Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

August Lookaround – part 5

August 30, 2022

Phebe Jewell Nichols, who had studied the Menominee extensively and had authored novels on them, taught social science at Oshkosh High School. She was also the chairman of the Indian affairs committee for the Wisconsin League of Women Voters. That fall Gus organized a Keshena football team while she remained active with the League of Women Voters. In 1935 she gave a costumed recital to open the program of the 23rd Annual Convention of the International Lyceum Association in Lakeside on Lake Erie in Ohio. She also gave readings in several cities. The American Poetry Magazine devoted its first autumn issue entirely to her works.

The 1936 edition of Indians of Today included a biography of Angus Franklin Lookaround. It stated that Gus had toured with Ringling’s Circus Band, Sells-Floto Band, and the Royal Scotch Highlanders. A 1938 anthology, Poetry Out of Wisconsin, included two of Phebe’s works, “Indian Pipe” and “Menominee Lullaby.” A month later, she released a booklet titled “Tales from an Indian Lodge,” which contained background information on the tribe and essays on the philosophy and lives of its people. In March, Angus and Phebe provided the entertainment for a special meeting of the PTA. He told Indian stories “never told to the public before” and she presented her monodrama, Something of the Indian Heart. On December 1, she began writing a weekly column for The Green Bay Press-Gazette on Indian affairs. The Appleton Post-Crescent picked up her column the next month, followed by The Sheboygan Press in September. In her February talk to the AAUW in Green Bay, she stated that prejudice was the greatest obstacle in the way of satisfactory adjustment for American Indians.

In April 1939, Angus and three other men circulated a petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for L. W. Kemnitz be named manager of Menominee Indian Mills, a million-dollar enterprise. The Menominee believed they should be granted the right to hire their own manager. Both shifts of employees at the mill had already signed the petition. Phebe gave a talk titled “The Mother of Today” to several organizations that winter and spring. In December, The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern picked up a series of Phebe’s articles on American Indian Lore.

<end of part 5>

Gus Lookaround – part 3

August 25, 2022

Gus either enrolled in or worked at Tomah Indian School after getting out of the Navy because he played on their football team. During halftime in a game at Sparta, several Sparta boys ventured onto the thin ice on Perch Lake and broke through. Being the first to notice the boys’ plight, he raced from the football field and plunged into the icy water. He grabbed them and guided them to safety. He then played the second half as if nothing had happened but his overheated body collapsed unconscious as the game ended. He was revived with no apparent ill effects. Gus played at least one game for the Green Bay Packers that year.

August Lookaround disappeared from newspapers until 1922 when Angus Lookaround appeared. Since his Carlisle application was signed by him rather than a parent, it’s fair to say he was going by that name at the time. Why he shifted from August to Angus is unknown. Perhaps because August sounded German where Angus was Scottish caused him to make the change during WWI.

Angus first appeared in print when he signed to play for the Racine, Wisconsin American Legion football team. According to the article, he captained and played quarterback for the Atlantic fleet team during the war and afterward with eastern teams such as the New Haven Stars. The description of his time at Carlisle, while not completely accurate, convinces this writer that August and Angus Lookaround were the same person. A later article stated that Gus was living in Elkhorn, employed by the Holton Band Instrument Company, and that his Menominee name was Te Powis (Club Thrower).

In 1927 The Lake Geneva News announced that Chief Angus Lookaround would be in charge of a muskrat fur operation on the McDonald farm near Elkhorn. Later that year The Post-Crescent of Appleton, Wisconsin announced that Gus had joined the composite Wisconsin American Legion band as a sousaphone player and soloist. The group traveled to Paris, France. The next year he played bass viol in the Plaza Theater orchestra in Burlington, Wisconsin.

<end of part 3

Basketball Cages

June 29, 2021

While reviewing the chapter on the 1908 season from my upcoming book on the complete history of the Carlisle Indian School football team, my wife thought Warner having the football team practice in the basketball cage seemed strange. What was a basketball cage anyway? I had often wondered that myself. As a boy, I would check the local newspaper’s, the Alton Evening Telegraph, “Cage Schedule” to find when the high school basketball games were being played. Much later I learned that basketball games were once played in cages. Of course that meant little to me.

To better answer Ann’s question, a little research quickly found that basketball was once played in 12-feet-tall wire mesh cages that surrounded the courts. Players complained of having tic tac toe  grids imprinted on their bodies from being slammed into the cages. Later, rope mesh replaced the metal, probably because they cost less. But why did they need to cage the players away from spectators?

We have to go back to basketball’s roots. It was invented in 1891 by James Naismith to fill the gap between the end of football season and the beginning of baseball season. In Springfield, Massachusetts where the game was created, only indoor sports were practical that time of the year. Naismith borrowed some rules from other sports, including football’s then out-of-bounds rules. In football, the ball is fumbled out of bounds relatively infrequently but errant and tipped passed are common in the roundball game.

