Posts Tagged ‘Albright College’

Jim Thorpe Comes to Berks County

February 11, 2016

Thorpe DietzTex Noël, Executive Director of Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association, informed me of a recent article on Jim Thorpe’s January 1941 visit to Berks County, Pennsylvania. Accompanying the article was a photo of Jim Thorpe with Lone Star Dietz and Jimmy McGovern, then coach at Kutztown State Teacher’s College. Also present, but not in the photo, was Carlisle Indian School alumnus and Reading High School Orchestra Conductor and Music Director Fred Cardin. In his spare time, he led the Ringgold Band, composed music, directed the Reading Civic Opera Company. With Dietz coaching athletics at Albright College and Cardin leading most of the musical groups in town, Reading had quite an exposure to Carlisle Indian School alums.

 

It was probably on this trip east the fall of 1940 and winter of 1941 that the photo of Thorpe and Dietz with the then Albright College quarterback (mistakenly identified in Albright’s yearbook and my biography of Dietz as Moose Disend) was taken. Thorpe gave a series of talks to enthusiastic audiences on that speaking tour as described in the Reading Eagle’s reporter Ron Devlin’s article. Devlin’s article can be found here: http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/history-book-when-jim-thorpe-visited-berks-county.

Ron Devlin repeated a commonly made misconception that the 1912 Jim Thorpe-led Carlisle Indians won the hypothetical National College Football Championship. The Indians never won a national football championship or had an undefeated season. 1912 was one of four-one-loss seasons the Indians had. Their 34-26 loss to Penn and scoreless tie with a good Washington & Jefferson team were the only blemishes on their record that year. 1912 was the middle year of a three-year string of one-loss teams. 1911 stands out because Carlisle beat two of The Big Four (Harvard and Penn) offset by a one-point loss to an inferior Syracuse team. 1913’s only blemishes were a 12-6 loss to Pitt and a 7-7 tie with Penn. Pretty darn good for a Carlisle team without Jim Thorpe. However, that was the year Joe Guyon and Pete Calac were shifted to the backfield. But that’s another story.

 

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Did Carlisle Play Albright College in 1907?

April 5, 2015

I awoke this morning to find a question from Johnny Dunn in my email inbox:

I was just wondering if Carlisle played Albright in 1907. In Kate Buford’s Native American Son, Kate wrote “During the early, lopsided victories over Albright, Lebanon Valley, Villanova, and Susquehanna”. In other books I read like Fabulous Redmen, they did not mention a game vs Albright. I did a little research and it looks like they may have scheduled the game, but it may have never actually happened.

A few minutes research uncovered the schedule for 1907 published in the September 20, 1907 edition of Carlisle’s weekly school newspaper, The Arrow:

September 21 1907 schedule

The next week’s edition, the September 27 issue, included, without explanation, a revised schedule:

September 27 1907 schedule

Carlisle played, and defeated Lebanon Valley College on the Saturday originally scheduled for the Albright College game. The end of the article covering the team’s shellacking of LVC 40-0 (the article about the game contained a slightly different score than in the schedule) in a heavy rain ended with the following statement:

September 27 1907 schedule is open

No explanation of why the game with Albright wasn’t played and why the LVC game was advanced from the 25th to the 21st wasn’t mentioned. However, a piece in the September 18, 1908 edition of The Carlisle Arrow suggests a possible reason for the cancellation of the 1907 Albright College game:

September 18 1908 Albright cancelled

Perhaps, Albright was unable to field a team in 1907 as in 1908. The reason the 1908 game with Conway Hall was listed as a practice game is because Conway Hall was the Dickinson College prep school. Games with Conway Hall were generally played by Carlisle’s second team, not the varsity.

I can’t explain Kate Buford’s error. Perhaps, she didn’t read Carlisle’s school newspaper articles for each week of the football season, only read the pre-season edition, or, as Lars Anderson did, had someone else conduct her research.

Dragged into the Redskins Naming Controversy

November 12, 2013

As followers of this blog know, Lone Star Dietz’s name pops into the news whenever the Redskins naming controversy heats up. After President Obama interjected himself into this matter, I started getting calls from reporters again. So far, my name has appeared in several places and has caused some embarrassment for me as well as some amusement.

