USA Table Tennis
- Ruth Aarons
- Sharon Acton
- Shonie Aki
- Mal Anderson
- Laszlo Bellak
- Valleri Smith Bellini
- Angelita Rosal Bengtsson
- Abe Berenbaum
- Insook Bhushan
- Robert "Bud" Blattner
- Eric Boggan
- Scott Boggan
- Joseph R. "Tim" Boggan
- Housang Bozorgzadeh
- George Braithwaite
- Quang Bui
- Bernie Bukiet
- Charles "Chuck" Burns
- Jim Butler
- Doug Cartland
- Cheng Yinghua
- Bernice Charney Chotras
- Elmer F Cinnater
- Coleman Clark
- Mae Clouther
- Fred Danner
- Kasia Dawidowicz
- Mike Dempsey
- Wendell Dillon
- Otto Ek
- Dick Evans
- Dick Evans - Lifetime Achievement Award
- Amy Feng
- Bobby Fields
- Peggy McLean Folke
- Bob Fox
- Emily Fuller
- Gao Jun
- Diana Gee
- General Sportcraft Company
- Bob Green
- Sanford Gross
- Ray Guillen
- Bill Gunn
- Bobby Gusikoff
- J. Rufford Harrison
- Harvard Table Tennis Company
- Davida Hawthorn
- Tibor Hazi
- Sidney Heitner
- George Hendry
- Richard Hicks
- Judy Bochenski Hoarfrost
- Bernie Hock
- Bill Hodge
- Larry Hodges Profile
- Chuck Hoey
- Billy Holzrichter
- Jack Howard
- Azmy Ibrahim
- Peggy Ichkoff
- Steve Isaacson
- Jimmy Jacobson
- Jennifer Johnson
- Barbara Kaminsky
- George "Gus" Kennedy
- Alice Kimble
- Erwin Klein
- Yvonne Kronlage
- Dolores Probert Kuenz
- Herwald Lawrence
- Dal Joon Lee
- He Ja Lee
- Y.C. Lee
- Ilija Lupulesku
- Attila Malek
- Patty Martinez
- Brian Masters
- Marcus Schussheim
- Richard McAfee
- Mary McIlwain
- Jimmy McClure
- Mary McIlwain
- Jim McQueen
- Dick Miles
- Tom Miller
- Reba Monness
- Manny Moskowitz
- Garrett Gray Nash
- Leah Neuberger
- Joe Newgarden
- Nippon Takkyu Company
- Khoa Nguyen
- Sean O'Neill
- P Becker and Company
- Lou Pagliaro
- Danny Pecora
- Eddie Pinner
- Marty Prager
- Bill Price
- Sally Green Prouty
- Jessie "Jay" Purves
- Jasna Rather
- John Read
- Marty Reisman
- Errol Resek
- David Sakai
- Donna Sakai
- George Schein
- Sol Schiff
- Dr. Michael Scott
- Danny Seemiller
- Ricky Seemiller
- Mitch Seidenfeld
- Mildred Shahian
- Mildred Wilkinson Shipman
- Cornelius "Neil" Smyth Profile
- Olga Soltesz
- Johnny Somael
- Pauline Robinson Somael
- Tybie Thall Sommer
- Graham Steenhoven
- Wendy Hicks Stockwell
- Cy Sussman
- Connie Sweeris
- Dell Sweeris
- Todd Sweeris
- Tamasu Company
- John Tannehill
- Chartchai Teekaveerakit
- Terese Terranova
- John Varga
- Norbert Van de Walle
- Lan Vuong
- Wei Wang
- Bill Walk
- Si Wasserman
- Sharlene Krizman Wilson
- Lily Yip
- Carl Zeisberg
- David Zhuang
Ping-pong play "with a twenty-five cent set": kitchen table, makeshift net, sandpaper rackets, and balls "so light they almost floated in the air." Who would think because Elmer Cinnater ("sin-AH-ter") enjoyed, really enjoyed, such a casual diversion he'd be a VIP visiting in the not too distant future some of Europe's greatest capitals.
