Interview Videos

January 22, 2019

publicdomainq-analog_film_movie_cameraBack in 2014 as part of the Gardner Digital Memory Bank project, Blair Williams of Cumberland County Historical Society interviewed me about the Craigheads. Because the video is lengthy, I’ve cut it into clips by topic. The first three clips have been loaded onto the Craighead House website at http://CraigheadHouse.org/History. That tab was chosen because the focus of the interview was about the history of the Craighead family.

Enjoy.

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Jean Craighead George’s 100th

January 7, 2019
flower gardens

Sketch of Agnes Craighead’s Flow Gardens Drawn by Jean Craighead George

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Jean Craighead George’s birth. Throughout the year, I will be posting articles about her, primarily from my interviews of her. In the fall of 2009, Dr. David S. Masland, a lifelong friend of Jean’s, arranged for me to visit her at her home and accompanied us on the trip. Although she was already 90, she was still vibrant and could recall much about her youth, the part of her life I was most interested in learning about. You see, it is my belief that her and her brothers’ childhoods made them the extraordinary persons they became.

Since Jean allowed me to videotape the interviews, except for certain parts, I have a considerable amount of footage of her talking. Over the next twelve months, I will review these recording and extract excerpts I think people might be interested in seeing and hearing and will post them on my YouTube channel. I’m too cheap to upgrade my WordPress account to be able to store videos on my blog.

The first topic I’ve chosen is about her paternal grandmother’s flower gardens. The video I’ve put together starts with a sketch Jean drew from memory of how her mother described the gardens and from her memory of what still remained when she was a girl.

Jean mentions a man from the Indian School. Carlisle Indian School was located on the edge of Carlisle about five miles away from Craighead Station, where her father was born and where his adult family spent their summers. The South Mountain Railroad tracks joined the Cumberland Valley Railroad tracks on the eastern edge of Carlisle and passed through the Craigheads’ property on the way to Pine Grove Furnace. So, it was a simple matter for teachers and students at Carlisle Indian School to go back and forth to and from Craighead Station.

Central to the Carlisle Indian School program was immersing students in the majority culture some time each year. They called these “Outing Periods” in which students lived and worked with families in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Besides being acculturated, the students earned a little money, something few had before coming to the school.

Here is a link to the short video: https://youtu.be/XVcKeCQceps

 

 

What Was Dietz Doing?

November 18, 2018

Lone Star - OregonianWhat did Lone Star Dietz do between early February of 1920, the time he left the Spokane, Washington jail after completing his 30-day incarceration, and late March 1921, when he signed with Purdue to coach their football team?

Dietz was broke in late 1919 after investing heavily in Washington Motion Picture Company. Having no money for his legal defense forced him to plead nolo contender to the draft-dodging retrial after the first one produced a hung jury locked at 8 to 4 for acquittal. An apparently sympathetic district attorney agreed to the wrist slap sentence in the county jail instead of a long one in a federal penitentiary like those given to others in the post-WWI hysteria. The news article announcing his release stated that he had been a “trusty” the last two weeks of his incarceration that began on January 8, 1920.

One can easily envision the affable Dietz playing cards with his jailers a la Rhett Butler—except that he had no money to gamble with. What he did afterwards is still unclear. Newspaper articles covering his release his release made no mention of his plans for the immediate future. He may have promoted Fools Gold, the movie he played a role in and helped fund, but that would have required finances on which to live. Another possibility is that he did movie work in Hollywood. He had experience and could have acted or done stunt work or various things behind the camera. That would have been a way for him to earn a paycheck. Football was out of season, so that wasn’t a possibility.

The Encyclopedia of Football, 15th Revised Edition by Roger Treat listed Dietz as having played guard for the Hammond Pros NFL team. At 36, Dietz would have been old, and likely too out of shape to play much. However, it would have brought him east and more available for other opportunities.

The November 12, 1920 edition of The Evergreen, Washington State College’s school newspaper, listed “Veteran Cougar Coaches.” According to this piece, Dietz was “Now engaged in theatrical business in New York.” A January 10, 1921 article in The Seattle Star titled “‘Lonestar’ Dietz Playing Behind N. Y. Footlights” had him “…playing behind the footlights in Woodward’s New York theatre.”

I have been unable to find out anything about Mr. Woodward or his theater. Any help in that regard would be most appreciated.

The March 229, 1921 edition of The Lafayette Journal Courier announced the hiring of Lone Star Dietz to lead Purdue’s varsity football team. That article also said that “…for the last two years he has been engaged in business activities on the west coast.”

Clearly, more information is needed to determine exactly what Dietz had occupied himself doing those thirteen-plus months between jail and Purdue football.

Was David McFarland the Orator?

