Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Return of the Conquering Heroes

September 30, 2022

Jim Thorpe’s return to Carlisle after the 1912 Olympics was incorrectly described in at least one newspaper of the day and that description has found its way into current books on Jim Thorpe. Fortunately, The Star-Independent of Harrisburg, PA captured the event in minute detail in its August 16, 1912 edition. However, the article was too detailed to be included in this short piece. There is only room to summarize it here.

A crowd estimated to be between six and seven thousand people congregated at the Cumberland Valley Railroad (CVRR) station across from the James Wilson Hotel a block from the square in Carlisle for Thorpe’s expected arrival at 12:30 p.m.. The crowd-shy hero avoided this multitude by getting off the train at Gettysburg Junction, where the South Mountain Railroad connected with the CVRR, about a mile east of the square. Automobiles waiting there secreted Thorpe, Lewis Tewanima, and Pop Warner to Carlisle Indian School, where they were “greeted informally by students and their closest friends.”

From the Indian school the trio progressed to the parade which was split into three divisions, each of which was formed separately. The honorees were part of the first division which assembled along North Hanover Street, with its head at High Street (colloquially Main Street). Scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m., the parade, led by the first division, progressed east on High Street to Bedford Street, then followed a circuitous route along portions of each of the major streets in the center of town, eventually arriving at Biddle Field on the Dickinson College campus. There the official festivities started. After much speechifying, various events took place in town and on the Indian school campus (Carlisle Barracks). Fireworks were scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (EST probably), which were followed by an invitation-only reception and dance in the school’s gymnasium (present day Thorpe Hall) to close the day’s festivities.

Gus Lookaround – part 6

September 3, 2022

In January 1943, Angus received word that his stepson, Sgt. Conover B. Nichols, age twenty, has been taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines. In September, Phebe received a postcard from her son, who was then interned at the headquarters of Military Prison Camp No. 3. He was reportedly in good health. In October 1944, Phebe was elected president of Wisconsin Women of the Philippine Defenders, formerly known as Wisconsin Women of Bataan.

Phebe’s 1931 book, Sunrise of the Menominees, gets a second printing in November 1944 due to popular interest.

In January 1945, the War Department informed the Lookarounds that Conover had been transferred to Osaka Camp in Japan. In August they received a “captured document” from the War Department which was in Conover’s handwriting. He listed the names of over 20 American prisoners who were hospital patients. In November the Wisconsin Women of the Philippine Defenders hosted a “liberation dinner” which both of Phebe’s sons were able to attend, although Conover had to return to Vaughn Hospital afterward.

Angus died on April 15, 1946 at Wood Veterans’ Hospital in Oshkosh at age 52. Phebe established the Angus F. Lookaround Memorial Museum and Studio in their house on the Menominee Reservation where she continued living. She served as custodian and continued to promote Gus Lookaround’s contributions until shortly before her death in1964 at age 79. The museum’s contents were transferred to University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh in 1966.

<THE END>

Gus Lookaround – part 4

August 28, 2022

In 1929 Gus organized and directed the Keshena Indian School band that was composed of twenty-one boys and one girl. The band won second place in the Wisconsin High School Band Tournament with grade school children after having been organized only four months. That August, he married Miss Alice Hampton (Cherokee) of Bradley, Oklahoma. She was the kindergarten teacher at the school. The following year he was selected to direct the Shawano City Band due to his success at Keshena. When his bride’s health failed in 1932, they relocated to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, to be near her family one assumes. She was buried in the Bradley Cemetery and Gus returned to his home in Wisconsin.

In 1933 he was a member of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1934 Gus was selected for the Indian Achievement Medal to be awarded at the Century of Progress (also known as the Chicago World’s Fair).