Quickly advancing from his pit-pat pastime play at home, Cinnater set up a four-table ping-pong room in the Missouri Pacific Railroad building, got co-workers interested, and in putting together leagues, began his many years of table tennis involvement by forming the 1932 St. Louis District Ping-Pong Association. A quarter of a century later, in a letter to the USTTA's first President, Bill Stewart, Elmer reminisced about how he'd first met Bill during the USTTA's fledgling 1933-34 season:
"I can still remember...how you guys stopped the St. Louis newspapers from covering the St. Louis District at the Jefferson Hotel right in the middle of the tournament because we were using PING PONG and the newspapers [at the USTTA's insistence] were sold on the idea that this was a trade name of Parker Brothers."
But by the summer of 1934, as the popular President of the Missouri PPA, he, along with other Midwest PPA leaders, representing perhaps 1,000 players, agreed to join the expanding USTTA and was named (after the very brief appointment of New York's Bill Festger) its "first" Treasurer--a position he'd hold for the next three seasons until succeeded by New Jersey's Charlie Dahmen.
The St. Louis District PPA became the St. Louis District TTA, and now its Headquarters Club was on the second floor of the Lorelei Building on Olive St., with R.G. Blattner as Manager. R.G. was the father of Bob "Bud" Blattner, who, with Jimmy McClure, would win the Men's Doubles at the 1936 World Championships.
In 1937 Cinnater was named Captain of the U.S. Men's and Women's Teams to the Baden (near Vienna) World's. These Teams were to win both the Swaythling and Corbillon Cups (an heretofore unprecedented achievement that would later be matched only by Teams from Japan and China). At this World's, too, Defending Women's Singles Champion Ruth Aarons and Defending Men's Doubles Champions Jimmy McClure and Bud Blattner were again undefeated. And Cinnater's role as U.S. Delegate to the ITTF Meeting at Baden that year initiated his minimal but continued liaison work with that body.
Elmer kept all-too-brief-Jan. 13-Feb. 24 Diary entries of this once-in-a-lifetime trip. After arriving in Newark, N.J. from St. Louis, he had lunch with Dahmen, Chair of the USTTA's Finance Committee, who's been in charge of "Fighting Fund" contributions for the Team. ("A dramatic gift of $900 by an unnamed patriotic friend of Ruth Aarons [the English table tennis philanthropist H.N. Smith] and a loan of $200 climaxed the last tense moments.") Then, in New York, he stopped at the Essex House opposite Central Park (where famous bandleader Paul Whiteman and famous comedienne Gracie Allen lived) to visit the mother of that sole U.S. Team member who was paying her own way to Baden, Emily Fuller.
Prepatory to embarking, Team members gave an exhibition at the very exclusive Maplewood, N.J. country club, where Metro Movie took shots of the matches; then at 10:30 p.m. they hurried to catch the Bremen that was departing at 12:30 a.m. Telegrams were read, farewells exchanged (Manny Moskowitz was one of those who'd come down to see them off), and, finally, to cheers and waves, they set sail...all of them, thanks to their benefactor, Tourist instead of Third Class.
Elmer's five-day, to-bed-in-the-wee-hours regimen was as follows: "up at noon, lunch, some table tennis [if possible], cards, tea at 4 p.m., dress for dinner, [bets on the ] horse races [and perhaps more cards] and dancing." Turns out, though, that this was one of the roughest crossings for the Bremen ever: "Rough as hell today. Lots of glasses broken. Several passengers thrown right out of their chairs."
Then, after landing in Cherbourg, the Team had an overnight stay in Paris, and Elmer made the most of it: "What a city! Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. I saw and did a lot. Wrote letters till 4 a.m. Got one hour [of] sleep before catching morning train for Budapest." A long ride through "France, Switzerland and Austria" and "almost all night" through the Alps. ("By far the prettiest sights I have ever seen.") "Took turns sleeping with sleepers--$11 a person."
The "dead tired" Team finally arrived in Budapest on Jan. 23--to be welcomed graciously of course. "Were given a marvelous reception by the Hungarian T.T. officials....Met by barrage of photographers and reporters....Dinner at hotel later [after U.S. vs. Hungary matches]....Cuban jazz band....Retired 12 midnight."
