As always, most images can be seen at full size by clicking on them.

So someone sends me this picture and wants to know what Cedar Avenue is or was…


I mention this to several people and am surprised to find that none of them have ever heard of Cedar Avenue either…I decide to do a little amateur poll…so far I’ve asked about 60 people…not one knew anything about Cedar Avenue…so here is the story.

The Moravians began construction of Salem in 1766. On June 7, 1771, John Birkhead became the first Salemite to die and was interred in God’s Acre, about a block north of the church. Eva Anna Berothin (Beroth), who died on September 3, 1773, became the first woman interred there. A path led from the church to the graveyard. Around the time of the first burials, someone began planting cedar trees along both sides of the path. By 1813, the church diary reported that there were plans to fill in all the empty spaces to make two complete rows from the church to the graveyard entrance.



Cedar Avenue begins just north of Home Moravian Church at Cedarhyrst. Cedarhyrst is a Gothic Revival house built in 1894 for Dr. Nathaniel and Eleanor DeSchweinitz Siewers. It was occupied for much of the 20th century by Moravian Bishop Kenneth Pfohl and his wife, Bessie.


Cedar Avenue became an integral part of all Salem Congregation funerals and the annual Easter Sunrise service. And it became a favorite strolling spot every day of the week. Of course, as with any public space, there were a few problems. In 1828 it became necessary for the church to issue a stern warning to those who persisted in cutting branches from the trees. A few years later, handbills had to be posted forbidding bird hunting on the avenue.

But the avenue was, for the most part, the pride of Salem, a slogan that would later be applied to the many postcards depicting Cedar Avenue. It was mentioned frequently in the local newspapers and in poems. An example:


From the start, Cedar Avenue became a haven for sledders. After a January 1893 snow, three of the Twin City’s most distinguished citizens, John Cameron Buxton (noted lawyer and chairman of the school board), Robert B. Glenn (future governor of NC), and James A. Gray (president of Wachovia National Bank) were persuaded to have a go. They all piled on one sled and made a run. They liked it so much that they made another, and another, and another, until finally the driver lost control and they wrecked. Gray was at the bottom of the pile and a local newspaper reported that bystanders feared the worst, but when the other two had risen, Gray was found to be “not quite dead.” Below, l-r, Gray, Buxton, Glenn.


In 1874, one of the oldest trees died. A new tree was planted to replace it, but failed to grow. As other trees died, their replacements would not grow either. Since the avenue was near the railroad, which had opened in 1873, some blamed soot from the railway engines. But that was ridiculous, because other nearby cedars remained unaffected. As each tree died, its wood was harvested and often turned into souvenirs, which explains the 1895 chest that inspired this post. Expert arborists were brought in, but none could explain why cedar trees would no longer grow on Cedar Avenue.


The 1918 removal. The last tree fell at 3:30 PM on Friday, November 1, 1918.

By 1918, the situation was so bad that the church decided to cut down all of the remaining cedars and start over. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the cedars were to be replaced by a hardier species, willow oaks. There has been some confusion about that, because in later years other sources reported that it was red oaks or some other species. In any case, since oaks are slow growing, it was decided to intersperse fast growing Lomabardy poplars in the gaps. As the oaks matured, the poplars were removed. By the mid-20th century, Cedar Avenue had become an avenue of grand oak trees.


The removal of the cedar trees had been carried out quietly. Few people, especially in Winston, knew what had happened. At the beginning of the project, there was a power pole on Cemetery Street which had a guy wire that passed too close to one of the cedars. A new guy wire was attached and anchored to a nearby stone wall. A few days after the last tree was cut, a boy happened along, spotted the new guy wire and decided it would make a nice jungle gym. As he swung, the power pole bent toward him. Finally, he let go and the guy wire sprung upward…the pole bent wildly…electric wires touched each other…there was a bright flash of light and a crack like thunder and the entire town of Winston went dark…factories, stores, the hospital, city hall…the streetcars ground to a halt…of course, as the electric company folks worked to fix the problem, a large crowd gathered at the source of the bright flash of light. So when the lights finally came back on, suddenly everyone knew that the cedars had been removed.