The first few rows of basketball spectators sat just outside the out-of-bounds lines, which meant that players routinely tussled with opponents and fans, who were partisans of one team or the other, for the ball. This quickly became unacceptable to basketball officials, who solved the problem by erecting cages. Why differing from football on out-of-bounds rules wasn’t considered is anybody’s guess.

More Fake News

July 5, 2020

Bryan DeArdo posted the following as part of a July 3, 2020 article on CBSSports.com that predicts a name change for the Washington Redskins. It appears that it is true that the team’s owner is folding under financial pressure from large corporations and will likely change the team’s name. However, the reason he gave for the 1933 name change appears to be more fake news.

Boston Braves became Washington Redskins

After just one year as the Braves, the franchise was renamed to the Redskins in 1933, four years before the team moved from Boston to Washington. The reason for the name change was simple: Boston’s new coach, Lone Star Dietz, and several of his Native American players disliked the name Braves and lobbied for the team to change its name to the Redskins. The franchise has kept the Redskins as its name until now.

This is the first time I’ve read or heard that Dietz and his players lobbied for a name change and it is interesting that DeArdo does not provide a source for his claim. I find it suspicious that he conveniently left out that the team relocated from Braves Field to Fenway Park at that time and that move was the reason cited by George Preston Marshall for the need to change the team’s name. He said fans would be confused by a team named the Braves not playing at Braves field as they had in the past. If memory serves, he owed some unpaid rent to the field’s owner who might have had problems with continued use of the name.

At least DeArdo didn’t claim that Marshall chose another name with an Indian motif to eliminate the need to buy new uniforms as had The Boston Globe in a December 29, 2013 article. That unresearched claim was easily refuted by viewing Boston newspaper articles from the beginning of the 1933 season. Marshall not only bought new uniforms for the Redskins, he changed the team’s colors and placed an emblem on the front reputedly designed by Lone Star Dietz.

My Uncle’s Tragedy

May 18, 2020

Excess Mortality

Charles Benjey, one of my uncles, was born on August 13, 1919 and died on February 12, 1990. He was well known for his corny jokes and listening to opera in that Illinois farmhouse on the prairie. But he was better known locally for having survived being born with spina bifida. I remember him saying on his 45th birthday, “Nobody ever expected me to live this long.” He, and everyone else, attributed his survival to his mother’s dedication plus the tough Sawyer genes she passed on to him.

Unfortunately, Grandma Benjey was pregnant with Charles when she was struck with the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19. It is quite probable the devastating influenza caused Charles’s spine to be open to the atmosphere. She did everything humanly possible for a woman of limited means on a farm decades before electricity was available to it. She succeeded and Charles lived to be 70, an age few with spina bifida reach.

Researching the book on Lone Star Dietz gained me some familiarity with the 1918-19 pandemic. (I don’t call it the Spanish Influenza because the most likely source was Camp Funston, Kansas.) Seeing considerably different results in different parts of the country and within states themselves, brought to mind a chart I had come across for the 1918-19 pandemic. That influenza struck cities at differing rates, most dependent upon the steps taken to prevent its spread, is similar to what is happening today. That chart is shown below. The 2020 pandemic isn’t finished yet but the death will likely be far less than a century ago.

Toledo, at 0.17% of its population, experienced the lowest mortality of any city listed. With the U. S. population at 330,000,000 today, devastation of that rate would be 561,000 people, five times what is currently being projected. If the country experiences the rate of Nashville, the highest city at 0.83%, the total would be 2,739,000 souls.

 

Kid Irish

April 9, 2020

While watching Robert Ryan get pummeled as a too-old-to-compete boxer in a movie on TCM while sequestered over the weekend, Kid Irish flashed through my mind. My father worked at the Owens-Illinois Glass Company machine shop in Alton, Illinois starting in 1950. He continued working there when the shop moved to a new facility in the nearby town of Godfrey in 1957 (I think). He retired in 1976 or 1977. While working there, he told me that one of his coworkers had been a boxer who fought under the name “Kid Irish.” I worked there one summer as a clean-up boy but don’t recall meeting the pugilist. He could have worked on the other shift, the one Dad was on. A few years back, I read or heard that Kid Irish was a common moniker used by white boxers to inform fans that they were not black.

Intrigued and required to self-distance from society, I made a quick internet search for “Kid Irish.” Boom. Up popped a listing for a professional boxer who fought under that ring name.  Thomas A. Chiolero of Alton, Illinois lived from 1909 to 1987. This had to be the guy Dad worked with. A St. Louis sportswriter was credited with giving him his nickname, probably because he had difficulty pronouncing the Italian surname.

Kid Irish fought 55 professional bouts for 352 rounds winning 39 (7 knockouts), losing 7 (knocked only once and that was in his last fight), and drawing 9 times. He fought primarily in Illinois and Missouri but ended his career on a tour of Australia in 1938.

A search of newspaper archives uncovered two other fighters using the same name. The first was a decade earlier and ended up in an insane asylum. The other came along decades after he had retired. I also found a wrestler and a race horse using that name.

