Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Central High School basketball squad was "small but scrappy" in 1942

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, causing the United States to enter World War II. During the 1941-42 school year, students at Madison Central High School experienced “ a definite trend toward defense education,” according to the 1942 Mirror Magazine, which served as a yearbook that year. “Class schedules were changed in order to allow for new courses,” noted the magazine’s editors.

Many other things changed at Central during that year, including the nature of the auditorim programs. And school clubs and organizations chose defense activities to work on during the school year.

The 1941-42 school year also saw Central’s football and basketball teams bringing home honors: both won Big Eight championships. The image below, from the 1942 Mirror Magazine, shows the members of the 1941-42 basketball squad, but the photograph does not have a caption. I hope some of you will be able to supply the identities of these young men. Please leave a comment or send an email if you can help.

I have transcribed the text on the page and entered it below the image, so I could add some links, and so that people searching for the members of the squad might be able to locate this post.



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Madison Central possessed the strongest basketball squad in southern Wisconsin during the 1941-42 season. This team was one of the greatest teams in Madison in the last two decades.

The Orange and Black team was small but scrappy. They won the Big Eight championship, city championships, and the Beaver Dam regional championship, thus proving beyond doubt that they were the champs of southern Wisconsin.

"There is no doubt that Dom Schiro ranked as the outstanding player on the squad," Coach Diehl commented, "but we hit upon five boys with good speed and ability to play the game. They fitted together and thought together as all champions do."

The following boys were letter winners: Warren Colwill, senior, who played reserve forward; Ora Cox, senior, reserve forward; Edwin Helmicks, senior, all-city second team, regular forward; Nick Gandolph, senior, regular guard, all-city second team, one of the best guards in the conference; Dom Schiro, senior, regular center, all-city first team, all-state first team, one of the best centers in the state; Clayton Allen, junior, regular forward, all-city second team; Paul Berg, junior, regular guard, all-city first team; Lee Sanders, junior, reserve guard; Peter DiMartino, sophomore, reserve guard. Other boys on the squad were: John Brausen, George Schiro, Jeff Quin, Bob Nee, Chris Joseph, Dick Wagner, Dick Springman, Donald Burwell, Lafern Opsal, Bob Nelson, Isaiah Carthron, and George Capadona.

The Beaver Dam game was outstanding. The team was a strong as any other played. Beaver Dam was taller and heavier than the small boys of Central. Many sports writers picked this team to win the state tournament in mid-season.

The squad worked hard because they were slated as a second division team. Coach Diehl had little to work with because of losses by graduation last year. A great deal of the credit for this year's succes in basketball belongs to the coach, Mr. Diehl, as fine a coach as may be found.

Prospects for next year's team look bright with four letter men returning plus many good "B" team boys.

The boys Central will lose are: Dom Schiro, Ed Helmicks, Nick Gandolph, Tom Marsh, Warren Colwill, and Ora Cox.

Friday, May 12, 2006

"When you're with Miss Jin...fun will begin"

Ginny (Swenson) O'Brien celebrated her 80th birthday last night at the East Side Business Men's Association -- and Doug Moe was there taking notes. Moe's column in today's edition of The Capital Times lists some of the guests; reports that O'Brien, who sings Dixieland jazz with the Avenue Sizzlers every Monday at the Avenue Bar, shows no signs of slowing down; and doesn't forget to mention that the birthday girl graduated from Madison Central High School in 1944. Moe has certainly surpassed the one "Central connection" column a year I complained about in a post in January. Let's hope he keeps up the good work.

Note: The photo accompanying this post is from the 1944 issue of The Mirror Magazine (the name of the Madison Central High School yearbook during World War II).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Central senior Rose Lynch was learning to fly in 1944 -- Help us discover the next chapters of her story

Inimitable (some say legendary), Wisconsin State Journal reporter June Dieckmann was a police reporter, not a feminist, but she knew a good human interest story when she saw one. On May 29, 1944, Dieckmann’s story about Madison Central High School senior Rose Lynch, a young woman who was taking flying lessons, ran on the front page of the newspaper It was accompanied by a photo taken by another inimitable WSJ staffer, Arthur M. Vinje, the newspaper’s first staff photographer, a man whose career with the newspaper spanned more than five decades (1908 to 1962).

When I was young, I was a “Journal brat” who loved to hang around the old newspaper offices on S. Carroll Street, where my maternal grandfather was the press superintendent. I knew both Dieckmann and Vinje, and learned to read newspapers long before I was confronted with the boring lives of Alice and Jerry, but the article about Rose Lynch ran before I was born. I read it for the first time a few weeks ago, after an email from Ann Waidelich prompted me to search for it on the microfilm copies of the WSJ available at the Madison Public Library.

Waidelich volunteers at the Wisconsin Historical Society, where she’s helping to index the McVicar and Vinje photo collections. She found the negative of the photo of Rose Lynch in the Vinge collection and then searched for the story that it had accompanied.

Ann wanted to know the rest of the story. She wanted to know what had become of Rose Lynch, a young woman who, in 1944, was spending eight hours a day attending Central, working at the Spanish Cafe on State Street, and taking pilot training at Royal Airport, hoping that training would lead to a career as commercial avaiation pilot after the end of World War II. Ann thought I might know the rest of the story, since I’m working on a history of Madison Central High School -- and if not, I just might be able to locate someone who did.

I don’t know the rest of the story, but I too would like to hear it. If you know what happened to Rose Lynch after she graduated from Central in 1944, please see me an email or leave a comment. If it’s a long story and you don’t want to try to write it all down, let me know if I can reach you by telephone. I’d be pleased to conduct a telephone interview.