Salem Square, May 5, 1989

But then, disaster struck. In early May, 1989, a huge storm spawned an outbreak of tornadoes in the mid-Atlantic region. Winston-Salem was struck by an F2 tornado. Then an F3 touched down near Clemmons and wreaked havoc all the way to Walkertown. Much damage was done, none worse than in Salem, where a number of the mighty trees on Salem Square succumbed, along with about 80 trees on Cedar Avenue. So once again, the Salem Congregation decided to start over. After the debris was removed, they made a daring decision to replant with cedars. Just to be safe, they interspersed those with Holly trees. It worked.


The north entrance to Cedar Avenue abuts Cemetery Street. There was once a stile here to prevent entry by horses and wagons. At the right is the Fogle Apartments, built by Fogle Brothers in the 1890s. It is now a dormitory for Salem College, housing six students in each three bedroom unit



Congregants stroll past Cedarhyrst at Easter, 1957

Images of Cedar Avenue over the years:



Tom Hege, a noted local photographer, made this image around 1894. That is him leaning against the post. He used a variety of remote devices to put himself in the picture.














A Roman stabula, or motel. The entrance at the left had a ramp leading to the rear where animals were stabled and vehicles parked.

Motels are as old as civilization. They existed in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and elsewhere. In Rome, hotels, which were found in the center city, were known as hospitia. Motels, which were found near the city gates, were known as stabula, because they provided parking for your animals, cart, chariot, whatever. And the rooms clustered around a center court, a design that would later be copied in many early American motels.


One of the earliest buildings in Salem was the tavern. When it burned in 1784, it was immediately replaced by this building. George Washington slept here in 1791.

From colonial days, American towns and cities had centrally located inns and rooms to rent. Scattered haphazardly in between were many country inns where a traveler could get food and drink and a relatively primitive sleeping space. The coming of the railroad in the mid-19th century put many of those inns out of business, as hotels and rooming houses clustered around the railway depots, where they pretty much stayed until Henry Ford made the automobile affordable for the masses and independent tourism became possible.


L-R: Edison, Burroughs, Ford, Firestone on one of their jaunts.

You can watch movies of the Vagabonds here:



Ford, with his pals John Burroughs, Harvey Firestone and Thomas Edison, became pioneering auto tourists, calling themselves The Vagabonds and making frequent forays into the backwoods together. They carried camping equipment, servants and fine silverware and often spent the night on some farmer’s land, which set the tone for all the other early tourists. By the 1920s, tourist camping became more formalized, with rural entrepreneurs advertising tourist camps, with a small fee for the use of the land, water and maybe an outhouse. Next came tourist cabins, typically $1 per night for the cabin, 25¢ extra for a two person mattress, with onsite bathing facilities and outhouse.


The Vagabonds, minus Burroughs who had left the tour in Asheville, visited the Twin City in 1918. Here they are seen at a luncheon at Forsyth Country Club. L-R: James G. Hanes, Henry Dwire, B.S. Womble, Harvey Firestone, A.H. Eller, Thomas Edison, Frank Dunklee, John Gilmer, Henry Ford, B.F. Huntley, unidentified, Pleas Hanes, Ray Johnson, Powell Gilmer, Harvey Firestone, Jr., Will Watkins, Norman Stockton.


Less well off Americans joined the auto touring frenzy. Some of them formed the Tin Can Tourists in 1919 at Desoto Park, Tampa, FL. The group was dedicated to uniting all auto campers to promote clean camps, friendly behavior and new and imptoved roads.

Meanwhile, the first facility to use the word motel opened in San Luis Obispo, CA in 1925. The Motel Inn cost $80,000 to build, charged $1.25 per night and was projected to be the first of 18 such facilities spaced 150-200 miles apart across the west coast. But the owners were unable to trademark the name, cheaper copycats gave fierce competition, investors could not be found and shortly after the Great Depression began, the original owners lost the property to foreclosure. The main building is still standing today and is used as the offices of a much newer hotel next door.


As the motel concept worked its way eastward across the US, the tourist cabin concept was evolving into the tourist village. A typical village consisted of a main building housing the office, a restaurant and possibly a bar or nightclub. The cabins were separate, but much improved from earlier times, with a garage or carport, a simple kitchen, and indoor bathroom, with shower.



