Imposing Morality through Sports: The Navy’s Physical Education Program, 1917-1918

Forward: The concepts from this paper support a fundamental question about the 1917/18 First Naval District’s Ice hockey team. Since starting on the National Amateur Hockey League (1917/18) project, I struggled describing the motivations of George V. Brown, Ralph Winsor, and the Boston team. Brown and Winsor have different goals than Cornelius Fellowes or Roy Schooley. But I couldn’t really explain it. The research conducted for the paper below answered some of those questions.

Whether exploring the Commission on Training Camp Activities from a sports or morality perspective, the organization imposed upper class values upon the drafted masses with the expectation of complete societal change. In 1917, Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, established a Commission on Training Camp Activities (CTCA) to provide for the moral and physical preparation of draftees[1]. The CTCA redefined military culture change in terms of Gilded Age pietist values built around physical activities, sex education, singing, and other cultivated entertainment opportunities. The CTCA’s athletics commissioner, Walter Camp, created a training regimen with a different moral outlook than the singular focus against sex and vice. Camp’s moral code promoted a complete man grounded in muscular Christianity. Subordinate to Camp, George Vincent Brown, from Boston and the First Naval District, shared Camp’s ethos. Amid the CTCA’s moral crusade, Brown focused on social advancement through amateur sports. As First Naval District’s athletic director, Brown acted consistently with Boston Brahmin values in addition to the shared concepts of muscular Christianity. Whereas Camp extolled these virtues, Brown acted on it. On behalf of the Charlestown Navy Yard’s hockey team, Brown interceded with the Navy and Boston University. Those who took advantage placed in developmental technologies, low key positions, or transferred into an advanced law degree. Brown changed individuals. Camp attempted individual change through mass instruction. The CTCA desired societal change through imposed values on individuals. While many CTAC initiatives remained, no moral lessons survived the 1920s.

Secretary of War Newton Baker, followed by Secretary Daniels, established the CTCA to address moral concerns developing in the U.S. armed forces. In July 1916, Secretary Baker sent Raymond Fosdick to investigate Army camps in the American Southwest. Fosdick identified “an ingrowing staleness all along the border[2].” He commented that soldiers frequented saloons and the brothels when not on duty. He noted that the soldiers needed reading materials, physical activities, and movie-houses. Upon returning to Washington D.C., Fosdick proposed to Baker the CTCA to eliminate liquor and vice while preparing the men for the physical demands of the frontline[3]. Fosdick specified the commission’s tasks as “[keeping] the camps and the surrounding neighborhoods clean and free from vicious influences” and “supply… social and recreational facilities to replace… the normal conditions of life[4].” In April 1917, Baker approved the commission with Fosdick as the chairman. Shortly afterwards, Daniels authorized a similar training camp commission for the Navy that would also be chaired by Fosdick[5].

The military’s authoritarian nature allowed Fosdick’s commissions to easily implement the moral reforms demanded by Gilded Age pietists. Gilded Age pietists tended to be Protestant nativists. They championed for prohibition, “Sunday blue laws”, and compulsory schooling. Combing secular and religion, they believed “the State was to take it upon itself to aid the weaker brethren by various crusading actions of compulsory morality, and thus to purge the world of sin[6].” With direct access to the Secretaries of War and the Navy, the CTCA implemented Service wide reform with a signature. Many reforms impacted the non-military communities surrounding the bases bypassing democratic processes to pass ordinances, statues, or laws. For example, Fosdick noted the elimination of 110 red-light districts across the nation with only thirty-five in a prohibited zone according to section 13 of the Selective Draft Act of May 18, 1917. He lauded the elimination of all red-light districts within five miles of any military facility[7]. Even operating within an authoritarian regime, the CTCA required structure to provide the necessary oversight of its activities.

