Chapter 52

Reactions After The Game/ The Return To The Lenox

Howard Reynolds, writing under the pseudonym, Mona Mour, attempted to get his readers to understand exactly how the crowd had embraced the Colonels. His story was wired back to the Louisville "Courier-Journal," and appeared under the headline:

"You-alls," 99% Strong, Succumb to "We-alls"

Boston, Mass., Oct. 29- In the manner of speaking deemed characteristic by a certain Boston newspaperman who came North on the train with the Centre team, the crowd at the Harvard Stadium was made up of "you-alls" and "we-alls."

The "you-alls" comprised 99% of the crowd, pure Boston born, bred and buttered within the scent of Cambridge's glass flowers. The "we-alls" consisted of the remaining 1%, Kentuckians brought up with, perhaps, a more pungent aroma.

Be that as it may, a "wee drop" has more potency than a silver goblet of shaved ice. Not that the temper of the crowd was altogether frigid; rather, it was temperate, ready to cheer dutifully for the Crimson or, if the tide should turn, glad ( even anxious ) to yell for the plucky little Kentucky college which in a spirit of what to them was sheer bravado, seemed to think it could triumph over the incomparable majesty, sanguine Harvard.

It was the case of Carpentier and Dempsey all over again. Of course, both common sense and loyalty bade all good descendants of the Mayflower's passenger list to be for the upholder of power and patriotism; obviously, one was for the native born, and yet-

That "yet" grew more and more positive as the game progressed. After the victory, one woman was overheard to remark to her neighbor: "Say Mary, I thought you were for Harvard."

"Well, I was in the beginning," responded Mary. "But now I just can't help being for Centre."

So sentiment grew and grew until the "Boston Tea Party" forgot themselves and behaved like a good old Kentucky Jubilee. Spectacled professors and feminine blue­ stockings cheered in an altogether non-puritanical fashion as Roscoe cake-walked and pigeon-winged around the Stadium. Banners waved and hitherto scholastically pitched voices shouted themselves hoarse as the victors wrapped themselves in blankets whose emerald hue gave a false impression of barbaric ignorance.

Outside the gate, the small stock of chrysanthemums was sold at a premium while the larger supply of crimson carnations fell carelessly into the gutters. The peddlers gold armbands were quickly snatched and pinned on with the remark, "Aw, I was only bluffing. I knew all of the time that Centre was going to win. Why? Bo McMillin!"

Golden balloons fluttered triumphantly above the heads of the crowd. On the lips and in the hearts of all Boston was praise and glory of "we-alls."

When the final play was called out and we heard that Centre had won, Main Street just exploded and went crazy.

I remember the celebration back in Elizabethtown when the Great War ended. It didn't even come close to what happened in Danville.

The first thing I recall, besides all of the hollering and cheering and hugging and dancing around, was the sound of firecrackers. Someone started shooting them off and you could hear the "pop-pop-pops" and "booms" above the yelling of the crowd.

The people who had been inside Stout's Theater came running out and joined everyone else in celebrating.

Then it seemed like every church bell starting ringing. All of the churches were within a couple of blocks of Main Street. The Episcopal Church was near where we were standing, and the First and Second Presbyterian churches were just a couple of blocks away. 

Soon there was "clang-clang, clang-clang" all over the area. I'll never forget how the bells just went on and on, and just when it seemed that one church would quit, someone else must have taken over the ropes because they never stopped ringing.

It seemed like everyone who owned a car started driving around honking their horns. Some people just sat by the curb and left their motors running and honked and honked.

The Danville fire station was just a block up from where Main Street was roped off, and here came the big, new red fire truck which everyone was so proud of. Its siren was cranking and its bell was ringing. It couldn't get through because of all the people massed in the street, so it just drove around the rest of the downtown, and the firemen who were on it helped some of the K.C.W. girls get up on the truck and let them ride around with them.

There was a run on any stores which sold paint, and it seemed that everyone wanted to paint the score all over Danville. C6-HO was everywhere, on store windows, on the curbs, on the sides of buildings, everywhere.

The water tower across from Breck Hall had C6-HO painted in big figures on it.

The front of the gym, and even Old Centre, had the score painted on the bricks.

The strangest thing that I remember was that a cow had C6-HO painted on both of its sides. It was an old dairy cow, and there was a boy riding it up and down the street.

The celebration went on well into the night. People continued milling around. A bunch of us waited in front of the "Messenger" office to get the first papers that were printed.

When we saw one of the newsboys come out carrying a stack of papers, we all rushed to buy a copy. I still have my paper after all of these years. It had a big, bold headline: CENTRE, 6; HARVARD, O.

The whole front page was a play-by-play of the game, just like it had come over the wires. I took my copy back to my room in Breck Hall and read every line over and over, just imagining how the game was played.

I could hear the bells ringing, far into the night.

"....the bells ringing, far into the night."   Second Presbyterian

".....far into the night."  Trinity Episcopal

".....into the night."  First Presbyterian 

Old Centre after the game with C6 HO painted at the entrance

"And the place just went crazy!"

In Somerset, Kentucky, an equally boisterous celebration began. Somerset had quite a personal interest in the Colonels. Red Weaver had played there, along with Bo. Red Roberts was born and played there, and now was a star in Danville, and Bill Shadoan was a native. Royce Flippin, another Somerset boy, hadn't played against Harvard, but was on the travel squad, and watched the game from the sidelines.

The "Messenger" had a correspondent in Somerset who sent newsworthy items to the paper.

Doubtless since my last wire, many events of interest have taken place in our city. Naturally, we suppose there have been the usual deaths, marriages and accidents, and furthermore, we presume that our prominent citizens have come and gone, entertaining and suffering themselves to be entertained.   

But why would an obscure social or local item-hunter go asking for news after Centre battled Harvard and won?

Somerset absolutely refuses to speak to you about anything else.

Somerset is hoarse from the shouting about it. Ribs and shoulders are black and blue from the great thrust punctuated thereon.

Some of them are Somerset boys, and Bo used to attend school here. Yes- we all know it and would shout some more, but we are too hoarse.

Here's to our boys from the Dixie land; 
Our heroes of the Gold and White,
Who tore from Harvard with a clean, strong hand,                                                                                                                       Each laurel long held by might.

And some of those heroes are our own boys-¬≠ 
Somerset's very own.
Ah, Centre, your joys are our joys, 
We join you in the welcome home!

When the team buses finally made it back to the Lenox, the players saw people lined several deep out onto Exeter and Boylston Streets. The drivers pulled up in front of the Exeter Street entrance, just crawling along so as to not run over any of those who were cheering and pounding on the buses, welcoming the Colonels back to the team headquarters.

It was with some real difficulty that the players were able to ease toward the entrance.

Everyone wanted a piece of any Colonel they could reach out and touch.

As the team finally entered the hotel, the Centre "5" began to play and music filled the lobby.

The players could still hear the music and cheering as they rode up the two elevators to stow their gear.

George Joplin filed a story which he sent back to his paper, the Danville "Messenger."

Back at the Lenox Hotel gathered the "Jazz Babies," five syncopating youths who whooped it up in a manner suggestive of college victories of the departed wet days.

The team began straggling back down from their rooms. First came "rugged" Red Roberts, his bright- hued locks marking him in the crowded lobby.

"Oh, my dear Red," Mrs. Covington fairly shrieked the greeting, flung her arms around him and smacked him full on the lips.

The two-fisted Colonel blushed and mumbled something and attempted to edge to the outside, when up came the Chief's wife, Mrs. Robert Myers, and Red was greeted again. The girls, Herb Covington's sister Lucy , and Helen James, took courage and followed the example set by the older women.

Red shyly worked his way to the door when there came into the picture, Bo McMillin.

Bo was greeted as his teammate had. He appeared to take the kisses with the nonchalance of a veteran, though he did blush a bit once.

"Impressions? Oh, I had so many, really, I am too excited to talk,said Miss James as she turned to devote her full attention to watch Bo working his way through the encircling throng.

"My impressions? My dear boy, just at this moment, I am too excited to tell you or anyone else. It was so wonderfully, wonderfully, wonderful." And Miss Lucy Covington looked about as though seeking others to reward with kisses.

The buzz of talk, frequent cheers and singing, and the wailing of saxophones filled the lobby.

