People Staff
January 30, 1978 12:00 PM

Helene Elliott grew up in Brooklyn, ignoring her folks’ pleas to turn off hockey broadcasts and disregarding a school counselor’s advice to “be serious.” She just always wanted to be a sportswriter. So today she is a sports columnist on the Chicago Sun-Times and, at 21, the youngest on a major daily in the country. Helene also reports, edits copy and does features, specializing in college football, basketball, pro soccer and broadcast coverage of the field. Her rookie days were spent at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism (where she was sports editor of the campus paper) and on the Miami Herald. Her age notwithstanding, says NBC Sports executive Don Ohlmeyer, “I’ve run into very few reporters, male or female, who have her depth of knowledge.” Although Helene has had no sweat getting into the locker rooms personally (“They’re noisy, they’re hot and they smell”), she supports other female writers’ fight to break the still remaining major-league baseball barrier. She says, “Women have enough constraints without being made to stand outside for two hours before we can see the players.” A knee injury has limited her own sporting life, but she says, “I was pretty much of a clod anyway.” Otherwise, exults writer Elliott: “I’ve been so lucky. Imagine getting paid to do all the things my parents yelled at me not to do.”

Robert Harrington, 29, is a belt maker extraordinaire—but slow. Each one has required at least 150 hours, and in six years he’s made only a dozen. The hand-carved leather creations have as their decorative motifs a person, animal or theme. One, entitled “It’s All a Mystery to Me,” is a spoof on the history of man (bottom). Thousands of tiny brass nails outline the TV-screen-shaped frames that surround each scene. (Other exotic materials include slivers of ham bone and dolls’ eyes.) The nails are so small Harrington has to insert them with needle-nosed pliers. So far he has sold 10 of his belts, at prices ranging from $200 to $2,280. Born in Boston, Robert did an Army tour in Germany and after his discharge settled in the town of Mojacar on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. He comes home only for visits. “The U.S. is beautiful,” he says, “but I’ll stay in Spain as long as it turns me on.” His next artistic turn-on will be larger wall sculptures because he has found the belts too confining in size. In the meantime he’s just sold a belt to Cher and is confident of unloading the rest. “My customers are rich but not necessarily famous,” he says, adding, “I know I’m good. Someday I’m going to be famous.”

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