Ohio Stadium: Stadium Memories

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Articles from Ohio State Monthly about the Dedication Day

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Memories of the Stadium Dedication

9 Men share their memories of the Ohio Stadium dedication day, October 21, 1922

By W.P. (Scoop) Dumont
(Executive secretary, Ohio Stadium Committee, Former University Publicity Director)

October 21, 1922 - what memories relate to that date!

Mine begin with a phone call from J.L. (Lew) Morrill, then alumni secretary. He reached me at my desk in the Advertising Department of White Motor Company. Would I be receptive to coming back to the campus as executive secretary to the stadium committee and director of publicity for the University? Would I?

My heart was back on the campus for many reasons. Not the least was a certain co-ed who, one month after stadium dedication, would become Mrs. W.P. Dumont. She was then Mary Elberfeld, vice-president, class of 1922.

Summer of 1921 found me in the thick of followup efforts to close the gap between $1,083,000 pledged and $1,341,000 needed to build Ohio Stadium.

In the October Alumni Monthly, I wrote: "Dust is flying on the Stadium site. . . metamorphosis of 'cricket land' began officially on August 3, when Governor Davis, President William Oxley Thompson and Stadium Executive Committee Chairman Samuel N. Summer turned the first earth . . .Fluttering flags visualized for 2500 cheering onlookers the area which the huge horseshoe would cover . . . Dr. Thompson spoke of Ohio Stadium as 'just the initial step in development of the river front.'" How prophetic. Look at it today.

Fifty years ago, critics called Athletic Director L.W. St. John and Board Chairman Prof. Thomas E. French, department of architecture, "wild dreamers" for promoting the leap from 15,000-seat Ohio Field on High street to a 62,000 capacity concrete horseshoe overlooking the Olentangy river. "Why, they'll only fill it once every two years, when Michigan comes to Columbus," said the pessimists.

So, look at the record. The greatest year-after-year football attendance in collegiate history. Prof. "Tommy" French and L.W. St. John rate niches in the clairvoyants' Hall of Fame.

My own humble contributions centered on fund-raising mop-up and stadium publicity buildup. One fed the other. By dedication day, nationwide interest was a roaring inferno. Ticket demands far exceeded capacity. On October 21, 1922, alumni, students, faculty, public, press converged in a crescendo of excitement never before known in Ohio.

Ah, those were the years. "Yea, OHIO!"

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By Thomas B. Meek
(Executive Secretary, Stadium Campaign)

Looking back, one of the highlights of my life was working for the Ohio Stadium campaign under the capable and kindly direction of Lew Morrill, then alumni secretary. Our offices were in the old Ohio Union. I had the exalted title of executive secretary, meaning head office boy for the committee, and was involved in getting out the solicitation letters, organizing groups, throughout the state and country and keeping records of speakers and contributions.

Lining up the big cities and big givers was the task of Sam Summer, general chairman, and his fine committeemen who dedicated more than a year to Ohio Stadium.

Ken Campbell and I helped to organize many of the smaller communities. We used beaten up Model T Fords to reach the county seats, some of them quite remote and no rail connections. There were no interstate highways then and train travel was no smooth path, nor were the station hotels any beds of roses. One fun experience was touring the state with the Scarlet Mask production of "O, My Omar," by Jim Thurber. I gave the Stadium pitch before performances.

The campaign reached high "C" during the football season of 1920 with the week of the Wisconsin game the focal point. Parades through downtown Columbus, speeches at the State House made the city, state and nation aware the stadium was on its way. The University area was infested with solicitors and plastered with posters, one of which truthfully and perhaps facetiously stated, "The Stadium will be Ohio State's Greatest Asset". The Campus quickly went over its quota of $100,000.

Between the halves of the Wisconsin game on old Ohio Field, Gordon Wheeler and committee staged a pageant and crowned Eloise Fromme Stadium Queen. The program took two minutes more than half-time, but the official kindly delayed the start of the second half. Wisconsin's Coach Richards fumed. The Badgers were leading 7-0 at that time, but Ohio State won 13-7 with two touchdowns in the last two minutes via Workman-Stinchcomb passes. The Stadium was almost forgotten in the resulting pandemonium.

