Thursday, November 20, 2014

Back when prep and collegiate players met on the gridiron

EVER wonder how Utah’s best high school football team would fare against Utah’s college teams?
Back in 1907, such games were a reality. Since there were few high schools around, grid contests were regularly played against prep schools from as far away as Montana and yes, sometimes even vs. college teams.
Ogden High had the best prep football team in the state 107 years ago. It lost to the University of Utah 19-0 and to the Agricultural College at Logan 6-0 that year.
“All Hallows defeated by Ogden” was a Nov. 19, 1907 headline in the Standard-Examiner, as the Tigers captured the state prep grid title for the second year in a row.
“My, what a surprise!!” the Standard story stated. “The boys with the tiger striped sweaters cavorted around Cummings field yesterday afternoon, while two thousand fans, dyed in the wool Salt Lakes, sat on the bleachers aghast. When finally the game was ended they filed out without making any noise, or comment. The score was 33 to 0.”
(All Hallows was a small Catholic college that existed in S.L. from 1886-1918 and that somehow was a member of the Utah high school football league in that era.)
After its impressive victory in S.L., it was hoped that Ogden High could play against the best team from Chicago, Ill., but that didn’t happen as travel costs would have been a pricey $1,500 (more than $36,000 in today’s dollars) for the visiting team.
Prep football fans in Salt Lake also had some sort of wild demonstration that season.
“High school rowdies in Zion.  They are to be severely dealt with. Worst of the disgrace has not been made public, it is said,” was a Nov. 8, 1907 headline in the Standard.
The story stated was that some Salt Lake High School students had paraded in a rowdy manner and were simply lawless before the start of the Ogden vs. Salt Lake High School football game.
 (Back in 1907, there was only ONE Salt Lake public high school and that was West High School, though many simply called it “Salt Lake High.”)
Ogden beat Salt Lake High 10-5 in one 1907 game.

-What was Thanksgiving Day like, back in 1907?
 “Thanksgiving Day, How it was spent, Ogdenites observe the day in the most elaborate manner – Union services held by churches –Students have the streets illuminated at night,” was a Dec. 3, 1907 headline in the Ogden Standard-Examiner.
(The last Thursday of November, Nov. 28 that year,  was designated as Thanksgiving, until 1942, when the fourth Thursday became the current standard.)
Thanksgiving morning in 1907 was described as quiet, like a Sunday. The First Congregational Church did hold special services, with a large congregation.
The Salvation Army reported feeding many needy families and baskets of food were delivered to others.
“There is not a home in Ogden where there is found any poverty that is not remembered by the Salvation Army every Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year,” the Standard reported.
The Weber County Jail served special chicken dinners to its residents. Meanwhile, inmates at the State Industrial School received turkey dinners.
Ogden area high school boys got street lights turned on, that had not been lit for weeks. There were also some bonfires, as many people headed to the theaters, parties, ice skating or dancing.
-Twenty years earlier, in 1887, Thanksgiving Day was on Thursday, Nov. 14, as designated by the Territorial Governor of Utah, as a day of “thanksgiving and prayer.”
-Utah’s first-ever Thanksgiving was technically celebrated Aug. 10, 1848, following the first harvest of wheat.

(-Originally published in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Nov. 20-21, 2014 by Lynn Arave.)

-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at:  

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