The first mention I was made aware of was on the Redskins’ Official Site: http://blog.redskins.com/2013/11/01/jim-thorpe-the-greatest-athlete-in-the-world/

Unfortunately, the posting included a photo with the caption I unwittingly used in my book.  The Albright College player standing between Jim Thorpe and Lone Star Dietz in the photo was not Leo Disend as the 60-some-year-old yearbook stated. I became painfully aware of that mistake during the Q&A session at the end of my very first book talk when Leo Disend’s brother informed me that the player in the photo was identified correctly. Accepting that he must know what his brother looked like, I informed Albright College of the error. After conducting some research, they determined that the player in question was in fact John Killiany.

The Washington Post published a large spread on Dietz that mentioned me briefly: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-legend-of-lone-star-dietz/2013/11/07/00569fa2-471d-11e3-bf0c-cebf37c6f484_gallery.html#photo=1

The Post also posted a video of Barry Zientek on its web site: http://www.washingtonpost.com/posttv/local/the-story-of-the-man-for-whom-the-redskins-are-named/2013/11/06/a4760340-4743-11e3-bf0c-cebf37c6f484_video.html Barry Zientek’s parents befriended Lone Star & Doris Dietz in their old age and helped them in many ways when they lived in poverty.

Reading PA The Morning Call published an article from Lone Star’s grave written by the same Washington Post reporter: http://www.mcall.com/sports/mc-redskins-dietz-1107-20131107,0,656374.story?track=rss

For the first time I’m aware of, I was mentioned in a foreign newspaper, the Daily Mail of London, England in an error-riddled article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2492195/Was-native-American-figurehead-justification-Washington-Redskins-fraud-faked-ethnicity-gain-publicity.html  However, I wasn’t mentioned for saying anything about Dietz; I was credited with having given the Mail permission to use the image of the 1908 St. Louis Globe-Democrat article on Dietz of which I own the only surviving copy. (I’d like to have one in better condition but haven’t been able to find one.) Oddly, I have no memory of being contacted by the Daily Mail to use this or any other image I own.

Lone Star Dietz Artwork

May 31, 2012

A question that has come up recently is where Lone Star Dietz’s artwork can be purchased, because he is in the news again for being selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, I suppose. I know of no place that his original artwork can be purchased. (I would like to find some myself.) However, some of his works can be seen on public display and others have been reproduced and can be purchased.

Albright College has four of his paintings on display: the Albright Lion, a portrait of Dick Riffle, a portrait of Lewis Smith, and an unusual collage of the Tree of Learning. Joel Platt has some of Dietz’s artwork in his Sports Immortals museum but they are not generally on display to the public. I was fortunate to find him in when I visited and he showed me a panoramic painting of Pittsburgh he had in his office. The back of the painting contained two titles, “My Pittsburgh” and “Pittsburgh Just Grew.” Apparently, Lone Star changed his mind as to what it should be called.

Most of Dietz’s artwork that I’m aware of is in private collections. A few of those found their way into an article done by Francine Scoboria for Albright College: http://www.albright.edu/reporter/spring2006/lonestar1.html. Occasionally, a reader will send me information on some as I have shared previously in this blog. Hopefully, more will surface in the future.

Fortunately, some of Dietz’s smaller pieces have been reproduced on items sold at History on High, Cumberland County Historical Society’s store in Carlisle and Tuxedo Press recently reprinted two books illustrated by Lone Star Dietz and his first wife, Angel DeCora. Yellow Star has four page-sized paintings done jointly by Dietz and DeCora reproduced in grayscale. The Little Buffalo Robe is chockfull of drawings done by Dietz and a few done by DeCora. It also has some full-page artwork done by DeCora. Tuxedo Press also created neckties using Dietz’s unique signature: http://www.tuxedo-press.com/index_files/OrderForm.htm

Lone Star Inducted into Albright College Hall of Fame

October 24, 2008

Last Friday night I was given the honor of standing in for Lone Star Dietz at his induction ceremony for the Albright College Hall of Fame. (Link to Albright website: http://www.albright.edu/athletics/) At the banquet I had the pleasure of sharing a table with Marcia and Sheldon Cohen, the wife and son of the late Gus Cohen, one of the stars of the 1937 undefeated team. Gus didn’t have it easy. He was orphaned as a child and had little money but was a good student and athlete. His high school coach took him to see various colleges when he was nearing graduation. Getting schools interested in him as both a student and an athlete was no problem. However, in those Depression days, getting financial support was a problem. Albright College came through with a scholarship so he became a Lion.