Someone in the press box bashed in the derby of All-American picker, Walter Camp. Coach Richards filed a protest with Big Ten officials claiming Wisconsin lost the game because of Ohio State's delay. Those of us who were connected with the pageant were asked to file affidavits describing what took place during half-time. The Ohio State victory stood.

The Buckeyes went on to win the Big Ten championship and an invitation to the Rose Bowl thanks to the fine leadership of Coach Jack Wilce. All of this added spark to the Stadium campaign. Our office planned stopovers for the team and band en route to and from California and sent out the advance press releases. Too much exposure for the team probably did not help our performance against "Brick" Muller and California teammates, but alumni enthusiasm held high and the trip was a fund-raising success. One side result of the trip was the start of the first press bureau for the athletic department.

One of the great privileges of my job was to sit in with the big boys who created and executed the stadium idea. Besides Sam Summer and Lew Morrill, there were Thomas E. "Tom" French, famed professor of engineering drawing and "daddy" of the stadium idea, Lynn W. "Saint" St. John our quiet but forceful athletic director, T. Hilbert "Hib" Connell, Saint's assistant, Carl Steeb, business manager of The University who knew how to make up any deficit.

These gentlemen had three things in common - love for Ohio State - great drive and chewing the ends of their cigars. Then there was the talented university architect, Howard "Dwight" Smith who produced the perfect design and won a national award. I was fortunate to travel with Tom French, Dwight and Lew to survey the older stadia at Princeton, Yale and Harvard. After fifty years, Ohio Stadium stands out among the arenas of our country.

The original goal of one million dollars was reached in three months. That was a considerable sum in those days. The country was in the throes of an economic recession. We campaigners hardly knew it because of the magnificent response of alumni and friends of Ohio State. This exercise in giving paved the way for the Development Fund in later years.

William P. "Scoop" Dumont came aboard in June, 1921, to finish the Campaign as I was called to a new job in New York. First thing I knew I was back in Ohio Stadium seated with cohorts and coworkers witnessing the triumphant opening of this great Ohio Stadium. The scoreboard did not reflect the triumphant spirit, but intervening years have eased the pain of that defeat.

Today, win, lose or draw, it is a thrill to salute a great achievement and a great monument.

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By Dr. J. Lew Morrill
(Former secretary, OSU Alumni Assn., former president, University of Wyoming and University of Minnesota)

October 21, 1922 so - well remembered!

To praphrase Dickens a bit: "It was the best of days, and the worst of days." As the then alumni secretary and editor of the Ohio State University Monthly, I recall headlining the story of that Michigan game: "Dedication Glorious Despite Defeat."

So it must have seemed to the other more than 70,000 jammed into the stadium on that historic afternoon.

How proud and happy we were, that somewhat special "inner circle" of the stadium enterprise - Professor Thomas E. French, Athletic Director L.W. St. John, Football Coach Jack Wilce and members of the hard-working fund-raising campaign committee headed by Sam Summer (of which I had been appointed a member to help in the organization and solicitation of alumni support).

The colorful pre-game ceremonies were thrilling, made impressive too by the presidents of both universities, our own beloved Prexy W.O. Thompson and President M.L. Burton of Michigan and with them, Ohio Governor Harry L. Davis. Our splendid marching band with strutting Tubby Essington leading to the Stadium's south end where the attractive "Stadium Girl", Eloise Fromme, raised the colors.

Because of some partnership in arrangements for the half-time ceremonies I was standing, late in the second quarter, near the south goal line when the illustrious Michigan halfback, Harry Kipke, raced 25 yards for the first touchdown of the game, stopping not far from where I stood.

My sinking heart I can't forget! But the deeper memory of that day still glows, cherished for half a century.

