Iron History

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11/28/2008 Entry: "11/28/2008: Letter from Charles A. Smith to Joe from March 10, 1988"

Letter from Charles A. Smith to Joe Roark March 10, 1988

Dear Joe,
Thanks for yours of March 5th, making it here on the 7th. Thanks also for the enclosures and the shot of you and your daughters. The one with her hands folded in front looks like a double of Joann Pettit, the British movie actress.

Thanks also for the praise in your letter. But I am afraid that if I was as good a writer as you say, I'd hardly be writing for such confined mags as IM or whatever else is published these days. Sports Illustrated or the New Yorker would see more of me.

I have finally dug out the Hoffman Will, plus a very interesting court case in which Hoffie was involved during the period 1948-1950. This is an opinion given in a tax court by Justice Adkins. Seems Hoffie had claimed certain business expenses and the Internal Revenue Service had disallowed them. These claimed expenses were the costs of sending teams hither and yon and the costs of maintaining lifters, board and lodging, who had come to York to 'train' under the guidance of Hoffie. The judge pointed out that Hoffie gained considerable publicity through sending teams to the Games and various championships, for his products he peddled and his mags. Nevertheless, he allowed Hoffie's claims. So, as I have always said, Hoffie, who was always hollering about the money he spent on the game and the financial support he 'faithfully' rendered it, was just- again as I have said- all hot air. It didn't cost Hoffie a cent and the poor old public paid for it all.

This opinion is very revealing since Hoffie's satraps testified in court that Hoffie lived a very frugal life, claiming his living expenses cost him no more than 25 bucks a week.

My name is also mentioned in the case as having received the sum of 600 bucks for English pounds. This of course just isn't so. At the time, I was working in the Canadian Bank of Commerce in NYC. Ray Van Cleef called me at the Bank on day, saying they were having difficulty getting Pounds Sterling in York. One bank didn't have any. The other wanted to charge too high a rate. I passed his call over to the bloke who handled foreign exchange. He handled the deal, Ray sending him 600 bucks via Western Union, the guy handing me the pounds which I handed to Ray on the team's arrival in NYC.

As for my continuing to write, I don't know. I have always been a realist and aware of my limitations and not kidding myself about what expertise I possess. I feel I am getting at the end of my rope insofar as writing is concerned, by virtue of the very simple fact that I am no longer in close touch with the Game. That is, no longer take an active part in it as I once did. Ergo. I am not 'au courrant' as they say in West Africe, Thus I amhandicapped. You say that you will write, or have written to the Wonderful Wun suggesting that he reprint some of my old articles and that 'maybe' he will pay me. Surely you jest.

I am still unable to fathom out just hwy Joe gave me the award, rather why he induced Ben and the IFBB to make the award. My feeling is that heh ad his concsience stirred by the letter I wrote him, and that he demanded I write. If so, then he has indeed changed. Looking back at how he treated me, one would think conscience was hardly part of his make up. All of us want to be remembered, if only to pass from this world with the thought that we have contributed something good to it. Something of value. But in reality three hundred years from now, if this world is still intact, who will remember me and who will care. No one.

As for my trip to L.A., I'll believe it when I am snugly ensconced in the Wunderkind's abode and he saying to me, in his nasal, high pitched voice 'Charlie, don't you wish you had stayed with me. It could ALL have been yours.' By 'Yours' he might possibly mean the entire shaft instead of just half of it.

He, the Wunderkind, knows very well how valuable I was to him, but he just couldn't resist squeezing every drop out of me for as little as he could get away with. Does the leopard change its spots or the Ethiopian his skin. No.

The Reverend SAID he would come over and take a shot of me. He also said he would send a shot of me, taken at the Collection to me. How easy it is to make promises. I haven't heard from him now in three weeks, when he called me up to ask if I had any more news of the Cheery Chappie, since he was conducting a seminar about the fabulous lifting bloke. I recognize a brush off when I see one. It's taken time to reach this state of cognition, but at last it came, a bit late 'tis true. But it came.

Joe will 'assure' his place in history merely because he can shout the loudest. The things that really count, the things that really matter, the acts performed by the true pioneers are
never heard of. We all know how the English burned Joan of Arc at the stake, but have YOU ever heard of the British soldier, who in a moment of great compassion, thrust a crucifix into her hand as she was suffering. No. And at risk to himself from his compatriots and the fire.

I think I am reluctant to write any articles for the Wunderkind since if I do I will tell the truth and I won't butter up him as being the one and only in the Game. I have the advantage of being there THEN and NOW. He knows this and he also knows my writing vein. I just don't feel like shoving over any bullshit and I will not say things that are just not so. This is why I am waiting, anxiously I might add, for the publication of an article written for the Wunderkind in 1980! I can remember it word for word. I, unfortunately don't have a copy. But I remember what I wrote. I am so eager to see what he will say about me in an article he says HE will write. Now, knowing that he has never written an article in his life, I am wondering what nonsense will appear in it.

So I am still wondering why he has done all this- the award, the publishing of my article, he writing an article about me, as he said in a phone conversation, 'to tell how important you were to me and how valuable you were'.

I also hear--I suspect it is a canard- that there is a pension of 5000 bucks attached to the award. PER MONTH. I can hardly restrain myself from crouching round the mail box to waylay the mailman for the first check. Do you think I wait in vain? Some faint suspicion that I hope for too much, and only 4000 will arrive instead of 5?

Cynical old sod. Ain't I?

[Conclusion of this letter next week.]