Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Crazy Day in 1871 When Little Rock’s City Council Voted 701 Times to Elect Its President

Note:  I have not posted anything to the blog for awhile because I embarked a few weeks ago on a new research project to find out more about the life of Frederick Kramer, a German immigrant, who was elected Mayor of Little Rock, supported by the "regular" Republicans, in November 1873 and again in 1881, 1883, and 1885, supported by the Democratic Party. Kramer was also elected to the first Little Rock School Board when it was created in 1869 and served on the board until his retirement in 1894. During the time he was on the School Board, he was president of it every year except the first.

This blog is the introduction and summary of the first episode of Kramer's political life. He had been elected -- with the support of the Republican Party -- to the city council in November 1869 for a one year term and was re-elected in 1870 for a two-year term. Following the local election held on November 6, 1871, the new city council met on Monday, November 13. Its first order of business was to elect a new president. However, that administrative task was quickly caught up in the morass of politics in which the Republican Party was deeply divided into two main factions. Kramer was affiliated with (although not a member of) the "regular" Republicans (also known as the "Minstrels), the faction headed by Sen. Powell Clayton. The other candidate, Dudley L. Jones, was backed by the "reform" Republicans, an anti-Powell group.  The reform Republicans, known as the Brindle-tails, were in ascendancy in November 1871, and the four Little Rock aldermen (three new and one incumbent) elected that year were backed by that faction. The four other alderman, who were not up for re-election in 1871, were affiliated with the Minstrels.

At the city council's first meeting on November 13, 1871, the Minstrels and Brindle-tails had different ideas on who should be president of the council. This blog entry summarizes what happened at the meeting. The rest of the paper   describes in more detail the political context of the balloting, what happened, and some unanswered questions. When the paper is completed, I will post a link to it here.


Twelve klangs from the clock on the east wall of Little Rock’s city council chamber interrupted the eight aldermen as they were about to cast another vote to elect the council’s new president. Most of the aldermen could not recall how many previous ballots had been taken on this question: was it 650, or maybe 660? No matter how many, they were pretty sure how the next ballot would tally: four votes for Alderman Frederick Kramer and four votes for Alderman Dudley L. Jones.

When the clock quieted, the man sitting at the head of the oblong table in the middle of the council chamber counted each alderman’s vote, determining that the result was, indeed, the same as almost all the previous votes. He, Frederick Kramer, the temporary chairman of this first meeting of the city council following the previous week’s election, had his own vote and those of Aldermen Daniel P. Upham, Daniel Ottenheimer, and Asa L. Richmond. His opponent, Alderman Jones, had voted for himself and had received the votes of Aldermen George W. Denison, Jerome Lewis, and H. T. Gibb. Another 4-4 tie.

Picture of Frederick Kramer from his
Obituary in the Arkansas Echo, Sept. 11, 1896
As Kramer immediately called for another vote on the issue, he glanced at the white spectators leaning on the room’s east wall. Sitting next to them, the city clerk dipped his pen into the inkwell to prepare to record whatever came next. Across the room, clustered around the drum stove, a small audience of black men looked down at the tobacco-stained carpet in front of them.[1]

This meeting had started at 9 a.m. on Monday, November 13, 1871. After the clock struck the end of that day, the session had continued for another thirty minutes. Then the aldermen finally gave up, voting to adjourn until the following Friday. The Morning Republican reporter who covered the meeting calculated that from its start until its end, the aldermen had voted 701 times to fill the presidency of the council. Of those 701 ballots, the final 698 had produced identical results.[2]

The meeting over, the six white and two African-American aldermen shuffled out the doors of the two-story city hall onto Markham Street just west of its intersection with Main Street. These two streets, the city’s main commercial drags, were dimly lit by gas lights.[3] The exhausted men headed home on unpaved streets lined by dwellings inhabited by the 12,500 residents of the city. Some of men needed to walk only a few blocks to their houses; others went by carriage or rode their horses to abodes further away. On their way home, the aldermen passed several noisy bars and likely at least one of them stopped in a rollicking establishment for a quick snort.
Dudley E. Jones in his later years
(From Ancestry.Com)
In the next couple of days, the aldermen learned that the meeting did not sit well with the righteous editors of the Daily Arkansas Gazette, a paper that supported the out-of-power Democrat-Conservatives and whose dislike of Republicans was exceeded only by its contempt for former slaves. The paper lambasted Kramer, one of seven Republicans on the council (the eighth had been elected with the support of the Radical Republicans), accusing him of lying – telling them and others repeatedly that he intended to vote for Jones to be president -- and suggesting he was corrupt. The editors wrote:
…Alderman Kramer has gone back on his old and his new friends – he has forfeited their respect; he has sold himself for a mess of pottage….He has been faithless to his trust; he has demeaned himself in a matter to merit, as he will receive, the contempt of the people of Little Rock.

They concluded with a call for a boycott of the thriving grocery store Kramer owned with two partners:

…we advise the people further to withdraw their patronage from a house the head of which has proved recreant to the trust reposed in him, and is no longer worthy of the confidence and support of a generous public.[4]

The Morning Republican, a newspaper with an equally sharp tongue used on behalf of Radical Republicans, rebuked the Gazette – which it called the “kuklux organ” -- for its attack on Kramer, “one of our most substantial citizens.” Its editorial asserted that the “Ignorant Calumniator” of the Gazette had libeled Kramer (who had emigrated from Saxony, a Prussian province) and had attacked the “German population of the city and state.” It asserted that during the Civil War men “of the Gazette stripe” had tried to force Germans in Arkansas to go to war and failing to do so “cut off their hands and feet, tied them naked in the woods, and left the wild beasts to eat them.”[5]
Advertisement from Daily Arkansas Gazette, Dec. 29, 1868
On Friday, when the city council reconvened, it did not resume voting to elect a council president. Instead, the matter was resolved with parliamentary trickery accompanied by a conciliatory gesture. By creatively interpreting the rules of the city council, Kramer’s temporary appointment as chair of the council was transformed into its presidency. Just before that magical transformation, Kramer appointed Jones, who had made harsh charges against Kramer’s role in the finances of the city, and two of his supporters to a committee to investigate the his actions.[6]

Although Kramer won the fight that he had – he repeatedly claimed – reluctantly taken on, the whole process raised several questions, and his victory was a hollow one.[7]  Kramer, who prided himself on his public spiritedness and his integrity, was jarred by the attacks of Jones, the Gazette, and others.  He decided to make some major changes in his life, which he did a few months later before he departed on June 15. 1872 on a ship sailing from New York to Bremen.