The CTCA created six divisions to plan, monitor, and enforce proper behavior through controlled activities in the elimination of vice. For Fosdick, the Social Hygiene and Law Enforcement divisions with their focus on venereal disease and liquor formed the core of the CTCA’s mission[8]. To eliminate prostitution and alcohol, Fosdick minimized unstructured free time. To structure off duty time, the CTCA created divisions for Athletics, Camp Music, Education, and Entertainment. The Athletics division created training regimens around “war-like sports”, which included boxing, swimming along with baseball, basketball, hockey, and others[9]. Camp Music and Entertainment provided for spiritual and mental health. Education taught basic citizenship skills like reading and writing or offered French language instruction. Although not a formal division, the CTCA partnered with several external organizations like the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Knights of Columbus, the Jewish Welfare Board, The Young Women’s Christian Association, and the War Camp Community Service to preserve the “normal social relationship between the people and the men in training[10].” With the commission established, Fosdick identified Walter Camp to lead the Navy’s athletics division.

As the Navy athletics commissioner, Camp assumed responsibility for the physical activities of a moral program to eliminate vice and keep the Navy fit to fight. Before 1918, Camp became the authority on American football and organized sports in general. Building upon that football experience, he developed the “daily dozen” to standardize physical exercise across the Service[11]. The daily dozen consisted of twelve exercises targeting “every muscle of the body[12].” While the exercise movements originated from his football experiences, the Gospel of Fresh Air became the reason for existence.

Unlike his cohorts, Camp believed in the Gospel of Fresh Air more than the direct moralistic outcomes of the CTCA. In essence, the Gospel of Fresh Air claimed urbanization prevents proper attainment of physical development. To combat this situation, the Gospel argued outdoor sports must replace the struggles of early settlers[13]. For additional moral guidance, he authored an American Citizen’s Creed, which embodied the muscular Christianity approach to morality[14]. The creed stated:

I believe that a nation should be made up of people who individually possess clean, strong bodies and pure minds; who have respect for their own rights and the rights of others and possess the courage and strength to redress wrongs; and, finally, in whom self-consciousness is sufficiently powerful to preserve these qualities. I believe in education, patriotism, justice, and loyalty. I believe in civil and religious liberty and in freedom of thought and speech. I believe in chivalry that protects the weak and preserves veneration and love for parents, and in the physical strength that makes that chivalry effective. I believe in that clear thinking and straight speaking which conquers envy, slander, and fear. I believe in the trilogy of faith, hope, and charity, and in the dignity of labor; finally, I believe that through these and education true democracy may come to the world[15].  

The creed spoke in broad language of generally noble virtues contrasting with the singular purpose against vice and prostitution. The creed meant to impart the ideal, well-rounded man to the reader[16]. Unfortunately, the creed captured “a definition of masculinity drawn from a class-specific vision of Christianity[17].” In validation, Camp celebrated desk workers as unhappy middle-aged wrecks who were invigorated after playing golf[18]. Developed while the commissioner for Navy athletics, the creed and daily dozen exercises meant to transform stagnant city dwellers into active people.

The CTCA athletics program never intended to cultivate serious amateur competitors. The athletics program prepared men for combat and replaced the free time activities of prostitution and vice. As a preparatory for war, the athletics program supported low scale competition. For the Navy, activities focused on swimming, boxing, and even considered sailing. Fosdick reported less than half the men in the Navy could swim. By June 1918, swimming became a compulsory sport[19]. Beyond the Northeast, inter-base competition rarely occurred. In contrast, northeastern servicemembers, usually officers, regularly participated in regional and inter-base competitions in the two decades leading up to World War I. Servicemembers who participated in organized amateur events usually belonged to state militias. Although the CTCA brought training standardization, George Vincent Brown and the draft forced the athletics program to organize serious amateur competitions.

Through organized amateur sports, Brown built a dais to showcase America’s military athleticism while providing an incentive for servicemen to enjoy competitive, amateur sports. On the eve of becoming the First Naval District athletic director, Brown organized track and field events solely for military athletes. Although created to foster healthy, inter-unit rivalry, the organizers encouraged public attendance to understand military drill and support the troops[20]. After assuming the role of the First Naval District athletic director, Brown continued to organize and promote serious competitions. Brown shared core values with Camp, especially on the redemptive power of sports.