Gus remarried in June 1934 to Mrs. Phebe Jewell Nichols, who was nine years his senior. They must have known each other for some time because she was a member of the committee that picked him for the medal. She was an attractive upper-middle-class novelist who had been widowed three years earlier. Gus, who had had no children of his own immediately became stepfather to three: Howard Gardner Nichols Jr. (19), Patricia Nichols (17), and Conover Nichols (12). Phebe’s late husband, a real estate investor and insurance agent a decade, had died after having a nervous breakdown over financial losses incurred during the Great Depression. They had married in 1913 when he was 38 and she 28. They likely became acquainted while she was teaching school in the Oshkosh area. Originally from Wabasha, Minnesota, Phebe had attended Oshkosh Normal School after graduating from Carlton College.

<end of part 4>

Gus Lookaround – part 2

August 22, 2022

After commencement in the spring 0f 1914, Gus joined another football player, Fred Big Top (Piegan), in operating a horse rental business at Glacier National Park. At summers’ end, Lookaround returned to Carlisle but Joe Guyon didn’t. Just as the season started Gus wrote an article on the 60-piece Indian School band in which he played the helicon bass, a cousin of the sousaphone. In an attempt to shore up the backfield, Pop shifted Gus to fullback for the Lehigh game and quarterback against Dickinson College. A broken leg kept him out of several games but Warner put him in at center against Notre Dame.

Helicon Bass

After the season ended, Gus entered the Ford Motor Company intern program in Detroit, Michigan along with several teammates. They formed a basketball team in their free time. The fall of 1915 found Gus back at Carlisle playing football, making music with the band, and debating as a member of Invincible Debating Society. The Indian coaches, Victor “Choctaw” Kelley and Gus Welch, put him at left end this year. The dismal 3-6-2 season brought Gus’s football career at Carlisle to an end after having played every position except halfback at one time or another. With the spheroid left behind, he headed back to Detroit. He stayed on with Ford until September, 1916 when he returned to his home in Wisconsin.

It’s not clear what Gus did the next eleven months but the Carlisle school newspaper published on November 2, 1917 reported that he had enlisted in the army and was training at Camp Douglas, Wisconsin. Later that month he was reported as being “somewhere in France.” A month later he was on board the battleship U.S.S. New Hampshire. Wisconsin newspapers said he “is going to look around for German U-boats,” probably as a joke. In January, 1918 he visited Carlisle on his way to visit his family in Wisconsin. In February, he wrote that he enjoyed the Navy and “was soon to play in the championship football game of his ship’s league.” No mention was made about how he transferred from the Army to the Navy. The last mention of him in Carlisle publications came in March when he visited Wallace Denny at the school while his ship was in Philadelphia.

<end of part 2>

Gus Lookaround (part 1)

August 19, 2022

Last week a reporter from the local newspaper called asking if I knew anything about August Lookaround for an article he was putting together. About all I knew was that Gus had played on the Carlisle Indian School football team but not much more. Expecting to find enough for a 300-word blog posting I agreed to do a little research and get back to him. 2,000 words later, I have too much for a blog post and don’t have a book in work into it could fit neatly. So, I’ve decided to serialize it on my blog.

August “Gus” Lookaround from Keshena, Wisconsin arrived at Carlisle in April 1912 at twenty years of age. His deceased father was full-blood Menominee and his still alive mother was half-blood. Prior to coming to Carlisle, Gus had attended Keshena Indian School through the fifth grade. After that he attended Tomah Indian School in Tomah, Wisconsin, where he graduated after completing eighth grade. At five feet ten inches tall and weighing one hundred seventy-eight and a half pounds, Gus was a prime candidate for the athletic teams.

He was first mentioned in print in mid-September when head football coach Pop Warner said of the new men trying out for the team, “the most promising of whom are [Joe] Guyon and [Gus] Lookaround, two good-sized fellows who have entered the school since last season.” He got some playing time in the early warm-up games against local small colleges, playing right tackle against Albright College and Lebanon Valley College right guard against Dickinson College. When Sam Burd, the previous year’s captain was called home to Montana, Warner had a vacancy to fill at left end. He tried Lookaround against Villanova and Syracuse. Roy Large eventually got the position but Gus had made a good impression for a first-year man.

