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And so it did. Blanchard graduated 296th and Davis 305th in a 1947 class of 310, but the Corps of Cadets gave each of them the longest and loudest cheers heard that day. Actually, there was rejoicing all over the country in that second postwar spring. The boys were home again, wartime restrictions had been lifted, and the nation was entering an era of unprecedented prosperity. But at the same time that veterans were shedding their uniforms for civilian clothes, the two most famous football players in the land were getting their marching orders. And all the while, professional football, just entering its own era of prosperity, was offering them a share in the postwar boom.
Ina Davis had packed a fried chicken lunch for her twin sons, Ralph and Glenn, to take with them on the train trip back to New York that summer of 1944. Glenn was the younger brother by five minutes, so he was called Junior, a nickname that had stuck with him from childhood, in Claremont, Calif. Ralph had been a pretty fair athlete at Bonita Union High, a shot-putter on the track team and a football end. But Glenn was already a legend, a four-sport star who was being hailed as the best athlete ever to come out of Southern California. In his senior year at Bonita, he had scored 236 points in nine football games. "You gave him the ball and he was gone," said Ralph, his biggest fan. Glenn also passed and kicked in coach John Price's single wing.
But, for all of his athletic success—he was All-California Interscholastic Federation in football, baseball and basketball (second team) and a champion sprinter—Glenn was the shy one of the brothers. They lived in a fine old house on a sycamore-lined street in Claremont with Ina and Ralph Sr., a banker, and an older sister, Mary. The boys also worked and played together in the orange orchard the family owned in nearby La Verne. It was altogether a blissful and innocent time in a Southern California that then had open space and more sunshine than smog.
The twins were set to enter USC after graduation in 1943, but Blaik, who had heard of Davis's exploits from a friend, invited Glenn to come east and play for Army. Glenn agreed, but only if Ralph could join him. The brothers were accepted as a package, and they got their appointments from California Congressman Jerry Voorhis, who would later lose his seat to a young lawyer named Richard Nixon, who accused him of being soft on Communism.
The twins went east in the spring of 1943 and lived with Blaik and his wife while studying for the entrance exams, which they passed. Glenn played fullback and right halfback on a '43 Army team that was still adjusting to the T formation Blaik had installed the year before. As a plebe playing varsity, which was permitted then, he gained 634 yards on 95 carries, a 6.7-per-carry average, and scored eight touchdowns. Army won seven games that year but lost 26-0 to Notre Dame and 13-0 to Navy, and was tied 13-13 by Penn. Glenn was named to several All-America teams. Ralph, as he would throughout his West Point stay, played on the B squad.
But Ralph did better academically. Glenn discovered early on that West Point made few concessions to athletes, and he was simply not prepared for the rigors of classwork, barracks discipline and varsity football. "I just couldn't do it all," he says now. "I was taking five classes every day. I'd get out of the last one at 3:30 and be on the football field at 4:00. I wouldn't get home until 6:30. Then I'd have dinner and study."
The routine was too much for Glenn. He flunked mathematics that spring of his plebe year and went home to Claremont, where he took courses at Webb School for Boys in preparation for reentering the Academy the next fall. Ralph, who would graduate a year ahead of his brother, found this separation "very rough, the saddest time for me. Glenn was my brother, my best friend. To this day, I've never met a finer man."
As the brothers talked, they noticed that a tall, silver-haired man seated across from them seemed to be taking more than a casual interest in their conversation. "My name is Shaughnessy," the stranger finally said, introducing himself. " Clark Shaughnessy." The twins laughed in recognition. Clark Shaughnessy. Why, he'd coached Stanford's 1940 Wow Boys to an undefeated season and a Rose Bowl win. His was the team that ignited the T-formation revolution in college football. Shaughnessy, who was coaching at the University of Pittsburgh that year, told them he was a good friend of Blaik's and that, in fact, he had touted to the Army coach a sensational fullback he'd seen play freshman football at the University of North Carolina. "You'll be seeing him this fall," he told the twins. "Remember the name: Felix Blanchard." Glenn said he certainly would.
Shaughnessy had coached Blanchard's father, Felix Anthony Blanchard Sr., at Tulane in 1920. The elder Blanchard had also been a fine fullback, and though he had gone on to medical school and started up a practice in the little town of McColl, S.C., he had never lost interest in the game. He had, in fact, married Mary Tatum, a cousin of Jim Tatum's. Tatum was later the coach at North Carolina, Maryland and Oklahoma. By the time Felix Jr. was three, he was kicking the ball on the front lawn of the Blanchard home.