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By James E. Pollard
(Professor Emeritus, former director, School for Journalism, University historian)

It is not generally known, or has long since been forgotten, that when the Ohio Stadium project was pretty well along an effort was made to change the basic material from concrete to brick and to reduce the seating capacity from the original 63,000 to 45,000.

These twin proposals were made by Trustee Thomas C. Mendenhall, last survivor of the original faculty of seven, at a trustees' meeting May 24, 1921. Seemingly the hour was getting late and it was agreed to defer action until the morning session on the day following.

Mendenhall's proposal was presented in the form of a resolution. On the brick-for-concrete idea, Mendenhall contended it was a well known fact that "this material is yet in the experimental stage, its having in many instances failed in both strength and endurance; and also of the further fact that if, in appearance it does not absolutely offend the artistic sense it can never, by any artifice or device, be made to compete with well selected brick and stone in artistic beauty." Brick, he went on, was "the finest and most enduring building material, such as has stood the test of centuries and of which the most beautiful examples of the builder's art have been constructed."

On reducing the size of the stadium, Mendenhall was, if anything, even more positive. He cited the fact that the change to brick would "necessitate a reduction in seating capacity from 63,000 as at present proposed, to about 45,000. It is the opinion of the Board of Trustees that a demand for even this number will rarely, if ever, occur, and that such a modification of the plans as is herein suggested, will result in a structure far more attractive in appearance, more generally useful, and far more in harmony with the character and functions of the institution of which it should form a useful and important component part."

Actually this was not the opinion of the trustees but of Mendenhall himself. He was then in his 80th year and inclined to be somewhat over-positive in his ideas. Next morning when the matter came to a vote, only Mendenhall voted for it, five voted "no," with one absent. The absentee trustee was Charles F. Kettering.

What would Mr. Mendenhall say today about the lasting qualities of concrete and, more dramatically, the 80,000-plus crowds of the 'Sixties and Seventies?

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By Norval Neil Luxon
(Former editor, Ohio State Lantern, professor of Journalism, University of North Carolina)

Fifty years is a long time to ask one to look back and reminisce about what happened on a certain day. But there are days the events of which remain sharp and clear even after a half-century. October 21, 1922 was such a day. Dedication Day for Ohio Stadium with Michigan as the Buckeye opponent.

It was my senior year and my job as Lantern editor rated two complimentary "C׆ Deck season tickets, a far cry from the seats I had bought in the wooden stands of Ohio Field in 1916, 1917, and 1921.

Prexy Thompson had called a half-holiday for the Friday afternoon before the Dedication and, dressed in overalls and shouldering a broom, he led the members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, and several hundred students in working clothes to the Stadium where we swept out the tiers of seats and carried out discarded pieces of lumber and miscellaneous debris which the builders, working overtime to complete the structure, did not have time to do.

That evening several thousand students and alumni jammed the Fairgrounds Coliseum for the annual Fog Raiser, a circus-type entertainment staged by more than a thousand students.

Saturday dawned a perfect autumn day. The massive traffic jams did not affect students who had the foresight to bring their out-of-town dates to fraternity houses, Hennick's, and other campus hang-outs for early lunch after which came the stroll across the campus with unprecedented crowds streaming toward the Stadium.

One remembers the bands attired in new uniforms, the brief dedicatory exercises, and, of course, the game, a disappointing 19-0 defeat by the Kipke-led Wolverines. But post-game festivities soon eased the disappointment at fraternity house dances, downtown dinners, and dancing for those who had reservations at the Deshler's Ionian Room and other places.

It was a great day for students and alumni, one that fifty years later still stands out in memory.

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By Kenyon Campbell
(Stadium Campaign Committee, Former Associate Executive Director, Development Fund)

I'm afraid my memory is a little hazy after 50 years but I do remember quite well, of course, the small part I played in the beginning of the Stadium.

At the time the Stadium campaign was being planned I was a student in the College of Law. I was put on the "staff", if that is the correct term to use, for the summer preceding the campaign. My job was to develop stadium campaign committees in certain counties. Of course the larger areas, such as Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati, were being organized by older and more influential people, such as Lynn St. John, Lew Morrill, "Red" Trautman, Sam Summer and others.