At the start of the 1913 season, wags at out-of-town papers had some fun at Gus’s expense. The Meriden Journal said: “Carlisle has a tackle on the football team whose last name is Lookaround. Suppose his first name was Taka.”

He started the 1913 season at right tackle but was shifted the left tackle for the Dickinson game. Last year’s tackles, Guyon and Calac, had been moved to the backfield, leaving both tackle positions open. Gus was back at right tackle the rest of the schedule. Monty placed Gus on his All-American Tenth Team at season’s end.

<end of part 1>

Gridiron Gypsies: The Complete History of the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

June 17, 2022

At long last my latest book, Gridiron Gypsies: The Complete History of the Carlisle Indian School Football Team, is getting close to being published. The text layout, complete with 155 illustrations (period photos and cartoons), a list of players with the years they played, notes, and an index, is complete and a draft cover has been designed. A few softcover copies of the ARC (advance reading copy) will be printed for reviewers that don’t accept digital copies. Since Covid, most reviewers want PDFs but some still want hardcopies. PDFs have been sent to reviewers who accept them and I expect to have print versions in a couple of weeks.

The book will go on sale this fall. Preorders will be accepted after Labor Day. Now I have to design a simple website, GridironGypsies.com, because books are supposed to have websites these days.

A Coaching Mystery

February 25, 2022

The current edition of the College Football Historical Association’s newsletter includes and article titled “Mystery Solved.” The author, Timothy Hudak, was researching the life of Hall of Fame coach Frank “Iron Major” Cavanaugh when he unexpectedly came across a reference to Cavanaugh coaching the University of Nebraska at Omaha football team in 1919. Knowing that the war hero was with Boston College at that time created a mystery to be solved. He wondered, “How could a man fresh from recovering from serious wounds suffered in the closing stages of the war, with a wife and six kids, coach at two schools at the same time located in opposite parts of the country?”

Hudak’s further investigation revealed that they were two different men. The Omaha coach was Frank P. Cavanaugh; the Iron Major was Frank W. Cavanaugh. Case closed. However, a similar case but not involving war injuries and a wife and six kids actually happened decades earlier.

From 1895 through 1899, Glenn S. “Pop” Warner coached teams at two different teams quite distant from each other. He coached Iowa State all five years while leading Georgia (1895-6), Cornell (1897-8), and Carlisle Indian School (1899). The question is: How did he do it?

A year after graduating from Cornell with a law degree, Warner had passed the bar but hadn’t yet developed  a substantial practice. So, when the Iowa State graduate football manager offered him twenty-five dollars a week plus expenses to coach their team, he seriously considered the offer. Curious about other possibilities, he contacted some southern and western schools. The University of Georgia offered him thirty-five dollars a week plus expenses for the ten-week period starting September 15.

He then told Iowa State he was willing to coach their team for four weeks beginning in early August. Unable to find a better coach, they offered him one hundred fifty dollars plus expenses for thirty days. An alumni player would assist him while he was there and would take charge after he left.

Warner had no losing seasons with Iowa State, one losing (3-4-0) and one undefeated (4-0-0) season with Georgia, two winning seasons (5-3-1 and 10-2-0) with Cornell, and a strong season (9-2-0) with Carlisle. Warner’s promotion to athletic director at Carlisle in 1900 ended his double-coaching career.

Pop Warner with Jim Thorpe

Working for the Man

January 6, 2022

When going though George May’s student file, I came across his application to go out on an outing over the 1916 summer. The Carlisle outing program has been severely criticized in recent years, unfairly in some instances. For starters, students had to apply for the outing program and the school’s administration had to approve it before the student was allowed to go. Younger students weren’t allowed to go for obvious reasons.

By submitting a signed application, the student agreed in writing to obeying several specified rules.    

One that wasn’t taken literally was reporting immediately to the school if taken ill. Those who were injured—farms were and are dangerous places to work—were generally given medical attention locally. It would have been foolish to delay treatment by sending them back to the school when injured.

