Notes On Clinton R. Bailey Sr.
In April 1998 I talked at length with Clinton ("Skip") Bailey Jr., the son of the world knot tying speed record-holder. I had many questions about his father's world record and tying methods. Here are some highlights of what I learned. (I'll refer to the father as Clinton and the son as Skip.)
- Clinton was a fast and versatile knot-tyer even as a young boy scout in Kansas. At age 16 he was the Kansas state speed tying champ. He gave knotting demonstrations, including speed tying demonstrations, as a sailor in the Navy in WWII. As a scout master after the war, he taught his scouts to tie expertly and quickly.
- He was also a Golden Gloves boxer, evidence that his quickness with his hands was transferable to other domains.
- He was disabled by an exploding mortar in WWII and lived the rest of his life on a Navy pension. He set his record time at age 50 with shrapnel in his wrists.
- As an adult, Clinton thought of himself as the world speed champion. But a friend once pointed out that someone else was listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the champ. Clinton went into a period of intense training before inviting the Guiness people to time him. Skip says that his father's ample free time as a pensioner made this possible.
- Clinton broke 8.0 seconds more than once. But when the Guiness people were on the scene to record him, he took 8.1 seconds and was not given a second chance.
- When going for speed, Clinton would drape his cords over the backs of two adjacent kitchen chairs, about two inches apart. Standing facing the chair backs, he would swoop one hand up and under a cord. By the time the cord was a foot above the chair it was knotted and falling onto the kitchen table beyond the chairs. By the time it hit the table, he had already picked up the next cord.
- He never tied two or more knots simultaneously.
- I asked Skip what Clinton used for the spar in tying the round turn with two half-hitches and clove hitch. But Skip recalled no spar and referred me to a friend of his father's who might know more about that. If I learn more later, I'll revise this page.
- Skip believes that Clinton used braided cotton cord in all of his speed contests.
- Skip did not know in what order his father tied the canonical six scout knots, or whether he used the same order every time.
- A few years after setting the Guiness record, Clinton was videotaped in a speed tying contest with the Canadian speed champion. The tape was made by a Canadian TV station. Skip has no other details, including the exact year. (Canadian members of the IGKT: this job is for you.) To get an idea of the forces at work here, the Canadian contender dislocated a finger grabbing for a cord at world-record speed. At that point the contest was called and Clinton won on points.
- Whatever Clinton Bailey did, he tried to do superlatively. Living on his Navy pension, he took up the breeding and showing of German Shorthairs, and soon had raised the U.S. and Canadian champion dog.
Peter Suber, Department of Philosophy, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374, U.S.A. firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 1998, Peter Suber.