Here from the Program to the Jan. 23-24 U.S.-Hungary matches is a 1937 version of de rigueur "Ping-Pong Diplomacy":
"AMERICAN FRIENDS! With an enthusiasm produced only by the arrival of those very precious to us we extend to you our heartiest welcome.
The appearance of the blue and silver uniformed [U.S.] squad put a new life and a fresh color into the stuffy air of the international arena. We have been privileged enough to get acquainted with you and to learn the rare sporting assets each of you possess in full degree, although our sporting connection dates back but a few years. We are confident that our present meet will do much to strengthen the bond of friendship between us and universal table-tennis will greatly benefit by our close cooperation.
We shall do our very best to reciprocate the kindness you have so lavishly showered upon our players barnstorming the U.S.A. [Barna/Glancz Tour of '35 and '36; Bellak's '37 forthcoming one] in rendering your sojourn as pleasant as possible, and beg you to convey the sincere admiration this little country feels toward your mighty republic.
As regards our present encounter only so much, that in a sporting fight may the better win!"
For the U.S. these warm-up matches were both encouraging and discouraging. The U.S. women won 4-1, the U.S. men lost 11-0. Ruth Aarons beat Ida Ferenczy, 2-0 and Magda Gal, 2-1; Dolores Kuenz got the better of Ferenczy, 2-1 but lost to Gal, 1-2; and Aarons and Jay Purves had a very good 2-1 win over Maria Mednyanszky and Anna Sipos, reigning World Women's Doubles Champions from 1930-35.
None of our men, however, could take any of the nine singles and two doubles matches against Barna, Bellak, Soos, and Szabados. Were the Americans still partly intimidated by the Hungarians' past supremacy, still somewhat in awe of the Hungarian "elan" that Istvan "Stefan" Kelen once long shared in, but at this World's end will say no longer exists?
Jan. 25: "Went up 3500 meters to a very old castle built in the mountainside. Lunch. Practice at four...then dinner at a place they call a 'coffee house.' Egyptian music, Hungarian wine, and weiner schnitzel...."
On later days, the Team would go to a vineyard where they'd have lunch and inspect a wine cellar, and they'd visit a 1,000-year-old church that housed irreplaceable works of art.
Elmer also did some shopping in Budapest--"Bought 8 pairs of gloves, 12 handkerchiefs, perfume, and 2 dolls. Also 2 compacts and handkerchief holder."
Writing from the snow-dusted Royal Grand Hotel (Nagyszauoda) on Jan. 26 at 4:30 a.m., Cinnater was wide-eyed in praise of the Budapest media and his marvelous hosts:
"...We made big columns in every paper in Budapest. The first day we all were swamped by reporters and photographers....
The first night Ruth broadcast and it was translated over the air. I was presented a pennant by Dr. Gaspar Geist, president of the Hungarian TTA.
The second night a news reel was taken. After the matches we had dinner at Dr. Geist's home; a wonderful meal and a very big, beautiful home. He has a picture collection which is priceless.
In the morning a sightseeing tour. Saw the guard at the Royal Palace change. Monday practice and dinner at a coffee house.
Tomorrow we place a wreath on the tomb of Hungary's Unknown Soldier, practice in the afternoon and banquet in the evening. [These repeated practices, McClure would say later, were a big help to the U.S. players.]
...Sunday evening each of us received a pin, with a Hungarian shield, from [Hungarian Team Captain] Andor Wilcsek. Also each one got a plaque from the city of Budapest, a very high honor, given only on rare occasion. Today we all got D.S.C. [Duna Sport Club] pins. By the end of the week we may have the city. [The Team would be in Budapest and its surrounds until Jan. 31, sightseeing and playing matches]...."
And after that, not just the city, but the country, the world. For in Baden the unprecedented and ever after unreplicated happened: the U.S. men and women won the World Team Championships. Details as to just how we did this may be seen in my Profiles on Berenbaum and Blattner, and especially on McClure, Schiff, and Aarons, and on Fuller, Kuenz and Purves.