Paying board often wasn’t an issue because room and board were part of the pay when living and working on a farm. Room and board were most definitely issues for students interning at Ford Motor Company. Paid $3.41 a day while learning the autobuilding trade, the quarter of pay required to be deposited into the student’s account at Carlisle and the cost of room and board ate up most of this pay. After completing the internship, they were paid $5.00 a day, a large amount for workers at that time.

The admonition not to return to the school on Sundays without special permission was probably to increase the student’s exposure to the majority culture and to attend church with the outing family.

George spent his first outing with Harry Snyder in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. That no town name was provided suggests that Mr. Snyder was a farmer, as were the majority of outing hosts. George returned to Carlisle in time to play football. The next summer, 1917, he went to intern at Ford. This was a plum assignment given to many football players. Carlisle was criticized for having the boys return to the school at summer’s end to play football, interrupting their learning skills.

George May (continued)

January 3, 2022
George May in football uniform

Oscar Lipps responded to George May’s mother on the 31st, not having decided what action he was going to take regarding her son’s behavior:

“Generally speaking, George has not been a bad fellow at Carlisle. It is very unfortunate that he became involved in trouble that led to his infection. He is a young man [19] and should have known better….I have done everything in my power to break down this tendency among a number of the larger boys to slip out and meet girls of bad reputation near the school grounds and get liquor. I have talked to the boys, the disciplinarian has talked to them, and I have had men of experience and high standing in the community come out to the school and talk to them along these lines. Unless a boy has some backbone and strength of character, he is going to go wrong in this world….Unless George, himdelf, wants to do right, no power on earth can make him except that of the police force.. We could lock him up in the guard house and he could not get out to get into mischief, but I do not wish to do that. A boy who has to be treated in this manner had better not be in school.

“I do not know just yet what we shall do with George….He is now practically cured of this disease, but any boy who has once had this disease is usually shunned by the better class of boys in school, and the fact that such a boy is allowed to remain in school often has a bad influence among other boys who have learned to regard such conduct as disgraceful.”

His mother wrote back, saying, “Yes, George is not a bad boy. He wrote to me saying that he was very sorry for what he had done. And if you gave him another chance he would be a good boy and behave himself.”

Superintendent Lipps allowed George to stay at Carlisle. He was soon playing in the school band and running races for the track team. The next fall, he played on the football team and captained it in 1916. In 1917 while working in the apprenticeship program at Ford Motor Company, he enlisted in the 33rd Michigan Infantry and played in the band.

Wicked Carlisle

December 30, 2021

While researching the players on the 1913 Carlisle squad for my compete history of the Carlisle Indian School football team, I came across a player named Moy starting at left end for the Reserves line-up against Holmesburg on November 27, 1913. Finding no Carlisle student named Moy, I thought it might have been George May, who was known to have played on later Carlisle teams. Scrolling through his student file showed that it couldn’t have been him because he didn’t enroll at Carlisle until September 19, 1914. Not wanting to overlook a previous enrollment he might have had and wanting to know something about a future player, I scanned his entire file.

The first thing I found in his file after the enrollment papers was a short letter from May’s mother to Superintendent Oscar Lipps dated December 19, 1914 in which she wrote that she was very concerned about George as she had heard that he was ill. He wasn’t mentioned in the school newspaper as having gone out for football and his name didn’t appear in the coverage of any game. So, his illness wasn’t related to participating in athletics. However, he probably came into contact with, what was called at the time, a sporting woman.

Lipps responded to her letter on December 22nd, informing her, “…that your son, George May, has been afflicted with a venereal disease. He is being treated at our school hospital and it will probably be necessary to have him sent home as soon as an apparent cure is effected because he is morally undesirable to continue as a student here on account of his diseased condition.”

George’s mother responded on the 27th blaming Lipps for his condition. “[H]e had [a] good reputation and was respected wherever he went.” She was unhappy that her son was to be sent home in disgrace and asked that he receive the best possible medical treatment.

(to be continued in the New Year)