Archive for the ‘Lone Star Dietz’ Category

A Sad Day in Carlisle

October 5, 2020

Friday was  sad day in Carlisle. Wardecker’s Men’s Wear closed for good. While recent fashion trends have hurt clothing sales, it was the Wuhan virus that did Wardecker’s in. Government reactions to the plague might be more accurate. In spite of diminishing demand for dress clothing, Freddie Wardecker had been able to keep the doors open by selling uniforms to health care workers, people involved in food preparation, police and others as well as by renting tuxedos. The state government’s shutdown decimated the need for new uniforms and eliminated proms. Brides-to-be reacted by scaling down or postponing their weddings. Without uniform sales and tuxedo rentals for proms and wedding, the store had little revenue with which to pay its bills, forcing it to close.

Wardecker’s was not an ordinary men’s store. It was a place with a lengthy history, beginning with Mose Blumenthal, proprietor of The Capital, a haberdashery on North Hanover Street. Along with operating the menswear store, Mose Blumenthal had a tailoring contract at Carlisle Indian School. This relationship proved useful to the Athletic Department in multiple ways. Well known is how Pop Warner had Mose sew an extra hem in the bottom of Charles Dillon’s jersey. However, one of Blumenthal’s employees probably did the work because Mose couldn’t operate a sewing machine.

Carlisle students generally had little money. A way of rewarding athletes for performing well was for the athletic director of school superintendent send chits worth $25 or $50 to Blumenthal, which players could use to buy suits and other clothing. Each player, including the famous ones, had a page or pages in Blumenthal’s log book to keep track of their chits and purchases.

Clothiers, like magic dragons, don’t live forever, so Mose sold his business to long-time employee James “Muck” Wardecker. Hence the name on the door: Wardecker’s Men’s Wear, formerly Blumenthal’s. Jim’s son, Freddie, was helping his dad back in 1967 when Bob Wheeler was interviewing people who knew Jim Thorpe. Wheeler’s work was made easier, after hitchhiking to Carlisle, when Muck tossed Freddie his car keys and told him to drive Bob to all the people he needed to visit. Wheeler’s definitive biography of Thorpe further cemented the ties between the Indian School and Wardecker’s.

Since then, Wardecker’s, with all its memorabilia, has been an important stop for every author or filmmaker wanting to write a book or make a movie about Jim Thorpe or the Indian School. Now, that is finished, but Wardecker’s had a great run and will remain strong in people’s memories.

1899 Carlisle vs. California

August 20, 2020

I was asked to write an article about a game I hadn’t previously given much consideration: the Christmas Day 1899 post-season contest between Carlisle Indian School and the University of California. I learned a good bit researching the game. The College Football Historical Society published it this month. Membership is only $17.00 a year, payable to:

Raymond Schmidt, PO Box 6460, Ventura, CA 93006

If you find this interesting, you might want to join the CFHS and get your own copies of editions with articles such as this one mailed directly to you.

Redskins No More

July 13, 2020

It’s happened. The Redskins are no more. The NFL version that is, not the teams that play under that name on reservations. Management of the team formerly known as the Redskins announced today that it has caved under tremendous financial pressure to change the team’s name but didn’t announce what the new name would be. Whatever it is, it should not refer to Indians. Washington, DC doesn’t deserve that the way it has treated over the years—unless it is an honest name, that is. Here are few candidate names DC has earned:

Treaty Breakers

Beltway Bandits

Swamp Creatures

Pedophiles

Hair Sniffers

Pencil Necks

Turncoats

Log Rollers

Impeachers

Dementeds

Harrassers

Exposers

Lilylivers

Transgenders

One reason team owner Daniel Snyder hasn’t selected a new name is because Alexandria, Virginia real estate agent Philip Martin McCaulay has already trademarked a large number of those Snyder might consider. Coleman Bentley of Golf Digest pointed out some McCaulay missed:

Filibusters

Earmarks

Washingtons

8th Grade School Field Trips

Gun Lobbyists

Fortunate Sons

Perhaps a reader will think up a better choice. Snyder will need one that appeals to more new fans than the number of long-time ones he loses over his and the NFL’s recent capitulations.

 

Balenti Played John Alden, Dietz Did Make Up

June 8, 2020

While trying to identify the unnamed Carlisle Indian School football player who posed for a photograph in St. Louis’s Union Station while waiting for the train to Lincoln, Nebraska, I stumbled across something I’d seen numerous times before. The program for “The Captain of Plymouth,” a comic opera in three acts was something I hadn’t paid attention to before because my primary interest was in football at the school, not the music program. This time, I gave it a look because included photos of students, some of whom were also football players.

Mike Balenti, who is in the middle of the Union Station photo, stands prominently in the back row third from the right in pilgrim garb on the Principal Cast photo. However, the program doesn’t list him as a member of the principal cast. It does relegate him to the First Tenors of the Sailors’ Chorus. Since it doesn’t make sense for someone included in the Principal Cast to just be in the Sailors’ Chorus, I explored further. The school newspaper covered the production but didn’t include photographs or mention Mike Balenti.

