Homecoming In Lexington: Centre-Kentucky-November 4, 1922
I want to tell you a little about the 1922 Kentucky game. My getting to the game worked out OK eventually but it wasn't such an easy day.
Students, except seniors I think, weren't allowed to have cars but several of us managed to get around the rule by hiding a car somewhere off campus so we could use it on special occasions.
I had a close friend from Elizabethtown named Louis Arnaud Faurest, Jr. Louie was actually my brother Howard's age, a year older than I was, but I considered him along with Crep Hays, who I'd roomed with at the Harvard game, to be one of my best friends.
Louis Faurest while at Centre
Louie and I saved up our money and bought a fairly used-up old Model T Ford during the summer of 1922. Louie's father was an attorney and our family was comfortable enough, so with what little we'd made during the summer, we were able to come up with the money which I remember was right under $100. The car didn't look like much but it drove OK and we were quite proud of it. We named it Zev. I think it was because of a horse named Zev which was a champion thoroughbred which won a lot of races in 1922 and later won the Kentucky Derby in 1923.
"Zev," the Model T. No beauty, but much loved
We drove our car to Danville before the school year began in September. That was quite a trip itself because it took us two days due to some trouble with Zev but that's another story.
Louie and I decided we'd drive from Danville to Lexington for the UK game. We knew that there was a special train of day coaches put together by the Southern Railroad to go from Danville to the game and back later, after the game. But, we decided it would be fun to drive over. Acting pretty much like big shots, I suppose.
Louie and I thought we had everything we needed for the trip to Lexington and the game. We had packed a lunch and some jars of water and had an inner tube repair kit in case we had a flat which was pretty common in those days. Unfortunately, Zev didn't have a spare but we felt we had pretty good legs which we called tires back then.
Louie had a friend who was in law school at UK and he was going to let us stay with him after the game because it was going to be too dark to drive back to Danville.
We left early in the morning in order to be certain we'd get to Lexington in time for the game. It was only about less than 50 miles but the roads weren't so great and we wanted to have time to spare.
Just a few miles outside of Danville, we had a flat. We stopped along the road and found a fairly long nail which had punctured our right front tire. We got the repair kit for flats out and Louie put on the patch after handing me the nail which he'd removed. I helped Louie get the tire back on Zev after it had been pumped up and we headed off again.
I know it wasn't but maybe 2o or fewer feet when we felt Zev lurch to the right again and we realized we'd had another flat. Like I'd said, we didn't have a spare and only had one inner tube repair kit and we realized that we had a major problem. We were out in the middle of nowhere.
Louie jumped out of the car and looked at the tire and there was a nail again, stuck just like before. He pulled it out and said that it looked just like the nail he'd pulled out before. I had to agree with him. It certainly looked familiar.
Louie asked me what I'd done with the nail which he'd removed and I told him I'd just dropped it so I could help him get the tire back on.
I'll never forget Louie's look when he got right up in my face and said, "Red, you put the nail down in front of the car and we've driven right over it again. Red...." and he called me some pretty rough words and I'll have to admit, he was pretty sore at me.
"We ran over the same nail! We ran over the same nail! I can't believe you put it down right in front of the wheel!"
So, there we sat, worried about what to do and especially about getting to the game when we noticed a wagon coming down the road toward us, driven by some farmer. The wagon was being pulled by a couple of horses and it was empty and making a pretty good pace. We flagged down the farmer and found he was going to Danville to pick up some supplies and he offered to give us a ride back to town.
We pushed Zev over to the side of the road and hopped in and headed back to Danville. We knew that the only chance to get to the game was to try to get on the special train which was going to take the fans to Lexington. Fortunately, the farmer got the horses to pull us back to Danville at a good speed and he dropped us off down at the Southern Station where we found the Lexington special was still there.
One problem was solved but another one now surfaced.
The special was packed and we had no tickets and the ticket agent at the station said he was sorry but the train was totally sold out and we were simply out of luck.
I felt really bad but then I had an idea.
I found the conductor who was standing outside of the train and told him what was going on. I said I was Red Roberts' son and I just had to get to the game.
The conductor looked like he didn't believe me and Louie jumped in and said it was true.
"He's Red Roberts' son! And, he's the guy you may have read about in the papers from the Harvard game. He called the plays in the press box and was in all of the papers, including the Lexington and Louisville papers and our papers here in Danville. And if he doesn't get to Lexington, Red Roberts is going to be really upset that his son didn't get to the game."
The conductor probably didn't believe I was really the son of Red Roberts. But, everybody knew who Red Roberts was and I think the conductor had read about me and the Harvard game, and he let us on the train.
So, I somewhat redeemed myself because of my name and of course, Louie and I remained friends for the rest of our lives.
Louie went on to Harvard Law School and had a law practice for over 50 years in Elizabethtown.