At Albright College his coach, Lone Star Dietz, became the father Gus didn’t have. Doris’s cooking probably didn’t hurt either. That Doris was also Jewish may have made communication with her easier. Gus got a lot from Albright but it wasn’t a one-way street because he gave back when he could. There is now a Gus Cohen scholarship at Albright and the school’s archives are much richer thanks to the generosity of the Cohen family.

Earlier Friday Marcia and Sheldon donated Gus’s considerable stack of memorabilia to the college. Included are Gus’s letter sweater and game programs. The item I am most interested in seeing is Gus’s playbook from 1938, I think. It will be great to see what Lone Star was running at that time. He had the reputation of being the best implementer of the single-wing, some say better than Warner himself. Who knows, it might even include the Dead Indian Play. I must set a day aside to sift through this stuff.

 

Albright College Hall of Fame Plaque

Albright College Hall of Fame Plaque

End of Carlisle-Detroit Connection

October 21, 2008

Last Friday night I had the pleasure of meeting Marcia and Sheldon Cohen, the wife and son of the late Gus Cohen, at Lone Star Dietz’s induction ceremony, but more on that in a later blog. Mrs. Cohen related that her mother left the Triangle Shirtwaist factory two weeks before the infamous fire in 1911. At the time she was making $2.50 a week. She made that much because she had the skill necessary to sew lace collars onto shirts. This puts Henry Ford’s pay increase into better perspective for me. $2.50 per week increased to $5.00 per day and the workday was shortened from 9 hours to 8. That was a ten-fold increase. However, autoworkers were already making more than many other workers. But still, this raise more than doubled their income if they met Ford’s criteria. No wonder the other industrialists were flummoxed.

Not every Ford worker qualified, starting with women. Ford believed that women rightfully should be married and taking care of their families, so he didn’t increase their wages. Worker’s under 22 were not qualified unless they had dependents. To further determine who was worthy, the company’s Sociological Department was expanded. The staff of 150 visited employees’ homes and asked them about everything from marital status to savings, health, hobbies, and child care. Excessive drinking, gambling, buying on credit, a dirty home, and an unwholesome diet were all grounds for probation; if a worker hadn’t cleaned up his act in six months, not only did he not get the $5 a day wage, he was fired.

The Carlisle students at Ford worked hard to qualify. In December 1915, 25 Carlisle boys were working at Ford. Three of the first to go to Detroit (Joseph Gilman, Everett Ranco, and Norman Thompson) had already qualified for the $5 a day wage and six others (Clement Hill, William Hall, Leslie James, Francis Kettle, Fred Skenandore and Benjamin Skenandore) expected to attain that status soon. Joseph Gilman, Chippewa, expected to be transferred to Ford’s Minneapolis plant soon. That move would return him to his home state.

In May 1916, The Arrow reported that, in 1916 alone, the school had received checks from Ford to be deposited in 25 students’ accounts $1,988.60, an amount that equals 25% of their earnings during this period, $7,954.40. Most were able to live on the 75% of their pay that they received directly but some withdrew money from their school accounts for living expenses.

While living and working in Detroit the boys formed their own football team, the Detroit Carlisles, and competed with the independent or semi-pro teams along the Great Lakes. By June 1918, a total of 68 Carlisle boys had worked at the Ford plant of which more than completed the student course. Twenty-five had enlisted in the armed forces by this time. The Ford-Carlisle was impacted first by the declaration of War in 1917 and finally by the closing of Carlisle Indian School in 1918.

 

 

 

Puttin’ on my top hat …

October 13, 2008

This week promotion for my new book, Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs, kicks off with a book talk and signing at Whistlestop Bookshop in Carlisle, PA. The timing is good because reviews are starting to come in. I can only hope they’re all as good as the one that ends:

 “Historians, sociologists and anthropologists will appreciate the exhaustive research, attention to detail, accuracy, authority, and integrity Benjey has put into completing this work. Sports fans and casual readers will be drawn into Benjey’s unique and compelling writing style. ‘Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs’ by Tom Benjey is destined to become a classic.”
 
