Chapter 76

A Stopover In El Paso and Arrival in Dallas

The original plan, before the delay in getting out of San Diego, was to arrive in El Paso on Wednesday morning, December 28, at 8:30 A.M. Arrangements had been made to spend the whole day in the border town of some 100,000 population.

Instead, the train arrived a full day late, at 8:30 on the morning of the 29th. It was decided to just delay getting to Dallas, and go through with the activities which the local committee had worked so hard to put together for the Colonels.

Everywhere along the route, the Chiefs request that events be arranged which were "first class and fun" was forefront in the various host's minds.

El Paso was certainly no different.

The Colonels disembarked at the El Paso Union Depot at 700 San Francisco Street. The station, built in a neo-classical style, was the terminal for all of the railroads serving the city and over 20 passenger trains arrived daily, making the Depot one of the busiest sites in town. The "Cowdray" was uncoupled and placed on a siding as the team walked into the beautiful interior of the station where they were met by reporters and photographers, par for any place that the Colonels visited.

A stop in El Paso on the way to Dallas

There was an El Paso Kentucky contingent, plus Uncle Charlie had a lot of admirers who had appreciated what he had accomplished at A&M, and many of them went to the Depot to welcome him.

"We can't wait to read the papers on Sunday and see what you and your boys did the previous afternoon."

"You know Charlie, ever since you left A&M, the papers down here have followed your career, but after you beat Harvard, your name is everywhere, and everyone down here is mighty proud of you and your team."

The Kentuckians drove the team out to the El Paso College of Minerals and Metallurgy where arrangements had been made to have a workout, and a spirited 2 hour session was held. It was the first perfectly dry field that the Colonels had stepped foot on for days, but after breathing the dust from the almost barren soil, some felt that a wet field didn't seem so bad after all.

El Paso College of Minerals and Metallurgy where practice occurred, quite a contrast to the weather the Colonels had experienced 

After showers, the caravan traveled out to Grande Park for a typical Southwestern cookout, and to attend the El Paso "Annual Rodeo."

There were slabs of beef ribs, a whole hog, and corn on the cob boiled in a big vat. A wooden bowl of butter was surrounded with various breads, and sweet tea had been prepared in metal pitchers especially for the Colonels. If you liked pie, you could choose from pecan, apple, chess or cherry. Several of the team took one of each.

Then it was over to the rodeo. The events included a race around fixed poles where a penalty was handed out if a pole was toppled, straight quarter horse races, bronco riding, both saddled and bareback, calf roping, bull dodging, trick riding, musical chairs  on horses- if there was an event that belonged in a rodeo, it was included that afternoon that the Colonels spent outside El Paso.

Someone dared Red to try calf roping and Red went over to a rider and asked  if he could "borrow that horse of yours. I'm from Kentucky, and everyone in Kentucky knows how to ride."

Uncle Charlie quickly intervened.

"Carrot Top, sometimes I believe that red hair just sucks all of the sense right out of you when you get too much sun."

"Aw, Unc, geez louise."

It was late in the afternoon when the team was hustled back to Union Depot. It had been a great and memorable afternoon, and other than the Texans on the team, it was the first such affair which they'd ever attended.

"Yahoo," Hump hollered when he got back to the Depot. He had a red bandana around his neck, and a cowboy hat which a fan had given him.

"Got to get me some spurs. Some boots and spurs, and some of those leather pants."

Texan Frank Rubarth said, "Chaps, Hump, you don't call them pants. You could get shot."

"Chaps, and some of those cowboy boots."

Red Roberts looked over at the barely 5'5" Hump.

"Get some with real high heels on them Humpty, and you might be able to see over a fireplug."

"I'm going to hurt you one day, Somerset. Hurt you bad."

And so it went, the bantering continuing as they walked to the train to reach their Pullman.

"Track's pretty high, Humpty. Let me help you get over it."

"Like I said, Somerset, hurt you really, really bad."

The "Cowdray" was the trailing Pullman, hooked onto a Texas and Pacific train for the 600 mile run into Fort Worth, and then to Dallas. Due to the delay, it was December 29 at 6:00 P.M, when they eased out of the Union Depot, the Kentuckians and fans waving from the platform. They had been gone 13 days, and had 19 hours of travel ahead.

Back in the East, New Yorkers were reading an editorial published on the day that the Colonels spent in El Paso. It appeared in the New York "Herald" and praised, the Centre College football team which is characterized by power, speed, intelligence and dazzling brilliance.

The Texas and Pacific Railroad ran parallel to the southern border of New Mexico from El Paso toward the north central part of Texas. Once it got past the New Mexico border, it began a slightly more northern course as it headed east through the heart of the state toward Fort Worth.

The team slept as the train steamed through the Texas night. After breakfast, they watched the plains of the giant state flash by as they continued on their journey. It was 1:30 in the afternoon of December 30 when they reached Fort Worth, just a few hours short of 2 weeks since they'd pulled out of the Southern terminal in Danville. There was the usual greeting at the station, a large crowd along with the press. The Fort Worth connection, starting with the players from North Side who went to Kentucky in the fall of 1916, had kept Centre and the Texas natives in the press for the past 6 years. And of course, Bill James and Bo were still a big part of the Colonels football team. Everyone wanted to know any and everything about "our boys and the Praying Colonels."

