Friday, August 22, 2008

Los Angeles 1932

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D.
It was feared that the economic depression gripping the world would spell the ruin of the games scheduled for Los Angeles. The expense of staging the great athletic spectacle would be too big a burden for the California community. The foreign nations would have neither the money nor the inclination to send husky and heavy-eating representatives on tour at such a time. But the active and enthusiastic organizing committee went ahead in the face of these dark prospects to hoist the five-circled Olympic flag to new heights above the broad field of international athletic competition on a record-breaking scale.
Thirty-nine nations had as their representatives some 2,000 athletes at Los Angeles to collaborate in an astonishing series of contests in which practically all former Olympic and many world's records were broken like dried sticks. [...]
For the housing of the athletes of all competing countries there had been erected just outside the city limits of Los Angeles an Olympic Village of 55 cottages and larger buildings on a rolling tract of 250 acres. As far as possible the competitors were billeted in national groups and food for each group was prepared by chefs of corresponding nationality so that the athletes in training could have the diet they were accustomed to served as they liked it....
No women were allowed in the Olympic Village. The women competitors were housed in a Los Angeles hotel that was taken over for that purpose by the Olympic committee. The "community" idea found favor with the competitors of the varied nations. It enabled them to mingle with international rivals off as well as on the field. They visited from cottage to cottage and met in the larger buildings proved for general social use. This included the main hall in which athletes of the day could gather in the evening and watch moving pictures of the events in which they had taken part. [...]

The Odyssey of the Brazilian adventurers was sorrowful. There were sixty-nine athletes and the government, by no means an exception in those days, had no money in the treasury to contribute for an athletic argosy. But the government had idle boats and a vast over-supply of that staple product of the country: coffee. So the government provided a naval auxiliary and 50,000 bags of coffee and the sixty-nine Brazilian athletes embarked. They were to work the ship to Los Angeles and sell the coffee at ports along the way to finance their Olympic tour. Apparently the inhabitants of the ports they touched were fed up on coffee. Sales were small and when the ship reached California the financial crisis aboard was such that forty-five of the sixty-nine athletes could not go ashore. They didn't have even the landing tax of $1.00 per head. The twenty-four lucky plutocrats who sauntered down the gangplank waved farewell to their sorrowful shipmates and headed for the Olympic Village. The doomed men on the ship put out hopefully to sea again to try the northerly Pacific ports with their cargo of coffee, and that was the lst that the athletic world heard of them.


Blogger XWL said...

As a person born and raised in the Los Angeles area, and in light of Los Angeles' role in saving the modern Olympic movement from ruin, not once, but twice, sorry 'bout that, hopefully it won't happen again.

8/22/2008 07:00:00 PM  

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