            Brown’s personal beliefs and unique background in sports management prepared him for leadership in the military’s new athletics program. Brown solidified his concepts of amateurism and sports management under the employment of Harvard’s athletic director, Professor Ira Nelson Hollis. Hollis strictly adhered to the tenet of amateurs never playing for money[21]. Additionally, amateurism intertwined with muscular Christianity to form the upper-class notions of a well-rounded gentlemen. Amateurism dictated who could play as much as how they played. With the commercialization of sport, the upper classes needed to differentiate themselves from the “masses[22].” Boston believed in the gospel of progress, which acted independent of amateurism. Boston elites viewed themselves as “agents of improvement” stemming from personal achievement. Boston elites behaved as patrons of culture and exemplars of republican simplicity[23]. Boston elitist values instructed the wealthy how to act. For Brown, amateur sport provided the vehicle to act. The combination of Boston elitist values and amateurism provided Brown a framework to absorb new experiences.  

Brown absorbed the important lessons in sports management in context of reality informed muscular Christanity. In 1904, Brown practiced amateur sports management as the Boston Athletic Association’s (B.A.A.) athletic director[24]. By 1906, Boston area sportswriters acknowledged his abilities in managing events[25]. When the Matthews Arena and associated indoor ice rink completed construction in 1910, Brown established B.A.A.’s amateur ice hockey team. A few years later, Brown worked to create an inter-city amateur hockey league with teams from New York City. Brown applied experience gained from organizing amateur sporting events towards developing serious competitions for drafted athletes.

In the decade prior to 1917, Brown gained important contacts through assuming sports leadership positions in multiple organizations. The New England Amateur Athletic Union elected him to a key position[26]. Through this position, he occasionally represented the Amateur Athletic Union. Additionally, he participated in the American Olympic Committee[27]. On the eve of war, Boston University hired Brown as their first athletic director. He maintained positions with Boston University and the B.A.A. while acting as the First Naval District athletic director. With this placement, Brown developed and implemented the district’s athletic program without interference.

Although Brown headed the First Naval District’s athletic program, LT Jesse K. Park, Jr. served as the Charlestown Navy Yard’s athletic director. In 1917, the Navy divided its shore commands into districts for defensive and management purposes. The First Naval District covered Boston and all New England except for Rhode Island. The Charlestown Navy Yard, located on Boston waterfront, was a subordinate command to the First Naval District[28]. Charlestown provided ship construction and repair facilities. Additionally, it housed the First Naval District’s Reserve pool. Rear Admiral Spencer Wood commanded the First Naval District with Brown as his civilian aid for athletics. Captain William Rees Rush commanded the Charlestown Navy Yard and subordinate to Wood. Charlestown retained day-to-day Reserve and recruit management since the First Naval District constituted a headquarters element. As a result, Charlestown selected LT Park as its first athletic director. LT Park managed fourteen Reserve ice hockey players in league battles from January 1918 until March 1918.

The fourteen ice hockey players feared little of receiving active-duty orders due to the excessive manpower reserve created by the draft. In anticipation of conflict, the Navy created the Reserve program in 1915. Originally only for enlisted veterans, the Navy broadened the program in 1916 to include non-prior service. However, the program remained only open for enlisted ranks. The Navy revamped the immature program as a coping mechanism for the rapid manpower increase. The Reserves acted as a pool of available manpower ready to be activated for duty. During America’s first year in the war, the Navy waited for craft to be built. While waiting, the draftees trained and participated in sport until Spring 1918. With the excessive manpower available to First Naval District operations, Brown and the Reservist athletes played the entire 1917/18 season with only one player called to active duty.

Even though LT Park publicly led the Charlestown Navy Yard ice hockey team, Brown drove the creation of a league to support his team. Brown took personal interest in hockey before the creation of Boston’s first indoor rink at the Matthew Arena. Brown picked only Americans to play on his hockey teams with two exceptions. Prior to 1917, Brown accepted Mickey Roach to play on B.A.A.’s hockey team. Roach learned hockey in the Boston high school system though being born and remaining true to Nova Scotia roots. Thomas Henry Howard became the second Canadian to play on a Brown team. In mid-January 1918, the Charlestown Navy Yard team lost a player. Brown borrowed Howard from the Second Naval District. Howard, the son of a Stanley Cup winner, learned to play in Brooklyn under his father. With a solid team that included three National Hockey Players, Brown coordinated with team owners in Pittsburgh, New York City, and Boston to form a league showing the best of American based amateur hockey. While Brown’s team achieved second, Brown met his goals.

