Welcome to my world. For most of the new century I have been researching the lives of Carlisle Indian School football stars, something that has been a very rewarding experience. Along the way we – my wife Ann assists in the research and sometimes finds some unexpected things – have met some interesting and very helpful people. We have also discovered things for which we can’t find places in the books but which people may find interesting. Let’s start with something recent.
In the summer of 2002, Ann and I took a tour of Tanzania with a group of 10 people. At night when we were all assembled for the first time, the guide subjected us to the dreaded circle routine. When it was my turn to introduce myself, I said that I was writing a book on Lone Star Dietz. A woman a couple of places away from me in the circle responded, “Do you mean Lone Star Dietz the football coach?” I responded in the affirmative and asked how she knew about him. The woman – Betty Tyler – informed me that, when she was a child the Dietzes lived next door to her in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he coached the Albright College football team at that time. I was shocked to meet someone who actually knew Dietz in a group of 10 people on the other side of the world.
Betty’s mother, Dorothy Hawkins, was living near Charleston, South Carolina at the time and, although in her 90s, had a very clear mind. That fall Ann and I visited some friends in Charleston – the ones who arranged the Africa trip – so I could interview Mrs. Hawkins. Dorothy was a lovely person and shared information about Lone Star that one cannot find in newspaper reports or public files. She was very helpful, especially because she and her family moved to Pittsburgh and kept in contact with the Dietzes who were also living there after the war. Through Betty and her mother I was also able to interview Betty’s brother. That interview was conducted over the phone because he lives in San Francisco. He recalled Lone Star parading up and down the street in his Sioux regalia and challenging the kids to tug on his pitch-black hair to show that it was all real.
Late last year we received some sad news: Dorothy Hawkins had died. In addition to the bad news, Betty Tyler gave us some good news. Betty’s mother had a painting Lone Star gave her many years ago and Betty didn’t have a place for it in her house. Knowing that I was so interested in Lone Star and would appreciate it, she gave it to me. What good fortune! Now I must reorganize my already cluttered office to give it an appropriate place on the wall.
To learn more about Lone Star Dietz, check out www.LoneStarDietz.com. To learn more about my upcoming book, check out www.Tuxedo-Press.com. If you’re interested in seeing video previews for the books, look at www.YouTube.com/TomBenjey.
Now I must go to the Cumberland County Historical Society to look at the Jim Thorpe letters they just acquired. More on that later.