In July and August of 1961, the Santa Barbara Polo Club hosted a team from the Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristóbal, of Santiago, Chile, for a best-of-three tournament. The Chilean team played as Lo Castillo; wearing dark shirts in the photo above are Jorge Lyon, Francisco Echenique, Alberto Correa and Jorge Undurraga. Santa Barbara Polo fielded a California team of club members: in the white shirts, Ronnie Toong, Billy Linfoot, Vic Graber and Gary Wooten.
The first game drew a crowd of 6,000, the largest in 20 years at Santa Barbara Polo, who saw California win 10-6. The next week, with the lineups shuffled (Ronnie Toong became a Chilean), Lo Castillo won 5-4. And, after another lineup shuffle, California won the rubber match to claim the International Polo Trophy.
Regardless of the result, the Chilean players were heroes at home. Today, the Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristóbal hosts annual tournaments in their honor: the Copa Jorge Undurraga, Copa Francisco Echenique and Copa Jorge Lyon.
And at the award ceremony, the four men from Chile got to meet Jayne Mansfield, who once said, “I want all of my children to take piano and dancing, and the boys polo lessons.”
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My thanks to Brenda Lynn at the Museum of Polo; to Horace Laffaye, whose knowledge of polo history is exceeded only by his gracious generosity; to the website of the Club de Polo y Equitación San Cristóbal, of Santiago, Chile; to May Mann, author of Jayne Mansfield: A Biography (1973); and to the dozen or so people who posted this photo on the Web previously without having a clue about what was going on.
Clara R. A. Nelson looks a mixture of sad, bored and frustrated in this 1917 photo; she has mountains of work to do and instead has to hold a pose for a photographer, with her boss, Marvin McLean, the superintendent of the Dead Letter department. To prepare for this clerical job, Miss Nelson attended the Spencerian Business College, Washington, D.C., class of 1886; John Philip Sousa and the Marine Band played three numbers to open the commencement ceremony. It was a hot day with long speeches, and hand fans were fluttering everywhere in the auditorium.
At her desk, we see Clara stacking money from undeliverable mail, but I’m sure she wasn’t skimming; she twice defaulted on the mortgage for her house at 5804 Ruatan Street in Berwyn Heights, Maryland; the house is still there. Clara died in 1963.
Because her father, Halvor Nelson, was a Captain in the Civil War, serving as a white officer in the 52nd U.S. Colored Infantry, Clara’s remains are buried in Arlington National Cemetery.