Outside, John Dempsey, taxi starter, grunted, "Beats hell. Never would have thought it."

While the celebrations were continuing, the team filed into the Lenox dining room for a specially prepared dinner by the chef. Steaks, pork chops, even lamb chops with mint sauce were available, along with multiple vegetables, salads, breads, and desserts. 

Red Roberts couldn't wait as orders were taken. He strolled back into the kitchen and found a refrigerator where milk was stored and pulled out a quart, glass bottle, and downed it, then decided that wasn't enough and polished off another quart.

Meanwhile, Uncle Charlie was holding court upstairs in his room. He was puffing on a long Cuban Madura, a gift from an appreciative fan.

Asked how it felt to beat Harvard, Moran smiled and said, "It feels better than when I was here in the summer."

"How's that, Charlie?"

"I nearly had my head taken off by a pop bottle when I made an unpopular call here at Braves Field."

Uncle Charlie continued, "It's not so tough to be a coach of a football team that beat Harvard."

Ed Cunningham, of the Boston "Herald," was one of numerous reporters in the room, and recorded many of Uncle Charlie's comments for his paper.

"I certainly am proud," Charlie continued between puffs, "to be coach of a football team produced by a little college of just over 200 students down in Kentucky, and have that eleven beat Harvard. And I don't think that such a feat would have been possible without the capable cooperation of Claude Thornhill, our line coach. "

"Why you old bearcat, Charlie" shouted a wild-eyed Southerner who burst into the room and threw his arms around Moran's neck. Charlie had to accept a hardy kiss on the cheek before he was released.

"As I was saying,Charlie continued, "Thornhill made the line. He gave Centre seven men on the forward wall who worked as an offensive and defensive unit, and consequently, our backs had a chance when we had the ball. "

"I am a great advocate of having eleven men figure in a football game. You can't win with one man. If all eleven wearing Centre's colors had not played together, we would not have won."

"Wasn't Red Roberts great? I believe that football critics will-say, 'Tom, see that some kerosene is taken upstairs for those boys. They'll need to take those bandages off.' As I was saying, I believe that football critics will give him consideration when they pick the All-American teams at the end of the season."

"Red played offensive end, defensive tackle. He played fullback and carried the ball when we needed tough yardage. He was our punter and kicker. He was always doing something. "

"The way that Snowday, McMillin, Bartlett, Tanner, Covington and our captain, Army Armstrong, ran the ball was glorious."

"Hey, Charlie, you certainly played a great game today!"

It was Bill Roper, coach of the Princeton team, who interrupted. Roper had been in the press box, scouting Harvard, his next week's opponent, and had left his assistants in charge against Virginia. His team won easily, 34-0.

"I sure am strong for that redheaded end, Roberts," Roper said, and Moran beamed acknowledgement and pleasure. "You have a wonderful machine and the fightingest squad I've ever seen. Your men are conditioned to the minute and outplayed Harvard at every angle."

"Thanks, Bob." Moran continued, "Those backs of ours can do anything, either run the ball or catch forward passes. That kid, Herb Covington, from Mayfield, Kentucky, was great. This was only the third game he'd gotten in for Centre, and he played like he'd been there for three years. He's been Bo's understudy this year and will take over quarterback next year."

"Ed Kubale's passing from center was on target all afternoon. He played wonderfully on both offense and defense."

"Jones, Shadoan, Rubarth and Gibson at guards and Gordy and Cregor at tackles gave us a staunch line from tackle to tackle."

"Roberts and James certainly strengthened our wings. James had been a tackle, but he is so fast that Tiny Thornhill moved him to end, and he played a whale of a game."

"In my long experience in football," Moran continued, "I have never met such sportsmen as Bob Fisher, Fred Moore, and the Harvard assistant coaches, especially Eddie Mahan."

"I want to say a couple more things. The attitude of the Harvard team, even when it looked like it was going to be defeated, continued to play hard and clean. Captain Kane and his men played clean football. They played manly football."

"The people of Boston have once again treated all of us wonderfully. I'm certainly glad that we came back to Boston. We're always glad to come here, and I must say, this is the most pleasant visit I've ever had."