My immediate challenge is to turn the reviewer’s last word into best seller.

Friday night I am in Reading, PA to accept Lone Star Dietz’s induction into the Albright College Hall of Fame for his family. I will, of course, wear a tuxedo to pay homage to Lone Star but could never look as dapper as he did. This long-overdue honor should be followed by another, induction into the College Football Hall of Fame for his record as a coach. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it is in the cards, at least for now.

I have been doing radio interviews across the country as of late and some stations place recordings of these interviews on their web sites. I will link my author page on www.Tuxedo-Press.com to those that I can find. 

 

 

 

Lone Star decked out in Portland, 1915

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reconnecting Families

September 15, 2008

Something serendipitous has happened since I started this blog. People from different parts of the same family who long ago lost touch with each other have been able to reconnect as a result of my writing Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs and starting this blog. Typically, the people who contact me are grandchildren or great grandchildren but, especially in the case where the person had no children, grand nieces and nephews are the ones who write. It has given me great pleasure to assist in some small way in helping families reconnect or, in some cases, connect for the first time.

 

Generally the family member who initiates the connection submits a comment to a blog message. Because I have to review each comment that is submitted before it is posted, these comments are not made public. What I do is to email a member of the family with whom I have had prior contact, if I was fortunate enough to have located a relative, and send the information to that person. If that person wants to reconnect, he or she can then contact the person who made the request. If not, he or she doesn’t.

 

This has been totally unexpected but playing a small part in making it possible for families get reconnected gives me great pleasure. Keep those comments coming.

 

My first book talk on Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday October 16 at Whistlestop Bookshop in Carlisle, PA. The next evening I will be attending Lone Star Dietz’s induction ceremony at Albright College in Reading, PA. He is being inducted into their hall of fame.

Lone Star to be Inducted

June 6, 2008

The College Football Hall of Fame may have snubbed Lone Star Dietz but Albright College hasn’t. Rick Ferry, Albright’s athletic director, informed me that Lone Star Dietz is to be inducted into the Red and White’s Hall of Fame on October 17. One of Lone Star’s problems in being selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame is that few of the sports writers and athletic directors on the Honors Committee are familiar with him or his record. Fortunately, the situation is different at Albright College. Two of the paintings that Lone Star donated to the College, the Albright Lion and a portrait of All-American Dick Riffle, hang where the public can see them in the Bollman Center. Also, photos of Dietz’s teams hang in the equipment cage. If one wants to venture off to other parts of the campus his paintings can be found in other buildings as well.

Another advantage Albright has is that a few people who knew him are still alive and remember him well. One of my pleasures in giving book talks is that one of his old players would sometimes show up. Their stories are wonderful. They often show us a side of Dietz of which we were unaware. Sometimes a child of a deceased player contacts me and shares stories that his father told him about Coach. As great a coach as Dietz was I sometimes think he had more impact on his boys off the field. It will be great to attend the ceremony and see Lone Star receive his due. Now I must revise his chapter in Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs before it goes to press. But that will be a pleasure.  

 

 

Gus Cohen, Albright College ’40

June 4, 2008

It is with much sadness that I share the following message received today from Sheldon Cohen:

My Dad, Gus Cohen, played for Lone Star at Albright.  Gus passed away last Tuesday evening, May 27, 2008, at 7:15 P.M. very quietly after having been completely crippled by 2 strokes in February, 2005.  Gus was an All-East and 2nd or 3rd team All-American in 1939-1940 and later signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers of the NFL.  He was a member of the PA/Berks Sports Hall of Fame and won a Silver Star and multiple Bronze Stars in WWII.  He was a devoted alum who was President of the Varsity Club at Albright and recruited a number of student-athletes over the years.  Most recently, he had endowed the Gus Cohen Class of 1940 scholarship fund at Albright.

 

Having become fatherless at 6, Lone Star became Gus’s second father.

 

One of the things I learned when talking with Lone Star’s former players at Albright College was that he was a disciplinarian in a good way and made an impact on the young men in his charge. Below is a scan of Gus’s photo from a friend’s senior yearbook.