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1908 Olympics, Tokyo drunks and a hot summer

by Edan Corkill

100 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Aug. 15, 1908

The Olympic Games

London, July 14. — America and Great Britain captured most of the laurels in the first real business day of the Olympic sports. Twice the Stars and Stripes fluttered to the top of the staff in the Center of the arena, and the American enthusiasts who monopolized a section of the stadium, waved their flags and broke out in cheers, which, in a smaller field, would have been deafening. The honors were nearly even, for of the four events finished, the United States and the United Kingdom each won two gold medals. Great Britain, however, took three silver medals, while America got only one. Canada, Australia, Great Britain and Belgium each obtained a bronze medal. The Yankees had the hammer throw to themselves, as had been expected, and the performance of John J. Flanagan of the Irish-American Athletic Club in breaking the Olympic record with the hammer, and the almost equally good record made by M. J. McGrath of the New York Athletic Club, were eye-openers to the foreigners. M. W. Shepperd of the Irish-American Athletic Club, however, did more spectacular work and aroused a greater degree of enthusiasm by crossing the tape ahead of his English rivals in a dashing finish to the 1,500-meter run. This the Englishmen had prophets on for Wilson or Hallows, no prophets conceding them any better than third place. To add to the satisfaction of the Americans, the judges announced that George W. Gaidiz of the Chicago Athletic Association had done the best work in fancy diving. The British pedestrians had their own way in the 3,500-meter walk; there were no American competitors in this event. The 20-kilometer cycle race was the most cosmopolitan event of the day. L. G. Wientz of the New York Athletic Club made a desperate effort, but he was unable to secure a place in the final sprint. The eight riders were well bunched in the last lap, and it was only in the final hundred yards that the fight was decided.

50 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Aug. 23, 1958

Tokyo police ready to nab rough drunks

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department moved yesterday to clamp down on rowdy drunks.

The department issued directives to all police boxes to shed soft-gloved treatment of inebriated citizens and send violent drunks to police headquarters for a “sober” lesson.

At the same time, the policemen were ordered to arrest belligerent drunks for obstructing the execution of official duty. Drunks may be arrested under the Minor Offenses Law.

Drunks have been of the biggest headaches of patrol officers, especially on the amusement sector beat.

During last year, a total of 90 drunks became violent when policemen tried to calm them down; 33 beat up policemen; and 10 — after they’d sobered up — stormed the police box where they had been taken for protective custody.

Until yesterday’s directive, violence against policemen was not enough reason for arresting drunks, and the policemen just had to grin and bear it.

Last autumn, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department set a history- shattering precedent in this “paradise of the drunks” and launched a campaign to banish inebriated citizens from the streets on the strength of the Minor Offenses Law and the Road Traffic Control Law.

As a result, 15,931 persons — 126 of them women — were arrested and 5,234 persons taken into protective custody last year.

25 YEARS AGO

Saturday, Aug. 20, 1983 — (Editorial)

A genuine summer

If it’s not premature, we would like to sing a praise for the hot and humid summer. Admittedly, the humid part is not necessarily pleasant, but we have to take it in the gift package of genuine summer weather.

Last year, the summer weeks were cooler than we should ever want again. The year before, too, was not very summerish.

This may be called a conservative viewpoint. Whether it affects or is affected by political winds is an interesting question. But most of us just feel there has been too much abnormal weather phenomena around and it’s good to have conditions back the way they’re supposed to be.

There are a number of capitalist beneficiaries to this. Air conditioners, fans, summer clothing, sportswear, etc., have been in great demand. Overall, a 30 percent increase in the sale of these items is estimated.

The beer industry, more sensitive than any other business to the vagaries of the weather, is really booming. To boost production to meet the demand, all the breweries have increased overtime hours or added work shifts. Beer consumption this summer will reach an all-time high, if the heat holds out.

Summer resorts have been booming too, although the typhoons interrupted the business and fun last week. Curiously, though, the typhoons saved lives. That is, casualties were extremely low compared with the 68 people drowned in good-weather accidents the weekend before.

People get sick from exposure to air conditioning, but a man in Tokorozawa died the other day napping in the breeze of an electric fan. Then there was the day (August 9) when two men, one in Akita and the other in Yamagata, were stung by wasps and died.

We ought to spare ourselves the time to contemplate the summer and how to survive it with profit and/or good health.

In this new feature, which will appear in TimeOut on the third Sunday of each month along with our regular Week 3 stories, we delve into The Japan Times’ 112-year-old archive to present a selection of stories from the past. Entertaining, informative and surprising — the stories also provide an insightful comparison with the present.