While amateurism stated sport was its own reward, Brown’s Boston elitist values forced a sense of social responsibility to reward personal achievement. Whereas Walter Camp extolled the virtues of achievement through sport, Brown acted as an agent of improvement for athletes who played by the amateur rules. Brown’s actions separate him from Camp. Throughout 1918, Brown held leadership positions in the B.A.A., Boston University, and at the First Naval District headquarters. These positions provided Brown direct access to senior leadership like Rear Admiral Spencer Wood and Boston University President Lemuel Mulin. To reward the ice hockey players, Brown accommodated requests by leveraging his access. Successful requests remained within the bounds of service and Brown’s belief in Bostonian and amateur values. Brown acted on many requests received from the hockey team.

As First Naval District athletic director, Brown changed many lives and institutions. Brown helped John Jay O’hare to getting accepted and transferred into Boston University’s law program[29]. O’hare and Brown created the university’s permanent hockey program. At least five players received flight screening by LT Park. Park transitioned to flight candidate screening near the completion of hockey season in March 1918. Brown offered chances, but not guarantees. Park addressed a personal letter requesting a waiver for Thomas Howard. The Naval Reserve Flying Corps rejected the waiver request. Howard remained with the Fleet Mine Force[30]. Furthermore, the 1917/18 ice hockey team established the first hockey league that remained unchallenged until the National Hockey League’s appearance in 1925/26. Brown enriched lives by demonstrating and acting on Boston Brahmin values.

The CTCA undermined its own legacy. The CTCA established the foundation for every post exchange, base theater, and morale, welfare and recreation program. Current day military experienced cheap movies thanks to the CTCA. Finally, Service controlled standards for physical fitness started because the CTCA needed to replaced sex and alcohol. Yet, racist and classist policies raised questions, even in 1918. Furthermore, the CTCA represented the peak of Gilded Age piety. While the Eighteenth Amendment (prohibition) passed in 1919, the Gilded age piety exerted peak power during America’s involvement in World War I. No one acts outside the context of his or her era, and this is especially true for those who tried to impose morality via authoritarian methods.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

 Camp, Walter. Keeping Fit All the Way, (Project Gutenberg, 2004), https://www.gutenberg.org/files/13574/13574-h/13574-h.htm.

Compiled service record, John Jay O’Hare, LDS/Yeoman, First Naval District, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

Compiled service record, Thomas Howard, Seaman, USS Canandaigua, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

Fosdick, Raymond B. Chronicle of a Generation; an Autobiography. New York: Harper, 1958.

“Keeping Our Fighters Fit for War and after” [on Recreational Programs and Activities at Army Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution]. Congressional Document, 1918.

Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918.

Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917.

Secondary Sources

“Approval of Records Made” Boston Globe, September 22, 1914.

Buchanan, John G. “War Legislation against Alcoholic Liquor and Prostitution”, Journal of Criminal Law and & Criminology 9, no. 4 (1919): 520-29. https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1668&context=jclc.

“Every Event Hard Fought” Boston Globe, February 11, 1906.

“George V. Brown Taken by Death” Boston Globe, October 18, 1937.

Goewey, Ed. “Walter Camp, Football Authority, Heads Novel Movement and Will Employ Gridiron Methods in Training ‘Eyes and Brains” of Service.” The Tampa Tribune, 24 February 1918.

Goodman, Paul, “Ethics and Enterprise: The Values of a Boston Elite, 1800-1860”, American Quarterly 18, no. 3 (Autumn, 1966): 437-451. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2710847

Loane, Mark. “Ken Donald and Muscular Christianity.” Australian health review 32, no. 2 (2008): 305–7.

“Must Receive Money” Boston Globe, March 3, 1902.

“New Features for July 4 Sports on the Common” Boston Globe, June 15, 1917.

Rothbard, Murray. The Progressive Era, ed. Patrick Newman (the Mises Institute, 2017), https://mises.org/library/progressive-era-0/html/c/620. 

“Stars Enter for Tryouts” Boston Globe, June 1, 1912.