Since Ruth Aarons was the Defending World's Women's Singles Champion, the fact that we won the Corbillon Cup wasn't that surprising--though much depended on the miraculous comeback Aarons and Purves made in the doubles against runner-up Germany when, down 20-15 match point in the deciding 3rd, they rallied for 7 straight points. This lifted their spirits, helped them to go on to beat defending Champion Czechoslovakia when Aarons and Purves, from down 1-0 and at deuce in the 2nd, rallied again to win the doubles, and Aarons avenged her '36 Team loss to Marie Kettnerova. (This 24-year-old Czech woman and Cinnater, a few years older, became such remembered friends that when I last talked to Elmer in Jan., 1995--he was then 86--he said he'd just gotten a letter from Kettnerova a month or so ago.)
In our Swaythling Cup play, we at first lost to, then beat in a dramatic 5 and 1/2 to 3 and 1/2 play-off (involving half-points awarded for a time-limit exceeded and so stopped McClure-Soos match), that same Hungarian Team that had blanked us upon our arrival in friendly Budapest. Here, two years, then 20 years, later are Captain Cinnater's reflections on that never again matched 1937 win:
"...It's true Jimmy McClure's and Sol's [Schiff's] knucklespin services, which were then still legal, gave us a big advantage. But Blattner and Berenbaum seldom used spins and Sol won many of his points with his ordinary but puzzling service. We didn't win the Swaythling Cup with spin serves. No, sir, it took the never-say-die spirit, and all of our boys had all of it that was required."
"Two major factors helped win the World titles for us; one, the lowering of the net to six inches, by the U.S.T.T.A. in 1936. The Europeans were still using the 6 [and] 3/4" net and it is my belief that our players had learned how to smash the ball faster and harder with the low net. They were able to adapt this smash type game to the higher net. The other factor, and probably the most important, was finger-spin serves, which we had already abolished here [in the U.S.], but which was permissable in international play. With a little practice training with great Hungarian stars--God bless them--our boys regained their efficiency which far outclassed the others. [Is Cinnater talking about fingerspin practice? If so, I can well understand why, bless them, the Hungarians would want at least 'a little practice training.'] Sol Schiff had the best spin serve, which he called his 'naked serve,' denying he used finger spin. All I know is that Sol won 21 of his 22 Swaythling Cup matches! I'm sure Barna [who was one of Schiff's victims] never believed Sol's claim."
Nor did Richard Bergmann, who after five games of acrobatically managing to retrieve many of Sol's spin serves and powerful follows, went on to win the World Men's Singles. Fortunately for the U.S. though, Bergmann and his partner Helmuth Goebel were stopped in the final of the Doubles by McClure/Blattner who, after initially almost being defaulted, successfully defended their '36 World title.
The Women's final was unique in that, because both Aarons and Austria's Trude Pritzi, her-never-hit-a-ball-under-any-circumstances opponent, were reduced to chiseling, this best 3 out of 5 match exceeded the time limit, was stopped in the 3rd, and the title declared "vacant." As Ruth later explained:
"Although I took that [second] game I realised my task was hopeless in the alloted time, but Captain Cinnater and my companions reminded me of the fact that if the match was called a draw, I would still retain my title from the previous year when I had won it at Prague, and advised me to remain patient and keep the ball in play for the remaining time, which I did."
Before leaving Baden for London and the English Open, Cinnater hurried off to see what he could of nearby Vienna, including a bit of night life--dinner and the floor shows at the Montmarte Cafe. (Perhaps the place had been recommended to him by many-time French Champion Michel Haguenauer who in the first round of the World's had eliminated Elmer 9, 8, 8?) "Came back to Baden rather late and must pack. Doubt if I get any sleep tonight."
The U.S. scored big at the English Open. Aarons won the Women's and, with Blattner, the Mixed over McClure/Kuenz. Jimmy got to the final of the Men's before losing to Barna. And Schiff and Berenbaum took the Men's Doubles. Cinnater was game to play in all three events open to him, and noted admiringly in his Diary that his partner in the Mixed "thought we should have beaten McClure and Kuenz. What a gal...." After the Finals Elmer "went to Piccadilly Circle to look for the Shim Sham Club. Majority of the fellows on the street were drunk. No liquor sold after midnight. Retired 2 a.m."
