Posts Tagged ‘Gus Cohen’

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.

 

 

 

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.