The WWI Boston Navy Yard Team: Meaning and Context

The WWI Boston Navy Yard hockey team embodied a confluence of social mobility, immigration, war dodgers, and other issues. My challenge has been choosing the right narratives to talk about this incredible team and the brief league it spurred.

SOCIAL MOBILITY
Patriotic duty and war fever hid the many motivations behind the players and team leadership. Peeling away the patriotic duty and war fever gripping Boston, a couple of Boston brahmins provided loyal participants a path into Boston’s upper society. By and large, this was a rare opportunity. However, George V. Brown and Ralph Winsor offered chances for change to those who demonstrated desire to take it. The Boston Navy Yard’s hockey team offered them a chance to elevate those who played. Many players took the opportunity.

IMMIGRATION
The Navy rejected Thomas Henry Howard from his opportunity. Howard was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and son of Thomas “Atty” Atcheson Howard, a Stanley Cup winner. The Howard’s lived in New York City. Canada’s Military Service Act of 1917 (MSA), in part a draft measure, forced Canadians living in America to weigh options between returning to Canada, joining an American military service, or hoping to evade. At first, evasion might have been possible until the United States and Canada agreed to forcing British empire recruits to Canadian recruitment stations and allowing Canadian military police to enforce the MSA in the United States. As a result, Howard joined the Navy to escape from either Canadian or American Army service. Due to his 8th grade education, the Navy rejected his application to flight school. In the end, he traveled to Scotland on the USS Canandaigua. Together, they laid mines in the North Sea as part of the Northern Barrage.

WAR DODGER
Raymie Skilton complicates the social dynamic of the entire team. Skilton used his athletic abilities to escape the war altogether. First, his contract with Massachusetts Militia expired just before the Army went on a punitive expedition against Pancho Villa. While not clear if Battery A, 1st Light Field Artillery left for Mexico and the American southwest, Skilton was not enlisted. Before being drafted, he enlisted in the Navy Reserve to play football and hockey. After the hockey season ended, he found excuses to refuse orders to active duty. Eventually, he was booted from the Navy.

SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
After reviewing military records and reading about Progressive-era social constructs, I still tell myself that some of this does not make sense. Individually, the explanations are self-evident. Brown, a prominent sports promoter, gathers the best team to instill patriotism in the hearts of Americans while balancing the norms of brahmin expectations. Winsor diligently does his duty to America on ice and the sea. While building the Boston Office of Naval Intelligence, he coaches a highly skilled team because it is the right thing to do. The son of Canadian hockey star prided family fealty over all else. The selfish goat who prioritized preservation of self. But there’s more. The war fever environment of Boston and the Navy’s physical education program exerted influence or created enabling conditions for this team to make sports headlines.

LAST FACTORS
A narrative without a good villain is boring. Were Cornelius Fellowes and Roy Schooley villains? All three had less than noble personal motivations. Furthermore, they exercised altruistic tendencies at different times. In the early years, Fellowes slid money to star players or assisted them with finding jobs. Schooley largely assisted players during the 1920s, when he was at peak influence. Brown provided immediate benefit to players through special assignments or connections. In my opinion, Brown’s support felt different even though sharing in the same self-promotion desires. Records seem to confirm Brown’s support was actualized idealism. Was George V. Brown the perfect upper class American? For at least two years (1917-18), he was.

NOTE:

Cover Art provided by Library of Congress. Digital ID: cph 3g01660 //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g01660

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: Forrest Clifford Osgood

The skilled, charismatic high school forward pursued battles of healing after the war. Born on June 22, 1891, Forrest Clifford Osgood made a name for himself as an elite forward for Arlington High School. After graduating in 1911, he played on the Intercolonials and the Unicorns. After the war, he stayed in the South, and noted in prominent social circles. By 1930, he had established himself as a Christian Science Practitioner in Atlanta. He married Atlantan socialite Lillian Dalton Owens (White) in the mid-30s. During the 30s and 40s, Forrest officiated many funerals as a Christian Science reader or practitioner. The Osgoods moved to Florida in the late-40s, where Forrest passed away in 1949 and Lillie in 1979. Along this path, Forrest interacted with many fascinating people, and even left his own mark on history.