Wakefield, Wanda Ellen. Playing to Win : Sports and the American Military, 1898-1945  Albany, NY: State University of the New York Press, 1997.


[1] Fosdick chaired both the Army and Navy CTACs. While few differences existed, the focus is on the Navy’s Commission except where noted.

[2] “Keeping Our Fighters Fit for War and after” [on Recreational Programs and Activities at Army Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution]. Congressional Document, 1918, 5.

[3] Ibid, 4.

[4] Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917, 3.

[5] Fosdick, Raymond B. Chronicle of a Generation; an Autobiography. New York: Harper, 1958, 143-144.

[6] Murray Rothbard, The Progressive Era, ed. Patrick Newman (the Mises Institute, 2017), https://mises.org/library/progressive-era-0/html/c/620. Rothbard defined the Progressive era from 1870 through 1940. Since Rothbard tied pietists to the 1890s, the Gilded Age (1877 ~ 1900) was used for clarity and accuracy.

[7] Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917, 11. Section 13 set the prohibited zone for brothels around military bases to five miles. See John G. Buchanan “War Legislation against Alcoholic Liquor and Prostitution”, Journal of Criminal Law and & Criminology 9, no. 4 (1919): 524. https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1668&context=jclc.

[8] Report of Chairman on Training Camp Activities to Secretary of War [on Organization of Recreation and Health Activities in Military Training Camps]. Congressional Document, 1917, 5.

[9] Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918, 11.

[10] Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918, 31.

[11] Ed Goewey, “Walter Camp, Football Authority, Heads Novel Movement and Will Employ Gridiron Methods in Training ‘Eyes and Brains” of Service.” The Tampa Tribune, 24 February 1918, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86396508/.

[12] Walter Camp, Keeping Fit All the Way, (Project Gutenberg, 2004), https://www.gutenberg.org/files/13574/13574-h/13574-h.htm. See section “A Shorthand Method”

[13] Ibid. See section “The Gospel of Fresh Air”

[14] An accurate definition of Muscular Christianity is “a system which relied upon sport to allow people to grow in a moral and spiritual way.”  See Mark Loane “Ken Donald and Muscular Christianity.” Australian health review 32, no. 2 (2008): 305. https://www.publish.csiro.au/ah/pdf/ah080305.

[15] Ibid.

[16] In this case, “man” means “males” and not humanity. See Wakefield Playing to Win, 11- 14.

[17] Wanda Ellen Wakefield, Playing to Win: Sports and the American Military, 1898 – 1945, (SUNY Press, 1997), 12. https://search.lib.asu.edu/permalink/01ASU_INST/pio0a/alma991000819439703841

[18] Camp. See section “The Gospel of Fresh Air.”

[19] Personnel of War and Navy Departments; Commissions on Training Camp Activities [on Organization and Activities; Including Recreational Programs and Activities at Military Training Facilities, and Control of Prostitution and Alcohol]. Congressional Document, 1918, 11.

[20] “New Features for July 4 Sports on the Common” Boston Globe, June 15, 1917.

[21] “Must Receive Money” Boston Globe, March 3, 1902.

[22] Matthew Llewellyn and Gleaves, John, The Rise and Fall of Olympic Amateurism, (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2016), 12-13.

[23] Paul Goodman “Ethics and Enterprise: The Values of a Boston Elite, 1800-1860”American Quarterly 18, no 3 (Autumn, 1966): 437.

[24] “George V. Brown Taken by Death” Boston Globe, October 18, 1937.

[25] “Every Event Hard Fought” Boston Globe, February 11, 1906.

[26] “Approval of Records Made” Boston Globe, September 22, 1914.

[27] “Stars Enter for Tryouts” Boston Globe, June 1, 1912.

[28] Charlestown Navy Yard also known by Boston Navy Yard and Boston Naval Shipyard. It reverted to Charlestown Navy Yard after becoming a historic site managed by the National Parks Service.

[29] Compiled service record, John Jay O’Hare, LDS/Yeoman, First Naval District, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

[30] Compiled service record, Thomas Howard, Seaman, USS Canandaigua, Series: Official Military Personnel Files, 1885 – 1998, Record Group 24: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, 1798-2007, National Archives, St. Louis, Missouri.

