National Geographic : 1969 Jul
San Diego, California's Plymouth Rock successful men of boys who are, as he puts it, "the cream of the ghetto, which is as good as the cream of anyplace else." I spent a memorable day with Mr. Moore and his boys. An anonymous benefactor had turned over to them a store in a shopping center, and the city provided pool and table tennis equipment; friends of the champ donat ed a regulation boxing ring and gloves. More than 200 boys belong to the club, and they hold their memberships only so long as they stay in school and pass their studies. Archie Moore doesn't believe in rewarding quitters. Champion Gives Boys Self-respect Offhand I can't recall ever being treated more politely by children. They even proved indulgent toward my complete ignorance of pool. George Montello, white principal of the nearby Emerson School, dropped in with more club members, and soon the lot of them performed for me their ritual, written by Archie Moore. It's a long and elaborate ritual in which the boys say what they will not do (smoke, drink, lie, hit their teacher) and what they will do (stay in school, study, respect their parents, keep clean). It also includes a demonstration of jabbing with their fists, and I was amazed at how swiftly such little fellows could strike. "I don't want to see your hands," said In structor Moore, as he is called, and we very nearly didn't. "He gets to these boys in a way we can't," said George Montello. "He reaches them when their parents fail. We are eternally grateful to Archie Moore." The old champ, himself a reform school graduate, doesn't claim to be a miracle work er. "I have never said that I had utopia in hand or the complete answer, just a founda tion step," he told me. "This is an anti-vandal and anti-delinquent program. Vandalism is a base root of the trouble boys get in; it leads to other things, from smoking a cigarette to other crutches, such as marijuana and worse. We try to develop mutual respect." Philip Gildred, in contrast, is a wealthy businessman who has lived with and for beauty all his life, developing a connoisseur's eye for art. But, more remarkably, he is also a man with an intense desire to help others know and enjoy beauty, particularly the people of his beloved San Diego. It was Phil Gildred, as a key member of San Diegans, Inc., who showed me about the Community Concourse (the civic center), with its jewel of a theater, home of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. And it was Phil Gildred again, as President of the Fine Arts Society, who led me with great pride through its gallery and the adjacent Timken Gallery, and who waited with wordless understanding while I spent long minutes in front of El Greco's "The Penitent St. Peter" and Titian's "Portrait of the Doge Francesco Donato." "Every community has a pattern, and this community has a good one," Mr. Gildred later observed. "San Diego is not a crossroads; the people here are permanent, not floaters. San Diegans love their museums, their parks, their harbor, their city, and they make use of these things, just as you make use of your home." Much of this activity centers upon the varied attractions of Balboa Park. San Diego has staged two expositions there, in 1915-16 and in 1935, each time erecting handsome buildings in Latin American and Southwest ern architecture. Now these house some of the city's showplaces, such as the Fine Arts Gallery, the Museum of Natural History, and the Aerospace Museum, which features a me ticulous reproduction of the Spiritof St. Louis. Zoo Offers Visitors a Bird's-eye View Balboa Park's most beloved institution, however, is the celebrated San Diego Zoo. Its 128 acres contain some 5,000 specimens, the world's largest collection of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Nearly all these creatures live outdoors all year long in enclosures tucked away among woodsy canyons and mesas. A bus will take you right through the collection, or you can ride an aerial tramway and look down on the animals. Properly speaking, this magnet for young and old is the Zoological Garden, for it con tains an exotic collection of thousands of subtropical plants. Cascades of jacaranda and hibiscus line walkways that entice visitors into areas not seen from bus and aerial tram. Dr. Charles R. Schroeder, the zoo's long time director, is not a man for small dreams. His latest is an 1,800-acre vision, comprising a city-owned plot of vacant hill and canyon in the San Pasqual area, 30 miles northeast of downtown San Diego. Here the Zoological Society intends to build a reserve filled with animals from many parts of the world, all roaming free but with inimical species sepa rated from one another-and from the people who come to see them-by hidden moats.