I attended his funeral held at the First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown in 1978. My son, Rob, Jr. drove me up and I told him about Zev during the drive.
There were two ways to approach a Homecoming game. You could schedule a "patsy" and allow the alumni to watch you rack up a certain win, or you could schedule a powerful college which was well-known and loved throughout your area and nationally, realizing that even though you may lose, your stadium will be guaranteed to be packed.
Kentucky chose the latter, and picked Centre for its Homecoming opponent in 1922. The Colonels had won the last three games with the Wildcats by a cumulative score of 160-0
During those games, Centre had scored 23 touchdowns, converted on 22 extra points, and totally dominated the flagship Kentucky state school.
The Colonels had garnered so much national attention that Fox Films announced it was sending cinematographers to Lexington to film the game. LaRue de Gribble ( I promise you that I didn't make that up ) and Carl P. Pope first came by Danville to get Centre to sign a release, and of course, it was readily given.
While Centre was getting ready for the Kentucky game, sportswriters were still analyzing the Harvard game.
The week after the Colonels left Harvard Stadium, a decent Dartmouth team came to Cambridge and got beaten 12-3. The "Big Green" managed only 4 first downs all afternoon.
"How in the world did Centre get 17 first downs and lose?"
Kentucky had high hopes for 1922. The 'Cats were undefeated and had given up only 6 points in building a 5-0 record.
Georgetown ( Ky.) 6
The Louisville score stood out. Kentucky fans thought, "We beat Louisville 73-0. Centre just won by just 32-7. This is the year!"
Of course, many weren't aware that the Colonels could have won by any margin Uncle Charlie had wished.
Kentucky's coach, W.J. Juneau, was obsessed with beating Centre as were all of the school's alumni. Getting totally wiped out during the last 3 games was hard to accept. Juneau, at the helm beginning in 1920, absorbed the last 2 losses by a total score of 104-0. The UK mentor was looking for any edge which he could find to help alter the outcome.
Kentucky coach Juneau, 1920-22
Juneau thought that perhaps having a peppy school song could be of benefit and he turned to Dr. Carl A. Lampert, the head of the Department of Music at Kentucky, to see what he could come up with.
Dr. Carl Lampert, UK's music department head
Lampert began writing what became "On! On! U of K," one of the most storied of all college fight songs ever. However, after he had come up with the tune, he struggled somewhat with the lyrics.
A problem he encountered was that when he got to one of the lines, "We will kick, pass, and run, 'til Old Centre is done," a phrase he had coined, he realized that as important as beating Centre was, he couldn't single out just one college in a song that could also be used against all of Kentucky's opponents in the future. Lampert's effort sat on the shelf for a year.
In 1923, one of the professor's students, Troy Perkins, was paid $5.00 to rework the lyrics which included changing the reference to Centre from " 'til Old Centre is done" to " 'til the battle is won," and it was his version which was settled on.
Troy Perkins, lyricist for Kentucky's fight song, "On! On! U of K"
By the time of the next year's football season, the song had been adopted by Kentucky and was played at the dedication game of Centre's new stadium in Danville on November 3, 1923.
Story the day after the November 3, 1923 game in Danville
The first known acknowledgement of what became the UK fight song
Few realize now that Kentucky's wonderful "On! On! U of K" had its origin as a desire to find something, anything, that could be of assistance in helping reverse the dominance of the little college in Danville over the larger state university in Lexington in the early 1920's.
( More about the song in Chapter 114. The entire lyrics can be seen in Chapter 125. )
Good news reached Danville that Tom Bartlett was doing well following his tonsillectomy and hoped to be home in a week, and back in uniform for the November 18 game with Auburn. The "good news" wasn't actually factual. Bartlett continued to have difficulties and had lost so much weight, and was so weak, that his football playing days were over, not just for 1922, but for his career.
The Kentucky game was a sellout. In addition to the permanent seating, additional bleachers were constructed to increase the capacity to 10,000. The special day train to carry the Danville fans to Lexington for a $1.88 round trip fare had been put together by the Southern Railroad.
Special cars were also added to trains coming over from Louisville.
Centre was so popular and guaranteed such a crowd that the usual arrangement of the home team just paying the visitor's expenses, plus a modest, agreed upon amount, was changed to having the two schools split the gate, 50-50. However, some people thought that the admission price of $2.50 was excessive.
Jop pointed out that the Centre-Harvard reserved seats were only $2.00.
And we thought Jesse James was dead!
Centre's football team was now doing so well financially that it was announced that the athletic department was contributing $25,000 toward the construction cost of what it hoped would soon be a new stadium on Cheek Field in 1923.
A contemporary account in the Lexington "Herald" set the scene for the game.
With its row on row of seats packed with people flaunting blue and white for Kentucky, and gold and white for Centre, Stoll Field presented a picturesque scene approaching perhaps the tournaments of the olden days.