Before the team had left the dressing room and boarded the buses, a statistician had brought some papers down from the press box and given them to Uncle Charlie who had placed them in his inside suit pocket. The Centre coach finally had a chance to go over them while he was in his room back at the Lenox.

Uncle Charlie handed the papers to Bill Roper.

"It wasn't one of those fluke scores when one team wins on everything but the score." Roper said. "Your team won on the scoreboard and the field. It was a wonderful effort, Charlie, an effort which will long be remembered by anyone who loves the game of football."

A reporter summarized the stats handed out after the game.

Summary of the stats

Howard said that no one wanted to leave the hotel and head for the train which was scheduled to pull out at 11:00 P.M.

Everyone felt that they just wanted a few more moments of the magic they had felt in Boston. The Centre "5" was still playing when Howard brought his bag down from the room which he had occupied with three other Centre students, but the "5" packed their instruments quickly and hailed a cab.

Howard walked to the station and got there about the same time that the buses pulled up with the team. The Chief felt that the players deserved to ride after the effort they'd put into the game.

Howard wasn't sure what was happening when he got there. He wondered if some King or Queen or even a movie star had just come in by train. There were some 2,000 people cheering, but they weren't cheering for some member of royalty or movie star.

They were cheering the Centre College Colonels.

Howard said it was the most wonderful thing. It was like at the Ziegfeld Follies. Everybody just loved the team, and just as much as the fact that no one wanted to leave Boston, it was just as obvious that no one in Boston wanted to see the team leave. 

Army, Uncle Charlie and Bo at the station after the game before boarding the train back to Danville with Chief Myers in the background. Army wears his Omicron Delta Kappa national honor society key.

Everyone was shouting to the players and the rest of the smiling Kentuckians.

"Have a safe trip!"

"God speed!"

"Come back next year!"

A cab sped up while the players were weaving through the crowd and screeched to a halt.

A very tipsy Roscoe was helped to the train by several M.I.T. students who had grabbed him after the game and begun a fraternity house to fraternity house jaunt, staying just long enough in each to down some bootleg gin before moving on.

Roscoe was intact but minus his prized top hat and coat. They were left in the Beta Theta Pi house, and hung there for years under a sign that read, "Roscoe's hat and coat."

That was all of the identification needed. After all, there was only one, "Roscoe."

After a thousand pats on the back, handshakes, and more "Great game!" salutations than they could count, the players approached the Pullman's door. The car had been covered with signs.

"CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD!"

"THIS CAR CARRIES A CHIEF, AN UNCLE, 1 KENTUCKY COLONEL, AND 26
COLONELS FROM CENTRE COLLEGE." 

"C6 HO" 

"PLEASE RETURN THIS PULLMAN TO DANVILLE, KENTUCKY, HOME OF
THE CENTRE COLLEGE COLONELS"

Eddie Mahan had come to the station. He stood by the steps at the door of the team's Pullman and shook hands with each of the Colonels as they climbed up the steps. He embraced Army and Red Roberts, and then held Bo for what seemed at least a minute, patting him on the back and finally running his hand through Bo's hair as they broke apart.

It was a feeling that only two All-Americans could have for each other. "You did it, guy, you really did it," Mahan said as Bo climbed the steps. Bo turned. "We did it Eddie. We did it- the team"

It was the team, as Uncle Charlie had constantly preached. It was always- the team.

The Colonels were weary, even those who hadn't gotten into the game, but rather had hollered so constantly that they also felt drained.

There is no more total feeling of exhaustion than that produced by triumph after a maximal physical and emotional effort. Adrenaline has been pumped to the max, and then the body pays.

Several of the players drifted up to the fan's Pullmans and talked for a few moments, but didn't stay long. The big steam engine slowly wound through the city, picking up speed as it reached the outskirts and headed due west. Most of the team were already in their berths and under the covers drifting off to sleep, still hearing the roar of the crowd, still seeing Bo cross the goal line, still seeing Tiny Maxwell running over to Bo, still hearing the big referee say, "Mr. McMillin, here is your ball!"

The whistle blowing in the night, far ahead, was the last thing they heard until morning came, and the sun rose in the east behind the racing train as it steamed toward Buffalo.