Little Rock Look Back: In first day without 101st Airborne, LR Central plays final Thanksgiving game against NLR

Central dominating NLR in 1957

Central dominating NLR in 1957

The November 28, 1957, football game between Little Rock Central and North Little Rock had been poised to be memorable for a few years.

With the 1957 opening of Little Rock Hall High, the Tigers would switch their rivalry on Thanksgiving Day from a cross-river one to a cross-town one starting in 1958.  So the 1957 edition of Tigers vs. Wildcats was set to be historic as the end of a 24 year tradition.

(In its first year, Hall played smaller schools because its team was largely younger.  It would move up to top classification schools in the 1958 season.)

The events at Little Rock Central in September 1957 added a new layer of history to everything that school year.  The 101st Airborne was sent in by President Eisenhower in the evening of September 24 to ensure the Little Rock Nine were able to attend classes.  But President Eisenhower did not intend the Army to be there indefinitely.  On Wednesday, November 27, the soldiers left Little Rock. The National Guard was now charged with keeping the peace at Central.

The first day without the US Army was also Thanksgiving Day, and the final Bengals vs. Cats game.  The sports coverage of this game however belied all the drama off the field. News reports focused on Turkey Day as the final game between the longtime rivals and on the fact that it had a morning start time instead of the traditional afternoon start time.

In the end, the Tigers had the same result as they did in the first Turkey Day meeting: a win.  The Bengals scored 40 while the Cats only managed 7.

After 24 meetings on Thanksgiving Day, Little Rock had 19 wins, 4 losses, and one tie.  Seven times they shut out the Wildcats, and one time the northern team blanked them.  The fewest total points scored were 2 in the 1934 game, while the 1950 game produced a cumulative total of 71 points (LR 64, NLR 7).  The Tigers scored a total of 517 points over 24 games and gave up only 203.

Turkey Day Football in LR – Little Rock High vs NLR

lrhs-nlrhs-grid-1957After 20 years of playing a variety of schools on Thanksgiving, in 1934 Little Rock High School had started the new tradition of playing the North Little Rock High School Wildcats.  These cross-river rivals had played a few games previously in the 1910s and early 1920s. The competition was resumed in 1931, but was not on Thanksgiving Day until 1934.  With that game, the Tigers of Little Rock would begin a 49-year tradition of taking on their biggest rival on Turkey Day.

For much of the 1920s and 1930s, a Thanksgiving Day game for Little Rock High School meant rain.  That was the case in the 1934 meeting at Kavanaugh Field. (Located at the current spot of Quigley Stadium, it was a baseball field on which football games could also be played.  In 1936, the current stadium opened.)  The Tigers and Wildcats played to a 2-0 win achieved by the southside Bengals of Earl Quigley.

Another notable matchup was the 1938 game.  Little Rock won 12 to 7. With that win, it captured its first official state football championship. (Though the Arkansas Activities Association does now credit LRHS with several prior championships.)

The 1939 edition took place on Arkansas Thanksgiving.  That November featured five Thursdays.  President Roosevelt issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday, as it traditionally was. However Arkansas and a few other states chose to observe it on the final Thursday.  Little Rock won 6 to 0, but it was a messy game. Some sports fans joked that the game was FDR’s revenge on Arkansas for ignoring him regarding Thanksgiving.

In 1941, only a few days before the US would be plunged into World War II, North Little Rock achieved its first Turkey Day win over Little Rock.  The score was 26 for the Wildcats and 0 for the Tigers.  This was only the third ever loss for the Tigers on a Thanksgiving Day.  The Tigers were so dominant on Turkey Day games, a student had once remarked to a Gazette reporter that the matchup against Pine Bluff should be moved to Thanksgiving since the Tigers always seemed to win on that day.  (Pine Bluff was the state’s other football powerhouse at the time and often gave the Tigers fits in games.)

North Little Rock repeated as winner in the 1942 game, this time with a 31 to 12 score.  Writing for the Gazette, Orville Henry wondered if this would be the final meeting for the duration of the war.  He opined that many of the players might be in a different type of uniform for future games and that rubber might be needed for the war effort instead of athletic equipment.  While some colleges and high schools did drop football during the war, neither LR nor NLR did.

The Tigers were back on top in 1943 by a 13-7 score.  (It would be the last football game for the NLR coach who had been drafted.)  The 1944 game also featured a 13-7 score, but this time it was flipped and the Wildcats were winners.  The 1945 edition ground to a 13-13 tie.

In 1947, both teams were undefeated heading into the Turkey Day classic.  The inky wretches and scribes were predicting another evenly matched slugfest.  Instead Little Rock owned the game and came out with a 13-0 win.

The teams met eight times in the 1950s on Thanksgiving.  Little Rock won seven of the eight, losing the 1951 game by one point (13 to 14).

With the anticipation of a second Little Rock high school to be opened in a few years, Little Rock High School was rechristened as Little Rock Central High in 1954. The new school, named Hall High, opened in 1957 but played much smaller schools for its first year on the gridiron.  Plans were underway for Hall and Central to meet on Turkey Day in 1958, so the 1957 meeting of Little Rock and North Little Rock would be the final time the two teams would meet on Thanksgiving Day.

