Posts Tagged ‘Sally Jenkins’

Asa Sweetcorn, Carlisle’s Wild Man

March 26, 2010

As so often happens, I came across an interesting article when looking for something else. This time it was a 1933 interview of Gus Welch by Alan Gould of the Associated Press. By this time Gus Welch had gained a reputation as a great storyteller, having won the coveted Brown Derby Award at annual coaches conferences. For whatever reason, no award was made in 1933 but Welch told an interesting story about, as were many of his stories, a teammate at Carlisle. He recalled a headstrong player named Asa Sweetcorn who, as a running guard [probably a pulling guard in modern parlance], felt that his contributions were being disregarded in Warner’s newspaper columns. He reacted by drawing attention to himself. Instead of running plays as his coach diagrammed, Sweetcorn “…would go ripping around an end, legs and arms flying, making gestures at everybody but taking out nobody. I took him aside to find out what was going on. Slyly he wispered to me: `Gus, that’s psychology. I keep `em all worried and guessing and then they say, My what a great running guard this Sweetcorn is.’”

 Reporters rewarded him with positive mention in their columns and opposing teams started to take notice of him. Navy concentrated much of their effort against Sweetcorn to his detriment. Soon he was groggy and bloody. At half-time, Pop suggested that a substitute be sent in for him. Welch responded, “No, this Sweetcorn is just faking. Let him stay in.” After taking terrible beatings game after game, Asa began to wise up a bit but not completely. Lying on the field badly beaten in a game, he had about reached the limit of punishment he could withstand, he said something to Welch about needing a “medicine man” but Welch disagreed, “Never Mind medicine man; send for a priest.”  

 Next time, find out how Sweetcorn fooled Sally Jenkins.

Jenkins and Anderson Omit 1905 Army Game

May 26, 2009

The May 2009 College Football Historical Society newsletter includes an article that debunks the basic premise for the 2007 books by Sally Jenkins and Lars Anderson, The Real All Americans: the team that changed a game, a people, a nation and Carlisle vs. Army: Jim Thorpe, Dwight Eisenhower, Pop Warner, and the forgotten story of football’s greatest battle, respectively. In “Jude and the Prince,” James G. Sweeney, a lawyer, former prosecutor and, most importantly, an Army fan for 50+ years, describes the epic Carlisle-Army game in detail. The difference between his article and their books is that Sweeney writes about the first time Carlisle met Army on a football field where Jenkins and Sweeney write about the second meeting – without acknowledging the first game. Their omission could be overlooked if the 1905 meeting was played by scrubs or special rules or something of the kind. In fact, the November 11, 1905 Carlisle-Army game was, as Sweeney put it, “was ‘the’ game of the day.” Sweeney also quoted The New York Tribune: “Never before has a football game at West Point been witnessed by a more distinguished gathering. Seated on the grandstand was Prince Louis of Brattenberg, surrounded by army officers, both British and American. The gold lace and trappings of military men, mingled with the gay dresses and flags of pretty girls, made a sight worth seeing.”

By the way, Carlisle won the game 6-5 to settle the score with the “long knives” seven years before the meeting Jenkins and Anderson touted in their books. In Anderson’s case, it may be a matter of ignorance. At the talk he gave in Carlisle, Lars Anderson mentioned that, in order to get his book in print at the same time as Jenkins, he employed a researcher. The researcher probably didn’t look at anything outside the narrow scope he was given. Sally Jenkins, on the other hand, appears to have been aware of the 1905 game. About the 1905 season, she wrote, “The Indians were a predictable disappointment under [Advisory Coach George] Woodruff….They were 10-5 and lost every significant game, and more important, they lost their uniqueness. Their only real fun came in a 36-0 defeat of crosstown rival Dickinson.” John S. Steckbeck, The Arrow and CFbDatawarehouse.com all reported a 10-4 record for the 1905 Indians, with losses to Penn, Harvard, Massillon A. C. and Canton A. C. Jenkins ends what game coverage she had for the 1905 season with the loss to Harvard on a soft field. She apparently doesn’t consider the wins over Penn State, Virginia, Army, Cincinnati, Washington and Jefferson, and Georgetown as significant. Nor does she consider beating Army, thumping Cincinnati 34-5, beating Washington and Jefferson 11-0, or embarrassing Georgetown 76-0 to be fun.

On page two of her book, Jenkins implies that she knew the 1905 game had taken place without mentioning the game or sport when she wrote, “…this was only the second time government authorities had allowed the two parties to meet on an athletic field.” Perhaps Ms. Jenkins will explain why Carlisle’s 1905 victory over Army was neither significant nor worthy of mention.

Prince Louis Battenberg, 1905

Prince Louis Battenberg, 1905

Iva Miller’s Parents Objected to Jim Thorpe

April 24, 2009

I was surprised to read “He was in love with a Carlisle student named Iva Miller, but her parents forbade the marriage and she went home to California” on page 287 of The Real All Americans: The Team That Changed a Game, a People, a Nation by Sally Jenkins. The reason for my reaction was that it was my understanding that Iva’s parents died when she was quite young, a fact that made forbidding their daughter to marry Jim Thorpe over a decade later quite difficult. I wondered if Ms. Jenkins discovered that they had faked their deaths or found that they had risen from the dead. However, her book mentioned nothing of the sort. That earlier books on Thorpe reflected something considerably different from what Jenkins claimed prompted me to do some research. Jenkins sources for this discovery would provide a good starting point. However, unlike for many other points in her book, she provided no reference for this statement.