The school’s literary journal, The Indian Craftsman, included several photos and coverage of the production of the opera during Commencement Week. Mike Balenti got a good review for his performance:

“Michael Balenti, the famous goal kicker, was the John Alden. Michael, like all great athletes is modest, and his natural diffidence made him a perfect Alden. His wooing of the comely Priscilla might have suggested that he felt a real affection for the handsome Indian maiden who so convincingly simulated the Puritan beauty.”

I wasn’t able to find the mystery man in the opera photos but I don’t have a good eye for that. Perhaps someone else will spot him.

The program wasn’t a total loss. It credited Lone Star Dietz with doing the make up for the production. This adds yet another skill to the Dietz’s sizeable bag of tricks.

NFL Drafts 3 Albright College Players

April 26, 2020

Today’s post is something different. It isn’t mine. I rejected offers from others who have offered to supply posts in the past. But this time it was me who did the asking. Sheldon Cohen wrote up a short piece on the 80th anniversary of the 1940 NFL draft that I find very interesting. He is the son of Gus Cohen who, among a number of other things, played football at Albright College under Coach Lone Star Dietz. We met at Dietz’s induction into the Albright College Hall of Fame. Lone Star was important to Gus and his family because he acted like a second father to Gus, who had lost his father to an early death.

Gus graduated from Albright College in 1940 where he was an All-East and 2nd/3rd team All-American lineman, playing for 2 Hall of Fame coaches, Biggie Munn (who recruited Gus from high school and later became famous as the coach and AD at Michigan State) and Lone Star Dietz (Pop Warner’s coaching protege). The draft which concluded today marks 80 years from the time Gus was drafted.

The draft and professional football were both very different. Somehow, Gus had 2 offers from NFL teams–the Philadelphia Eagle offered him a $1,000 bonus and the Brooklyn Dodgers $500. He had friends on both teams, namely his college teammate, Dick Riffle, on the Eagles (Dick was an All-American at Albright and All-Pro for the Eagles) and Leo “Moose” Disend on the Dodgers (Moose later played for the Green Bay Packers).

Gus decided to sign with the Dodgers for less money. His eldest brother, Sam (after whom I’m named), had been murdered in 1939 and Gus was very close to his mother, Sadie (after whom Sandy* is named). Signing with the Dodgers enabled Gus to be with his mother and family in New Jersey after Sam’s untimely passing at the age of 39.

Things are obviously very different with the draft and the NFL today. The one connection the family has with the NFL is cousin Barbara Bashein’s daughter, Dr. Robin West, who is Head Team Physician of the Washington Redskins (the team was named after Lone Star, a Native American, by George Preston Marshall in 1933 when the team was the Boston Braves and Lone Star was the coach).

Times have changed.

*Sandy is Gus’s daughter and Sheldon’s sister.

GusCohen

From a classmate’s 1940 Albright College yearbook.

 

Lone Star Dietz at Lehigh Exhibition

March 1, 2020

I just learned something new about Lone Star Dietz I didn’t know before. Andrew Jay maintains a blog about the artwork of Francis Quirk, someone I had never heard of before. In 1955, the Lehigh University Art Galleries held an exhibition of works done by Quirk, head of the department of fine arts at Lehigh, Joseph Brown, boxing instructor and associate professor of sculpture at Princeton University, Jose deRivera, formerly of Yale University and working on a Texas hotel project, and Lone Star Dietz, formerly of Reading, PA’s Albright College.

Here is a link to the Francis Quirk blog: http://francisquirk.blogspot.com/

Dietz’s contributions to the exhibit included his prize-winning landscape, “My Pittsburgh,” as well as several other famous portraits and landscapes not listed. All of these paintings were done in oil.

Because the descriptions of all but one of Dietz’s paintings are vague, I can speculate on only that one: his Pittsburgh painting. I have seen a cityscape of Pittsburgh done by Dietz, probably painted during the time he operated Liberty Academy of Advertising Art on Liberty Street in that city. The painting I saw is titled “Pittsburgh Just Grew.” However, on the back of the frame above that title is “My Pittsburgh.”

The painting is now owned by Joel Platt, owner of the Sports Immortals museum in Boca Raton, Florida. If you’re ever in South Florida, a visit to the museum is worth your time. Rather than telling you about the museum, I’m providing a link to its web page. Platt has an extraordinary collection of sports memorabilia, including items from Carlisle Indian School and Jim Thorpe. http://sportsimmortals.com/

Below are photos of “Pittsburgh Just Grew” being held by Joel Platt and the back side of the painting with an inscription written by Lone Star Dietz. This painting is surely the one he showed at the Lehigh exhibit.

(more…)

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.