The noted Arlington High School forward played for three seasons from 08/09 – 10/11. During that time, his teammates included Wendell Reycroft and Jack Hutchinson. According to the Globe, the team unanimously elected him to be the captain for the 1910/11 season. The Globe article highlighted his popularity and creativity. They credited him with creating several popular rally chants. Unfortunately, the 1910/11 Arlington team lost the championship to Melrose. At the end of the season, the Massachusetts’ Freemasons of Hiram Lodge hosted a “Ladies Night” with Forrest and his older sister attending.

Forrest’s hockey days did not end with high school. He played a season on the Intercolonials alongside Raymie Skilton and next season on the Boston Athletic Association’s Unicorns with Ralph Winsor. Also during this time, he coached, probably instructed is better, the Arlington High School team for a few seasons including the epic 1912/13 championship run. Forrest remained with the Unicorns until he joined the Navy.

As the war wound down, Forrest remained in Pensacola where the Navy sent him for flight school. In December 1918, he initiated with the Hiram Lodge of the Massachusetts Freemasons. He achieved full membership in February 1919. Although his membership card listed Arlington as his residence, he spent considerable time in Florida. Newspapers note his attendance to several social functions in Florida between 1920 and 1925. While he continued to travel, he eventually settled in Atlanta, Georgia by 1930.

By 1930, he also joined the Church of Christ, Scientist, and became a public practitioner.   Around this same time, he met Lillian Owens (White), who was also involved in Christian Science. Lillie’s father was a key figure in growing the Atlanta Constitution, a newspaper. She also engaged in several social functions including leading committees in the Brenau College Club. They’d marry in 1935. After 1935, A few times, he offered opening remarks for guest speakers from the Boston head church. His congregation elected to be a reader at least once. And, he regularly rendered final rites.

As for children, Forrest does not appear to have fathered any. Lillie’s two boys were in their early twenties when Forrest and Lillie married. Forrest and Lillie retired to New Smyrna Beach, Florida in 1946. Just two years later, Forrest would die in 1949 after an illness. Lillie passed on in 1979. While these facts are known, questions will remain about the charismatic, Bostonian hockey youth who surrounded himself with Southern social elites.

Sources:
1. Forrest C. Osgood player profile. Society for International Hockey Research. (Note: Requires paid account.)
2. Hiram Lodge, Massachusetts.
3. Forrest Clifford Osgood. Massachusetts Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards 1733–1990. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts. (Courtesy of Ancestry.com)
4. Year: 1930; Census Place: Atlanta, Fulton, Georgia; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0096; FHL microfilm: 2340097 (courtesy of Ancestry.com)
5. Year: 1940; Census Place: Buckhead, Fulton, Georgia; Roll: m-t0627-00675; Page: 17B; Enumeration District: 60-23A (Courtesy of Ancestry.com)
6. Christian Science Practitioner. Wikipedia.
7. Boston Globe, Atlanta Constitution, Orlando Evening Star and other newspapers courtesy of newspapers.com

The NAHL: Wendell Gage Reycroft

People identified Wendell Gage Reycroft as a well-liked, well-rounded, solid performer who transformed an industry.

Born May 1894, Wendell attended Arlington High School as a class of 1913. He played a strong game of hockey along with team mates Jack Hutchinson and Forrest Osgood. Arlington H.S. faced Melrose H.S. for the 1912/13 Interscholastic League Championship. Each school’s record was 11-0-1, with the tie game being with each other. Arlington scored more goals 55-10 over Melrose 48-11. However, people considered the teams to be generally even matched. For the game, Wendell, right wing, opposed Percy Wanamaker, left wing. The ref called the game after 65 minutes with double overtime. At the end, the game tied 2-2 resulted in a playoff that would be played on March 19, 1913. To front page news, Arlington won the game 2-0 and cinched the 1912/13 championship. Franklin Collier illustrated Wendell’s winning goal for the Boston Globe.

In high school, Wendell did not make the interscholastic team. He simply played the game well. This carried over to his Dartmouth days.

Wendell played hockey on Dartmouth’s team from 1913/14 until 1916/17. While at college, he continued to play alongside many notable hockeyists like George Geran and Robert Paisely. Finally, his hard work earned him a spot on an All-Collegian team in 1916.  Unlike his contemporaries, Wendell elected to not play on any of the local amateur teams. His brother, Louis, took the competitive sports mantle.