And others were exploring chain-type operations, but the Depression made it almost impossible to find money to take on such large projects. So in 1933, a small group of owners met in Santa Barbara, CA and put together the first national association of independently owned tourist villages under the name United Motor Courts. Right from the start they published a wonderfully illustrated guide to recommended tourist villages coast to coast.


Just two years later, members of the Dobbins family and others built Winston-Salem’s first such facility, the Winston-Salem Tourist Village. It was located on the Greensboro Road, an extension of East Fifth Street, near the current junction of US 158 and Business I40 East. The first manager was Charles A. Dobbins. The village was made up of a main building  right on the highway, and a number of cabins set back in a wooded area. They quickly paid their fee and joined United Motor Courts.



By the time this picture was taken in the late 1950s, the Winston-Salem Tourist Village had become the Salem Manor Motel.

In 1940, Charles Dobbins’ widowed sister, Myrtle Dobbins Cohn, took over the management. One of the services that she provided was a car shuttle, often driven by her, that picked up and delivered passengers at local railroad and bus depots. In November, 1948, Earl Schooley, a magistrate from Atlantic City NJ was on his way to Florida for a vacation. Apparently he decided that he needed a night in a bed that wasn’t moving, so he detrained and wound up at the Winston-Salem Tourist Village.

It is not entirely certain what happened next, but it is likely that he was scheduled to catch the midnight Winston-Salem Southbound train. Maybe they were running late. The next station south of Winston-Salem was Eller (now Midway) in Davidson County. That station was not much farther from the Winston-Salem Tourist Village than the local station, so Myrtle and Earl raced through the densely fogged night for Eller. As she turned off of US 52 South onto the bridge leading to the station, Myrtle lost control of her 1948 Packard sedan. The car hit one railing, crossed back to the other side, went over and through that railing and fell 35 feet to the tracks below, landing upside down. Moments later, it was hit by a slow moving 64 car Southbound freight train and dragged along the tracks for about 65 yards. Rescue workers were able to get Myrtle out of the car right away, but Earl was trapped under the wreckage, so took a bit longer. Both were already dead. Earl was 51, Myrtle 41.


Myrtle Cohn’s Packard after the crash.

Another family member, Ruth S. Dobbins replaced Myrtle as manager. The village closed around 1953, but in 1957 it reopened as the Salem Manor Motel under the management of Thad Williams. By then other tourist courts and motels were popping up around the city (see pictures at end of post). With growing competition and cut off from the main traffic arteries by the East-West Expressway and the new US 52, Salem Manor struggled to get by. At some point it began renting the cabins as extended stay units. Around 1980, the Salem Manor name was dropped, replaced by the name Eastview Apartments. Most of the complex is still standing today, designated by the City of Winston-Salem as an historic development opportunity.


Winston-Salem Tourist Village today.

Driving While Black

Jim Crow is a word thrown about lightly by most Americans, who have no idea what it meant. As white Americans began enjoying the freedom of travel made possible by the automobile, many black Americans wanted to join in. They had cars. They had the money to afford accommodations and meals. But across most of America, they had no place to go. And we’re not talking just the South here. The famous US route 66 stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, CA. It was known as the Mother Road, the Will Rogers Highway, and the Main Street of America. But like far too many Main Streets, it was pretty much closed to black Americans. Even in the early 1950s, only about 6% of the hotels, motels, restaurants, gas stations, amusements parks, swimming pools, laundries and public bathrooms along route 66 were available to black Americans.


Lancaster, Ohio


Even National Parks were segregated. Shenandoah National Park, VA.

“Would a Negro like to pursue a little happiness at a theater, a beach, pool, hotel, restaurant, on a train, plane, or ship, a golf course, summer or winter resort? Would he like to stop overnight at a tourist camp while he motors about his native land ‘Seeing America First’? Well, just let him try.”

— Crisis, 1947 (The magazine of the NAACP)



The situation was so bad that in 1936, Victor H. Green, a New York postal worker, began publishing The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guide to places that DID accommodate black people. At first, it covered only the New York area, but soon expanded to include most of the United States, parts of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.  For a black American traveling in North America, it was as essential as a suitcase. The guide was published from 1936-1966.