Fields of Friendly Strife

January 30, 2018

Fields of Friendly StrifeAnother book arrived in the mail this month: Fields of Friendly Strife: The Doughboys and Sailors of the WWI Rose Bowls by Timothy P. Brown. It wasn’t a book I had ordered but I was expecting it, but not necessarily in hardback. The author had a copy sent to me in appreciation of the little bit of assistance I gave him:

I also spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening with Tom Benjey, author of Keep A-goin’: The Life of Lone Star Dietz. Tom provided additional perspective on the publishing process and, since Lone Star Ditz coached the 1918 Mare Island Marines, he acted as a sounding board for some of my interpretations of the football world of 100 years ago.

That Dietz also coached the Washington State College teams of 1915-17, including the 1916 Washington State Rose Bowl team, and that many of his WSC players later played on the Mare Island teams perhaps provided me a little different perspective than some others would have. It seems that other writers are more interested in my books these days than are readers. Oh well.

Tim shared with me his preference for ebooks. I shared that my books don’t generally adapt well into ebooks because of the number of photos and illustrations they usually contain. Another, equally important, factor is that ebooks have plateaued at about 25% of the market. That means that three-quarters of books sold are printed on paper. Likely is that more than three-quarters of books of the type Tim and I write are print books because the bulk of ebooks are novels and other books having few illustrations. Books that people keep on their bookshelves for later reference are almost always of the paper variety.

A side effect of the leveling out of ebook sales is the resurgence (probably too strong a word) of independent book stores.

https://www.amazon.com/Fields-Friendly-Strife-Doughboys-Sailors-ebook/dp/B077T2RBL9

 

The Love Hermit?

January 14, 2018

Lone Star - Oregonian

Photo of Lone Star Dietz that accompanied original 1918 article

The author of the article I referred to in the previous message, Jim Kerschner, forwarded a link to the entire article. The article, when read in full, provided me with more information than my question about his Vaudeville career. Perhaps a little background is needed for those unfamiliar with the multi-talented Mr. Dietz. Prior to arriving in the Pacific Northwest in September 1915, he had worked as an artist illustrating Macalaster College publications, creating a mural out of grains grown at Chilocco Indian School for the Model Government Indian School Exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair, played of football teams at Macalaster College, Friends University and Carlisle Indian School, competed on the indigenous people’s team in the Anthropology Days event tacked onto the 1904 Olympic Games held at the St. Louis World’s Fair. He sang solos at Friends University and performed a war dance at the School of Industrial Art of the Philadelphia Museum (today’s University of the Arts), after which he gave a talk in what the Philadelphia Record described as “excellent English style, which might put an ordinary Philadelphian to the blush.”

 

In addition to serving as an assistant coach to Pop Warner and teaching art at Carlisle, he illustrated their literary magazine and ephemera. He and his first wife, the noted Winnebago artist Angel DeCora, also raised prize-winning Russian Wolfhounds in a kennel behind their apartment on Carlisle Barracks.

At Washington State College, in addition to coaching the football team, Dietz arranged songs and sang baritone while touring the state with the college’s chorus. He also gave talks to classes on topics such as architecture. Prior to arriving in Pasadena for the 1916 Rose Bowl, he arranged for his team to portray the football team in Tom Brown at Harvard and for a small role in the picture for himself. When his team returned to Pullman after the victory, he stayed on in Hollywood to arrange more picture work for himself.

The article Mr. Kerschner referred to in his piece listed three films Dietz had been in, one of which I hadn’t heard of before, The Love Hermit. It also credited him with writing the story for Lonestar, but couldn’t appear in the movie because it was filmed during football season.

The article also provides some information about Dietz’s Vaudeville career: “The rapid progress that is being made by your company here in Spokane toward the production of motion pictures has made me willing to change from my previously announced plan to spend the coming year on the vaudeville circuit.” More research is required to uncover exactly which talents he would have employed in his act.

Now to figure out how to search News.Google.com for articles not on-line when I spent numerous hours hunched over microfilm reading machines.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=0klj8wIChNAC&dat=19180110&printsec=frontpage&hl=en page 6

Was Lone Star Dietz in Vaudeville?

January 10, 2018

I was very interested when Google Alert informed me of an article in The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington this afternoon. It acknowledges the 100th anniversary of Lone Star Dietz pursuing an acting career in that city: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/jan/10/100-years-ago-today-in-spokane-washington-states-f/ It is well known and covered in my biography of Dietz that he bought shares in the Washington Motion Picture Company, acted in Fool’s Gold and went broke when the studio folded. The film actually made a little money but not nearly enough to cover the operating costs of the fledgling production company.

What was news to me was the subhead “Gives Up Vaudeville.” I had no idea Dietz was in Vaudeville. I was aware of him acting in pictures in Hollywood and Spokane, but not of him being on the Vaudeville circuit. Unfortunately, the portion of the article that may have covered that issue wasn’t reproduced in today’s paper. Maybe Jim Kershner, the reporter who wrote today’s piece can send me a copy of the entire original.

Vaudeville was not always used in the way we think of it today. Sometimes it was used as a catch all for people performing in front of live audiences, including the lecture circuit. For example, Pop Warner referred to Frank Cayou as being in Vaudeville when he was giving talks on something akin to the Chautauqua Circuit.

19180110 Dietz Vaudeville Movies