We have plowed the furrow and planted the good seed; the hard beginning is over." To millions of Americans clustered around the radio on January 3, 1934, these words, in the confident Groton-Harvard voice, confirmed a growing hope. After four bruising years of the Great Depression, Americans were picking themselves up off the floor. Assuredly, they told each other, there was no place to go but up.
Their hopes were firmly fixed on Plowman ROOSEVELT. Will Rogers, the syndicated sage, eying the election returns which left only 23 Old Guard Republicans in the Senate, was calling the voter and F.D.R. "a lovesick couple." Businessmen, despite Harry Hopkins' grimly gleeful warning that "this country does not know what real taxation is," could see no recovery without That Man in the White House, and Lloyd's of London found profitable unexpected new business in insurance policies on the President's life and continued health.
The chosen instrument for business recovery was still the NRA, General HUGH JOHNSON commanding. Even that confirmed loner, Henry Ford, came out in favor of the general's high-flying Blue Eagle. But even so, Old Iron Pants Johnson had a crawful of problems before the year was out and quit after a clawing match with Clarence Darrow, the famed legal eagle whom Roosevelt had appointed to the NRA eyrie to keep order.
Few were as rash as General Johnson, for jobs were still scarce and one man out of every four was living wholly or partly on relief. Nevertheless, strikes among those solidly employed were becoming a serious national problem. JOHN L. LEWIS, his bushy brows fast becoming as familiar as Santa's whiskers, made himself and his miners a potent new force to be reckoned with. The word share caught on, and wildly original share-the-wealth schemes began to flourish across the country, especially in California, the new haven for the retired and pensioned-off. Dr. Francis E. Townsend promised to abolish poverty "within five years" with a gimmick to hand out $200 a month to anyone 60 or over who had "lived an upright life," and clean-living elder citizens in 47 states banded together in hundreds of Townsend Plan Clubs.
December 21, 1959
Eleanor Roosevelt, relatively recently established as a Page One personality, was credited with saving the job of at least one man. When Nicholas Vasilakos, for 28 years a peanut-stand proprietor at a busy Washington intersection, was threatened with extinction as a traffic obstruction the First Lady appealed to her husband. Vasilakos stayed, reciprocated with a day's receipts ($9.45) for the President's new polio fund.
It was a time not only of economic reform but of earnest inquiry into the nature of man and his society. In keeping with strong national sentiments, the President endorsed a highly publicized drive "to take the profit out of war."
As the year progressed, some 3 million people found new jobs and the mood of recovery began to spread. "The credit of the nation was never greater or sounder," proclaimed Commerce Secretary Daniel C. Roper.
Nowhere was the new jauntiness more evident than in the entertainment business. There was magic in the star system, and Hollywood was having one of its best years. GRETA GARBO, flitting through the Southwest with one of her directors publicly searching for privacy, was accorded none. Headlines proclaimed her every stop and start and the moody Swede became even moodier.
Two great new faces flashed on the silver screen: those of a flesh-and-blood little girl with dimpled cheeks, and a pen-sketched duck with a rasping voice. SHIRLEY TEMPLE's disarming performances in Stand Up and Cheer and Little Miss Marker made her everyone's adopted daughter. Donald Duck, strictly a bit player in his first Silly Symphony, stole every scene and became Walt Disney's second immortal creation.
Columbia Pictures won seven Academy Awards with two of the year's box-office hits. In it Happened One Night Clark Gable took off his shirt, brazenly displaying a bare chest, which sent undershirt manufacturers into a depression of their very own as hundreds of thousands of emulative males did same.
Mae West shattered an illusion by proclaiming: "I don't drink or smoke; I don't go to Hollywood parties and sometimes I work so hard I fall asleep over dinner." But Hollywood had its share of troubles. Archbishop John Timothy Mc-Nicholas of Cincinnati organized the 2-million-strong Legion of Decency, and installed Joseph I. Breen, onetime A.P. newsman, as watchdog. Producers releasing a picture without a seal of approval would henceforth face the Legion's wrath and boycott. Of Human Bondage and Nana did all right without seals, but such pictures as Little Women, The Thin Man (the first of the unruffled, wisecracking private eyes) and The Barretts of Wimpole Street, which had them, did better.
It was a grand year for songs and singers, though RUDY VALLEE's megaphone was silenced momentarily by a tabloid divorce trial, and schmalz lovers lost an idol when Russ (You Call It Madness, But I Call It Love) Colombo was accidentally but permanently silenced with an antique dueling pistol. People were dancing to The Continental and La Cucaracha, whistling Tumbling Tumbleweeds and Stars Fell on Alabama.