Victor H. Green

Ironically, the South had more such accommodations than most places, because it had the highest density of black residents. If there is anything that will overcome racism, it is money. So areas with high black populations also had the most public accommodations for blacks. On a local basis, the towns of Salem and Winston had hotels and restaurants for whites from day one. By the 1880s, there were a number of lunchrooms and cafes and rooming houses in Winston that catered to blacks. But the earliest hotel for blacks that we can find is the 1915 Ideal Hotel, located at 705 Depot Street, the heart of the Liberty-Patterson black business district. The hotel was a bit of space in the Hall Building, under the management of J.G. Smith. The first real hotel, 1935, was the Lincoln, on the second floor of a building owned by black entrepreneur Charles H. Jones at 9 East Third Street. The first tourist court did not appear until the mid-1950s…the Camel City Tourist Homes, operated by Louise Jones at 513 Cleveland Avenue. Of course, there are no pictures of any of them.

Late 1950s, early 1960s motels in Winston-Salem


The Kembly Inn on Cloverdale Avenue. It was locally owned and operated and a member of  the Quality Courts United association, similar to the United Motor Courts association.




The Beacon Hill Motel was located at the junction of Reynolda Road and the Yadkinville highway.


The Blue Bird Motel was on US 52 North at North Cerry Street


The Corvette Motel was on East Mountain Street in Kernersville. You did not have to be driving a Corvette to stay there.


Howard Johnson’s, Stratford Road


City directory ads for Salem Manor & Shugart’s Motel


Myer-Lee Motel off I-40 East


Parkway Chalet opened in 1962 on Peter’s Creek Parkway at Academy Street


The Pony Motel was on US 158 North, near the Bel Air Drive-in Theater in Walkertown


The Winston Motel, near the intersection of I-40 East and US 158 North. The building is still there.

The Forsyth County Genealogical Society will meet on Tuesday evening, June 7, 2016, in the auditorium of the Reynolda Manor Public Library, located at 2839 Fairlawn Drive, Winston-Salem, NC. Our social period begins at 6:30 PM, and the meeting will begin at 7:00 PM.

Molly Grogan Rawls, the photograph collection librarian at the Forsyth County Public Library, will present her newest Images of America book, Winston-Salem’s Historic Salem Cemetery.” Salem Cemetery is the privately owned cemetery adjacent to the Salem “God’s Acre,” and since its 1857 incorporation it has become the final resting place for many of the builders and shapers of Winston-Salem. The book not only gives the history of the cemetery but also summarizes the lives and contributions of many of the industrial pioneers, mayors, philanthropists, educators, and other leaders buried there. Readers will find themselves exclaiming, “Oh that’s who that was” or “That’s who did that” as they read the informative captions for the photographs selected from the public library’s photo archives and other sources.

Winston-Salem's Historic Salem Cemetery


S.H. Foy was the superintendent of the Salem Cemetery in the early 20th century. He was also quite an amateur artist, whose wash drawings appeared occasionally in the Salem Academy & College yearbooks.

March Madness is nothing compared to the original…November Madness. Once upon a time, in the 19th century, there was baseball and football. They were played by men. Men told women that they should not play sports, because their place was barefooted and pregnant and in the kitchen. And preferably silent. Even so, some delinquent women tried playing football. And more played baseball. There was even a sort of baseball league, known as the Bloomer Girls. But for the most part, women complied and stayed off the playing fields.

Then, in 1891, a Canadian immigrant in Springfield, Massachusetts, concerned about the lack of sports activity in the worst winter months, invented a new indoor game. He nailed a couple of ordinary baskets to the wall of the local YMCA and the game of basket ball was born. Men had long claimed baseball and football as a male thing. But no one had any prior claim on basket ball.

Within weeks of James Naismith’s invention, Senda Berenson at Smith College had developed special rules for women and had her girls playing the game. Men liked it too, but it was women who truly embraced the game. The first inter-institutional game was played that same year between Cal Berkeley and Miss Head’s School. Four years later the first women’s intercollegiate game was played between, again, Cal Berkeley, and Stanford. It was a bitter struggle, with Stanford emerging as the winner, 2-1.