Aarons, meanwhile, was planning on seeing quite a bit of London night life, too. She'd contracted for a series of cabaret and stage bookings--but without the necessary permission of the English TTA, which that Association wasn't going to give because it didn't approve of table tennis players being paid. Ruth (perhaps with Team Captain Cinnater's concurrence) professed an innocence, went ahead with her performances after saying she couldn't break her contracts, and was given a slap-on-the-wrist suspension from the ITTF's Ivor Montagu which, though meaningless, created a brouhaha with USTTA President Zeisberg.
It still wasn't time for the U.S. Team to go home. But of course Cinnater had no trouble finding something to do on a free day. "Out to lunch at 3 p.m. Went to the Wax Museum. Very interesting. Invited to St. Regis Hotel for tea. Met Patricia Bowman, a very good dancer from N.Y. Later went to theatre to see 'Beloved Enemies.' Price of admission 85 cents per person. Smoking allowed anywhere in the theatre. Supper at Lyons Corner House in Picadilly Circle. Retired 1 a.m."
The next day, Cinnater began making arrangements for the trip home, then took the Team to Birmingham for an Anglo-American meet. "The international matches were rather dull. We won 7-2 but our players showed a decided letdown."
One more day, a busy one for Elmer. He finalized details for departure. "Had a long conference with Mr. H.N. Smith. Also viewed my first television by radio. Barna played McClure in a very interesting match. The first T.T. ever on a television set in the whole world. Played exhibition at the London Univ. at 8 p.m. Lunched [sic] at the Univ. and back to the hotel to pack. Hope to finish by 1 a.m."
Elmer's first day regimen on the Queen Mary home? "Breakfast in bed. Up at noon. Lunch....[Bets on the races.] Went to the movies. Tea. Dinner...followed by a few games of Keno. Met Mrs. Leila Wegner [or Wagner], the very beautiful wife of Billy Rayes, noted English actor. Mrs. Wegner formerly from Earl Carroll's Sketch Book....Danced till 1 a.m., mostly with charming Mrs. Wegner.
Other days, the Team gives some exhibitions (one collection taken up nets $40.80 for the Fighting Fund), the players are honored at a cocktail party, and of course Elmer can be found "dancing again with Mrs. Wagner [sic]." He notes, "I consider myself very fortunate to receive her attention because she is the most sought after woman on the ship." He also goes to the "dog kennels with Mrs. W. to take pictures of her dog."
But this unusual trip, and Cinnater's Diary, will soon come to an end, and the Team members will go their own way. Actually, that's often what Elmer's done, gone his own night owl way--for there's no Diary entry of him ever socializing with any of his Team members, and never so much as a personalized word about any of them.
Which is not to say that he doesn't socialize. When Elmer was 19, he married a young woman named Olive (during his long life--he died in 1998--he will have four wives), and when he first takes USTTA office in 1934, he's still married to her. But obviously now that relationship has ended, for eight months after his return from the World's, on Oct. 18, 1937, he marries Helene Van Overberghe from Long Island, a dancer --specifically "a chorine in the Roxyettes, a traveling unit of the famous New York Roxy Theatre troupe"--he'd literally bumped into "back stage in a St. Louis theater" (in December, '36) when he was getting ready to direct a "Blattner-Price table tennis exhibition."
His new USTTA position for the 1937-38 season has to be no more than a token one (and one that won't interest him long)--that of Equipment Committee Chairman. But he continues as a member of Reginald Hammond's Ranking Committee. Indeed, the following season he succeeds Hammond as the Chair, and in the '39 National's continues Hammond's policy of conscientiously "fixing" the seedings so as to have East and West players advance to meet one another.
The Captain of the 1938 U.S. Team to the World's, Morris Bassford, succeeds Carl Zeisberg as President for the '38-39 season, but then resigns--presumably because Zeisberg, who's back in a Topics capacity, is proving too difficult for Bassford and Bassford's choice for Topics Editor, Victor B. Rupp, to work with. Both Bassford and Rupp, who also resigns, are replaced temporarily by President Stan Morest and Editor Zeisberg. But then Carl, who, perhaps realizing that Morest, talked into running by Cinnater, really doesn't want to be the President (he'll soon resign), is no doubt responsible for establishing a three-person Board of Regents, comprised of Zeisberg, his right hand man, Dougall Kittermaster, and Cinnater.
