That’s Funny?

 

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http://www.upi.com.  President Reagan liked a good joke, particularly on himself. 

 

“I love to laugh!” sang Uncle Arthur, drifting to the ceiling in Mary Poppins.  I remember laughing just because he did.

What was considered funny in the past and what we think is funny now can be two different things.

The first recorded jokes we know about are from Palamedes, a Greek who outwitted Odysseus just before the Trojan War.  While it seems there were a group of sixty who met in the Temple of Heracles to trade wisecracks, there probably weren’t any women present, due to the subject matter.  Or maybe they just didn’t care.

“Jestbooks,” such as one produced by a man named Philogelos, contained this conversation.

Talkative barber: How shall I cut your hair?

Customer: In silence.

 

A lady asked how she liked a gentleman’s singing (who had bad breath).

“The words are good, but the air is intolerable,” said she.

 

In Victorian times, jokes were known as facetiae.

“Waiter, I’ve found a button in my salad.”

“That’s all right, Madam.  It’s part of the dressing.”

 

Why should the number 288 never be mentioned in good company?

It is two gross.

 

In 1896, a Chicago publisher included this one:

Enfant: (patting his uncle’s bald head) “Say Uncle Jack, is that where you get spanked when you’re naughty?”

 

And a mother, trying to instill a virtue in her child: “There is more pleasure in giving than receiving.”

“That’s also true about castor oil,” the child said.

 

I’ve found more than a few jokes I hadn’t heard, so I’ll share these.

 

A man walks into the doctor’s office with two red ears.  “What happened?” asks the nurse.  “I was ironing a shirt when the phone rang,” he answers.  “Oh dear!  But what happened to your other ear?” she exclaimed.  “He called back!” moaned the patient.

How was the Roman Empire cut in half?  With a pair of Caesers.

That person is so classless he could be a Marxist Utopia.

A Roman walks into a bar, puts up two fingers and says, “I’ll have five beers, please!”

He was so dumb when he drove to Disneyland he saw a sign “Disney Left,” and went home.

 

Of course, hearing a joke is often half the humor.  I leave with this gem, from Rodney Dangerfield to Johnny Carson:

“When I was born I was so ugly, the doctor slapped my mother!”

 

Adam was the only one who could not say, “I’ve heard that one before.”

 

Material from http://www.npr.org, http://www.buzzfeed.com, http://www.historytoday.com, http://www.elfinspill.com, and http://www.quora.com.

 

Prezzercize

As I sat back in the recliner thinking once more about how to maintain an exercise regimen in the year to come, I was interested in how presidents have kept fit throughout history.  Most of them did nicely, which is not surprising considering they had to stay active to deal with demands of the office.

Early leaders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson developed the skill and coordination of excellent horsemen.   A few years later, John Quincy Adams swam (naked) in the Potomac River every morning, long before it was known that this was the ultimate cardiovascular exercise.

Abraham Lincoln, who grew up guiding a horse plow and splitting wood rails for fences, once used his strong arms to throw a heckler out of a political rally.

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http://www.mentalfloss.com

Theodore Roosevelt overcame his childhood frailty in the arid west as a hand on his own ranch.  He was always active in boxing, and led other dignitaries on point-to-point walks in Rock Creek Park.  One time he asked a French ambassador, when they took off their clothes to cross the river, why he did not remove his gloves.  “Why Mr. President,” he exclaimed, “We might meet ladies!”

William Howard Taft may not be remembered as athletic because of his weight and the famous custom bathtub installed in the White House, but he later trimmed 100 pounds off his frame and lived a long life as a Chief Justice.  He liked golf and tennis.  TR had cautioned him not to be photographed playing, however, because it might make him look too upper-class.

Herbert Hoover playing Hoover-ball on the White House lawn, February, 1933. Photo 1033-16A

http://www.hoover.archives.gov

Probably the most interesting game played by a president was named after him.  Hooverball, invented by doctor, involved two teams tossing an eight-pound medicine ball over a net every morning during the Depression.  It would have much easier for Herbert Hoover than tackling the plight of Americans at the time.

Franklin Roosevelt developed his upper body strength by pulling ropes to hoist the elevator up and down, sitting in a wheelchair, at his home.  He was also a swimmer.  Harry Truman took 120 steps per minute during his mile and a half daily walks.  This was the World War I marching pace, which would make any Fitbit happy.

Dwight Eisenhower played football for the United States Military Academy, once tackling legendary Native American star Jim Thorpe.  John Kennedy played football with his family members until his weak back prevented it.  Concerned about flabby citizens of the 1960s, he initiated a nationwide fitness program and commissioned the recording of “Chicken Fat” still used in schools today.

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http://www.geraldfordfoundation.org

At the top of the list of fit presidents is Gerald Ford, despite his reputation for being clumsy.  That was because his knees had been used up as a football player for the champion University of Michigan Wolverines.  He turned down offers from the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, and later settled for playing golf.

Ronald Reagan was a high school lifeguard who saved over 70 people from drowning.  When president he stepped up body building with specially-designed workouts after he was shot, and even wrote a fitness article for Parade Magazine.  “In my view, every exercise program should have an outdoor element to it – whether jogging, bicycling, skiing, hiking, or walking.  I prefer horseback riding and, whenever possible, hard manual labor at the ranch,” he said.

A portrait of an adolescent George H.W. Bush and a teammate in their baseball uniforms. Bush was the captain of the baseball team at Phillips Academy, where he attended from 1937 to 1942.

http://www.time.com

The George Bushes also head the fit list, with the father a high school baseball captain and a serious runner.  Dubya runs and cycles yet today.  Bill Clinton famously jogged, as Barack Obama loves to play pickup basketball games off backboards on the old Taft tennis court.

Warren G. Harding was probably in the worst shape of all of our presidents: boozing, smoking and sitting still.

Donald Trump?  His idea of burning calories is sweating in a crowded room.  He sleeps four hours a night and skips breakfast.  What will the President’s Council on Physical Fitness do about that?  It may just have to be the Council on Physical Fitness for the next four years.

I will have to slim down to give him an example.

The Stars of Sagamore Hill

Last weekend my husband and I crunched on falling leaves over an expansive lawn to a special open house.  We’d been invited to tour Sagamore Hill, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt on Long Island, recently renovated over a three-year period.

The 28-room Queen Anne Victorian was built in 1884.  Theodore’s first wife Alice had just died, but his sister urged him to carry out plans for it overlooking the bay so his little daughter would have a place to call home.  Eventually, so did second wife Edith and five more children.

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From the wide veranda the family had an unobstructed view of the water.  Since their time trees have grown to block it.  The family especially enjoyed adventures outdoors with friends and cousins, including young Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Mrs. Roosevelt’s drawing room is decidedly different from the others in the home, but a polar bear rug presented to her by Admiral Peary does warm the floor boards.

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The family’s 8,000 books were carefully wrapped and stored during the renovation.  Sagamore Hill’s furniture and possessions were left virtually intact when Edith Roosevelt died in 1948.  The property was given to the Roosevelt Memorial Association and later to the National Park Service.

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An owl from TR’s amazing bird collection watches over the third floor gun room, where he liked to write.  Below, in the North Room addition of 1904, are momentos of the Roosevelt presidency.  The large book on the table was a gift from Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany before World War 1.

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Chairs in drafty rooms often have a throw or two over their backs.  Usually they don’t include tails, though.

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A perfect end to the visit was sitting on a rocking chair on the porch, watching the flag wave against the sunset.

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Plain Jane

The last several years I taught fifth grade we had a wax museum in which each student researched a famous American and culminated the project portraying that person in costume.  We organized a giant timeline around the school, and children in the younger grades came to see and talk with those who figured mightily into American History.

To give them an idea of what to do, I presented the story of Jane Addams.  She isn’t as well-known as first lady Abigail of the previous century, and her name is spelled differently, but she had a great deal of positive influence in her time.  Last week I had the chance to re-enact her life again for a class I volunteer with, and was reminded of just how great a person she was.

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http://www.swarthmore.edu

Born just before the start of the Civil War, Jane came from a well-to-do family; her father was a miller, farmer and banker who also served in the Illinois state legislature.  He was a good friend of Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln would write, “Dear Mr. Double D’d Addams,” in letters to him.

She didn’t have an easy childhood, though.  Her mother died when she was two.  She contracted Pott’s Disease, tuberculosis of the spine, and was teased by other children for her funny way of walking.  One day she told her father she was going to build a big house in the middle of the small ones in town so she could help the people in the neighborhood.  And that is precisely what she did.

After graduating from college, unusual for a woman in those days, she studied medicine until her own health forced her to drop out.  She traveled in Europe extensively.  A visit to Toynbee Hall in London prompted her to recreate the settlement house on the Near West Side of Chicago in 1889.  With part of her inheritance from her father, she rented Hull-House and fixed it up.

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http://www.mediapfeifer.edu

From the beginning, Hull-House was all about educating Italian, German, Greek, Polish and Bohemian immigrants in the neighborhood.  Jane initiated day care for working mothers.  She established an art gallery and theatre.  Then a public kitchen, gymnasium, book bindery and sewing room.  Frank Lloyd Wright and Susan B. Anthony were among many guest speakers.

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http://www.swarthmore.edu

To fund all this in the days before government social programs, Jane spoke to wealthy patrons.  She lobbied for better working conditions in factories and against child labor.  She was elected to the school board and served as garbage inspector, to help clean up nasty conditions that attracted rats to tenemant back yards.

Jane Addams’ first book, Twenty Years at Hull House, was widely read, and in 1912 she was the first woman to give a presidential nomination speech, for Theodore Roosevelt, in Chicago.  They had similar views on reform, but split a few years later in the issue of going to war.  Jane helped found the Women’s Peace Party, vehemently voicing her opinion that America should not participate in the Great War in Europe.  She believed it would only be more destructive to the lower class.  It goes without saying she campaigned for women’s right to vote, and was able to benefit from the 19th Amendment herself in 1920, unlike her friend Susan Anthony, who did not live long enough to vote.

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http://www.ramapo.edu

In 1931 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the first American woman recipient.  Peace was not just the absence of war, she said, but the presence of justice.  Four years later she passed away from cancer.

Today you can visit Hull-House Museum on Halsted Street at the entrance of the University of Illinois – Circle Campus.  The only building left of a once-thriving mega help center, it is a testament to what one person can do.  We can only try to follow, in whatever small ways, the example she left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Old (White) House

The White House was gutted in the early 1950s for an emergency renovation  (www.smithsonianmag.com).

One day in 1948 as First Lady Bess Truman was entertaining  in the Blue Room of the White House, the chandelier began to sway.  She sent someone upstairs to find the cause, who reported it was the butler, Alonzo Fields, walking across the room to get “the boss” a book (he was taking a bath).  This was enough to threaten collapse of the ceiling over the heads of members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The next year, the legs of Margaret Truman’s piano punctured the private dining room floor and the ceiling below.  That did it: Congress made a study of the 150 year-old structure, and it was promptly condemned.  The Trumans, evicted from their home, moved to Blair House across the street for a few years while the massive work was done.

Robert Klara writes a most interesting story in The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence (Thomas Dunne Books, 2013).  The future home of the Presidents of the United States of America was begun in 1792 after George Washington put down the cornerstone on loamy, marshy soil.   John and Abigail Adams were the first first couple to move in, in November of 1800.  It was not quite finished.

Architect James Hoban’s drawing of the executive mansion.  Hoban also helped with rebuilding after the British burned it during the War of 1812 (Library of Congress).

Andrew Jackson began adding pipes for running water in the 1830s;  James K. Polk installed pipes for gas lights during the next decade.  These improvements put a great deal of extra weight on floors and their wooden support structure.

An early photograph of the executive mansion, 1868 (www.whitehousemuseum.org).

The house was redecorated often enough, but Theodore and Edith Roosevelt carried out a major overhaul in 1900 which moved offices from the second floor to a new west wing and reworked family living spaces.  The firm of McKim, Mead and White, limited by time, stabilized with steel beams.  It turned out to be triage leading to the time of the Trumans.

The Blue Room in 1902.  TR officially changed the name from Executive Mansion to White House, and added buffalo heads to walls here and there (www.whitehousemuseum.org).

President Truman thought he heard ghosts walking through the hallways and knocking on doors when he first stayed there (Bess and Margaret were back home in Missouri).  It turns out at least some of the commotion came from old Virginia pine snapping as the air cooled at night.  When floor beams were examined, they were also found to have many five-inch notches, deliberately cut at an undetermined time.

Some thought the 132 rooms should be torn down and redesigned.  The president disagreed.  When its restoration was complete, the White House stood over a poured concrete basement and bomb shelter, and had new central air conditioning and heating.  The grand staircase was moved to adjoin the entryway.  Missing, though, was a substantial part of the former interiors, which the author reports could have been saved.  Truman had had foundation beams sawed into paneling for several rooms, but some materials were carried across the Potomac River to be used in army bases.  All the work had cost $5,700,000 in contrast to the home’s $230,000 original price tag.

Also in Klara’s fascinating saga are how furnishings and art were stored, which piles of rubbish turned into souvenirs, and the sordid politics among people involved.  The name of the head contractor was deleted from the official renovation report.Mr. Truman's Renovation: White House Key

President and Mrs. Truman return to reside in a safer White House in 1952 (www.whitehousehistory.org).

Subsequent commanders-in-chief and their wives have improved the heritage of the White House, replacing the reproduction tables and chairs of 1952 (some likened them to hotel furniture) with authentic antiques.  Jacquelyn Kennedy took the case to private organizations with stunning results, as shown in her nationally televised tour of the rooms.

But it was Harry who saved the place.  For all of us.

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Mrs. Kennedy’s program was not the first televised tour of the White House.  On YouTube may be seen a charming 12 minute video of President Truman leading the public, and a very young Walker Cronkite, through his reno.

Birthday Bash

Did you know Calvin Coolidge was born on the Fourth of July?  Or that the most common month for U.S. presidents’ birthdays is October?  There has been at least one born in every month, but only since 1988 when George H.W. Bush was elected.  Thanks to sites like http://www.wikipedia.com and http://www.indepthinfo.com, we can see a quick list of birthdates and birthplaces of our presidents (I have no idea why JFK’s is out of order, but I could not move it).

Virginia and Ohio are the most common birthplaces, with seven newborn chief executives each.  The Virginia prezes were early on, when there weren’t any states west of the Mississippi.

For some reason I felt better when the person in charge of the country had been born before me.  And then Barack Obama was sworn in.  Can you say, “Kid President?”  It’s just that I knew people his age when they were in school.  Guess everybody grows up, though.

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According to an article by Laura Fitzpatrick for Time, presidents have spent their special days in a variety of ways over the last 240+ years.  Abraham Lincoln was said never to have celebrated his in the White House.  Warren Harding got news of his election to the highest office in the land on his 55th.  Franklin Roosevelt received 100,000 telegrams when he turned 52.  On Harry Truman’s 61st birthday during World War II, Germany surrendered.

Of course, no one who’s seen the film clip of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy will ever forget it.

Looks like we go back to having a more senior statesman or woman this year.  But that doesn’t make it better.  I’m going to spend my birthday tomorrow trying not to think about it.

Presidential Birthdays

George Washington February 22, 1732
John Adams October 30 1735
Thomas Jefferson April 13, 1743
James Madison March 16, 1751
James Monroe April 28th, 1758
John Quincy Adams July 11, 1767
Andrew Jackson March 15, 1767
Martin Van Buren December 5, 1782
William Henry Harrison February 9, 1773
John Tyler March 29, 1790
James K. Polk November 2, 1795
Zachary Taylor November 24, 1784
Millard Fillmore January 7, 1800
Franklin Pierce November 23, 1804
James Buchanan April 23, 1791
Abraham Lincoln February 12, 1809
Andrew Johnson December 29, 1808
Ulysses S. Grant April 27, 1822
Rutherford B. Hayes October 4, 1822
James A. Garfield November 19, 1831
Chester A. Arthur October 5, 1829
Grover Cleveland March 18, 1837
Benjamin Harrison August 20, 1833
William McKinley January 29, 1843
Theodore Roosevelt October 27, 1858
William Howard Taft September 15, 1857
Woodrow Wilson December 28, 1856
Warren G. Harding November 2, 1865
Calvin Coolidge July 4, 1872
Herbert Hoover August 10, 1874
Franklin D. Roosevelt January 30, 1882
Harry S Truman May 8, 1884
Dwight D. Eisenhower October 14, 1890
John Kennedy May 29, 1917
Lyndon B. Johnson August 27, 1908
Richard M. Nixon January 9, 1913
Gerald R. Ford July 14, 1913
Jimmy Carter October 1, 1924
Ronald Reagan February 6, 1911
George H. W. Bush June 12, 1924
William J. Clinton August 19, 1946
George W. Bush July 6, 1946
Barack Hussein Obama August 4, 1961

OB= order of birth    Dates sort by month and day    Colony, pre American Revolution = Colony, pre–1776, rather than state.
OB President Date of birth Birthplace StateColony, pre American Revolution of birth In office
1 George Washington 02-22February 22, 1732 Westmoreland County virga !Virginia 01 !April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
2 John Adams 10-30 October 30, 1735 Braintree Massaa !Massachusetts 02 !March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
3 Thomas Jefferson 04-13 April 13, 1743 Shadwell Virginia 03 !March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809
4 James Madison 03-16 March 16, 1751 Port Conway Virginia 04 !March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
5 James Monroe 04-28 April 28, 1758 Monroe Hall Virginia 05 !March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
6 Andrew Jackson 03-15 March 15, 1767 Waxhaws Region Sou !South/North Carolina 07 !March 4, 1829 – March 4, 1837
7 John Quincy Adams 07-11 July 11, 1767 Braintree Massab !Massachusetts 06 !March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
8 William Henry Harrison 02-09 February 9, 1773 Charles City County Virginia 09 !March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
9 Martin Van Buren 12-05 December 5, 1782 Kinderhook New York 08 !March 4, 1837 – March 4, 1841
10 Zachary Taylor 11-24 November 24, 1784 Barboursville Virginia 12 !March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
11 John Tyler 03-29 March 29, 1790 Charles City County Virginia 10 !April 4, 1841 – March 4, 1845
12 James Buchanan 04-23 April 23, 1791 Cove Gap Pennsylvania 15 !March 4, 1857 – March 4, 1861
13 James K. Polk 11-02 November 2, 1795 Pineville North Carolina 11 !March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
14 Millard Fillmore 01-07 January 7, 1800 Summerhill New York 13 !July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
15 Franklin Pierce 11-23 November 23, 1804 Hillsborough New Hampshire 14 !March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
16 Andrew Johnson 12-29 December 29, 1808 Raleigh North Carolina 16 !April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
17 Abraham Lincoln 02-12 February 12, 1809 Sinking !Sinking spring Kentucky 17 !March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
18 Ulysses S. Grant 04-27 April 27, 1822 Point Pleasant Ohio 18 !March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
19 Rutherford B. Hayes 10-04 October 4, 1822 Delaware Ohio 19 !March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
20 Chester A. Arthur 10-05 October 5, 1829 Fairfield Vermont 21 !September 19, 1881 – March 4, 1885
21 James A. Garfield 11-19 November 19, 1831 Moreland Hills Ohio 20 !March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
22 Benjamin Harrison 08-20 August 20, 1833 North Bend Ohio 23 !March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893
23 Grover Cleveland 03-18 March 18, 1837 Caldwell New Jersey 22 !March 4, 1885 – March 4, 1889
24 !March 4, 1893 – March 4, 1897
24 William McKinley 01-29 January 29, 1843 Niles Ohio 25 !March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
25 Woodrow Wilson 12-28 December 28, 1856 Staunton Virginia 28 !March 4, 1913 – March 4, 1921
26 William Howard Taft 09-15 September 15, 1857 Cincinnati Ohio 27 !March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
27 Theodore Roosevelt 10-27 October 27, 1858 New York City New York 26 !September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
28 Warren G. Harding 11-02 November 2, 1865 Blooming Grove Ohio 29 !March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
29 Calvin Coolidge 07-04 July 4, 1872 Plymouth Vermont 30 !August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
30 Herbert Hoover 08-10 August 10, 1874 West Branch Iowa 31 !March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
31 Franklin D. Roosevelt 01-30 January 30, 1882 Hyde Park New York 32 !March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
32 Harry S. Truman 05-08 May 8, 1884 Lamar Missouri 33 !April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
33 Dwight D. Eisenhower 10-14 October 14, 1890 Denison Texas 34 !January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
34 Lyndon B. Johnson 08-27 August 27, 1908 Stonewall Texas 36 !November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
35 Ronald Reagan 02-06 February 6, 1911 Tampico Illinois 40 !January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
36 Richard M. Nixon 01-09 January 9, 1913 Yorba Linda California 37 !January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
37 Gerald R. Ford 07-14 July 14, 1913 Omaha Nebraska 38 !August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
38 John F. Kennedy 05-29 May 29, 1917 Brookline Massachusetts 35 !January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
39 George H. W. Bush 06-12 June 12, 1924 Milton Massachusetts 41 !January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
40 Jimmy Carter 10-01 October 1, 1924 Plains Georgia 39 !January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
41 George W. Bush 07-06 July 6, 1946 New Haven Connecticut 43 !January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
42 Bill Clinton 08-19 August 19, 1946 Hope Arkansas 42 !January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
43 Barack Obama 08-04 August 4, 1961 Honolulu Hawaii 44 !Assumed office January 20, 2009