In April 1917, he joined the Navy Reserve in Rhode Island. The Navy activated him and sent him overseas as an aviator. After coming back, he joined Bassick, a caster and floor truck manufacturer, in 1920. By 1933, he rose to a vice president position. Additionally, he co-founded the Caster and Floor Truck Manufacturers Association, which is now known as the Institute of Caster and Wheel Manufacturers (ICWM). He also became a president of the organization. Through the organization, he helped create industry standards for casters and wheels.

In 1920, Wendell married his high school sweetheart, Eleanor Russell. They both enjoyed golf. However, Eleanor excelled at it. She became state champion for Massachusetts and Connecticut. The Bridgeport Country Club elected her president at least once. Golf started for Eleanor at age 10 and didn’t stop until 98. Besides golfing, she supported many charities including Girl Scouts, Visiting Nurses and American Red Cross. Gloria Negri excelled in summarizing Eleanor’s life for Boston Globe’s obituary.

Wendell retired in 1959 and passed away 1978. Eleanor died at 109 in 2004. By all accounts, Wendell and Eleanor were very affable people, intelligent and persistent.

Sources:
#. Institute for Casters and Wheel Manufacturers.
#. Directory of Industry Advisory Committees. United States War Production Board. January 1943. Government Printing Office.
#. Dartmouth College Class of 1917 reunion – 1953.  (Second Row, sixth person from the left.)
#. Wendell Reycroft Retirement. Bridgeport Post. 1958.
#. Eleanor Russell Reycroft Obituary. Boston Globe. 2004.
#. Military, Compiled Service Records. World War I. Wendell Gage Reycroft, ENS. National Archives, St. Louis.
#. Wendell Gage Reycroft, player profile. Society for International Hockey Research. (Note: Requires paid account.)
#. Boston Globe, Bridgeport Post, Montreal Gazette and other newspapers courtesy of newspapers.com

The NAHL: Frank Patrick Downing

Frank Patrick Downing allowed his dedication and skill to speak. A midwest transplant from Milwaukee, the Downings moved to Somerville in the early 1900s. Attending Somerville High School, Frank gained attention for hockey. After high school, he worked for the National Biscuit Company, a.k.a. NABISCO. Throughout the ‘teens and early twenties, he won championships in the American amateur hockey leagues. In 1922, he quietly hung up his amateur hockey skates. His accomplishments standing on their own.

Despite moving at an early age. Frank Downing appears to have retained nany character traits typically associated with the midwest. Born in June 1894, he found himself in Somerville High School’s class of 1915. Whether through hard work, talent or both, Frank excelled in sports, specifically hockey. Due to his skill and attaining captain, the Boston Globe placed him on their 1913/14 Interscholastic All-star team along with Percy Wanamaker.

While still playing high school hockey, Frank rose to senior amateur hockey. For the 1914/15 season, he played with the Boston Arenas. At the time, the Arenas team included Frank Synnott, Mickey Roach, Farrell Conley, and others. He even played at least one game with Raymie Skilton. Afer graduating, he switched to the B.A.A. Unicorns.

In 1917, he submitted his draft card. He listed assistant foreman at National Biscuit for his occupation. He placed his employment location on 128 Franklin St., which is the former Kennedy Biscuit Co. Before the Army called, Frank joined the Navy Reserve Force.

After the war, Frank returned to NABISCO and amateur hockey. First, he started with BAA. In 1922, he drove the Westminster to a USAHA championship. He almost led the team to an international win against Pere Marquette. Pere Maquette promised a unique challenge cup for the series. Yet, the cup was never presented. Depending upon the amateur rules, the Marquette won 2 games to 1 (Canadian newspapers) or it was a tie with 3 goals apiece (Boston Globe). Either way, Pere Marquette never had to show the promised cup. At 28, Frank hung up his skates with a Fellowes challenge cup for his final hockey prize.

In October 1924, Frank married Dorothy Ann Deacon. They had two children, Francis and John. By 1942, the Downings moved to Philadephia. Frank continued working for NABISCO. At 48, Frank provided nearly thrity years of service to NABISCO. He still had a long life yet ahead.

At 88, Frank passed away in Philadelphia. Dorothy passed away five years later in 1987. Many details about Frank are not publicly known. What is known are the comparisons to some of the greatest hockey players of his era, his championships, and his dedication to his family, country and craft.

Sources:
1. Kennedy Biscuit Co. Cambridge Historical Commission. Jan 16, 2019
2. History of Candy Making in Cambridge. Natalie Moravek. Cambridge Historical Society. 2011
3. United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library microfilm. (Courtesy of ancestry.com)
4. World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the State of Pennsylvania. State Headquarters ca. 1942. NARA Publication: M1951. NAI: 563728. The National Archives at St. Louis, Missouri. U.S.A. (Courtesy of ancestry.com)
5. Frank Downing player profile. SIHR. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=134087 (NOTE: Requires a paid account.)
6. Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Ottawa Citizen and others courtesy of newspapers.com

The NAHL: John “Jack” Gouverneur Hutchinson

In December 1917, the First Naval District acquired John G. Hutchinson from a private life as a farm manager. By the end of the month, Jack joined the First Naval District hockey team and assisted them to their first exhibition win over the Boston-based Arena Hockey Club. As with many other John’s of the era, newsprint often referred to him as “Jack”. Knowing this helped tracked him to the start of his hockey playing in Arlington High School in 1908 and all the way through his Amherst (Massachusetts Agriculture). He played amateur hockey for Boston Athletic Association until at least 1926. When he transitioned to coaching, he earned a new nickname, the “old fox”, which carried him through the 1930s. However, Jack’s era was the era of amateur hockey. As amateur hockey diminished, Jack blended into the background as well.

The “old fox” was born in Arlington, Massachusetts on July 20, 1891. He played high school hockey during his last two years at Arlington High School. When he attended Massachusetts Agricultural College (UMass Amherst), he played from 1911 until 1914. During this period, John also spent time in the military achieving the rank of sergeant prior to enlisting in the Navy. John’s high school and college years prepared him well for the future.

John became a Naval Aviator too late in the war to see action. In a bit of unintentional foreshadowing, his Naval Air Station Bay Shore flight school record states:

A little slow to learn – quiet – Industrious – Has confidence – good attitude – handles men well.

The instructor who noted that John “handles men well” probably did not expect him to become a successful hockey coach.

John did not immediately transition into coaching. He played in the US Amateur Hockey Association with the Boston Athletic Association Unicorns until 1926. After a two year hiatus, he started managing BAA hockey. In 1931, he managed the “university club” team. With nearly ten years of coaching and management experience, the Amateur Athletic Union selected him to lead the 1939 United States’ hockey team. On the cusp of WWII, John took ten players to Switzerland. They walked away with Silver.

Even as a coach, John maintained an Amateur status. He found work primarily as an automotive mechanic. Whether it was an automotive job or an airplane job, John worked at Roosevelt Field Inn in the early 40s. Roosevelt Field was one of the busiest airports in the United States in the 20s and 30s. Roosevelt Field Inn opened in 1930, which was nearly four years after Charles Lindbergh made his famous transatlantic trip. Shortly his WWII draft card listing, he moved on to Cote Motor Company.

After 13 years at Cote and two months of retirement, John Hutchinson passed away at his son’s house on October 4, 1956. In a twist of bureaucratic fate, John lived on in Veteran’s Affairs records. In 1963, a John G. Hutchinson claimed VA benefits from the West Roxbury VA hospital. While it probably was a mix up between him and his son, a probable WWII veteran, these little mysteries of every day heroes can be misleading trails or tantalizing puzzle boxes. Those that survived John include Edith, a son, and two grandchildren. Much like John, they blended into the historical background of every day life.

Sources:
1. https://www.sihrhockey.org/member_player_sheet.cfm?player_id=48798 (Note: Requires paid account)
2. http://scua.library.umass.edu/youmass/doku.php?id=m:morrill_act
3. National Archives, john Hutchinson [Service # 001723610], https://catalog.archives.gov/id/3488255
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1939_Ice_Hockey_World_Championships
5. https://teamusa.usahockey.com/page/show/2669052-1939-iihf-men-s-world-championship
6. https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/roosevelt-field-through-the-years-1.10862824
7. Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.  (Note: Requires Paid Account)
8. Boston Globe courtesy of newspapers.com