Despite the fact that there were more than 25 late March, April, and May, 1939 tournaments still to be played, Elmer, as Ranking Chair, continues the policy or rushing out the season's rankings within a month of the Mar. 17-19 National's. Since the races for the Hammond Cup (for Men) and Wilkinson Cup (for Women)--both based on points accumulated for playing in tournaments, especially major tournaments, and how one did in them--were also over after the season-ending National's, none of these many spring matches officially "counted." Of course that didn't prevent players from playing (New England organizers held tournaments on three consecutive weekends in April), perhaps furthering their arguments that the rankings were surely suspect.
As the '39-40 season got underway, Elmer was re-elected head of the St. Louis District TTA. Their Headquarters Club moved from Olive St. to a new location, a whole floor in the Hotel Marquette, then, after a few months, to the Milner Hotel (open 5-10:30 p.m. on weekdays; afternoons only on Sat. and Sun.). A highly successful Feb., 1940 Western Open was run in St. Louis at the Hotel DeSoto by Tournament Chair Claude Camuzzi (he'd umpire the final Men's matches at the upcoming Indianapolis U.S. Open), and the hope was that in the near future St. Louis might run a National's.
The '40-41 season brought another site for the St. Louis Club--to the Rogers Recreation Building, 10th and Washington Aves., where Garrett Nash will briefly be managing the 10 tables ("open every day, 11:30 to 11:30"). Elmer's still the USTTA Ranking Chair, still with Missouri Pacific, is a respected Junior Chamber of Commerce man, lives in the St. Louis suburb of Rock Hill Village, commutes by car to work. He's a statistician--"prepares and compiles such detailed data as the depreciation of motor coaches, bus tire mileage, recapitulation of division and gross earnings, payroll statements, etc." But there has been a change in his life, for he and Helene now have a 2 and 1/2-year-old son, "Ricky."
Also, by this time Elmer, who loves sailing, has become known to his Seascout Troop as "Skip" or "Skipper," and in Feb., 1942 his own "S.S.S. Fairfax" co-sponsored the first St. Louis County Open, with Cinnater himself as Tournament Chair offering a traveling trophy donated by J. Spencer Gould, former Missouri TTA President. As expected, Bill Price and Dolores Kuenz were the winners.
St. Louis has been awarded the Mar., 1943 National's, and Thomas F. X. Gibbons, now the head ot the St. Louis District TTA, and "Skipper" Cinnater, aided by his seascout troop, have been named Tournament Chairmen. However, only one of the two '40, '41, and '42 National Singles Champions, Sally Green, will defend, for Lou Pagliaro can't be spared from his wartime work in a defense plant.
Still, 146 players did come to the 2,000-seat St. Louis University Gym "by train, bus, auto--shhh! and maybe a little thumbing" to be met by Cinnater and Gibbons, "who made everyone feel as welcome as an old fashion juicy tenderloin steak." Green again successfully defended her title, and Bill Holzrichter, Third Class Petty Officer on leave from the Navy for this tournament, won the Men's.
And the '44 National's, where would they be played? Well, in such an uncertain time, why change what, in St. Louis at least, you could count on? Cinnater and Gibbons, USTTA Publicity Chair, did what they were good at, Sally Green won her fifth Singles in a row, and in the Men's final Johnny Somael achieved what didn't seem possible: down 20-14 in the 5th to Les Lowry he won eight points in a row and the title.
Cinnater has been on the USTTA Ranking Committee since he joined the USTTA 10 years ago, but says that the "job of ranking during the war has been extremely difficult." Here's why: "Lack of tournaments in some localities, particularly in the East, the cancellation of the Intercity Matches for the duration [counting for so much, they often provided relatively easy differentiation between top-ranked players from separate locales], the inability of some of our top ranking players to perform in the tournaments that were held, and the everlasting ['hot' and 'cold'] change of our player status." For the '45-46 season, he says, players who hope to be ranked must participate "in at least three events, of which one must be the Eastern, Western, or National."