November 13, 2018

A researcher contacted me recently regarding information on and photos of David McFarland, an early Carlisle Indian School football star. He also shared some information he had on McFarland’s later life. One item jumped out at me: he was a skilled orator. Reading that made me wonder if McFarland was the Carlisle student who persuaded Superintendent Pratt into lifting his 1890 ban on Carlisle students playing football against other schools.

Pratt wrote of the students’ appeal to him:

“While they stood around my desk, their black eyes intensely watching me, the orator gave practically all the arguments it seemed possible to bring and ended by requesting the removal of the embargo.”

Could David McFarland have been the one who argued so eloquently?

I checked my copy of Steckbeck’s Fabulous Redmen and found McFarland’s name (Steckbeck had it as MacFarland) listed on the 1894 team roster. (His book didn’t include a roster for the partial 1893 season.) So, it was possible he might have been the one who convinced Pratt to allow Carlisle to field a football team.

I read Pratt’s account further to find out what else he might have said about the youthful speaker. “The orator was a descendent of the family that produced the great chief Logan, who said, ‘I appeal to any white man to say that ever he entered Logan’s cabin hungry and gave him no meat, came cold and naked and he clothed him not, etc.’…”

Now, all I needed to do was to find out which boy was a descendent of Logan. A quick search revealed that Logan was the son of Shikellamy, a Cayuga. His father renamed him sometime after his birth to James Logan, in honor of his friend and prominent Pennsylvanian of that name.

David McFarland was Nez Perce, a fact that made it almost impossible for him to have been a descendent of Logan. The search to identify the orator goes on.

Television Interview

September 14, 2018

Last month, WITF, the local PBS station, interviewed John Coyle, President of Craighead House, Sarah Fischer, Education Coordinator and Messiah College professor, Twig George, Jean Craighead George’s daughter, and me for a piece they were filming about Jean Craighead George. It was to be a 5-minute segment for the station’s portion of PBS’s Authors & Their Hometowns program, a half-hour piece to accompany PBS’s The Great American Read. They were also making a piece about John Updike, another writer with ties to Central Pennsylvania.

We were disappointed to learn that the Jean Craighead George piece didn’t make the cut when we viewed the broadcast of Authors & Their Hometowns Tuesday evening. Yesterday, I received the following message from the WITF producer:

“Although our story was not ultimately selected by PBS to be featured in the 30min Authors & Their Hometowns program…it will air on WITF TV as interstitial programming across our broadcast schedule beginning this evening! Be sure to watch the promo break prior to Doctor Blake at 10pm. If you tune in between 9:45-10pm you should catch it.

“The video is also available for viewing anytime online here–https://video.witf.org/video/great-american-read-the-wild-world-of-jean-craighead-george-nes82j/

Later, she informed me that it will be shown again this Sunday, September 16 at 2:25 pm and 11:45 pm EDT.

Those who don’t live in the WITF viewing area can see it anytime at the link above.

WhereItAllBegan.JPG

Jean Craighead George sitting at the vanity she repurposed as a writing desk when she was 12 years old.  She loved to sit here and look out the window at the Yellow Breeches Creek in the back yard.

Jim Thorpe’s Biographer is Interviewed

August 19, 2018

Back in May, I reported on the Jim Thorpe movie that is being made with the involvement of Angelina Jolie and others. Because, to a great extent, the film in development is based on his definitive biography of Thorpe, Bob Wheeler is being interviewed about Thorpe, his research and the movie. Here are links to videos of some of his recent interviews:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gaK7rdZgpEcstHfye0buBCWt7aTANU16

The Big Biz Show: https://vimeo.com/281652412/002da7695e

BizTalk Discovery: https://vimeo.com/281653077/23660f3772

Wheeler’s odyssey in tracking down Thorpe’s contemporaries while they were still alive is a story in itself. Hitchhiking cross-country when it was possible but frowned upon by some, including President Eisenhower, was the only way a grad student with no money could travel to all the places he had to go to conduct his research.

Even getting an oral history approved as a valid project was a challenge at that time. It’s better I stop and let Bob tell his own story.

Wheeler's book

 

 

 

 

 

More Acknowledgements

August 16, 2018

The stack of books in my office in which I am acknowledged as being a source continues to grow. Most have to do with Lone Star Dietz or Carlisle Indian School football players but the most recent sports book has nothing to do with them or football. It is a baseball book of sorts.

The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team that Helped Win World War II by Anne R. Keene includes a couple of passages on the Craighead twins and references to Glorious Times. Keene’s father, Jim Raugh, grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where, at age nine, he suited up in a Cloudbusters’ uniform as the Navy’s pre-flight training base’s baseball team’s batboy and mascot.

But his daughter didn’t learn about this until after his death. Her book is as much a story of her personal journey to uncover her father’s history as it was to tell the story of a thrown-together team of future hall-of-famers and other professionals.

