Posts Tagged ‘Paul LaRoque’

Where was Paul Laroque in 1907?

December 24, 2013

The grandson of Paul LaRoque and the great grandson of Frank Jude both contacted me recently. LaRoque and Jude were both from Minnesota and played on the Carlisle football team together part of the time they were there. Something I learned about Frank Jude was that his family name was not pronounced as most assumed; it rhymes with today. And researching Paul LaRoque is made more difficult because his name was often spelled LaRocque. However, LaRoque is how he spelled it when he signed the Carlisle application in 1906. Today, we’ll address what he did while he was supposedly back home in 1907 healing his eye injury.

My first challenge was to determine if he had an injury or a disease (many Carlisle students had Trachoma, particularly those who came from the west). Paul’s discharge date for his 1904 enrollment was December 4, 1906. The discharge was “Bad Eyes.” That description implies a disease but Carlisle had long had an arrangement with an ophthalmologist who would likely have treated him if he had Trachoma. That his family believes he was home recuperating from an eye injury suggests that he may have been injured playing football at Carlisle. Laroque received praise in newspaper accounts for opening holes for Frank Mt. Pleasant in the November 17 game against Minnesota. Whether Paul played in Carlisle’s next game against Vanderbilt on November 22 is open to question since newspaper accounts are inconsistent. The most detailed coverage for the season-ending Thanksgiving Day game with the University of Virginia on November 29 lists him as playing his regular position of right guard. However, newspaper accounts of the day often included line-ups given to them a day or more before the game that didn’t reflect who actually played. Without names or numbers on their jerseys, reporters unfamiliar with the players didn’t know who was actually on the field unless they asked—and they often didn’t.

One report that summarized the season for Carlisle stated that the Indians had had no bad injuries during the season. That statement was most probably a matter of opinion and perspective that should be taken with a lot of salt. So, whether Paul Laroque had a football injury or an eye disease is still unclear.

<end of part I>

The Indians’ Most Bitter Defeat

August 27, 2009

Elsewhere in the article mentioned in the previous post,Paul LaRoque, whose nickname was Barrel, discussed the greatest disappointment in his athletic career, the 1906 Carlisle-Vanderbilt game. This game received no mention in the Indian School press or in Steckbeck’s book, possibly because it was added while the team was on a road trip and the Indians played Minnesota five days earlier and Cincinnati two days later, winning both games handily.

He scored two touchdowns against the Commodores but both were called back. Referee for the game was Michigan’s Fielding Yost and he apparently didn’t like the guard-around play that Carlisle ran so successfully. He ruled it illegal even though it was run routinely in the east that year. A century later, high schools occasionally run the guard-around against aggressive defenses. Rather than snap the ball to the quarterback or tailback, the center leaves the ball between his feet as he charges forward. One of the guards pulls back from his position, picks up the ball and runs around the end for a long gain.

Unfortunately, Fielding Yost wasn’t the only obstacle the Indians had to overcome. “We were bitter about that defeat….We had reservations at the biggest hotel in Nashville, but, when we arrived they told us there weren’t enough rooms available and sent us to a small hotel. All the boys on the squad and the team doctor got sick after our evening meal on the eve of the game. We spent most of the night running to the bathroom. We all felt that Vandy was going to win that game one way or another.” The reporter observed that LaRoque was still unable to smile about the experience.

Vandy

The Start of Jim Thorpe’s Athletic Career

August 25, 2009

In a 1966 interview by reporter Virgil Gaither of The Lawton Constitution-Morning Press, Paul LaRoque (pronounced La Rock) shared some stories about his time at the Carlisle Indian School. At the time of the interview, the 72-year-old former star was living in Minneapolis but was in Oklahoma to attend his granddaughter’s wedding. One of his favorite stories was about Jim Thorpe:

 “I’ll never forget the first day we noticed him on the campus. It was in the spring and we were working out for track. Several athletes had been high jumping and the bar was at an even five feet. No one had cleared that height and we were taking a breather when Thorpe strolled by.

 “He was picking up paper around the field as part of his job to pay his way through school. Jim looked at the cross-bar, backed off about three steps and sailed over the bar without much effort.

 “Warner was standing several yards away talking with one of the athletes and didn’t see Thorpe’s jump. We all saw it, but kept quiet because we didn’t want him to take our place on the squad.

 “However, the trainer saw Jim’s leap and raced over to tell Pop. The coach went over and measured the bar, then hollered at Thorpe, who had already walked over to the other side of the field.

 “He asked Jim if he could jump that high again and Thorpe walked over and cleared the bar again with plenty of room to spare.

 “Pop told Thorpe to forget about picking up paper and report for track the next day. That’s the way he started his athletic career at Carlisle.”