Tuesday 21 May 2013

Gotham's Sanitation Corps Real Athletes of Nation (not pulp-related)

Once in a while, as I trawl through old newspapers looking for pulp references, I come across articles which are interesting, but not pulp related.

This is one of those. From The Oregonian, April 29, 1941

International News Service Sports Writer

NEW YORK, April 28 (INS) Army training camps are not getting the flower of American youth, by a long shot. The real he-men of the country are going into New York city’s trash collection service. The city's sanitation corps, which is under civil service, is our real No. 1 crack unit. If any foreign power ever tries to invade us, and the boys from Camp Dix are mowed down, we should by all means call out our apple-cheeked, clear-eyed sanitation fusileers. They'll clean up on any totalitarian march on Times Square, assuming that anybody wants to defend Times Square.

The army takes mammoth left-fielders with flat feet and 5-foot tall blokes who have at least 12 teeth that meet. But you must be about 110 per cent all man to enlist in the trash troops. Only the cream of the species will suffice.
85,000 Answer Call

In December of 1939 the municipal civil service commission announced the first open, competitive examination for super- trash removers. Three weeks later 85,000 young New Yorkers, in the prime of their potential refuse-removing life, had answered the call to arms. Then began a process of elimination which long since has indicated that the city’s sanitation department has the toughest civil service examination on the books.

It is certainly tougher than the examination whose successful passers are admitted to the state department or the bureau of standards or any of the other intricate divisions of Uncle Sam’s workshop. To become a New York garage croupier a man must be a cross between F. P. A. and Gargantua and combine the best features of both. 
Mental Test Flunked

On mental tests alone, 24,314 of the 85,000 failed to make a passing mark. Doctors, discarding every man not fit to give Superman a 15-round battle, belted the original total down to 24,940. The examiners okayed only those with 20/20 vision, perfect hearts, lungs, ears, legs, teeth and feet. Then the examiners really went to work.

All last summer the class A-eligibles went through a training period which would have run Charles Atlas right out of the back of those pulp magazines. The 24,940 Franklin P. Gargantuas were put on a football player’s diet and went through daily sieges of running, weight-lifting, broad-jumping, high jumping and calisthenics under the critical eye of Francis Patrick Wall, professor of physical education at N. Y. U. Professor Wall put them through paces never before asked of human bone and muscle and reflexes.

Here are some of the physical tests: Each candidate must lift a 120-pound ashcan over his head and deposit it gently and noiselessly (!) on a ledge 4½ feet above the ground. Then lift an 80-pound dumbbell in each hand. Then, with feet tied in one spot, the candidate must come up from a prone position with a 60-pound barbell behind his neck in 150 seconds.
Physical Tests Tough

Apparently one of the examiners in these tests is a former A. A. U. official who has gone further off his trolley than the others. For this part of the fabulous test of brain and brawn reads: “From a starting line a candidate must run seven yards, make a broad-jump of 8 feet 6 inches, continue running ten yards, clear a hurdle of 3½ feet, continue running to a fence-trap involving two quick right-angle turns, continue running to a straight, flat board fence eight feet high which he must climb upon and descend from, continue running five yards to a vault box 4 feet 6 inches, which he must surmount, and thereafter run five yards to the finish line.

Other Tests, Too

All this must be done in 11.5 seconds, and we wonder if that is fast enough to outfoot the snarling Great Dane which must be chasing the guy. If all this was not designed to escape a dog then it must have been designed to outwit the irate taxpayer who, armed with a Louisville slugger, lights out after the trash man who has awakened the taxpayer by playing a cymbal solo with the ashcan lids.

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