Broadway was seldom brighter, never more tuneful. Cole Porter's Anything Goes gave the country Ethel Merman and four timeless melodies: Anything Goes, All Through the Night, I Get a Kick Out of You and You're The Top. FANNY BRICE ("What did 'oo say?"), all wide-eyed innocence and pink hair ribbons, stole the Ziegfeld Follies. Drama audiences were chilled by Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour and scandalized by the glandular Lester family in Tobacco Road.
Stars, producers and backers of indifferent plays cringed before the witty, acidulous critiques of ALEXANDER WOOLLCOTT.
Music lovers were dismayed when Leopold Stokowski quit the Philadelphia Orchestra after 22 years, and connoisseurs of the exotic dance were titillated when SALLY RAND offered her famous fans to the Smithsonian Institution.
The reading public had a meaty year. Social protest continued to flourish in fiction and nonfiction. Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons shed a harsh light on the fortune makers of the preceding half century. But one of the most severely castigated tycoons, ancient JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, peacefully played out the year on the golf links, confident that his controversial transactions had been more than balanced by the unequaled munificence of his benefactions. Another Robber Baron, J. P. MORGAN, spent the year on his yacht Corsair, putting in to port only to protest the huge taxes levied against his estates by revenue-hungry town assessors. André Malraux won world acclaim with publication of Man's Fate, a grim account of the revolution in China. William Saroyan, seeking to establish "the truth of my presence on earth," brought out his first book, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze. But the literary milestone of the year was a legal opinion. Federal Judge John Munro Woolsey ruled that James Joyce's Ulysses could be distributed in the U.S.
It was a year of good guys and bad guys, and the bad guys came to no good end. All but one of the nation's public enemies were killed or captured. AL CAPONE was whisked off to Alcatraz. Good guy J. Edgar Hoover's federal cops scragged John Dillinger, the country's most notorious killer, and displayed his body on a slab in the Chicago morgue, where it briefly became a major tourist attraction.
The good guys carried the day in New York behind FIORELLO (Little Flower) LA GUARDIA. He took over as mayor and quickly began clearing out a "cesspool of corruption."
In Callender, Ontario a kindly old country doctor named ALLEN ROY DAFOE delivered Mrs. Elzire Dionne, age 24, of five girls, and he, Mama Dionne, Papa Dionne, Marie, Emilie, Cecile, Annette and Yvonne and Callender were on the way to everlasting fame.
Admiral Richard (Dickie) BYRD spent seven historic pain-racked months in an antarctic outpost. Overcome by the fumes from his kerosene stove, he fell gravely ill, suffered indoor temperatures of 30° below zero, withheld his desperate plight from his radio contact in Little America. It was a great sports year—one of the greatest of all time. The Gashouse Gang of the St. Louis Cardinals took the National League pennant, Pepper Martin repeatedly stopping the fans' hearts with his daring head-first slides. It was BABE RUTH's last and worst year with the Yankees (22 HRs and a batting average of .288), and Lou Gehrig's best year (49 HRs, a batting average of .363). It was the year the Dean boys, Dizzy and Paul, won 30 and 19 games respectively.
It was the year HAROLD VANDERBILT, cool as a cucumber and calculating as a Mississippi riverboat gambler, skippered his Rainbow, considered the slower boat, to a narrow America's Cup victory, leaving challenger T.O.M. Sopwith highly angry and despondent as he and his Endeavour sailed for England.
It was the year PRIMO CARNERA reigned as heavyweight champion, though there are those who said that most of his fights were fixed, but certainly not the last one, which he lost to Max Baer.
It was the year HUEY LONG, dictator of Louisiana and football fan supreme, bestowed colonelcies on Louisiana State's touchdown scorers; "elected" a fullback state senator; on occasion paid the way of the student body to out-of-state games; personally led the cheering section and ran across the playing field to argue with opposing coaches.