Little Rock Central High had dominated world headlines in September and October 1957 with the integration of the Little Rock Nine.  The sports coverage of this game however belied all the drama off the field. News reports focused on Turkey Day as the final game between the longtime rivals and on the fact that it had a morning start time instead of the traditional afternoon start time.  In the end, the Tigers had the same result as they did in the first Turkey Day meeting: a win.  The Bengals scored 40 while the Cats only managed 7.

After 24 meetings on Thanksgiving Day, Little Rock had 19 wins, 4 losses, and one tie.  Seven times they shut out the Wildcats, and one time the northern team blanked them.  The fewest total points scored were 2 in the 1934 game, while the 1950 game produced a cumulative total of 71 points (LR 64, NLR 7).  The Tigers scored a total of 517 points over 24 games and gave up only 203.

PIGSKIN TURKEY DAY IN THE ROCK, Part 5 – Little Rock Catholic vs. NLR

Turkey Bowl Catholic NLRFollowing the demise of their Turkey Day rivalry with Little Rock High School, North Little Rock set their Thanksgiving sights on Little Rock Catholic.  In 1958, they started a 21-year tradition of meeting on the fourth Thursday in November.  (Previously Cathlolic had not been in a regular Thanksgiving rivalry. In fact, they sometimes did not even play on that day.)

The 1958 game, held at Wildcat Stadium, started where NLR’s previous Thanksgiving series had left off. A Little Rock team, now the Rockets of Catholic High, achieved a lopsided win over the NLR Wildcats.  The final score was 26-0, in favor of Catholic.

The next several years saw close games. Sometimes Catholic would win, other times NLR was the victor.  In 1960, Catholic lost the game, but won the conference championship (which was tantamount to a state championship at the time) due to results of other games.  In 1965, NLR won the game AND the conference/state championship.

From 1966 to 1969, NLR ran up a string of convincing victories over Catholic High.  This streak ended in 1970.  That year, NLR had been ranked number 1 heading into the game.  They lost the game to Catholic by a score of 21 to 16.  This also marked the first meeting of the teams to take place at the Catholic home field of War Memorial Stadium.  All previous meetings had been at NLR’s Wildcat Stadium.

Starting in 1970, they alternated hosting the game at their respective home stadium.  In 1971, Catholic again won the game and a state championship. The following year, NLR won both the game and a championship.  By that time, the northside school bore the name Ole Main to distinguish it from the new NLR high school: Northeast.  The 1972 game would be the final time that the game between the Rockets and Wildcats had championship implications.

From 1973 through 1978, Catholic and NLR alternated winning the game with the home team coming out on top.  Due to conference realignment, Catholic High dropped from AAAAA to AAAA starting with the 1979 football season. With that, they no longer played NLR on Thanksgiving Day.

Though in 1970 NLR had acquired its own cross-town rival with the opening of NLR Northeast, the creation of an all-NLR Thanksgiving Day tradition was never started. Likewise, Catholic did not start playing the new Little Rock high school, Parkview, on Turkey Day. Both would have probably created stronger Thanksgiving Day rivalries, but by this time, the Arkansas Activities Association was trying to discourage the tradition of playing on Thanksgiving.  Having a game that late in the season interfered with conference tournaments.  The AAA had actually tried to dissuade teams from playing on the holiday as early as 1961, but were rebuffed by the larger schools who saw no need to give up the tradition.

In 1958, there were at least 23 high school football games played throughout the state on Thanksgiving.  By 1965, that number had shrunk to 13. In 1970, there were only two games: Hall v. Central and NLR v. Catholic.

The final tally of Thanksgiving meetings between NLR and Catholic was NLR 12 wins, Catholic 8 wins and one tie.  Catholic twice shut out NLR, and the Wildcats blanked the Rockets three times.  The northside team scored 267 points over 21 years, while the southsiders earned 223 points.

 

Year NLR Catholic

1958

0 26

1959

6 0

1960

20 14

1961

14 7

1962

7 14

1963

0

14

1964 6

6

1965 14

7

1966 33

0

1967 19

7

1968

40 13

1969

21 12

1970

16 21

1971

6 21

1972

7 6
1973 25

7

1974 3

8

1975 9

6

1976 7

14

1977 7

0

1978 7

20

 

 

 

PIGSKIN TURKEY DAY IN THE ROCK, Part 3 – Little Rock vs. NLR

 

Turkey Bowl LRHS NLRHSAfter 20 years of playing a variety of schools on Thanksgiving, in 1934 Little Rock High School had started the new tradition of playing the North Little Rock High School Wildcats.  These cross-river rivals had played a few games previously in the 1910s and early 1920s. The competition was resumed in 1931, but was not on Thanksgiving Day until 1934.  With that game, the Tigers of Little Rock would begin a 49-year tradition of taking on their biggest rival on Turkey Day.

For much of the 1920s and 1930s, a Thanksgiving Day game for Little Rock High School meant rain.  That was the case in the 1934 meeting at Kavanaugh Field. (Located at the current spot of Quigley Stadium, it was a baseball field on which football games could also be played.  In 1936, the current stadium opened.)  The Tigers and Wildcats played to a 2-0 win achieved by the southside Bengals of Earl Quigley.