From the beginning, American institutions of higher learning embraced the Spartan ideal, a sound mind in a sound body. There had been gymnasiums on college campuses since the 18th century. But they were designed to accommodate the exercise of their times…gymnastic devices such as parallel bars, the horse, low hanging rings and trapezes, along with “medicine balls”, etc. Basketball, because of the arc of the ball above the basket, required taller spaces.

Trinity College (later Duke), claims in their archival resources that they built the first basketball compatible college gymnasium in North Carolina. It was named the Angier B. Duke gymnasium, and was always known as “The Ark”. It opened in late 1898 and was dedicated in March, 1899. But it was not the first basketball compatible college gymnasium in the state.


“The Ark” at Trinity College, Durham, NC, 1898

That honor belongs to Guilford College, which opened its basketball compatible gymnasium in 1896. That gymnasium was dedicated three years before The Ark. And there is a neat twist. Guilford College men had built an on campus YMCA in 1892 which was meant to accommodate the new game of basket ball. But it was a YMCA gym, not built by the college. The women students complained that they were not allowed to use this men’s gym. So in 1896, the college built a new basketball compatible gym just for women students. The dedication ceremony was attended by the state treasurer, who was treated to a lively exhibition of women’s basketball.


Guilford girls in front of their new gymnasium, 1896

From the start, basket ball sparked teams and leagues and intra and inter-organizational competition, mostly limited to YMCA games. It took fifteen years before the first intercollegiate games occurred in North Carolina. Again, Trinity (Duke) claims that they had the first team. And they claim that they played the first intercollegiate game of basketball in the state. But again, that claim is false. They may have formed the first team…we have no way of knowing the exact dates. But around the same time, Wake Forest and Guilford Colleges also formed teams.


Wake Forest College’s first basket ball team, 1906


The first college basket ball game in North Carolina, as reported by the Greensboro Daily News, February 7, 1906. At the time, both field goals and free throws counted one point.

After the 1905-06 Christmas break, Wake Forest announced that their team was going on the road to play other college teams, YMCAs, and anyone else up to the task. And we know from newspaper reports that the first intercollegiate game was played at Guilford College, on Tuesday, February 6, 1906, with the Quakers defeating the Baptists of Wake Forest 29-16. After the game, the Guilford team played host to the Wake Forest players at a banquet in the college cafeteria. Trinity’s first game against Wake Forest came a couple of weeks later.


The first women’s college basketball game in NC created quite a stir in Charlotte. Although men were barred from the Presbyterian Female College campus, since the game was played outdoors, the men took to nearby rooftops and were treated to quite a contest.


Presbyterian Female College basket ball team, 1907

But the women were no more than a step behind. On Monday, April 8, 1907, Elizabeth College (now defunct) and Presbyterian Female College (later Queens College) tangled in Charlotte. The game was played behind closed gates, no male spectators allowed, apparently for fear that some man might catch a glimpse of a girl’s ankle and go mad with lust. Reporters from the Charlotte newspapers had to interview female spectators after the game to discover that Elizabeth had won, 10-6. Shortly afterward, the second women’s game took place on the basketball field at Salem Academy and College. The home girls came back from a 7-6 halftime deficit to whip the ladies from Greensboro Female College (now Greensboro College), 18-11.


The Winston-Salem Journal reported the second women’s college basket ball game between Salem Academy & College and the Greensboro Female College. Salem trailed by a point at the half, but came back to win, 18-11. All the color and drama of today was already present, minus today’s abysmal sportsmanship.


Greensboro Female College basket ball team, 1907


Salem Academy & College Team, 1907

But the real madness was often intramural. Early on, Salem Academy and College established November Madness, a Thanksgiving ritual that would continue for years. In those days, Salem students did not go home for Thanksgiving. Instead, on that Thursday, they played a ferocious basket ball tournament. The first round was frosh versus sophomores, then seniors vs juniors. The winners then met for the college class championship. But the real blood bath was the final game, pitting the hard core rivals the Euterpean Literary Society against the  Hesperian Literary Society. The talent level in that game might have been a bit less than in the class competition, but this was the ultimate rivalry game.


Salem Academy & College seniors versus juniors, first round of November Madness, 1910.

