Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rose Bowl Postcard

A postcard of the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California during one of the venue's New Year's Day inter-sectional games from the 1920s.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The 1930 Alabama Football Banquet

A telegram from Atlanta Georgian sports editor Jimmy Burns
to Alabama Coach Wallace Wade. 
Alabama's annual football banquet for the 1930 season was held  Dec. 2, at the McLester Hotel in Tuscaloosa with more than 250 people in attendance. The Tide team was on hand as well as members of numerous local high school football teams. Alabama varsity squad had gone undefeated through the regular season and, just days prior, had received an invitation to play Washington State in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day 1931.

"This team will go down as the greatest ever seen in the South," declared University of Alabama President George Denny at the banquet. "Greatest in exemplifying and illustrating the correct ideals of character, fine spirit, scholarship and devotion to duty in the daily walks under these old oak trees we love so well."

The event was bittersweet for Alabama fans as head coach Wallace Wade had announced his resignation prior to the season and his intention to accept the job as the head coach of Duke. Wade was presented a wristwatch from the the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Merchant's Bureau who sponsored the banquet.

William Little, the captain of Alabama's first football team spoke as did V.H. Friedman, a longtime supporter of the team. Incoming Alabama coach Frank Thomas sent a telegram with his praise for Wade and the 1930 team as did Jimmy Burns, the sports editor at the Atlanta Georgian. Burns covered southern sports for 17 years at the paper, decamping in the late 1930s for Florida where he became  the Miami Herald's sports editor for almost a quarter century. The text of his telegram is below.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Alabama Rose Bowl Access Ribbons

In an era long before the laminated access card, lapel ribbons were used to identify people with various degrees of access to games. These are two such ribbons for Alabama Rose Bowl contests; a red photographer press pass for the 1927 Rose Bowl and a white spectator pass for the 1935 Rose Bowl.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Moon Winx Court

A Moon Winx postcard from the 1930s.
The Moon Winx Court was built in the 1920s about four and a half miles outside of Tuscaloosa proper on the Birmingham Highway (US 11) which today is University Boulevard in Alberta City neighborhood of the city.

Originally owned by Meade Johnston, the motor court-style motel was a landmark for out-of-town visitors in the 1920s and 1930s. Its 20 rooms could accommodate a total of 56 guests.

Ad from a 1932 issue of the UA
humor magazine Rammer Jammer.
During its initial heyday the motel hosted celebrities such as St. Louis Cardinals' owner Sam Breadon, women's golfer Louise Suggs, singer Helen Jepson and famed explorer Dr. R. Chapman Andrews. It was also a regular stop for fans and officials accompanying teams playing the University of Alabama squads.

Eddie Jacquin, a sportswriter with the Champaign, Ill. News-Gazette, who traveled extensively in the south covering University of Illinois baseball during the 20's, wrote of the Moon Winx: "Tuscaloosa also goes down in our notebook of travels as having on its outskirts the finest motor court we have ever seen. It is called Moon Winx and nobody knows just why except that in Alabama on a certain night the moon winks! So there you are."

In 1946, Johnson retired to the Gulf Coast and sold the Moon Winx to Holt native Victor Rogers. During Rogers' tenure as owner the motel it was considered one of the most respectable lodgings for visitors in the area. Visiting luminaries such as actors Robert Mitchum and Allan "Rocky" Lane stayed at the motel in this period.

An ad for the motel in the Tuscaloosa 
News after the 1954 renovation.
It was during the 1940s that the Moon Winx became part of Quality Courts – a referral group that formed in the late 1930s to control the growing negative perception the public had of motels. Rogers' daughter, Susan Elmore, recalled in 2003 that vehicles with local license plates were required to have a very good reason to stay.

In 1950 the Moon Winx was expanded with the construction of a new building that boasted 12 air-conditioned rooms - increasing the motel's capacity by half. Four years later Rogers completed a renovation of the entire motel that included upgrading all the rooms with air-conditioning, television and telephones.

A restaurant, The Barn, was added during that period which was renowned for its home cooking. The restaurant became one of The Lamplighter chain in 1960.

Rogers sold the hotel in 1956 when he learned that traffic on the highway was to be routed to Skyland Boulevard. It would be the construction of Interstate 20 between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham during the 1960s that would lead to the decline of the motel. But two notable events occurred before that time which elevated the Moon Winx to a Tuscaloosa institution.

In 1959, artist Glenn House with the River Sign Company made a half moon sign for the motel using dayglo paint. The lettering and moon were outlined in neon lighting. The eye catching design has become indelibly associated with the business if not Tuscaloosa itself.

A year prior, Paul W. Bryant returned to take over the Crimson Tide football team and he began the practice of housing the squad at the Moon Winx the night before home games. The team would have their pre-game meal in a partitioned-off section of the motel dining room where Bryant would give his charges a final speech before heading to the stadium.

A Moon Winx postcard from the 1960s.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"Big" Jim Folsom Campaigning With the Crimson Tide

UA President Raymond Paty, Alabama star Harry Gilmer and
Democratic candidate for Alabama Governor, Jim Folsom.
On Oct. 12, 1946, Alabama played its first game of the season at Denny Field against an outmatched Southwestern Louisiana squad (now UL-Lafayette). While spectators might have let their attention wander from the 54-0 blowout there was a distinctive six foot-eight inch figure on the sideline they could hardly miss -- "Big" Jim Folsom.

Folsom was a candidate in the state's gubernatorial election to be held in just three weeks time. The former University of Alabama student (he never graduated from the school) had survived an ugly party primary in the spring and was considered a shoo-in for the general election due to the weakness of the Republican party in the state.

According to the Tuscaloosa News, Folsom "was cheered by thousands of students. He gave the fans a thrill when he picked up and hugged and kissed a pretty co-ed cheerleader."

Folsom had been unsuccessful in his previous run for governor in 1942 but his calls for reform and colorful style earned him a growing base of support across the state. For the 1946 election he returned with his now trademark mop and bucket which he said would "clean out" the Capitol. As expected he was elected on Nov. 5, 1946 and was inaugurated the following January for the first of his two terms in office.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

1935 Rose Bowl Coaches Cartoon

A newspaper cartoon from December 1934 featuring the coaches of the upcoming Rose Bowl game; Alabama's Frank Thomas and Stanford's Claude "Tiny" Thornhill. The cartoon at the bottom features Stanford's mascot at the time, the Indian.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The 1927 Rose Bowl from the Air

An aerial view of the Rose Bowl stadium during the 1927 game pitting Alabama against Stanford. This was the last game in the distinctive "horseshoe" version of the venue as the southern end was completed prior to the following year's contest. The 1927 game ended in a 7-7 tie.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The 1948 Sugar Bowl Game Film

In 1947 Alabama rolled up an 8-2 regular season record under first year coach Harold Drew. The performance earned the Crimson Tide an invitation to play Texas in the 1948 Sugar Bowl at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The game was expected to be a clash of two of the country's hottest passers, Alabama's Harry Gilmer and the Texas' Bobby Layne. The result was a 27-7 defeat at the hands of the Longhorns, the fourth straight for the Tide against Texas.