A quarter of a century ago 25 seniors played their last college football games. In the years since, their careers have varied widely, but each has been stamped by quality as well as success. For their achievements since 1940 the 25 have been elected to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S annual Silver Anniversary All-America by these distinguished judges: Eugene Carson Blake, Stated-Clerk of the General Assembly, United Presbyterian Church of U.S.A.; Norton Clapp, President, Weyerhaeuser Co.; Clinton E. Frank, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Clinton E. Frank, Inc.; Floyd D. Hall, President, Eastern Air Lines; J. George Harrar, President, Rockefeller Foundation; Victor Holt Jr., President, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.; U.S. Senators Edward M. Kennedy and Thomas H. Kuchel; Lewis A. Lapham, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Bankers Trust Co.; Thurgood Marshall, Solicitor General of the U.S.; Carl E. Reistle Jr., Chairman, Humble Oil & Refining Co.; and Charles A. Thomas, Chairman of the Finance' and Technical Committees, Monsanto Co. To each of a worthy group of winners go the symbolic silver goalposts.
UNDER THE SHADOW OF WAR
The American people are good," wrote Philosopher George Santayana in his last book. "Their mentality is settled and pervasive; they are devoted and ingenious in improving the instruments and methods of material economy."
The old philosopher was pondering the future of the world at the end of World War II, and he was considering what contributions the different nations and systems of government might be expected to make to a world at peace. Precisely in the sphere of increased production, he continued, the American people could "act for the welfare of all mankind." The 25 men who have been chosen to receive Silver Anniversary All-America Awards of 1965 were not leading citizens at the time; in fact, in the fall of 1940, when the war had reached its first climax in the rout of France and the colossal German raids on London, these 25 were simply American college students playing their last games before they went to war themselves—10 into the Navy, five into the Army, four into the air forces and three into the Marines. Three were shot down, one of them twice; Tom Harmon of Michigan made his way out of the jungle of China in 32 days; Raymond Frick of Pennsylvania was imprisoned in Stalag Luft III for a year. Robert Ison of Georgia Tech was on a submarine that, trapped on the surface and unable to submerge, threaded its way through the Japanese navy from the south China coast to Australia.
After the war they distinguished themselves in various ways: making prefabricated kitchens or jet-propulsion engines, doing research on the localization of brain tumors with radioisotopes, selling advertising for the Yellow Pages of the telephone book, teaching in Harlem, coaching and preaching. Seven of them became executives in businesses, seven of them educators, five physicians and scientists, three industrialists, one a prominent Protestant theologian, one a famous Catholic priest and one a leading architect. Because of such contributions to the general good, the eminent judges whose names are listed on the preceding page voted for these 25 to receive the Silver Anniversary awards from among the candidates who were nominated by 65 different colleges.
If you played football 25 years ago the contemporary game commands your moderately respectful admiration. Platooning, for instance: you watch those lines of players streaming on and off the field and you think about the way these Saturday afternoons have been opened up to more and more participants. The thought may cross your mind: "I wonder which platoon I would have played on?" Football seems more tightly organized, more sophisticated, more formalized, more complex. "They throw more passes now in one quarter than we threw in the whole game," says David Rankin, who was an All-America end at Purdue in 1940. What seems constantly surprising, too, is how fast big men can run these days. So if you played football in 1940 you find yourself wondering if you would get creamed playing now. Or, like Raymond Frick, now a vice-president of American Brake Shoe Company, you find yourself thinking: "I'd like to play one game in college football today with the physical equipment I had 25 years ago."
But there are reservations. Colonel Louis De Goes, an end at Colorado School of Mines, thinks today's football is of much better quality but there seems to be something he calls automation that stifles initiative. Tom Harmon, twice a Michigan All-America, a back of awesome accomplishments who now is a gray-haired grandfather, says there has been a loss of imagination. "Coaches have concentrated so heavily on passing they have lost the greatest excitement—the long run," he says.
If you played football 25 years ago you probably watch as many games as you can find time to see. Alfred Barran, who worked his way through high school as well as college (his father died when he was 8), was a tackle at Denison. Now president of General Telephone of Indiana, he says, "I'm a great spectator." He goes to nearby games whenever he can—Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Indiana, anything. On his way home from his plush office in Fort Wayne, he stops to watch kids play sandlot football.
But some, like Dr. Howard Dunbar, are almost too busy to take in games. He was a guard on the undefeated 1939 team at Cornell and on the famous 1940 team that lost to Dartmouth in that historic contest first won by Cornell with three seconds to go and then given up to Dartmouth a week later when it was revealed that the referee, in the excitement, had given Cornell five downs. Now Dr. Dunbar is doing research in a delicate branch of brain surgery, treating disorders of motion with stereotaxic techniques. The problem is "to be able to record electroactivity and tell exactly where in the brain it is coming from," Dr. Dunbar says, "instead of having to go by negative information, which only tells me where I am not." When he has any free time he plays the violin, builds his own electronic equipment, plays bridge or develops his own photographs. Football is seen only occasionally, though Dr. Dunbar would want to play if he were in college now.
These people who were playing football 25 years ago can hardly be said to be living in the past. The 1940 football season opened on a grim day, September 28, when the big news at the moment was that Japan had joined the Axis with Germany and Italy. Attendant bad news was that after a daylight raid by 600 planes London was fighting its worst fires. Boston College was playing Tulane at New Orleans that day and winning 27-7. A Boston guard was George Kerr, now Monsignor Kerr, the archbishop's representative in Boston on the North Conway Foundation (a combined effort of all faiths to combat juvenile delinquency, dope and alcoholism). Colgate also beat Akron that opening day, and James Garvey, right tackle and the Colgate captain (now assistant principal of a Harlem junior high school), was starting his last football year before joining a tank battalion.