The NAHL: Alphonse Albert “Frenchy” LaCroix

   When Alphonse Albert “Frenchy” LaCroix decided to grow up, he walked away from hockey for the forests of Maine. From 1914 until 1947, LaCroix rarely missed playing in a season of hockey. His youthful face and few public comments hinted at a jovial, prankster personality.  Yet, his accomplishments demonstrated a rare skill on the ice.

   Although born in Newton, Massachusetts, LaCroix’s parents immigrated from Quebec, Canada. Young Lacroix would be baptized as Alphonsum Aldine Lacroix on 22 October 1897 at Our Lady Help of Christians, a Catholic parish. His Father was one of the more well-known French residents in Newton. Thus, the Young Lacroix earned the “Frenchy” or “Frenchie” nickname. He still performed as the top goalie for three years at Newton High School. In 1915, 1916, and 1917, The Boston Daily Globe named him to their interscholastic first team. America had just entered into World War I when LaCroix graduated from high school.

   In December 1917, LaCroix enlisted in the Navy Reserve. George V. Brown, the First Naval District Athletic Director, immediately pulled LaCroix onto his hockey team. From there, LaCroix made a lifelong ally. After the war, LaCroix played for Brown’s Boston Athletic Association Unicorns.  Additionally, he played the goalie for the 1924 U.S. Men’s Silver-medal winning team. However, he continued to achieve greater heights.

   In November 1925, he stepped into the Montreal Canadiens goal for an ailing Georges Vézina. Vezina suffered from tuberculosis and could not finish the game. LaCroix manned the net for two periods and another four games until the Canadiens signed Herb Rheaume. Afterwards, Lacroix remained as the Canadiens back-up goalie until the end of the 1926/27 season. The five games between 28 November and 15 December 1925 would be his only NHL games.

Although some accounts stated was an NHL emergency goalie, he was always retained by Les Canadiens, and used at Leo Dandurand’s discretion. In January 1926, they called for him to substitute for the Ottawa Senators’ goalie, who got knocked out. After a short rest, Connell decided to stick out the game. LaCroix did not play. In February, the Pittsburgh Pirates requested Lacroix’s services against the Canadiens on 23 February. Dandurand denied the request citing bad precedent. However, it is just as likely Dandurand did not want to face a good goalie. Pittsburgh won the match with their coach, Odie Cleghorn, in the net.

He played in three exhibition games. First, a 4 February 1926 game against the Montreal Yannigans, a Maroons feeder team. Second, He played for the Providence Reds on 8 April 1927. At the end of the 2nd period, the puck struck the Reds’ goalie square in the chin.  His final game with the Canadiens was a post-season match against the Providence Reds on 12 April 1927. The following season, Lacroix found himself with the Reds.

   Stating with the 1927/28 season, Lacroix served the rest of his time in minor or senior amateur leagues. From 1927/28 until 1929/30, he bounced between the Reds and the Lewiston (Maine) St. Doms. At the start of the 1930/31 season, the Boston Tigers attempted to use Lacroix to salvage their standings. He was let go after just four games. The final time he would be paid-to-play.

   During the 30s, he assisted George Owen Jr. in coaching the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Engineers. When World War II curtailed hockey at MIT, he co-established a team for an amateur industrial league with Owen. In the down time, he worked for an insurance broker. After the war, Lacroix packed up his skates and moved back to Lewiston.

   On ice accomplishments hid private hardships. In October 1912, LaCroix’s dad died leaving his mom and three young sons. The oldest, Elyre, was about 7. Just after WWI, He married Anna Champagne in 1920. They had two children, Janet/Jeanette and Armand. Oddly, Armand disappeared from public record by 1940. By 1948, they divorced. Anna and Janet remained in Massachusetts while he left for Maine. There, he married Eva Fournier, née Malo. They had a daughter, Suzanne. Finally, he decided to settle down. Another private man with a public face. He passed away on 12 April 1973 from cancer. Eva joined him in rest in 2009. He is survived by Suzanne.