All of the seats in the bleachers and boxes were sold several days in advance, as were the temporary bleachers which were erected at the east and west ends of the field to care for the crowds that thronged the field. Trees, telephone poles and roofs of houses facing Stoll Field were utilized as observation posts. The fences surrounding the field were literally lined with onlookers.
Beautiful girls from all parts of the state were in the stands and boxes, wearing the colors of their respective schools, and they made many bright splotches of color in the crowds. Blue, gold and white ribbons could be seen as far as the eye could reach, and each fan was loud in praise of their favorites.
I think that every student from Centre, and most from K.C.W., went to the game on the train. We'd had a big pep rally the night before at the courthouse. Howard and the Centre "Six" played the school songs and some of the popular tunes of the day, and we all sang along.
We had sheets with the words of the cheers written on them so that we could all join the cheerleaders when they got started. In those days, cheerleaders led cheers, they didn't just get out and dance around and do flips and things like that, as they do now. They led cheers. I don't know why they still call them cheerleaders now, because they should call them dancers, or acrobats, because they perform, they don't get people involved like we used to get going.
Of course, I didn't need a sheet to holler along with my favorite cheers.
I can still hear one of them, just like I shouted it out so long ago.
Fight- Centre fight!
Fight with all your might!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
It didn't take a genius to remember that cheer. All you had to think about was to stop after seven "Fights."
As game time approached in Lexington, the spectators noticed a new object on the Centre sideline.
A fan had bought the team a sulfur-crested cockatoo. The bird had a yellowish crest which you could call gold if you wished, so it was called gold. The rest of the feathers were appropriately white except for a yellowish "wash" under the wings. The benefactor had requested that the bird be displayed at the football games, and Roscoe was made the handler.
The creature didn't exactly follow in the tradition of other winged mascots such as a "War Eagle" or "Hawk" or "Falcon," but it was a bird, and it had the name "Colonel," and it was going to have to suffice.
"Colonel" was on the sideline at Lexington. There is no report of his ever appearing again. Whether he flew to freedom or ended up confined to a cage somewhere on campus isn't known, but he had his moment, however fleetingly.
Kentucky came out fired up, determined to show the Homecoming crowd that it deserved its sterling 5-0 record. The 1st half was a real surprise, and the Wildcats played the Colonels more than evenly.
During the initial quarter, Kentucky's quarterback, Turner Gregg, kicked a field goal and the 3 points were the first that the Wildcats had scored on Centre since 1916, a period covering 4 games, 16 quarters, and over 240 minutes of play.
It was newsworthy that the Wildcats had broken through for some points, even if it was only a field goal!
The Kentucky fans were astonished, not only from looking at the scoreboard, but from watching the fierce defense that their team was playing in shutting down the Colonels' offense. Centre couldn't mount even a semblance of a drive, and the half ended with the Wildcats up, 3-0.
"This is the year!"
Kentucky had 5 first downs. Centre had but two. No one could remember Centre being beaten statistically by an in-state team- forever.
"This is the year!"
Red Roberts played erratically during the half. I remember thinking that he was making mistakes, not playing his usual game. I realized later what had happened when Hump explained it to me.
Before the game, the Kentucky students had started a song to the tune of, "The Old Gray Mare," but instead of "The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be," they sang, "The old Red Roberts, he ain't what he used to be," and it made Red furious.
Red was usually the most even-tempered person in the world, but this got under his skin, and he went running all over the field on every play trying to take out all of the Kentucky players instead of concentrating on his assignments.
Hump said he was playing hard, but not smart, trying to prove that the students were wrong.
At the half, Uncle Charlie kind of got on Red according to Hump. He said maybe the Kentucky students were right, but he could prove they weren't by settling down and playing smart.
The outcome of the game was not only determined by action on the field but in the locker room at the half
Hump said later the Chief came up to Red and said, "Red, you've not had a good first half. You're the best man on the field. Why if I were your size, I'd be the heavyweight champion of the world."
And Red just looked down at the Chief and said sort of seriously, "What's the matter with your being the bantamweight champion?"
In a special dispatch to the "Courier-Journal," the halftime activities were described.
A large part of the student body formed the letters "U.K." on the field, and motion pictures were taken while the band played "My Kentucky Home," with all of the crowd standing up during the entire halftime.
The rest of the students then marched around the field, in and out of the human formation of the big "U.K." in a burlesque of the Centre "lock-step," and the crowd went wild. Five moving picture machines took motion pictures, and airplanes hovered over the field, doing stunts. It was one of the most wonderful displays ever seen in Kentucky.
When our team ran back out after the half, the students sang the song about Red again. That proved to be a mistake.
Red played one of his best halves ever. He led Herb Covington and the other backs on nearly every play, just taking out the men directly involved, not running around trying to block everybody.
When he ran the ball, there was no stopping him. On defense, it seemed he made every tackle.