I think my favorite November Madness came in 1910. Leading up to the first game, the fresh girls had been doing a good bit of trash talking about the sophs. The sophs, being older and wiser, said nothing back. They waited to let their play on the field do the talking. The outcome was sophs 19, frosh 6, both the highest score and the widest margin ever posted at the time. So much for trash talking. The seniors, having beaten the juniors, then defeated the sophomores 6-5 for the championship. But then came the literary society struggle. And it was a brutal one, with numerous wounded young ladies littering the ground before the Hesperians prevailed, 6-3.


In 1910, the freshmen talked trash, the sophomores taught them some manners, but this group of seniors won the tournament

More often than not, the seniors won the class championship. But in 1915, the sophomores upset the seniors in the championship game. The next year, that year’s seniors assured everyone that the previous year had been a fluke and that they would take down the defending champions in the first round. That did not happen. The juniors first knocked out the seniors, then went on to defeat the sophomores for their second straight title.


In 1915, the sophomores, the class of 1918, pulled off a major upset and won November Madness


In 1916, against all odds, the improbable indomitable class of 1918 pulled off their second straight November Madness championship

As Thanksgiving 1917 approached all three other classes were certain that someone would tame those brassy two-time champion seniors. In the first round, the seniors disappointed everyone by downing the juniors . And in the championship game, they topped the sophomores, thus becoming the first threepeat winners in school history, and maybe in all of North Carolina. The only earlier consecutive winners that we know of is Guilford College’s men’s team, which won the Carolinas-Virginia college championship two years in a row, 1913 and 1914.


Everybody said it couldn’t be done, but the class of 1918 made it three in a row at the 1917 November Madness. Helen Long, front and center, a mere substitute in the 1915 game, scored all but one of the senior’s goals.

Triumph is triumph. But no matter how hard they fought on the field, at the banquet later that night, each player on each team made a toast to an individual opponent on the other team. That is how college basket ball began in North Carolina. Maybe it should still be that way.


Elizabeth College, 1901


St. Mary’s College, 1900


State Normal School for Women (later Women’s College), 1900


Salem Academy & College Trophy Room

From today’s  This Day in North Carolina History


Women’s Education in North Carolina Began at Salem

by NC Culture

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

The Salem Academy and College campus in the 1880s. Image from the Forsyth County Public Library.

On May 16, 1804, Salem Academy opened the doors of its new dormitory, South Hall, to students and officially transitioned from a day school to a boarding school.

The Moravians had established the all-girls’ school in 1772 soon after the first women trekked 500 miles from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to join the community at Salem. One of their number, Elisabeth Oesterlein, became the first teacher at the school. The unmarried women of Salem, known as “single sisters,” governed the academy during this early period.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

The Senior Study Parlor at Salem Academy and College, circa 1904. Image from Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

The Moravians believed women and other disenfranchised groups of the time deserved an education. As early as 1785, records indicate the inclusion of African-American students, and in the 1820s, the daughter of a Cherokee chief attended the school.

By the late 19th century, Salem Academy began awarding college degrees. Eventually the academy and college split into two separate institutions, although they still share the same campus.

Salem Academy and College both remain all-female, though some continuing education programs for men over age 23 are offered. The American Council on Education recognizes Salem College as the oldest such institution strictly for women in the United States.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

NC Culture | May 16, 2016 at 6:30 AM | Tags: education, Forsyth County, History,Moravians, Winston-Salem | Categories: History | URL: http://wp.me/p2C43o-1Ws
Comment    See all comments

Our blog got a little write-up in this month’s issue of Winston-Salem Monthly…to check it out, click the picture below…




George W. Bush on the rugby pitch

Our posts rarely stray outside of Forsyth County, not because we are not interested in extra-county matters, but because there are way too many in-county stories for us to ever cover. But right from the start in the 1750s, the annual Moravian diary reviews began with world events and proceeded to the local, because the Moravians, as do we, understood that everything human is connected.

So, yesterday, my friend Steve Wishnevsky began a thread on Facebook about politicians, and particularly, U.S. Presidents, who might have suffered brain damage from playing football. I couldn’t resist, for two reasons.

1. We tend to see our Presidents only as political animals and as people of a certain age, forgetting that they were once much younger and perhaps less political, and maybe even knew how to have fun.