Notes: A transcript of June Dieckmann’s story about Rose Lynch, published in the Wisconsin State Journal on May 29, 1944 is provided in the previous post. The narrow image of Rose Lynch acompanying this post is a scan of a copy made from a microfilm image of the May 29, 1944 Wisconsin State Journal; hence, the quality of the original image has been diminished. The other image of Rose Lynch is from the 1944 Madison Central yearbook, at that time called The Mirror Magazine.

In 1944, Rose Lynch just wanted to fly

Crowded Day No Bar to Rose,
She Still Flies


By June Dieckmann
(Wisconsin State Journal Staff Writer)


Because there are only 24 hours in a day doesn't stop one Madison girl from fulfilling her ambition to fly -- even after she has worked and gone to school for 16 of each of those daily hours.

The ambitious young girl is Rose Lynch, 18, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John C. Lynch, 21 N. Butler st., who probably has one of the fullest 'round-the-clock schedules of any Madisonian.

Miss Lynch not only spends eight hours each day at Central high school, from which she will be graduated June 9, and works as a waitress at the Spanish cafe, 212 State st., for eight more hours during the day, but she finds time to take pilot training at Royal Airport.

Started When "Little"

Her ambition to fly started when she as "just a little girl," she said, living with her parents on their farm near Yuba in Richland county. When the family moved to Madison, talented Miss Lynch was delighted because she would be living near an airfield where she could receive flight training.

It was difficult to fit flying into her schedule after she had arranged her high school studies and working hours at the Spanish, she said, but it was accomplished and she expects to take her first solo flight Tuesday, after completing more than the required eight hours of dual flying.

"I Just Want to Fly"

"Anything with wings just sets me going -- even bugs," blue-eyed Miss Lynch laughed. "I just want to fly."

To help her along the road to fulfilling her amibiton of becoming a commercial airlines pilot after the war, Miss Lynch will enter the four-months radio-technicians' school at Gen. Mitchell Field, Milwaukee, June 10, the day after her high school graduation.

The course is sponsored by the army air forces and the University of Wisconsin extension. After completion of training in Milwaukee, she expects to be sent to Wright Field, Dayton, O., for the final phase of the course, where she will be able to stack up flying hours for her commercial pilot license.

At Central high school, the pre-aviatrix studied a preflight course under Faculty members T. Ruth Raeuber, Benjamin H. Ashmann, and Nina Frederikson. The course fives the pupils a knowledge of navigation and meteorology, aircraft maintenance and aircraft engines, similar to the army-sponsored course at the university. For two months last summer, she studied an aircraft maintenance course at the vocational school in Globe, Ariz.

At Royal Airport, she has been training in the Taylor craft, under the instruction of Louis Wullemeier, Pvt. Roy Leber, Walter Schultz, and Vincent Mann.

Miss Lynch has made excellent grades at Central, her teachers report. He work at the cafe is praised by her boss, Fred Nicholson, who says, "she makes fun out of work."

Then, too, there is work for Miss Lynch, who has six brothers and sisters, five of them younger than she. The two youngest, Jimmy, 3, and John, 6, idolize their flying sister. The four sisters are Patricia, 10, Regina "Gene," 13, and Mary, 20, and the one Miss Lynch says is another prospective pilot, Helena "Mike," 15.

"My mother and father want me to fly," Miss Lynch said, "but Dad wants his feet on the ground." Her father is an employe of Oscar Mayer and Co.

Besides all the other work included in her "no days off" schedule, Miss Lynch finds time to write morale-building letters to about 100 men in service.


Note: This feature story was originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on May 29, 1944. It began on the front page of the newspaper and jumped to page two. The photo that accompanied it appears in the next post. Also note, Nina Fredrickson's surname is misspelled in the article.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Inexperienced 1917 basketball team just kept on truckin' all the way to the state sectionals


The 1917 Madison High School basketball team didn't have high hopes for a winning season, but its inexperienced team managed to keep on truckin' all the way to the state championship sectionals, where, after trouncing every team it met during the regular season, it vanquished Brodhead and Whitewater. But then it met Edgerton and lost 12 to 14.

But before I tell you a bit about the team members, take a good look at the above illustration, which is featured on page 111 of the 1917 Tychoberahn. The hapless players it depicts certainly look like relatives of some of R. Crumb's creations, even though they were drawn about half a century earlier (and their feet aren't so large). After taking a magnifying glass to the initials on the lower right side of the drawing, I'm quite certain they're "R.G." I suspect, therefore, that the artist may have been Robert "Bob" Gilmore, a member of the Class of 1917. The quotation by his senior class photograph in the Tychoberahn adds weight to that suspicion. It says, "He fain would draw a picture."



According to information in the 1917 Tychoberahn, the six Madison High School (Central's name before the opening of East High School) basketball team members ranged in age from 16 to 20. They weighed between 140 and 165 pounds. There's no mention of height, but surely these young men were much smaller than most of the young men who play high school basketball today.

The team members were Ole Gunderson, Paul Tenney, Arthur Tauchen, Leon Mathison, Edward Zwicky, and Mark Kessenich. The coach was G.A. Crispin. One of the three members of the Madison High School faculty who taught physical training, Crispin was a graduate of Springfield College ('08) and the Harvard School of Physical Education ('12). Thus far in my research, I've discovered nothing else about these young men and their coach. If you have any information about any of the players or Coach Crispin, please email me.

Below is an image of page 111 of the 1917 Tychoberahn. It provides all the details of the baskerball team's season. Notice that the highest scoring game was a 46 to 13 victory over Portage.




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