Another notable matchup was the 1938 game.  Little Rock won 12 to 7. With that win, it captured its first official state football championship. (Though the Arkansas Activities Association does now credit LRHS with several prior championships.)

The 1939 edition took place on Arkansas Thanksgiving.  That November featured five Thursdays.  President Roosevelt issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday, as it traditionally was. However Arkansas and a few other states chose to observe it on the final Thursday.  Little Rock won 6 to 0, but it was a messy game. Some sports fans joked that the game was FDR’s revenge on Arkansas for ignoring him regarding Thanksgiving.

In 1941, only a few days before the US would be plunged into World War II, North Little Rock achieved its first Turkey Day win over Little Rock.  The score was 26 for the Wildcats and 0 for the Tigers.  This was only the third ever loss for the Tigers on a Thanksgiving Day.  The Tigers were so dominant on Turkey Day games, a student had once remarked to a Gazette reporter that the matchup against Pine Bluff should be moved to Thanksgiving since the Tigers always seemed to win on that day.  (Pine Bluff was the state’s other football powerhouse at the time and often gave the Tigers fits in games.)

North Little Rock repeated as winner in the 1942 game, this time with a 31 to 12 score.  Writing for the Gazette, Orville Henry wondered if this would be the final meeting for the duration of the war.  He opined that many of the players might be in a different type of uniform for future games and that rubber might be needed for the war effort instead of athletic equipment.  While some colleges and high schools did drop football during the war, neither LR nor NLR did.

The Tigers were back on top in 1943 by a 13-7 score.  (It would be the last football game for the NLR coach who had been drafted.)  The 1944 game also featured a 13-7 score, but this time it was flipped and the Wildcats were winners.  The 1945 edition ground to a 13-13 tie.

In 1947, both teams were undefeated heading into the Turkey Day classic.  The inky wretches and scribes were predicting another evenly matched slugfest.  Instead Little Rock owned the game and came out with a 13-0 win.

The teams met eight times in the 1950s on Thanksgiving.  Little Rock won seven of the eight, losing the 1951 game by one point (13 to 14).

With the anticipation of a second Little Rock high school to be opened in a few years, Little Rock High School was rechristened as Little Rock Central High in 1954. The new school, named Hall High opened in 1957 but played much smaller schools for its first year on the gridiron.  Plans were underway for Hall and Central to meet on Turkey Day in 1958, so the 1957 meeting of Little Rock and North Little Rock would be the final time the two teams would meet on Thanksgiving Day.

Little Rock Central High had dominated world headlines in September and October 1957 with the desegregation of the school.  The sports coverage of this game however belied all the drama off the field. News reports focused on Turkey Day as the final game between the longtime rivals and on the fact that it had a morning start time instead of the traditional afternoon start time.  In the end, the Tigers had the same result as they did in the first Turkey Day meeting: a win.

After 24 meetings on Thanksgiving Day, Little Rock had 19 wins, 4 losses, and one tie.  Seven times they shut out the Wildcats, and one time the northern team blanked them.  The fewest total points scored were 2 in the 1934 game, while the 1950 game produced a cumulative total of 71 points (LR 64, NLR 7).  The Tigers scored a total of 517 points over 24 games and gave up only 203.

UALR Helping Students Brush Up Their Shakespeare

william-shakespeareUALR’s Department of English and Department of Theatre Arts and Dance is presenting the 2013 Shakespeare Scene Festival today from 9:30 a.m. to noon, in the University Theatre of the Center for Performing Arts.  The event started yesterday.

The Shakespeare Scene Festival, first held in 1998, brings together students from a variety of Central Arkansas schools to perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. A performance of a Shakespearean scene integrates several elements of literacy and literacy education including: intensive study of the English language, cooperative learning, process-based theatre as well as the discipline, creativity, and organization required to rehearse and perform a scene.

“The Shakespeare Scene Festival provides an exciting opportunity for middle and high school students in central Arkansas to come together with the UALR community in celebration of the works of Shakespeare,” says Dr. Kris McAbee, the festival’s director. “The student performers are rewarded for their hard work of grappling with these difficult and profound texts by getting to perform them in University Theatre in front of a large audience of their peers and community members. The festival also reminds us of the universality and timelessness of Shakespeare’s works. They are able to speak to the feelings, experiences, and concerns of Arkansas teenagers some 400 years after they were written.”

Classes from five different area schools are participating in the festival. Over 500 students are expected to attend and participate in 11 different performances. The works presented will include scenes from Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Taming of the Shrew, and Richard III, as well as creative adaptations like The Suessification of Romeo and Juliet.  Among the schools participating are Little Rock Central, Little Rock J. A. Fair, Little Rock Dunbar Middle School, Joseph T. Robinson Middle School and North Little Rock High School West.

Admission is free and open to the public. Each performance will last approximately 25 minutes.

For more information, visit ualr.edu/shakespeare or contact Dr. Kris McAbee, assistant professor of English, at kxmcabee@ualr.edu.