Captain William Bringle, who is now in command of the Navy's new super aircraft carrier, USS Kitty Hawk, played in that game. He was a sandlot football and baseball player in his native Covington, Tenn., when his father, a real estate broker, died of a heart attack early in the Depression, leaving the family almost penniless. "My mother boarded about 20 cadets from Columbia Military Academy, which was right across the street," Captain Bringle recalled. "I helped with whatever I could, did odd jobs and helped coach math. Those were Depression years, and for our family they were hard years." He played football at Columbia Academy under Red Sanders, later the famous UCLA coach. "I was an inland lad," he said, "and the Navy was something entirely foreign to me until I got into the academy.... I knew from the first moment the Navy and I met that I was a career man." After two promising but injury-interrupted years as a Navy end, Bringle sat out three games in 1936 with a damaged knee but got into the Notre Dame thriller. Sneed Schmidt for Navy kicked out of bounds on the Notre Dame one-yard line. Joe O'Neill (the present-day oil man described above) kicked in return, and Bill Ingraham got the ball on Notre Dame's 35-yard line, returning it to the 20. Then he caught a pass for another 10. Notre Dame held, and Ingraham kicked a field goal for the game's only score. Three weeks later Bringle got into the historic melee in which Navy beat Army 7-0 before 102,000 in Philadelphia, a classic in perfect weather and an occasion so high-spirited that it gave some sign that the Depression was ending.
Floyd Blower is now the president of the Blower Paper Company of Santa Ana, Calif. and a pioneer in developing electronic equipment used in making cardboard containers. The son of an Ohio coal mine superintendent, he grew up in California, was a high school football star and worked his way through the University of California. "I waited on tables, was a gardener at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, worked in the bookstore and on weekends washed and polished cars," he said. "For two summers I worked for Earl Warren, the Chief Justice, who was then district attorney for Alameda County. I used to chauffeur him around and do investigative work." Mr. Blower says that he wasn't much of a detective; most of his investigations consisted of trying to locate people who had moved "or who tried to conceal their whereabouts," he added. After a promising football beginning Mr. Blower was injured in a game with the San Francisco Olympic Club, missed one year entirely and part of another but played throughout 1935, when California won nine and lost only to Stanford. In his senior year he married his high school sweetheart, who was also a student at California. "Not many students got married in college in those days," he said, "and it wasn't easy to make ends meet."
Gilbert James Kuhn is now the president of Ocean Garden Products, the world's largest shrimp-importing firm, and a prominent civic figure in San Diego, but back in 1936 he was an aspiring football player at the University of Southern California and was giving a good deal of thought to earning his way through college. His father was an oil driller—Walter Johnson, the pitcher, once worked on his father's crew—and his mother was a California-born descendant of a Basque family: Spanish was spoken in his home. In high school at Fullerton, Calif., Kuhn played football, sang baritone solos and had the lead in such operettas as The Red Mill and Sweethearts. While going to college he got a job as an extra in a movie, College Humor, in which he played a football player. (A singer named Bing Crosby was in it also.) Mr. Kuhn then had a fitful career as a substitute quarterback and center at Southern California, but he worked fairly steadily in the movies, appearing in
Rose Bowl, Pig Skin Parade and Varsity Show. He generally portrayed a football player who could sing.
Dr. Christian Anfinsen, an eminent biochemist who heads the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Metabolism at the Government's National Heart Institute in Maryland, was a tall, lanky tackle on the 1936 Swarthmore team that managed to beat Johns Hopkins and Union, but nobody else. The son of a mechanical engineer, he spent his spare time wandering along the banks of the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania, because of a boyhood interest in nature started by reading Ernest Thompson Seton. "I was curious about what motivated life and I just naturally drifted into science. I never thought of doing anything else." A high school swimmer and track star, he found he was expected to play football at Swarthmore, where two-thirds of the 647 students were female, because of his height. When he was picked for something called The All-America Melting Pot team after Swarthmore's unfortunate season, he said it must have been because his name looked Scandinavian.
"Football was no fun but hard, brutal work," said Dr. Joseph Vollmer, the superintendent of schools of Somerville, N.J. (pop. 13,000). A benign, quietly enthusiastic educator, Dr. Vollmer got into Columbia with a $500 academic scholarship from a small New Jersey town. "From frosh to senior year I worked myself up from dishwasher to salad man at John Jay Hall for my meals," he said the other day. Tuition and room charges at Columbia in his student days came to $580. Short the $80 in his junior year, Dr. Vollmer went to the athletic director to see if there was a job he could do that would earn $80.
The athletic director brooded over the problem for some time. In those days $80 was a lot of money to throw around. He discovered, however, that Columbia had been making an exhaustive collection of the University records but lacked a study of fencing at the institution. So Joe Vollmer began preparing the history of fencing at Columbia. There were so many facts and figures that it was impossible to complete the project in one year. The next year Joe found he needed $80 again. He went back to the athletic director. "Without batting an eye and using the same phrases," says Dr. Vollmer, "he told me about the need for the history of fencing. I caught on, and I believe that to this day the history of fencing at Columbia has never been finished."
It was a good investment. Joe was a substitute in the last quarter of the Dartmouth game of 1935, when the score was tied 7-7. He took a routine pass from center, started routinely around right end, saw a horde of Dartmouth tacklers—also a routine situation—reversed himself, stepped inside his own tackle and suddenly found himself in uninhabited country, wandering alone toward distant goalposts. After the initial surprise the eminent historian of swordplay took off toward them, vaguely conscious that an agitated Dartmouth safety man was trying to head him off. Ten yards from the goal the Dartmouth man grabbed him by the arm, but Vollmer shook him off and plowed over the line—a 63-yard run that gave Columbia a 13-7 victory. "I suppose it was a great moment," Dr. Vollmer said, "but it was over so fast I can't remember how I felt. All I know is, it was the last game of the season, and I wasn't sorry to hang up my uniform."
The center of that Dartmouth team was Carl Putnam Ray, who is vice-president in charge of marketing for the Royal McBee Corporation, makers of typewriters and electronic computing equipment, a big business with foreign subsidiaries that reach from Argentina to France and with annual sales of $100 million. The son of a prominent New York physician, Carl Ray went to Deerfield Academy, took life easy, and when he turned out for football in his sophomore year at Dartmouth was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 232 pounds. Coach Earl Blaik took one look at him and put him on a diet that consisted exclusively of roast beef and lettuce. "I never got so sick of anything in my life," Ray says, "but I lost 30 pounds in a hurry." Ray scored the final touchdown against Yale in 1935, for the first Dartmouth victory against the Elis in 51 years of earnest effort. On a cold, wet field Dartmouth had Yale pinned on its own five-yard line. Yale's Kim Whitehead dropped back, obviously to kick out of the end zone. It was, however, a fake, a quick and well-screened pass. "It didn't fool Ray," said
The New York Times
, "a great center for 60 minutes today. Ray gathered the ball on the eight-yard line and gave everything he had to running to the far corner of the field. He made it and the game was over...."
Dan Hutcheson Edmonson is a vice-president of the Kroehler Manufacturing Company, a large furniture concern, but 25 years ago he was turning to whatever work came along—working as a newsboy was steadiest—to put himself through William and Mary. His main interest was baseball, and he was captain of the nine, a welcome relief because the William and Mary football team won only one and lost eight in 1936.
In 1936 the football players at Michigan State lived over the barracks of the state police in East Lansing. At night, while his teammates were studying other subjects, Fullback Arthur Brandstatter got into the habit of visiting the barracks and talking shop with the cops on duty.