   Frenchy Lacroix was the first American-born NHL goalie and, potentially the third American-born in the NHL. Across 13 seasons of play, he attained a 2.18 goals against average (GAA) in the regular season. Prior to his season with the Montreal Canadiens, he maintained a 1.82 GAA over 7 seasons. Plus, he won the silver with the 1924 U.S. Men’s Olympic Ice hockey team. His youthfulness continued to show through until the late-40s by being an assistant coach and team organizer for a war time industrial league. After the war, the game finally surpassed him. He headed to Maine’s woods to settle down.

NOTE: Over the years, LaCroix’s name took many variations. “LaCroix” was the definitive variant. However, La Croix and Lacroix were also seen. The later oft seen in newspaper articles. Rarely, his middle name, “Albert” appeared. On his WWII draft card, the registrar wrote “Aldéi” for his middle name.

THE NAHL: LT Jesse K. Park Jr.

Jesse K. Park Jr. rose from obscurity helped by one man, George V. Brown. Little is known of Park’s background or future after World War I. What is known is that he was in the right place at the right time for the Navy Yard hockey team. I doubt if history will ever be able to discern if he genuinely wanted to help the Navy Yard team or was a pawn of George Brown.

Born in 1886, Jesse K. Park Jr’s family moved from New Haven, Connecticut to Newton, Massachusetts by 1910. His skill in high school sports did not capture the imagination of newspapers of the time. Thus, his sudden rise in hockey appears to come from nowhere.

In the pre-war years, little exists of Park’s college or young adult years. A rare mention exists of a family vacation to New Haven, Connecticut in 1908. He clearly went to college, but where was unknown. When the war started, Park commissioned in the National Naval Volunteers. By December 1917, he attained the rank of Lt. J.G. and was in charge of aviation examinations. He screened potential applicants for the US Navy’s new aviation branch.

I can imagine George Brown approaching Park with the offer of a lifetime. As every good salesman knows, fame is everything and free publicity is worth dollars. Park helped several of the Navy hockey team members to become Naval and Marine Corps aviators. In return, he got his free publicity.

After the war, Park seemed to fade away to the ordinary life. Little is known of Park after the war. He ran an automobile dealership at least through the 20s. He married Katherine McGillen in 1923. They didn’t seem to have children. In August 1965, Catherine passed away. Park passed away in February 1975. How they lived, survived, and loved has been lost. Still, his contribution to those that played on the Navy Yard team cannot be overlooked.

Sources:
Newton (MA) Newsletter 1908
Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy
Jesse K. Park Jr. Obit
Katherine M. Park Obit

The NAHL: George V. Brown

In late 1917, George V. Brown added a new role to his accomplished list, Athletic Director of the First Naval District. Prior to this, he held the same position of the Boston Athletic Association (BAA). With the BAA, he started every Boston Marathon except for the first two. During his era, BAA teams won championships. He promoted sports whenever he got the chance. George was such a fixture in the BAA and Boston sports that the BAA suspended or refocused operations during 1918.

It is hard to tell who used whom. The U.S. Navy leveraged George’s sports promotions to increase its popularity. Quite possibly, the First Naval District hoped to gain an advantage in the regular sports competitions against Second Naval District (Newport, Rhode Island) and others. For George, he became responsible for Navy sports across most of New England.

Following the war, George returned the BAA back to its normal sports operations. A long time member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, George built the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team for the first Winter Olympics in 1924. (NOTE: Cornelius Fellowes created the first Olympic men’s hockey team in 1920.) It was a silver medal team consisting of Herb Drury and Alphonse La Croix.

George also experienced change in hockey from the amateur to the professional. While George supported professional hockey, George believed in the amateur spirit. He tried several times to establish a new amateur league in the Boston after the break up of the US Amateur Hockey Association. In 1932, the Boston Globe commented about George’s efforts to “breathe new life into the amateur hockey corpse.” Despite a potentially 150 registered clubs with the Amateur Athletics Union (AAU), amateur hockey would never regain a prominent role.

Fri, Dec 23, 1932 – 16 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. https://www.baa.org/
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_V._Brown
3. Boston Globe, December 23, 1932, courtesy of newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31905965/
4. Los Angeles Times, March 8, 1931, courtesy of newspapers.com, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/29383315/