Additional sources:
Morrill Land Grant background: https://www.aplu.org/library/the-land-grant-tradition/file
Amherst under President Meiklejohn (1912-1923) https://www.jstor.org/stable/368850?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
https://bayshore.greaterlongisland.com/2018/01/02/31061-from-history-remembering-bay-shores-wwi-air-base-local-hospitality/

The NAHL: Dr. George Joseph Gaw

For a man who only pitched in six major league baseball games, Dr. George Joseph Gaw remains closely associated with the game. But, baseball was not his only passion. George was a dentist, ship builder, WWI Navy Veteran, coach and a hockeyist. Along the way, he earned the nickname “Chippy” or “Chippie”. And, he married Dorothy Schroeder, a Newton HS basketball star and Chippy’s high school crush. In many ways, George Gaw was just your average New Englander.

George Gaw came into this world on Sunday, March 13, 1892 in Newton, Massachusetts. He played baseball (pitcher) and hockey (forward) for Newton High School. In 1911, Gaw entered minor league baseball with the Lancaster Red Roses. The move to Pennsylvania lasted just one game. Chippy returned to Boston after a couple of days. He bounced back eventually earning on spots the International League, AA ball at the time. Chippy helped the Buffalo Bisons win the pennant in 1915 and 16. In 1917, the Bisons released Chippy in mid-season mainly due to contract conflict. However, the Bisons waited until a badly pitched game before handing him the “blue ticket”. The Providence Grays picked him up.

In the off season, Chippy attended Tufts Dental for a dental degree. By 1914, sports writers labelled him as the “kid dentist”, “tooth twirler” and similar mash ups. By 1916, he opened a small dentistry office in Waltham, Massachusetts. As the war came, he shut down everything and joined the Navy Reserve. With the Navy, Chippie played on Ralph Winsor‘s hockey team and later on the baseball team.

As the war wound down, Chippy returned to the civilian games he never left. In 1920, the Chicago Cubs brought him up for six games before pushing him to Milwaukee Brewers, a AA-team at the time. Through all of this, Chippy focused on finishing his degree, which happened in 1921. Chippy’s baseball career ended on September 9, 1928 in front 15,000 people. Chippy pitched for the losing South Boston against Quincy in Boston’s Twilight League. Chippy coached college baseball, too. In 1920, he coached Boston University. In 1921, it was Harvard’s second team getting expertise. Finally, Chippy settled down at BU starting in 1924 until 1928.

As for hockey, Chippy stopped playing and started coaching. First, he coached Lafayette in Buffalo and Pomfret high schools. In 1920/21, MIT picked Chippy to coach hockey. Although he played for Newton High School (1910) and Tufts, people expected Chippy to coach in the “Winsor style” that he learned in the Navy. From 1921/22 until 1928, Chippy coached Dartmouth (1), Princeton (2), and Boston University (4). In the move to BU, he replaced former teammate John James O’hare as head coach. Across those years, he recorded .581 (50-31-5) win percentage. (NOTE: does not include MIT era.)

After his sports careers wound down, George never really left baseball. He gave hockey one last coaching attempt in 1932. Unfortunately, Chippy was too serious for the Boston Hockey Club. But, Chippy was on the mound for old-timer games like one on July 12, 1939. He engaged in Babe Ruth’s final appearance as player in a July 12, 1943 exhibition game. He commented on Pantsy Donovan’s passing, too.

With the onset of World War II, Chippy registered for the old man’s draft in April, 1942. At the time, George listed Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard as his place of employment. The Navy used this site to build many Destroyer Escorts. Even with this 25 million dollar contract at the shipyard, George filed for bankruptcy in 1943. Tragedy struck again when one of his sons, David, murdered his estranged wife in 1952. George and Dorothy just worked through it all.

In the midst of near retirement, he picked up a fascination for bullfighting. He would trot down to Nogales during spring training. He learned Spanish. Traveled across Spain and Italy in ’59. In mid-December 1960, the basketball star, whom he married in Bermuda, passed away. Focused on spring training and his grand children, George pushed through until David’s parole. In 1968, George followed Dorothy. Despite the baseball championships or the Ivy league hockey wins, Jerry Nason reminded us that to Chippy ¡Olé! equaled his other sports accomplishments.