The students didn't sing the song again. Red made believers out of them, and he made believers out of the Kentucky team before the afternoon was over.
Kentucky's 3-0 lead held up through the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter, and then the Colonels simply wore down the Wildcats with a relentless attack. Hump, Covey and Red alternated line plunges, moving the ball behind their hard charging line.
Hope Hudgins was back in action after missing the Louisville game due to his broken nose suffered in the Harvard game and contributed several significant gainers.
Herb Covington leading Hope Hudgins against Kentucky in Lexington
Ed Kubale, Bill Shadoan, Ben Cregor, Minos Gordy and Frank Rubarth took absolute control of the line, assisted by Terry Snowday and Hennie Lemon at the ends. Kentucky fought valiantly, but the Wildcats were helpless. At the 'Cats' 31, Covey fired a perfect pass to Lemon who was tripped up one the 1 yard line.
Red took it over on the next play. Lemon's kick made it 7-3, Centre.
Kentucky couldn't move the ball on their next possession and the Colonels were off again. Lemon got 25 on an end-around. Line plunge after line plunge forced the Wildcats back on play after play, and again, Red broke through for a short gainer and scored.
Hennie Lemon made it 14-3. The Kentucky partisans were noticeably more subdued as it was apparent that their team was being not outfought, but overwhelmed.
Another long drive in the 4th quarter ended with Hump carrying it in, and after Lemon's 3rd perfect kick, it was Centre 21-3.
"This is the year!" changed to, "Maybe next year."
After Centre kicked off, the Wildcats again hit an impregnable defense, the Colonels simply racking up every Kentucky attempt with vicious gang tackling. Following another punt, Covey hit Hope Hudgins and the little back hauled in the 20 yarder and stepped across the line. Covey missed, and the score was 27-3.
Covey's passes and runs were major
Centre was driving and was on the Wildcats' 4 when the final whistle blew.
Red Roberts had dominated during the final 30 minutes, his 225 pounds unmovable on defense. He was either running over Kentucky players when he carried the ball, or brushing them aside or flattening them when running interference for his teammates.
Toward the end of the game, the Centre fans picked up on the Kentucky student's song that had so riled up the big redhead.
Old Red Roberts IS what he used to be,
IS what he used to be-
IS what he used to be.
Old Red Roberts IS what he used to be,
He'll be for many games more.
There was a cheerleader named Yeager who wrote out the words and asked us to pass them around, and after a lot of us had read the lyrics, he signaled and we started singing.
I can hear it to this day.
He'll be for many games more,
He'll be for many games more.
Old Red Roberts IS what he used to be,
He'll be for many games more.
I couldn't sing then and can't now, but Louie and I were chiming right in there with everybody else.
Red later said he could hear us singing, and it made him feel awfully good.
The statistics painted the picture about how totally the Colonels controlled the 2nd half. At Harvard, Centre had won the stats and lost the game. There was no such dichotomy in Lexington, Kentucky on November 4, 1922.
Centre had 21 first downs during the 2nd half to Kentucky's 3, making the margin for the Colonels 23-8 for the game.
The Colonels completed 5 of 16 passes for 104 yards. The Wildcats connected on 2 of 8 for 11 yards.
On the ground, Centre rushed for 258 yards, the Wildcats, 139, and the total yardage found the boys from Danville up 362 to 150.
It was a measure about how Centre had outpaced their great rival, Kentucky, during the post-World War I years, that Wildcat fans left Stoll Field feeling that their team had made great progress. They were correct in a way. 27-3 was better than 56-0. It was better than 49-0 or 55-0. Kentucky wasn't there yet, but the 'Cats were closing the margin, albeit slowly.
It was indicative about how much the Colonels had so thoroughly outclassed Kentucky during the last 4 years that the headline about the game in the Lexington "Leader" the next morning felt it was significant to point out that the Wildcats had scored!
Equally telling was that Kentucky was so gratified that the Wildcats had even put some points on the scoreboard after having been blanked totally since 1917 that there was a photo published later in the 1923 yearbook, the "Kentuckian," showing the scoreboard after the kicked field goal which had resulted in the 3-0 lead at the half.
Photo featured in the story about the game in the "Kentuckian," the 1923 yearbook of Kentucky
Stats for the game 1922 Centre-Kentucky game later placed on front of the program for the game
A couple of days after the Centre-Kentucky game, the Danville "Messenger" carried a "correction" in the November 7 edition. It seemed that the Danville Women's Club had held a pageant and Mrs. Henry Meier was mistakenly reported to have played "The Spirit of Ignorance," when actually she had filled the role of "The Spirit of Christian Education."
It wasn't divulged exactly how such a grievous error could have been made, especially when the paper had originally reported that Mrs. Meier "played her part well, and deserved special mention."
Apparently, Mrs. Meier was not amused.