Last week's column ended with a quick mention of the 1953 Turkey Day classic.I had never heard of this Walker County tradition until a few years ago. My intent was to trace its history this week, but …
Last week's column ended with a quick mention of the 1953 Turkey Day classic.
I had never heard of this Walker County tradition until a few years ago. My intent was to trace its history this week, but I ran short on time and found an unrelated story that I thought was worth sharing.
I also realized that it would be a more interesting story if it included the memories of some of the guys who played in those hard-fought games, which raised money for charity and also decided the county championship in some years.
If anyone out there has stories to share, I'd love to hear them and record them for posterity.
The first mention that I have been able to find of the game that became a Thanksgiving Day tradition was in the Nov. 18, 1931, edition of the Mountain Eagle.
"Postseason football games for charity have been arranged in many parts of the country and local fans are wondering if such a game could not be arranged in Walker County," the Eagle reported. "A game between Parrish and Dora at Ki-Ro Field has been suggested, or between Parrish and Walker High — Parrish and Walker always drawing better than any other teams here."
This brief article ran beside a separate story recapping a game that had just been played between the Vikings and the Purple Tornado of Parrish High School. (I assume this wasn't a misprint and that the team's name started out in the singular and gradually became plural.)
Parrish defeated the Vikings 12-0 before the largest crowd of the season at Ki-Ro Field. Walker's players said they would welcome a chance to play Parrish twice a year.
Now let's fast forward to Nov. 21, 1934.
"Football fans are manifesting a great deal of interest in the forthcoming Walker High-Carbon Hill game to be played on Ki-Ro Field next Wednesday," the Eagle wrote.
The game, which would be played the day before Thanksgiving, would be for a county championship.
It would be preceded by dueling parades in downtown Jasper — one planned by Carbon Hill fans and another led by Mayor John G. Burton.
R.H. Gibson, an undertaker in Carbon Hill, announced to the Eagle that he would have a decorated hearse in the parade "for the purpose of hauling all sick football fans of Jasper to the hospital."
Because Jasper, Carbon Hill and Cordova were all undefeated against county teams in 1934, Gibson was asked if Carbon Hill would play a postseason game against Cordova if they emerged victorious. Gibson said they would not.
Carbon Hill won the game 21-12.
"The Vikings put up a hard fight and lost and are offering no alibi," the Eagle reported.
Also in 1934, Walker County received a presidential visit.
The Eagle reported on Nov. 14 that the president, "the most widely discussed man in the world," and his wife would pass through Jasper on Nov. 18.
Roosevelt, in the second year of his first term, was heading from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Warm Springs, Georgia.
Jasper's leading citizens hoped that Roosevelt would give a brief speech at the Frisco depot in Jasper, home of Senator John Hollis Bankhead II and Congressman William B. Bankhead, both of whom had been strong supporters of Roosevelt's New Deal. (The latter would be elected Speaker of the House in 1936.)
Approximately 10,000 people turned out to see Roosevelt, according to an article that ran in the Nov. 21 edition of the Eagle.
"While the crowd was disappointed because the train did not stop here, everybody had a good view of the president and his wife as they made a 'platform appearance' and smilingly waved to the crowd as the train moved slowly by," the Eagle reported.
The train apparently moved slowly enough for members of the Jasper Business and Professional Women's Club to approach the train and present a bouquet of flowers to president and Mrs. Roosevelt.
The club had written to the First Lady earlier in the month inviting the famous couple to visit Jasper. Eleanor Roosevelt's office sent a reply, as did the president's secretary.
Roosevelt did give a short speech in Carbon Hill, where the train stopped for about 10 to 15 minutes at the water tank.
Roosevelt would return to Walker County in 1940 for the funeral of Speaker Bankhead.
Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor.