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Old 04-15-2010, 01:53 PM
Joe21 Joe21 is offline
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Default Football in the 1930's

To better understand life and football in the 1930's, one needs to have a grasp of the situation and living conditions of that time. Many of your parents, grandparents and great grandparents grew up in other parts of the country. Having some of these family members who were living in the 1930's relate personal experiences should provide some interesting background and develop a "feel" for that era.

The United States was just emerging from the great depression in the mid '30's. The depression was a devastating blow to our country. Businesses folded, banks went under, one-third of our labor force was unemployed and many people lost their homes, farms, businesses and life savings. Rural areas fared much better than the urban areas. Although everyone was poor money wise, farms and home gardens provided enough food so that no one went hungry. There was a true spirit of sharing and caring.

With limited funds for school operation, some schools were forced to shorten the school year. In some situations there were no funds for athletic programs but local businesses and individuals stepped forward to keep the programs in place, even if it was only on a very, very limited budget. Yes, we were all poor money wise but we were extremely rich in other areas of our life.

Now, with a little background re the financial situation at that time, let's take a peek at our football uniforms.

The football uniforms we had in the 1930's looked like something rescued from the missionary barrell. Our school colors were green and white but after wearing the same uniforms for several years, the colors looked more like faded green and "dingy" white. Our school could not afford new uniforms each year, the only purchases being necessary replacement parts. Trousers came in only one color, a light tan or khaki color. Because of age, our trousers had faded to an even dingier shade than our shirt. Had duck tape been available at that time, out trousers would have had a silver sheen. We probably spent more for adhesive tape than all other items combined, but not for taping ankles and other body parts, but to hold our uniforms together.

All uniforms were "hand-me-downs". The first string and seniors got first pick of the uniforms when practice began in late summer. The remainder of the squad got the scraps - literally. But nobody seemed to mind, after all, we were on the team and were proud to have the opportunity to wear that green and dingy white uniform.

Shoes? Have you ever tried to put on five-year-old leather shoes that have been sitting in a dark, damp dungeon for eight months? The odor and mold were repulive but with a lot of sunshine and gobs of neats foot oil we were able to restore some degree of flexibility by the time the first game rolled around.

The leather helmet was a disaster. If shampoo would have erased only a portion of the odor we would have gladly given it a try. "One size fits all" was the general rule and all were designed to fit the player with the biggest head. When you turn your head and your helmet doesn't turn with you, you've got a problem. Get the picture? Fuirthermore, there was no face guard on the helmet so face injuries were common.

Leg and hip pads were made from some of the hardest and heaviest material known to man. This may have been the same material used in armored vehicles in WW2. It felt like 1/4" steel. Those of us who inherited "oversized" trousers used adhesive tape to hold the pads in place. If we didn't, we'd have difficulty trying to run as those pads bounced up and down with every step.

Shoulder pads? Perhaps the best way to describe this piece of equipment --- a chastity belt for a male's neck and shoulders. It felt like we were wearing a piece of a Knight's metal armor. Well, when I finally got all of that equipment on I knew there must have been someone along the sideline that asked, "who is that skinny kid with those broad shoulders"?

Now this may sound like we were a rag-tag group but we were a bunch of young boys proud to be wearing the colors of our school, so proud, in fact, we wore the same uniforms for our home and away games and even for practice. But boy, did we have fun!!!!!!!

Last edited by Joe21; 04-15-2010 at 03:42 PM.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:36 PM
Clemson Fan JT's Avatar
Clemson Fan JT Clemson Fan JT is offline
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Default Re: Football in the 1930's

Wish you had some pics from those days you could scan and post or maybe you should save thise for the book you need to write
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