Iva Miller’s Carlisle Indian School records seemed to be a good place to start. They arrived this week and provided some interesting information. Her parents did not sign her enrollment papers; Grace Gray-Morris, who likely was her older sister or aunt, signed the papers and swore that Iva’s dead mother was half-blood Cherokee from North Carolina. Iva’s Physical Record indicated that her father was living and in good health as were three brothers and a sister. Another brother had died of pneumonia and consumption had taken her mother. Iva had attended Chilocco Indian School before coming to Carlisle and Ms. Gray-Morris probably assisted with her enrollment at that facility due to her geographic proximity in Arkansas City, Kansas, the town closest to Chilocco.

I haven’t found Iva’s father on censuses after 1900 but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t still alive and living in California in 1912 when Iva graduated from Carlisle and supposedly returned home to her parents. She may have visited family members in California for a bit but wasn’t held there because she was soon in Oklahoma. Her letters to Carlisle that were published in the school newspaper indicated that she spent the summer in Oklahoma and the fall working at the Otoe Agency. My findings differ significantly from what Jenkins published.

Iva Miller Thorpe's Wedding Photo

Iva Miller Thorpe's Wedding Photo

Pete Hauser’s Demise

April 3, 2009

Last November I reported on an article that brought out some facts about Pete and Emil Hauser’s early lives. I recently reread it and noticed that I had overlooked something. The article from the The Kansan stated that he was killed in July 1935 while changing a tire near Bartlesville, Oklahoma. So far, I’ve come up mostly dry. I talked with Mark Schnabel, the reporter who wrote the piece, who told me he just reported what the speaker said. Now I’m trying to get in touch with the speaker, Carolyn Williams of the Halstead Historical Society. Like many historical societies in small towns, Halstead has very limited hours and I haven’t been able to make contact with her as yet.

I then browsed through the books I have in my possession and found mention of this event in the 2007 Sally Jenkins book. On page 307 she wrote, “He [Hauser] was killed in a roadside accident while changing a tire near Pawhuska in the 1940s.” Although her book has many endnotes, there is none for this item. I then began to look for a newspaper article about the accident and his obituary. I have found neither so far but haven’t completed the search. It will probably take a while.

While perusing the Cheyenne & Arapahoe censuses, I found his date of death. The 1934 tribal roll listed Pete Hauser as living on the Osage Indian Reservation. Perhaps he had married an Osage woman. That is something else to research. Pete’s listing was lined out but still readable. “Died 7/21/35” was handwritten above his last name. So, Carolyn Williams got it right about his date of death and Sally Jenkins got it wrong. Having the date of death established should help narrow down newspaper accounts of his death. Now for the location. The Osage Reservation is off US Route 60 more or less equidistant from Bartlesville and Pawhuska, which are 26 miles apart. Maybe I’ll get an email that solves the puzzle or I’ll locate a newspaper that covered it. Until then, it’s a loose end.

Pop Warner letter for sale

May 9, 2008

I have become aware that a historically significant letter written by Pop Warner is up for sale on an Internet site: http://www.historyforsale.com/html/prodetails.asp?documentid=227287&start=2&page=48

The letter was written on October 8, 1951 on Warner’s personal stationery as he was retired by that time and living in Palo Alto, California, where he had earlier coached Stanford University. The letter to Col. Alexander M. “Babe” Weyand contains Warner’s recollections as to when he invented various things and his opinions as to which Carlisle victories were the most significant.

This letter is important because it helps clarify issues currently being debated, some of which I am to blame for raising the issue. Due to Alison Danzig’s writing it had long been thought that Warner had developed the single- and double-wing formations later than Warner states in this letter. I based my 2006 documentary celebrating the centennial of the birth of modern football on statements Warner made in his landmark 1927 book on football and some other sources. This letter supports my position. In their recent books on Jim Thorpe, Sally Jenkins and Lars Anderson generally support the position that Carlisle pioneered modern football when the rules changed drastically in 1906. But Warner’s letter partially debunks their positions that the double-wingback was first unleashed against Army in 1912. He also lists what he considered Carlisle’s most important victories. The 1912 Army game was not among them. More on that in a future post.

The question I have is: why is this important letter up for sale and not in an archive? Two repositories come quickly to mind; Cumberland County Historical Society (CCHS) or West Point – CCHS because it holds numerous records and artifacts from the Carlisle Indian School and West Point because it holds Weyand’s papers. I don’t know if West Point buys papers for its collection but CCHS certainly does. It recently purchased 28 letters written by Jim Thorpe in the 1920s that had nothing to do with Carlisle. The asking price for the Warner letter is about twice what CCHS paid for each of the Thorpe letters. One of the reasons historical documents are so expensive is that there are autograph collectors who are willing to pay large sums just for signatures of famous people. But Warner’s letter to Weyand is valuable for the information it contains.