Tue, May 28, 1968 – 29 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Sources:
1. Chippy Gaw, “The Doctor is in”. Diamonds in the Dusk. Nov 8, 2012.
2. Year: 1916; Arrival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 2456; Line: 4; Page Number: 82
3. Coach George Gaw. College Hockey News.
4. Hingham Shipyard History. Wikipedia
5. Chippy Gaw’s Obit. Part1, Part2. Jason Nason. Boston Globe. May 28, 1968.
6. Boston Globe

Other Sources:
1. Boston Terriers Men’s Hockey Recordbook, 1917-2016. Boston University.
2. Boston University Baseball Club. Boston University.
3. Boston Terriers Team History. College Hockey News.
4. Hingham Shipyard History. Smith Yacht.
5. List of WWII Navy vessels built at Hingham. ShipBuildingHistory.com

The NAHL: George Pierce Geran

A Dartmouth College kid hailing from Holyoke, Massachusetts glided on to the ice for the U.S. Navy in 1917. Possessing a natural talent for hockey, he danced around players from around the world over the course of his hockey career. Unlike his contemporaries, Jerry, or Gerry, only played hockey in high school. This focus and dedication led him to playing in the NHL, twice, in the Olympics, once, and several other hockey stages.

George Pierce Geran, or Jerry or Gerry for short, possessed a natural talent for hockey which many claimed to rival Hobey Baker‘s skill. Born in 1896, Jerry completed high school in Holyoke. Dartmouth accepted him in 1915, where he captained the freshman hockey team.  After the United States joined the war, Jerry traveled to Montreal and was selected by the Montreal Wanderers, one of the first NHL teams. Raymie Skilton also joined the Wanderers. However, it is not clear if they traveled together or if Raymie arrived later. Regardless, the Montreal Arena burned down cutting short both of their NHL careers. They returned to Massachusetts and joined the Navy Reserve.

While in the Reserves, Jerry played for the US Navy hockey in the US NAHL. Putting him in touch with Ralph Winsor, George Brown and Roy Schooley amongst others. This exposure creates an opportunity for Jerry to play on two USA Olympic ice hockey teams, 1920 and 1924. Some where between Montreal and the Navy, Jerry develops a friendship with Raymie that carries past the war and into the Boston Shoe Trades.

Jerry played on the Boston Shoe Trades for only one season. During that one season, Jerry probably learned the leather business. In 1921, he traveled to Paris on a business trip with Murray Leather Company. He would stay in France for the 1921 and much of the 1922 season. While in Paris, Jerry maintained his hockey skills at the Club des Patineurs de Paris. At the end of 1922, he returned to Massachusetts and the Boston Athletic Association Unicorns. He found a way out of his 1924 Olympic commitment. Then, he preceded to assist the Unicorns to at least one USAHA championship before leaping over to the Boston Bruins for the 1925-26 season.

Across the 30s and 40s, Jerry bounced around as his fancy. Whether it was becoming a professional scout for the New York Rangers. Or, professional development for a new team and rink in Hartford, Connecticut. He even traveled back to France to play in one final seasons during 1932-33. However, his last great push was the creation of the “Association of Professional Hockey Players of America”, the forerunner to today’s NHL Player’s Association (NHLPA). Over the course of Spring ’41, Jerry tried to get players and owners involved in an association to protect and provide for players in retirement. Despite not being the president, Herb Manning, of the Winnipeg Tribune, seemingly derided the effort as a money making scheme for Jerry. Jerry would at least live to see Ted Lindsay and others create the NHLPA in 1967.

In Jerry’s waning days, he’d pen opinions about Brooklyn sirens, honking and baseball in letters to the editor of the Daily News. After 1949, his active public profile waned to almost nothing. Dink Carroll lamented that Jerry’s time in France made him fat and past playing prime. But, Jerry played in the era’s top tier U.S. hockey league, the US Amateur Hockey Association. So, I think Dink’s criticism a bit unfair. Jerry died in Brooklyn at 85 in 1981, and the world did not take note of a man dedicated to his friends and sport.

Sources:
1. George Geran, Player Profile. Society of International Hockey Research. *Note: Paid Account Required.
2. 1920 Antwerp Olympic Winter Games. USA Hockey.
3. Montreal Arena. Wikipedia.
4. Club des Patineurs de Paris. Wikipedia.
5. Manning, Herb. One Man’s Opinion. Winnipeg Tribune. 22 April 1941.
A. The Boston Globe, Boston.
B. The Daily News, New York