Oct. 9, 1957
People can be pretty wiseacre sometimes.
I was trying to do was conduct a "pulse of the public" poll on a very
timely subject: Major League Baseball's arrival in Los Angeles.
as the arrival of a major league team affects every man, woman and
child in this city, it was obviously my duty to the public to get
public reaction to the move so I could tell the public how the public
feels about it.
(This is a very important service performed by
any newspaper worth its ink. It is known in journalistic circles as the
"reaction story," and takes a back seat to nothing--with the possible
exception of complete race results, the daily weather forecast and the
But somehow, yesterday, I found the public extremely uncooperative.
The first two people I called weren't even at home. That's how much they gave a damn.
And on my third try, I got an embittered old lady.
I stated, "I'm conducting a poll for the Mirror-News. What is your
personal reaction to the announcement by Walter O'Malley that the
Brooklyn Dodgers are coming to Los Angeles."
I could hear her clearing her throat. I picked up my pencil.
"You're with the Mirror-News?" she questioned.
"That's correct, ma'am."
why don't you do something about the smog," she snapped. "Your friends
over in City Hall tell me I can't burn a few little scraps of paper in
my incinerator, and yet you let cars and trucks and buses run all over
"That's what's causing it. Cars! Not incinerators!"
"Please madam," I interrupted. "I'm talking about the Dodgers..."
I'm not," she cracked back. "Get rid of the cars and you get rid of the
accidents, too. It'll be safe for pedestrians to cross the street again.
"Like it was when I was a girl."
She snorted indignantly and hung up.
I dialed again. It was a man who answered this time.
"You happy about the Dodgers coming here?" I asked.
"I'm glad you called, Mr. Coates," he told me. "I was going to call you."
"I wanted to ask you how come they got that satellite up there before we did?"
"Well, frankly, I don't..."
"Like you to conduct an investigation on this."
I promised him I would and said goodbye.
But I don't discourage easily. I dialed another number.
"This is Johnny," responded a young voice.
"Johnny, this is the Mirror-News," I said. "We're taking a poll on the Dodgers."
"Dodgers?" he pierced.
laugh cut into my ear. "Baseball! When are you guys going to grow up?
Why don't you tackle something serious like juvenile delinquency. Take
a poll on that?"
"But Johnny..." I interrupted.
He cut me short again.
"It's a crying shame," he screamed, "the way this younger generation is running around nowadays.
"It wasn't like that when I was a kid," he finished. "Two years ago."
I may not be an Elmo Roper, but at least I'm persistent.
Because, undaunted, I continued my survey on the Dodgers. And here is what I learned:
Three percent of the people believe L. Ewing Scott should be acquitted.
Three percent said they'd never let Confidential magazine into their homes, but they'd read it in somebody else's house.
Seventeen percent were watching an old Western movie on TV.
And 87% voice objections to smog, delinquency, Russian moons, traffic tie-ups, and/or public opinion polls.
After adding it all up, I found I had surveyed 110% of the people, which is impossible.
I'm sorry I started the whole thing.