion of that little social call the boys made over Tokyo.
The Infant was taller and older, but he seemed just the same — a fine, wonderful kid, but the Monster, as he gazed at him and the medal he had just given him, looked as though he would bust right out of his uniform with pride. You would have thought you were looking at father and son.
Well, in a way, you were. There was a yarn went with the picture. A reporter had dug up the story of how Medford and Wilson had once met for the amateur golf championship and the way the match had ended. But he had dug a little farther than that, and told how the millionaire sportsman had become interested in the boy who had given him such a close battle and in the end had practically adopted him, looking after him and sending him through college.
The boy had given up golf to further his education. When the war broke out shortly after he graduated, young Wilson enlisted in the Air Force. Medford, too, returned to active duty and rose to be a flying general.
And so the story really ended in Washington with that look of glowing pride on the face of the Monster, and the Infant standing there so straight and happy with that little bronze cross.
I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t called that ball that day. The kid would have won, and probably signed with us, and been just another pro, touring the citrus circuit in the winter for coffee and cakes. Gee, I was glad I’d been a sap and hollered. I didn’t even care any more about that two-five-oh I had to hand over to J. Sears Hammett on that dismal afternoon.