It was the year in which the men whose subsequent careers are detailed on the following pages played their last season of football. All played the game well, some played it superbly. Pug Lund starred at tailback for Minnesota's national champions and threw the pass that beat Pitt in possibly the finest college football game ever played. Midshipman Slade Cutter, a tackle on the best Navy team in years, beat Army with his toe. Alabama's Don Hutson teamed with Halfback Dixie Howell to bedevil powerful Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Football gained momentum and an air of spectacle. The size of the ball was again reduced, restrictions on passing eliminated. Forward passes filled the air as never before, and the fans loved it. Howell-to-Hutson stunned plodding opponents in the South, and Southern Methodist made "aerial circus" synonymous with Texas. Notre Dame nipped Army on the clutch passing of Andy Pilney, and Yale's legendary Larry Kelley caught a memorable pass to defeat Princeton. At Colgate, Coach Andy Kerr sparked a new and exciting offensive concept with the development of the lateral pass. Football fever proved highly contagious: Notre Dame students took a new look at the statue of their third president, one arm raised in benediction, and irreverently dubbed him "Fair Catch" Corby. Missouri's coach ordered the men on his squad to stop wearing ties and jackets, don corduroy trousers, start looking more like football players and less like effete scholars.
It was a momentous year for southwestern football as Texas teams toppled northern football powers for the first time. Michigan, fresh from an era of unchallenged supremacy, had its worst season in history and came out a winless last in the Big Ten. Southern California, a perennial power, won only four of 11 games, but down in Kentucky the little-known Murray Aggies sailed through the season undefeated, untied and unscored-upon. At the other extreme, Illinois' Knox College established itself firmly as the nation's No. 1 patsy by losing eight games without scoring a point and running its string of consecutive defeats to 27; coincidentally, the Knox coach lost 27 pounds during that disastrous fall.
New York City was the mecca of college football fans. City College, Manhattan, NYU all fielded teams, and Columbia, with remnants of its 1933 Rose Bowl squad, gave Lou Little his fourth successful season in a row. Fordham's Rams played several intersectional games, including a 14-9 loss to archrival St. Mary's before a capacity crowd at the Polo Grounds; a fine end named Eddie Erdelatz caught the game-winning pass. The biggest crowd of the regular season, some 80,000 subway alumni, jammed Yankee Stadium for the annual Army-Notre Dame contest.
It was a notable year for pre-and postseason play. Tulane defeated Temple in the first Sugar Bowl game and Green Wave Halfback Monk Simons went on to become the bowl's chief administrator. In Chicago a pro-college all-star game was arranged as part of the Century of Progress Exposition, inaugurating an annual midsummer classic. Over 79,000 fans watched the best of the collegians battle Nagurski, Grange and the Chicago Bears to a scoreless tie. The Bears, affectionately-dubbed "Monsters of the Midway," went through 13 regular-season National Football League games without defeat but lost the playoff to the crafty New York Giants, who played in sneakers, on the frozen Polo Grounds turf.
Big names and big schools made the headlines, but the game was played with varying skill and equal enthusiasm all across the nation. Lawyer Ken DeBevoise ran the end-around play for Amherst, engineer Wally Johnson happily savored victory over archrival Occidental, banker Ben Blackford anchored an undermanned St. Lawrence line. Cheers from packed stands and idolatrous cheering sections everywhere proclaimed the arrival of football as a fast, rough, exciting supplement to recovery in America.
SOME OF THE MEN AND THEIR MOMENTS
Wrestler Jim Londos (here on bottom) defeated Strangler Lewis for world title before a record 60,000 Chicago crowd.
Stanford Junior Lawson Little took the British Amateur title with ease, added U.S. Amateur for rare double.
Racing Novelty was Isabel Dodge Sloane, first important woman owner, shown here with her leading money-winner Cavalcade.
Milers' Year featured Glenn Cunningham in stunning 4:06.7 at Princeton for a world record.
Stylish Briton Fred Perry was first of his country to win Wimbledon in 25 years.
Gashouse Gangster Pepper Martin beats throw to Tigers' Mickey Cochrane in World Series. Cards burned up field with derring-do, and Dean brothers pitched four victories.
Unanimous All-America, Minnesota's Pug Lund, and Guard Bill Bevan, one of last of era's bareheaded players, led undefeated Gophers to Big Ten title and first national championship.
True blue hero Larry Kelley caught a fake-kick pass from Jerry Roscoe, outfeinted Princeton defenders to score touchdown in Yale's 7-0 victory. Strong Elis won Big Three title.
Sweet victory, Navy's first over Army since 1921, hung on bareheaded Slade Cutter's 22-yard field goal. Wary ball-control sparring in mire contrasted with lively, freewheeling play that characterized most of this exciting college season.
Voice of sport was Graham McNamee, shown at work before microphone rigged for proper distance when emotions rose.