I was equipped with a Model T. Ford and I went out to many of the smaller counties to organize these committees. Lew Morrill would give me names of alumni in these counties who had been active in alumni work and I would see these people. I played it by ear. Sometimes I could get them together for a luncheon or dinner meeting. Sometimes just an afternoon meeting and sometimes I just went around to see them individually. The reception I received every where I went was great. There was much enthusiasm and no trouble getting a committee together and a chairman for the committee.

Rural roads being what they were then I just completely wore out this Model T. during the summer.

Then during the fall when the campaign was being held, I was back in school again but I did help with the student solicitation on campus.

I am reminded that our first Western Conference championship team in 1916 was a large factor in developing the enthusiasm for the stadium. I think that recruiting was much easier then. If my memory serves correctly there were six Columbus boys on the first team - Charley Seddon and Howard Yerges from North High, Bob Karch from South High and the Courtney brothers, "Hap" and Howard, and Chic Harley from East High.

This was a big factor in creating Columbus interest in the stadium.

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By Francis J. Powers
(Retired Publicity Director, East-West Shrine Game, San Francisco, Cal.)

The dedication game of the Ohio Stadium, 50 years ago, brings no sharp memories of the play between Michigan and the Buckeyes. Ohio State had one of its least distinguished teams.

Ohio State was coming off six great seasons during which it won three Western Conference championships and defeated Michigan three times running. Ohio and Coach John W. Wilce were the only combination ever to defeat Michigan and Field H. Yost three consecutive seasons. Then, starting with the dedication game, Ohio State was headed for a time of football poverty.

Dedication Day was warm but overcast and 72,500, the largest sports crowd ever in Ohio, came early for the elaborate ceremonies. The band, led by the strutting Tubby Essington was superb. The Ohio band surpassed the Michigan brigade and Buckeye supporters found consolation in that fact; as, indeed, they did for many future seasons.

Michigan was led by a stocky halfback, named Harry Kipke. Without "Kip", who died only a few weeks ago, the game would have had little electricity. The Wolverine All-American gave a punting exhibition that wuold be superb today. Constantly, his out-of-bounds punts kept Ohio caged deep in its own territory. In addition, Kike was the running power of Michigan. He had one touchdown on a 40 yard pass interception and set up another score with a second interception. Ohio State once advanced to Michigan's four but was stopped.

There are sharper memories of the great white horseshoe as it shone in the autumn haze, tall above the flats of the Olentangy river. It was the fruition of the dream and plans of L.W. St. John and Prof. Thomas French. Ohio Stadium was the first and best of the many stadia built during the Twenties. Now, after 50 years and some 18 million spectators it still has few equals as a football and sport stadia. Remember, it was inside these walls that Jesse Owens made some of his finest runs.

Columbus took the dedication calmly. Prohibition then was young in the land and bootleggers had hardly begun to flourish. So it was unnecessary for innkeepers to clear the lobbies of furniture and destructable objects. The wild High St. nights were to come later.

I covered the game for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The stadium had two press boxes; the west for workers and the east for guests and scouts.

Jim Pollard was Ohio State's publicity chief (the term college sports information directors had not been conceived) and he was one of the best, then or any time.

The dedication did not draw any extensive newspaper coverage outside the state. There was no radio and television still was in the stratosphere. The late Joe Williams represented the long-deceased Cleveland News. Joe took the accompanying picture of a younger Francis Powers beneath the south goal post the day before the dedication.

There are not many left who saw the dedication. But the old stadium, with a gray patina of time, stands a monument to 12 student-generations of players, many of them all-Americans. It stands as a memorial to "Saint", Tommy French and that most gentlemanly of all coaches, John W. Wilce.

I would like to be there today, as the sunlight fades, the crowd stands and the (still greatest of all) band plays that refrain which haunts all Buckeyes: "Time and Change Will Surely Show."