Irish wasn’t through with boxing when he hung up his gloves. His obituary in the Alton Telegraph included his activities coaching boxing at local schools, the YMCA, and the Alton Police Department. It also mentioned that he was a machinist at Owens-Illinois Glass Company for 25 years, retiring in 1973.

Kid Irish 1974

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.

My Evening with Tim Tebow

June 7, 2018

Upon hearing that Tim Tebow had been assigned to play for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies AA minor league team, I thought there was a chance he would come to Harrisburg to play against the Senators. Looking up the Senators’ schedule told me they would be coming to town June 5-7. Wanting to attend the game, I contacted a friend, the local undertaker and lifelong Phillies fan who frequently goes to Senators’ games to see if he would want to see Tebow. He was most definitely up for it, but which game should we go see?

I ruled out June 7 because it was a day game and I didn’t want to fry in the hot sun in the bleachers. We picked the evening of the 6th for reasons lost to memory. When thunderstorms were forecast—and experienced—we patted ourselves on the back for having made a wise decision.

However, the game was played and Tebow went one for four with an RBI single, a run scored and a put out at third base with a good throw from his position in left field. Not a record day by any means but a respectable performance. Word has it that he happily signed autographs before the game.

Wednesday the 6th started overcast, with a spritz of rain in the morning, but cleared in the afternoon suggesting a clear coolish evening, a great night to watch a baseball game. We started early to have time to eat at the ballpark before the start of the 6:30 game. On the way to pick up our friends, we saw that traffic on I-81 North (the direction to Harrisburg) was backed up for miles. Seeing that taking an alternate route was necessary, we took back roads and found that a tractor-trailer accident (an all-too-frequent occurrence on I-81) blocked traffic just before the Miracle Mile interchange. We zipped over to the Miracle Mile and got on the interstate, finally making good time with the light traffic. Things went well until the last mile.

The Senators play on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna, with bridges bringing in traffic from both sides of the river. Traffic was backed up for a good half mile before the bridge and another half mile on it. We watched clock as we inched forward to the parking lot entrance. We arrived there with just enough time to park and walk to our seats before the game started.

We were shocked to see an attendant holding a parking lot full sign. He handed us a map to a parking garage a good mile away off the island in the city of Harrisburg. My friend was unable to walk such a distance, so I drove around city streets seeking a close enough place to park but found none. His wife spotted a good restaurant and suggested that we eat there. We did.

After a leisurely meal—kitchen staff appeared to take a break while preparing our orders—we got back in the car to head home. My friend suggested we try to find the broadcast of the game on the radio. A not long search across the AM band landed on what was clearly a baseball game and the announcer was certainly not ready for the big leagues. Eventually, he mentioned the Senators, so we knew we had the right game.

As we drove, we heard the last part of the home half of the 7th inning. Binghamton led 1-0. In the top of the 8th, with Rumble Ponies on 2nd and 3rd, the Binghamton pitcher came up the bat. Tim Tebow was announced as a pinch hitter. We felt a lot better because we had missed little of what we wanted to see because he wasn’t in the game until that point. With 1st base open, the pitcher probably didn’t risk giving him anything good to hit. After three fouls on a 3-2 count the pitcher walked him. The next batter up hit an RBI single, moving Tebow to 2nd base. A later play moved him to 3rd. When the Binghamton left fielder hit a fly ball to the warning track, Tebow raced home.

We waited to see if he was part of a double switch and would remain in the game. He wasn’t.

So, instead of sitting in our seats grumbling for 8 innings because Tebow wasn’t in the game, we enjoyed a nice meal and a happier drive home.

City Island parking

Trailer for Glorious times

January 22, 2018

preorder-cover-tinyAt long last, I’ve put together a short trailer for Glorious Times: Adventures of the Craighead Naturalists. I’d appreciate hearing comments about it. The trailer can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ROqbDlxs9g

 

 

Does Barnes & Noble Stock My Book?

November 4, 2017

Yesterday, I learned something by accident, the way I learn most things. Another writer on a forum I follow asked if there was a way to see if Barnes & Noble stocked her books in their stores. Out of curiosity, I tried to find out if they stocked my most recent book, Glorious Times: Adventures of the Craighead Naturalists, in any of their stores. So, I searched on BN.com Glorious Times and, near the top of the list, was a link to my book’s page on BN.com. Clicking on that brought up this page:

Barnes and Noble

Several lines below the price, just above Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought, in small print, is a link titled Check Store Availability. Clicking on that brings up a window into which you type the ZIP Code for a specific area. I found no way to search nationwide or even statewide with a single ZIP. I typed in 17011 for Camp Hill, PA, where the nearest Barnes & Noble store is located. Up popped a photo of the store and (drum roll here) IN STOCK. Below it was a photo of the Lancaster store and NOT IN STOCK.

It appears that the search is done for what looks like a 50-mile radius. Typing in 20001 for Washington, DC confirmed that guess because it listed 18 stores with some as far away as Baltimore and Frederick in Maryland and Fredericksburg in Virginia.

A bonus for authors wanting to set up book talks in an area is that the mailing address and phone number for each store, whether it stocks your book or not, is listed.