An interested participant at the terminal was Sully Montgomery, the large tackle who hadn't returned for the 1921 season due to having "taken myself a wife."

Sully was pursuing a professional boxing career, but had lost his last fight to a fireman from Pueblo named Jim Flynn.

The big former Colonel raced up to Chick Murphy and lifted him off his feet with a bear hug. The two had been known as the "Cow and Calf' back in Kentucky, and when they were together that afternoon, it wasn't difficult to see how their nicknames evolved.

Chick Murphy, left, and Sully Montgomery

After the brief layover in Fort Worth, the team re-boarded the "Cowdray" for the short ride east to Dallas. Gus King, the recent Centre grad and Dallas native, was at the Dallas Union Terminal with a "fleet of high-powered cars."

Arrival in Dallas at the Union Station

Gus was a take-charge type of  guy who had always been a wonderful organizer back in his days in Danville, and he was developing the same reputation now in his home town. He had made certain that all of the Dallas newspapers were at the station, and had contacted anyone who had even a remote connection to Kentucky to "give the boys a rousing reception."

The Colonels were delighted to see that each car was decorated in gold and white, with ribbons through the spokes of the wheels, Centre pennants hanging from the side­ mounted spare tires, and signs attached to the passenger's and driver's side doors which announced:

                                                                         CENTRE COLLEGE COLONELS

                                                                                DANVILLE, KENTUCKY

Gus wanted there to be no doubt that the famous Kentuckians were in town.

The parade of cars drove the few blocks from the station to the wonderful Adolphus Hotel, the most luxurious facility that the Colonels had ever stayed in. The Lenox in Boston was a great hotel, as was the Tutwiler in Birmingham, the Seelbach in Louisville, and of course, the del Coronado which they'd recently left. But the Adolphus was in a class all by itself.

The finest hotel in Dallas

The hotel was a 21 story, French Renaissance masterpiece constructed by the St. Louis beer baron, Adolphus Busch, who sold a lot of beer in Dallas. When the Colonels entered, they saw Flemish tapestries, and a Victorian Steinway once owned by the Guggenheims. They made not have appreciated the significance of the individual treasures, but they knew that they were in the presence of splendor, and they came up to Uncle Charlie as they were checking in and told him as a group how magnificent it was to travel with the Centre College Colonels.

Uncle Charlie beamed, and turned to the manager who had come out of his office to welcome the team.

"Nothing is too fine for my young men."

The Adolphus had an interesting history. As Dallas was growing in size and importance from a dusty railroad and industrial town to the financial and cultural center of Texas, the local civic leaders lamented the fact that there wasn't a significant world class hotel to host important visitors who came to the city.

Adolphus Busch ( 1839-1913 ) co-founder, with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, agreed. He decided to build one of the great hotels of the world, and succeeded. Unfortunately, he didn't live to actually see what he had accomplished. The hotel opened its doors in October 1912, and Adolphus died the following year in Germany while vacationing.

After getting their bags to their rooms, Uncle Charlie and Tiny Thornhill hustled the team out to the Dallas Fairgrounds Stadium, 2½ miles from the Adolphus. It was getting late but there was still time to get in a workout at the stadium where the game was to be played.

Conspicuously absent was Bo. He had stayed behind in Fort Worth to be with Marie and her family. There were still pre-wedding functions to attend. In Bo's absence, the quarterback position was taken over by freshman, Herb Covington.

On Friday night the 30th, the Texas A&M alumni held a reception downtown for both teams and any students from the schools who may be in town. The grads had hired a jazz band and the party was just gearing up to full tempo when the Colonels had to walk back to the Adolphus due to Uncle Charlie's 10:00 curfew.

Saturday, the last day of 1921, the Colonels conducted another workout at Fairgrounds Stadium, this time behind closed doors. Herb Covington again ran the offense due to Bo being late. Bo had suited up back in Fort Worth and hopped on an interurban train which he thought would take him to where the workout was being held, but he had the wrong location, and ended up at Gardiner Park, where a game was being held to determine the best team in the local Independent Football League.

The Dallas "Morning News" reported:

                                                 "BO" NEARLY BROKE UP SHEPPS VS. ALL-STAR GAME

"Bo" McMillin, in football togs, completely faded the Schepps Bakery vs. All-Star game at Gardiner Park yesterday. The Kentucky leader dropped off an interurban at the Park, thinking practice would be staged there. The crowd found greater interest in the famous quarterback of the Centre eleven than the game, and proceeded to gather around "Bo" until he discovered that he was at the wrong location.

( It was again notable that "Bo" was all that was needed in the headline to identify Bo McMillinDuring the heyday of the Colonels, "Bo" was as identifiable as "Babe" would become.)