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By Carl J. Linxweiler
(Retired radio executive, first to broadcast play-by-play of Ohio State football from the stadium, 1922)

Shortly after my graduation in 1922, I was hired as an assistant in the engineering department and manager of a new campus radio station - WEAO.

While I held a microphone, there was a "spotter" who told me who had the football in our dedication game with Michigan. He was particularly helpful in naming Michigan players. I got the job because I had a commercial radio license at the time.

We ran a telephone line to the press box from the station and I was assigned to announce the play-by-play for the first half. My friend, Herman Lucas, took the second half. At the time we were certain we broadcast the first Big Ten game.

The broadcast station including a small studio, was part of the electrical engineering building. This was a red brick, one-story unit with a saw-tooth roof. A mezzanine at the north end provided class rooms. The antenna was spread between poles on the roof. Our range on the present day AM band was about 500 miles after dark. Our power was 500 watts input. We bought radio components and built the transmitter.

I left Ohio State in June of 1923 and spent 3 months traveling in Europe. On my return, I operated a radio and refrigeration distributing business and later spent a number of years with General Motors and Sheffield Corp., which was taken over by Bendix.

I retired in 1959 - 37 years after my thrilling day (despite the loss) on Stadium dedication day.

I enjoyed arranging radio programs in those days and had the pleasure of broadcasting the voice of Margaret Speaks, who later became the "Voice of Firestone."

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By Jim Schlemmer
(Former Sports Editor, Ohio State Lantern, retired sports editor, Akron Beacon Journal))

Whatever happened to football's coffin corner? I'm glad you asked.

Fifty years ago this very day - Oct. 21, 1922 - Michigan's Harry Kipke kicked the daylights out of it right here in Ohio Stadium in a punting exhibition so unforgetable that it anesthetized the pains of a 19-0 defeat for most of the 71,385 on hand for the big horseshoe's dedication ceremonies.

Other invited vintage writers for this commemorative program doubtless will deal with the pre-game pageantry on that festive occasion; space limitations restrict me mostly to the game.

Michigan, losers of three straight to the Buckeyes, scored in every period in what ended as their most decisive whipping in conference play since Wisconsin's 21-0 romp in 1915 on old Ohio Field.

In the first quarter: End and captain Paul Goebel blocked Hoge Workman's punt and followed soon after with an 18-yard field goal.

In the second: Halfback Kipke ran 34 yards for touchdown on coach Fielding Yost's age-old "83 play".

In the thrid: Kipke intercepted Workman's pass and returned some 40 yards for another touchdown.

In the fourth: Kipke dropkicked 24 yards for another three points.

What were the Buckeyes doing all this time?

Mostly managing just one memorable march after another against the invaders only to be repulsed repeatedly and booted back to their starting point by Kipke's kicks.

Eleven times that frustrating afternoon Kipke punted - either from necessity or just for kicks - for 517 gross and 47-yard average.

Seven punts went out of bounds inside the Ohio 10-yard line; the other four rolled dead on or near the Ohio 5.

Right up until his death in August, 1946, Yost maintained this was the finest punting he ever saw.

Until his recent death Kipke agreed that it was his best ever.

Strange, how some highlights of a half century or longer ago stand out indelibly in man's memory while others more recent are catalogued and forgotten as ancient history!

It seems like only a few days - before - yesterday, when, on another Oct. 21, six years before Kipke's historic kicking contribution here, the fabulous shoe was on another foot.

That afternoon in 1916 and in the rain, mud and mire at Champaign, the irrepressible and immortal Chic Harley scored a touchdown at the extreme left corner of the gridiron in the final minute to tie the Illini 6-6.

It was an era in football when the goal posts were on the goal line and when tries for the extra point were made from directly back of where the ball was touched down.

With game victory and Ohio State's first conference championship at stake Harley changed to a dry right shoe.

His dropkick from the extremely difficult angle was perfect!

Next morning, back in Columbus, the week-old addition to the family of Tony Aquila, Ohio State'' first all-American groundskeeper, was christened Chic Harley Aquila; the naming having been held in abeyance pending the heroic report from Illinois.