Ms. Keene discovered the Craigheads in her research about the team and the training the players underwent prior to becoming pilots. Intrigued by them, she stopped by for a visit at Craighead House while she was on a book tour this summer. She also gave me some hints on writing press releases.

This week I received an acknowledgement from another author, but not of a book. This one came on the Green Bay Packers website from their team historian Cliff Christi. Ron from Appleton, Wisconsin had asked him about any Oneidas who had played for the Packers. In his response, Christi mentioned me and my book, Wisconsin’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, as an important reference. His article can be found here: https://www.packers.com/news/packers-fan-from-ukraine-asks-about-team-s-first-coach.

Cloudbuster NineWisconsin

 

 

The Great American Read

August 13, 2018

On Thursday, August 9, Heather Woolridge of WITF, the Central PA PBS affiliate, conducted interviews at Craighead House for a 5-minute segment they are producing in conjunction with the upcoming PBS series The Great American Read. She interviewed Johnson Coyle, President of Craighead House Committee, Sarah Fischer, Education Coordinator, Twig George, daughter of Jean Craighead George, and me.

The topic was Jean Craighead George’s My Side of the Mountain, a book that has changed many people’s lives. Why it didn’t make PBS’s top 100 list is a mystery to me. Perhaps its readers aren’t ardent PBS viewers. I have no idea. Even though it was overlooked by PBS, WITF is giving it a look.

I don’t know what John, Sarah and Twig said but I tried to emphasize the impact My Side of the Mountain has had on so many people. It has turned numerous nonreaders into readers, some of which have become voracious readers. Trish Carlucci’s story in the Summer 2016 edition of Craighead House Chronicles discusses one such example. Summer 2016 5.5 x. 8.5 cropped Trish

Men and women alike constantly tell me that My Side of the Mountain was their favorite book growing up and want their children to read it. It is even in several states’ curricula.

It is my understanding that each of the five one-hour theme episodes that follow the two-hour launch episode will be organized into 10-minute segments that PBS affiliates can choose to show or replace with pieces of their own. WITF’s segment will cover John Updike and Jean Craighead George. It’s not clear when this piece will run. We hope to find out before the series kicks off on September 11.

JCs MSOTM.png

 

The Tebow Thorpe Intersection

July 30, 2018

Earlier this summer you read about my ill-fated attempt to see Tim Tebow play minor league baseball against the Harrisburg Senators at City Island. Since that time, I’ve thought about who else played at that island in the Susquehanna River over a century ago.

Called Hargest’s Island in 1902, a crude baseball field there was home turf for Harrisburg Athletic Club for whom Carlisle Indian School grad and Dickinson College student Charles Albert Bender pitched one summer. The future hall-of-famer even hurled a game against the visiting Chicago Cubs. Chief Bender lost but acquitted himself well. So well, that by season’s end he had been signed by Connie Mack to pitch for the Philadelphia Athletics. The rest, as they say, is history.

Baseball wasn’t the only sport in which Carlisle Indians competed on Hargest’s Island. In 1908, 8,000 people attended the first annual statewide track and field meet sponsored by the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Carlisle Indians defeated ten colleges to take first place honors. Several Carlisle athletes performed well. Among them was Jim Thorpe, rounding out his first season of competition. He came in second in the 220-yard hurdles and 16-pound shotput, and first in the high jump. Not bad for someone new to the sport.

Jim Thorpe on Hargest's Island

Jim Thorpe runs the high hurdles in the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Meet on Hargest’s Island

The 1912 event was the source of an often-heard legend about the Carlisle Indians. Their team did not run 20 miles to a game, defeat their opponents and run home. Lewis Tewanima and Jim Thorpe were training for the Olympic Games to be held in Stockholm that year and did not compete as members of the team. As part of his training regime, distance running Hopi Tewanima ran from Carlisle to Hargest’s Island, waved to his friends, circled the track, and ran back to Carlisle.

Jim Thorpe returned in 1915 to compete there as a member of the Harrisburg Islanders minor league baseball team. A parallel of Thorpe and Tebow is that that both competed on City Island in baseball, not either’s first sport. Both camein to prominence for their exploits in college football. Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner and Thorpe would have been had that award existed in 1911 and 1912. His prominent position in the College Football Hall of Fame attests to that.

Always A Bridesmaid

July 25, 2018

Front Cover with sticker.pngWhat the Kennedys are to politics, the less-famous Craigheads are to nature—a prolific and accomplished clan. ~ Kirkus Reviews

The results are in from the 2018 Green Book Festival and Glorious Times: Adventures of the Craighead Naturalists won an award. It was named Runner-Up in the Biography/Autobiography category behind The Man Who Knew Everything by Marilee Peters. With Angel’s Wings by Stephanie Collins received Honorable Mention.

Green.RU.2018.web

Other winners can be found at: http://bruceharing.brinkster.net/portal/content.asp?ContentId=615