Iron History

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05/18/2003 Entry: "CAS Letters May 18, 2003"

Letters from Charles A. Smith to Joe Roark (continued):

Thanks to Mark Collins for the wonderful, colorful, and very splendid new image that now stands as our logo!

Please check the archives for other letters from Charles to me. As a refresher, CAS was the editor for Weider's publications from approx 1950 to 1957. He was a clever and skilled writer, an astute thinker, and possessed a wondrous memory. I visited him for a few days in Austin as his house guest, and we would travel to the Todd-McLean Collection on campus and we would both file all day, then return to his house in the evening where I would ask questions.

CAS was a wonderful man, but a man who felt bypassed by the progress of the iron game- as though he had left Weider publications before the sport really hit a power stride, and of course, that is exactly what he did. I think he went to his grave wishing matters had turned out differently.

By the time I left his house to return home, I had a mixture of relief that I would not be in his embittered presence any more, coupled with a fondness for him and his position in the history of all this mess we call muscle. When I returned home I told my wife how I felt, and she said she understood.

I'm not sure I understand it. But I miss him terribly, and I hope someday he gets the honor that he unquestionably deserves for his contributions.

[Please keep in mind that I have edited these letters to conceal some identities, but not to change meaning or context; we are at this point, about 1/3 of the way thru the letters he sent me. To those who know the history and can read between my edited lines, substantial understanding will arrive. Joe Roark]

Jan 28, 1986: Not too much in the way of fresh news. I have been told from a confidential source that in a year and even less, YORK as such will no longer exist. Apparently the moves for purchase by someone or the other has gone forward and the present trio of inheritors will soon be out. Also that- and this you may have heard- Mike Dietz is now chairman. Or President.

Looking back on recent news- and with my suspicious police mind, it would seem to me that this may have prompted Grimek to start his suit so that, legally, the procedure of buying the company will be held up until his suit is PAID- if he is successful that is- which I don't think between you and I he will be. There is absolutely NOTHING in law that says a man CAN'T leave all he has to one guy and then, in a year change his mind and leave it to someone else. All this is so sad. I am also told that Hoffman made promises to Grimek that were never kept. Shades of XXX. All this is so sad. I also notice that Grimek's name is still on the masthead of MD. I have also heard from other sources that what XXX told me about a restraining order against Grimek is also correct, but that he has more friends than he knows.

I see that my surmise that Mrs. Abernathy's relationship with JCH [Hise] was entirely innocent as I think I may have mentioned. I frankly have no interest in writing to her. Too many cooks etc etc. But her address will find rest in the collection.

I'll bet when you mentioned my name to Darden he got all weak at the knees and said "Who's he?" Ah. Fame.

As for my personal life here at home. I live somewhat reclusively. I also live simply. That is that when I cook something I eat it day after day after day until it is gone. THEN cook something else. I get up around seven- a bit before or after- and eat breakfast- again simply, a bowl of cereal and a couple of hard boiled eggs and a mug of coffee - decaf- I hang around until it is time to visit the bog and drop a load of peat and then I am all set for the day. I CAN'T WALK but can get out of the chair and maneuver myself hither and yon, from chair to bed to armchair to toilet to outside the house so the wheelchair can be wheeled down the short ramp.

I suspect that JW calls me as he does because he has a monumental guilt complex plus the feeling that he lost an asset and I got rid of a liability.

Joe Assirati and I were using the bench press way back in the early thirties and WE thought we'd invented it only to find out it was also being used in other London clubs AND in the USA.

In a sense there are parallels between Weider and Willoughby, except that David P was a man of absolute integrity. And without any trace of humor. JW has a sense of humor. With Willoughby as with JW, Willoughby thought he was touched, like the Pope, with infallibility. He forgot that theories remain such until translated into the concrete. He also forgot that statistics were tools, that there are three kinds of lies. He forgot the Lift Relationship theory was merely that- a means of comparison if you will that gave one a ROUGH idea of his lifts related to one another, and that there were all sorts of other factors in between that could prove you, right, wrong or a damn fool.

But Willoughby was completely HONEST in what he believed. Innocent could also be applied to him- na�ve even- like a child really believes that there IS a Santa Claus.

Apart from a 390 bench press, a 475 squat and a 500 dead lift and a one hand ditto with 420, I have done nothing remarkable in lifting, except that all the above were done when I was past forty. I should have not stopped training. Too late now.

By the way Weider was present when I did the 390 bench and the one hand deadlift of 420- the latter in a contest with Marvin Eder who dropped out at 410. A cambered bar was used, the same bar that Bruce Randall did his half arsed good morning exercises on.

As for bringing material from the [Todd-McLean] collection overnight to my place to study. Absolutely NOT. That is a law like those of the Medes and the Persians which altereth not. You can study all you want all day long THERE, but Todd will not allow stuff to be checked out and one can understand why when one sees the collection. The temptation for some would be to great to say, "I've lost the book. Just don't know where I put it." But access to anything and everything is allowed IN SITU.

I have just mailed off an article to Bob Kennedy about my days with Joe. I have told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in it. That our relations were acerbic at times, sometimes downright hostile. I have also told what I saw him lift NOT what I hear he had lifted. I will be very surprised if Kennedy accepts it and if he does, publish it. He seems to be somewhat afraid of THEM.

I have also found out that [Frank] Leight did once live in Austin for a brief period, he now lives in Ocala, Florida. I do not know beans about Santo Leone. I met him, like Leight, briefly in 1942 at Sig Klein's gym.

As for the letter that XXX told you about. I can now pinpoint it and be more specific about it. It WAS NOT WRITTEN BY HORVATH. IT WAS NOT WRITTEN BY WALLY MCMANUS. It WAS written late in 1959 or early 1960 at a time when Horvath didn't live in Florida, was still living in NJ and at a time when Wally was still working for Joe. I will also say that I have a good idea of who wrote it, but have no proof so in fairness to the individual will not mention the name. Note I did not say his or hers.

XXX is utterly and entirely wrong about Horvath writing it.

If I haven't answered any questions, holler loudly.

Best to you and yours,