With Carl Nidy's retirement at the end of May, 1946 (he'd go on to Captain the U.S. Team to the '47 World's), Cinnater was elected USTTA President, and promptly turned his Ranking Committee Chair over to South Bend's John Varga. Under Editor Mel Evans, Jr. and Associate Editor Dana Young, Topics was greatly enlarged and improved.
Although "Skipper" would say that "Organization work was always my first love," he couldn't have been too happy with the typical USTTA resignations that soon befell him: Vice Presidents Berne Abelew and Graham Steenhoven resigned and were replaced momentarily by E. Everett Kuhns and George Schein. Then, since elections of E.C. Officers occurred every year, George Koehnke and Rees Hoy came in to join the rest of the re-elected Cinnater slate. Also, Bill Haid of St. Louis (30 years later, he'd be the Colorado Springs-based USTTA Executive Director) took over as Topics Editor, and in Bill's first Oct., 1947 issue Helene Cinnater began her "This n' That" monthly column. The St. Louis Club was now on Natural Bridge Road (open every day from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.) and managed first by Bill Price and later by Garrett Nash. 1947 Western Open Champ Price was named Captain of the 1948 U.S. Team to the Wembley World's where Dick Miles and Thelma "Tybie" Thall Sommer would win the Mixed Doubles.
When, at the start of the '45-46 season, Thomas E. "Bob" Berna returned from the Army to resume his USTTA Executive Secretary duties, the Association again had its Headquarters in a Philadelphia office building. But two years later, the USTTA's "Headquarters" is simply the Pocahontas Ave. home of the Cinnaters, and Helene is increasingly doing much of the secretarial work. The actual number of USTTA members is not given in the Membership Report in the May, '48 issue of Topics. Chairman Bill Feldt says only that, "This year we have had the strange situation of getting lots of new memberships and failing to get the renewals, this all resulting in about the same membership instead of a goodly increase."
As Cinnater begins his third year as USTTA President, his E.C. rules that all-white dress is compulsary in all major tournaments, and that any USTTA member who plays an exhibition with a non-member is subject to disciplinary action. Beginning Jan. 1, 1949, USTTA Membership dues will increase--from $1 to $1.50 if one is a member of an "affiliate," to $2, if one is not. Two-thirds of these dues will go towards Topics which, in its enlarged format, has of course been costing more money and, with too few ads, losing on the average $1,500 per year. Helene complains: "You people who do not receive your Topics, if you are a member, and you are sure that Hq. has your correct address, I wish you'd squawk to your post office." Helene is praised "for her courtesy and efficiency in correspondence" by Stanley H. Borak, once out of favor with N.Y. table tennis officials, but now Acting Secretary of the NYTTA.
Fair warning has been given players at the 1949 New York City National's:
"...do not wager or bet on your match, or on any other. Gambling is prohibited by the laws of the City of New York and by the National ruling of the U.S. Table Tennis Association. Not only will you open yourselves to penalty by the Association, but also to arrest by any of the legal city authorities who will be represented at the tournament...."
Wow! Would any New Yorker, so familiar with play at Lawrence's famous Broadway Courts, dare to bet so much as a dime on any of the Championship matches at the St. Nicholas Arena?
A new Membership plan is being discussed for the '49-50 season by Cinnater and his E.C. Dues only $.25! To be accepted "on a league, club, or association basis only." Topics will cost separately--$1. Here's their reasoning:
"Don't you think that these plans are a big improvement and will increase our membership many fold? This way, we can form a lot of new clubs and get the kids playing, for they like to join clubs and the $.25 membership won't be too much of a problem. And then, too, you older folks can go ahead and form clubs and put the game on a little more social basis. You can form clubs at your churches for instance, or lodges, or VFW organizations, or almost anyplace that will hold a group of people, and a table. And you officers of present affiliates; it must be true that if your affiliate can enroll 500 members at $.25 instead of 100 members at $2.00 you will have more entrants at your tournaments and consequently the increased interest will mean more spectators, too...."
New requirements for USTTA affiliates were put into effect Jan. 1, 1949: a State affiliate has to have 100 members; a District affiliate 50; a Provisional affiliate 25; a Temporary affiliate 5. One joins the USTTA through this affiliate system.