 

Fall Fandom

At Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee this year, almost 157,000 fans set an attendance record for a college football game.  This is in contrast to the one hundred people who watched the first matchup in New Brunswick, New Jersey on November 6, 1869.

Rutgers and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) were playing with twenty-five men each and very different rules on a field that measured 125 yards by 75 yards.  The ball was round, you couldn’t carry or throw it, and there were no numbers on uniforms or crossbars on the goalposts.  Teams scored three points for a field goal, but only two for a touchdown.Image result for early college football games

Auburn and Georgia line up in 1895. (www.wikipedia.com)

The game changed as years went by.  A big event was the legalization of the forward pass just after the turn of the century.

But there was a noticeable lack of protective gear.  Those who suggested wearing it were called sissies.  Nose guards seem to have been first of this type of equipment; helmets were not much thicker or harder than the leather of the ball that was flying around.

With severe injures and deaths occurring on the college gridiron, President Theodore Roosevelt initiated a 1906 meeting in Washington involving himself, Secretary of State Elihu Root and the coaches of Harvard, Princeton and Yale.  Players were dying from head injuries or broken ribs piercing their hearts, which prompted several colleges, including Columbia, to ban the sport entirely.  The NCAA was formed to address safety and other issues.

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Theodore Roosevelt watching the Army-Navy game.  Son Ted was injured while playing for Harvard. (www.saltofamerica.com)

Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania had an impressive season in 1911, including an 18 to 15 win over Harvard.  They were led by All-American Jim Thorpe, who went on to run in the Olympics and play professional football for 14 years.  The college, operated by the U.S. Army, had the purpose of assimilating Native Americans into society but closed in 1917.

1911 Boston American sports page, Carlisle vs. Harvard

The outcome of this game was big news. (www.tiptop25.com)

As soldiers were drafted to training camps in World War I, they were treated to college football games on the weekends.  My grandfather wrote to his sweetheart about watching Indiana playing Notre Dame in 1916 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Up until World War II it was common for a college player to be on both offense and defense and never sit on the bench.  Then full scholarships began to be offered, thanks to contributions from alumni.  In the 1960s television brought fandom to new levels; ESPN and conference networks now orchestrate weekend plans of game watchers.

The University of Michigan stadium (Big House) holds 115,000, but it gave up the attendance record to a crowd at a Tennessee speedway.  (www.wemu.org)

There’s something about the time of year when the Notre Dame game is mentioned or the relatively new Bo-like U of M coach brings his team on the field.  Even if one can’t be categorized as a true fan, he/she notes the perennial sound of the crowd, fight songs of the marching bands, and the announcers on TV.  Or even, on occasion, walks past tailgate parties on the way into a stadium to see this American tradition on a fall Saturday afternoon.

Sources: http://www.ncaa.com, http://www.collegefootballpoll.com, http://www.collegesportsscholarships.com, http://www.sbnation.com, and the guy in the next armchair.