2. And of course, there is a local connection, as always…all roads lead to Winston-Salem.


JFK, age 9, Dexter School, 1926

Here is your local connection. Ernie Shore, a native of Yadkin County, an honors graduate of Guilford College in engineering and sheriff of Forsyth County for 36 years, previously was a star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. When he and his roommate Babe Ruth got a divorce because Babe would not stop using Ernie’s hairbrush, Ernie moved into the household of “Honey Fitz” Fitzpatrick, the father of Rose Fitzpatrick Kennedy, and became essentially a family member. As such, he was one of the first people to see Baby Jack Kennedy when he was born. When JFK made a campaign stop at the Triad airport in 1960, he gave Ernie a big bear hug and called him “cuz”.


Herbert Hoover did not play football, but he was the first future US President associated with the game. Here we see him, third row in the suit, as manager & treasurer of the 1894 Stanford team that lost to the University of Chicago in the first postseason intersectional college game, 24-4, at the Haight Street grounds in San Francisco on Christmas day. Four days later, Stanford won a rematch at the Athletic Park in Los Angeles, 12-0.

That being said, our Presidents have had sporting interests from the very beginning. Aside from walking and horseback riding, which were a natural part of life for all our early Presidents, John Quincy Adams had an avid interest in billiards, as did Chester A. Arthur and James Garfield. Andrew Jackson was actively involved in horse racing, as were other early Presidents. Abraham Lincoln was a wrestler. Rutherford B. Hayes was a croquet player. Those who have only indulged in croquet as a casual backyard sport are unaware that the real game is a blood sport.  Croquet was wildly popular in the latter part of the 19th century. We have a picture of Salem Female Academy girls holding their mallets from the 1890 era. No doubt other Presidents from that time played as well, along with their first ladies.


Teddy Roosevelt was a boxer and jujitsu enthusiast, although his favorite sport was tennis. But he forbade photographs of him playing tennis, because he saw it as an effeminate sport. He built the first White House tennis court and the game became so popular with his close advisers that they became known as “the tennis cabinet”. His cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, contrary to popular belief, was not born with polio. In his early years he was a multi-sport star. As President, he had an indoor swimming pool installed at the White House, which he used for therapy. That area is now the press briefing room.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt, front and center, with his Groton teammates, c 1899

Many 20th and 21st century Presidents have been golfers. Woodrow Wilson played more rounds of golf than any other President. Dwight Eisenhower was runner-up. His vice -president, Richard Nixon was another golf lover who also spent a lot of time in the bowling alley in the White House basement. JFK was into sailing, swimming and touch football. Lyndon Johnson enjoyed hunting and fishing. Jimmy Carter, a high school basketballer, later took up jogging, and also spent time as President playng tennis, canoeing and fishing. Ronald Reagan was a swimmer and lifeguard. George Herbert Walker Bush was captain of his college baseball team and a pilot.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, third from left in the back row, with his 1910 Abilene, Kansas high school teammates. He also played at West Point.


JFK, 2nd from right, with his Choate teammates. He also played football and rugby at Harvard. His brother Ted once got into three fights during a Harvard rugby match and was ejected.

During his time as a Rhodes Scholar, Bill Clinton played on the Oxford College rugby team. His successor, George W. Bush was also a rugby man, playing at Phillips Academy and Yale. President Obama plays some golf, although not nearly at the Wilson/Eisenhower level. His favorite game is basketball. He is known for hosting a weekly invitational match of unusual intensity.


Richard Nixon played football at Whittier College


Ronald Reagan played at Eureka College. He was also the captain of the swimming team.

But our greatest Presidential athlete is undoubtably Gerald Ford. Ford played center and linebacker on the Michigan football team which won two unofficial national championships by going undefeated in 1932 and 1933. In 1934, he was voted Michigan’s football MVP. That same year he played in a couple of post season all-star games. While in law school at Yale, he was an assistant coach of the Yale football team and head coach of the freshman boxing team. During World War II, he coached all nine sports teams at the U.S. Navy pre-flight school in North Carolina.


At a time when many are stressed out over politics, I thought it would be nice to take a look at another side of those evil politicians. On, and here is the king in his football gear:



The President having fun at Soldier Field in Chicago during a major NATO conference

Next Page »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 174 other followers