Cinnater's E.C., after suspending '49 U.S. World Team members Dick Miles, Marty Reisman, and Doug Cartland for not participating in exhibitions in Sweden and England, emphasized that the '50 U.S. Team--they'll play in Vienna and London but, because of a State Department ban, not at the World Championships in Budapest--will be selected on the basis of:
1. Integrity and character to properly represent the U.S.A. in international competition.
2. On ability as a competitive player based on ranking and current season's record."
However, "NO PLAYER WILL BE SELECTED ON THE TEAM OFFICIALLY UNTIL THEIR AFFILIATE CONTRIBUTES THEIR FULL QUOTA OF THE FUND."
In 1950, President Cinnater, now in his fourth term, had to be very pleased that England's 1949 World Champion Johnny Leach, accompanied by world-renowned coach Jack Carrington, agreed to a Tour of U.S. cities and to play in our U.S. National's, again held at the St. Louis University Gym. After their first exhibition match in Springfield, Massachusetts, Johnny and Jack "heard one of the boys couldn't attend because of bad marks in school, so...[they] went to the boy's home late at nite, autographed a ball, and had a good chat."
Leach won the Men's Singles over Bill Holzrichter in straight games, but had been down 2-0 and 20-19 match point in the 4th in the semi's against McClure, who'd beaten Johnny recently in the English Open. Leach also teamed with his mentor Carrington to take the Men's Doubles and with Sally Green Prouty the Mixed Doubles. A strong Japanese contingent, headed by future World Men's Doubles Champion Norikazu Fujii, failed to appear. South Korea's heralded K.H. "Kenny" Choi (because of the Korean conflict, he'll later be left stranded and suffering in California) was beaten by Chicago's Ralph Bast who then upset Nash, 29-27 in the 5th.
The National's, I presume, had a lack of umpires, for afterwards Cinnater's E.C. passed a resolution that required "each contestant to umpire one match at a tourney, after elimination, provided their services are required." Also, Consolation Singles, which for some reason had not been offered at these '50 National's, were restored, and a 50 and Over event added for the '51 National's that are again to be held in St. Louis.
A new procedure for electing E.C. officers has given Cinnater a fifth term, but this time not just for one year but for two. (The USTTA election consisted of 12 Yes or No votes for a single slate cast by the majority in each of the 12 USTTA affiliates, embracing in all 1367 members--with the majority vote of 25 Long Islanders equal to the majority vote of 355 Pennsylvanians.) Affiliates are very lax in returning copies of USTTA memberships sold, and at tournaments some entrants seem indignant when and if they're asked to show their membership card, so it's difficult for the Association to know at any one time just how many members it has. But the Sport is clearly not catching on.
Miles, Reisman, and Cartland have all been reinstated as USTTA members--and at the '51 National's, which lacked the hoped-for spectators, Dick beat Marty in 5 in the final, after Marty had beaten Doug in 5 in the semi's. Helene Cinnater, in her last Topics column, notes that the famous blind umpire Chuck Medick, who worked the (Holzrichter/Reisman over Miles/Cartland in 5) final of the Men's Doubles, said it was the 2, 440th match he'd umpired.
"Skipper" Cinnater is skipping the last year of his two-year term. Privately he said: he'd "had management up to here" and waved his hand over his head. Publicly he said: "the volume of business has become too large for the amount of time he could afford to give the important job of directing the USTTA and [with Helene's help] operating headquarters [headquarters of course still being his and Helene's home]." He'll be succeeded by 34-year-old Jim Shrout (but the USTTA Chicago Headquarters won't be in his home with his wife and child).
Read Topics in the years immediately following Elmer's retirement and you won't find any mention of him. In 1955 he moved to California to take a position with the California Credit Union League, and for two decades managed the Union Oil Center Federal Credit Union in Los Angeles. By 1970 a Sportsmanship Award had been offered in his name, and I remember Patty Martinez, from San Diego, winning it that year. California would eventually honor Elmer as one of their Hall of Famers for having tried during his tenure of office to bring the rather isolated western section of the country into non-factional harmony with the USATT membership at large. In 1979 at an Awards Banquet at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas--in recognition for his 20 years of service to the Sport--Cinnater, in the dressed-up company of some of the most recognized of his peers, was inducted into the USTTA Hall of Fame.