Getting back to this date with destiny in 1922, Kipke's all-conquering, albeit catastrophic coffin corner kicking had to share headline space in the Sunday sports sections.

For while Kipke was doing his thing in Ohio Stadium there was a first-of-its-kind occurrence at Evanston that is still regaled in song and story whenever older Purple Wildcats reune.

Minnesota was leading Northwestern 7-0, and seemingly about to score again with a probable clinching touchdown.

But wait! Hold everything! From out of the stands and onto the field strode Northwestern's president, Walter Dill Scott, to lead his sideline charges in cheers of exhortation.

This done, Dr. Scott was scarcely back in his seat when the Minnesota ball carrier fumbled into the end zone and into the arms of Northwestern's Chuck Palmer, who returned 105 yards for a satisfying 7-7 tie.

The runback still stands as a Big Ten record, as does the Buckeyes' nary-an-inch return on Kipke's 11 kicks.

Woody Hayes was a fourth grader in New Philadelphia the day Northwestern's dedicated Dr. Scott invaded the playing field there and Ohio State's Dr. William Oxley Thompson and Michigan's president, M.L. Burton, helped dedicate Ohio Stadium.

Back to 1922: a wonderful year to reflect upon!

Unfortunately it marked the beginning of a low spell for Ohio State football in which the Buckeyes were destined to win only one Big Ten game in each of four straight seasons.

Otherwise the Haleyon days encircled the calendar.

Considerable of this writer's time in 1920 was spent in the band's almost daily marches to the statehouse for noontime concerts on the lawn during the stadium fund raising drive-

And, as Lantern sports editor in 1921, escorting the nation's big time sports writers to the building site and apprising them of the budding horseshoe's vital statistics:

Cost, $1,321,000; circumference, one-third mile; ground area, 20 acres; length, 752 feet, 6 inches; width, 396 feet, 8 inches; height of wall, 98 feet, 3 inches, etcetera.

The most common question, however, pertained to the upper deck.

"They don't expect anyone to sit up there on the shelf, do they?"

Lantern sports editor again in 1922, everything jelled into worthwhileness with the dedication of the nation's most popular and most overpopulated football facility.

With today's anticipated 85,000 for the stadium's 277th intercollegiate game the 50-year attendance tops 17,300,000. By season-end the per-game average will be over the 63,000 mark.

Nowhere else have capacity crowds been so consistently high nor so many millions been regretfully turned away for lack of another "shelf."

Regretfully, too, this flashback must omit a near endless list of good things folks had going for them in 1922, of which our "mod" generation knows little or nothing, and return to old Illini Field for the Buckeyes' long Big Ten win of that season.

What kind of good things? Oh, two cent newspapers, five-cent magazines (Colliers, Liberty, Judge, The Post, et al) . . . 10 cent hamburgers (with everything, 15 cents) . . shave, hot towel and a haircut, 35 cents . . .five cent shoeshines (10 cents on Sunday) . . . $295 for a new Model T . . .

Runnin' Wild, the newest platter on the Gramophone . . . running boards on the Reo, Packard, Jordan, Essex, Winton, Chandler, Chalmers, Maxwell, Hudson, Studebaker, Pierce Arrow or what had you . . .

Victrolas, phonographs, crystal sets, earliest radios . . . Kansas City Nighthawks . . . KFI-LA for the late, late night show . . . Mah Jong . . . ouija boards . . . crokinole boards . . . Henry Busse's Hot Lips on the Edison but no hot rodding on the streets . . .

Actually about the only serious concern a la 1922 was the co-eds' perennial; to bob or not to bob, as exemplified by Lantern pollsters.

Simpina Fussbox: "I'm afraid to bob it and I'm afraid to let it grow long enough to put up. The uncertainty of it all is killing me."

Cookie Van Lipstick: "I'm still wearing my hair bobbed and I had 18 invitations to last night's stadium dedication dance. I'm willing to let well enough alone."

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