This first episode of Kramer’s political life introduces the contentious reconstruction politics of Little Rock in 1871 when Arkansas’ Republican Party – which at the time had the upper hand in state and most local elections -- had deeply split, and that split had created a situation in which it was not only possible, but likely even necessary, that vote after vote be taken on who would be president of a city council that had four members of one faction, the regular Republicans, and four newly elected members of the insurgent faction, the reform Republicans. In this context, the election of the president of the city council was not simply a practical matter, but a symbolic battle over which faction of the council would have the upper hand during the coming year.


[1] The description of the interior of the city hall meeting room is based on an article published in the Daily Arkansas Gazette. See “Local Sketches,” Daily Arkansas Gazette, December 15, 1869. The tobacco stained carpet was mentioned in “The City Council,” November 10, 1891, Daily Arkansas Gazette, p. 4.

[2] City Council: Meeting Yesterday – Balloting for President – No Election. November 14, 1871, Morning Republican, p. 4.

[3] The City Hall (120-122 Markham) had been completed three years earlier, in November 1867. As described by the Morning Republican, it was a busy place:

City Hall is a fine edifice, and may be considered one of the principal business institutions. The lower story is used by city officials, City Council, Recorder, Collector, and Police Judge, and head quarters for the police force; also head quarters for the Pat Cleburne Fire Company, front room set apart for their steam engine, and the rear room is being fitted up for use of the members of the company. In the second story, we have a spacious hall, for theatres, concerts, and other public entertainments, and hence we look upon City Hall as being one of our main business pillars.
Our Business Houses: Names of Firms and Business of Each. North Side of Markham Street. April 14, 1869, Morning Republican [Little Rock], p. 3.

Little Rock City Hall, 1867 - 1907

[4]  Alderman Fred. Kramer. November 15, 1871. Daily Arkansas Gazette, p. 1.

[5] The Arkansas Gazette. November 16, 1871. Morning Republican, p. 2.

[6] City Council: City Finances to be Examined – Presenting Bonds – A New Question Sprung. November 18, 1871, Morning Republican, p. 4.  This article explained how Kramer became president of the Council:

When Jones moved that the council take up the business of electing a city council president, “Alderman Upham then said
…I find here, referring to the charter of the city of Little Rock, the following on page 90 of laws and ordinances: ‘The aldermen elected from each ward in the city shall annually, on the next Monday after their election, assemble and organize the city council.’ In pursuance of that provision of law, this council did meet on the Monday following the late election, and placed Alderman Kramer in the chair. Now I hold that, by virtue of law, he is president of the council; that the organization made on that day is the only organization this council can have under any authority of law; however unsatisfactory it may be to any individual member, that had we failed to meet at all on that day, there was no authority of law by which we could have met and organized had it passed over that day, without some special provision of the legislature….The organization made on that day is the only organization that this council can have.’”

Alderman Jones replied that the Upham’s assertions were “preposterous.”  The council then voted on whether to resume balloting on electing a city council president, and the motion failed.

[7] See reference 6. At the meeting on November 18, Alderman Jones asked Kramer if he considered himself the chairman. The story quoted Kramer saying “that by virtue of the law he believed that he was, although he did not want it.”

The matter continued to be addressed at the city council meeting on November 25th, which was not attended by Jones, Gibb, or Lewis.  The council passed the following resolution:

Whereas, The legality of the organization of the city council, made on Monday succeeding the election by placing Alderman Fred. Kramer in the chair, has been questioned by some members of the council, therefore be it

Resolved, That said Kramer is hereby declared permanent president of the council during the ensuing year.

The Gazette story about the City Council meeting had its own little commentary on the vote:

…the resolution was carried, Kramer voting aye, he explained, to settle the question. [Laughter behind the bar.] Kramer at this returned thanks and said he was no Minstrel, no Brindle, no democrat, but a citizen and pax-bayer of Little Rock. [Applause].”

Elsewhere in the newspaper account of the meeting was this paragraph:

A petition from somebody [Kramer is a very slovenly reader, and we didn’t catch the name] to be sexton caused Ottenheimer to move that all such petitions be laid over until committees should be appointed. Carried.”

On the same page as the story on the city council meeting was a short item in the daily notes on what was happening in the city: “The Minstrels, after the result of the deliberations of the council last night was made known, were very happy, and ‘smiled’ often.”  

See “Common Council.” November 26, 1871, Daily Arkansas Gazette, p. 4. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Calling All Idgits

So I was searching the newspapers of for the name “Hammerand” because a woman from St. Louis by the name of Emilie Hammerand was arrested in Vienna in 1934 after the Nazi assassination of Englebert Dollfuss, the Austrian prime minister. She, the wife of an Austrian who owned Vienna’s Hotel Hammerand, was charged with transporting messages between Munich Nazis and Austrian Nazis. How, I wondered, did this American woman end up assisting the Nazis?  

Unfortunately, when I searched for “Hammerand” many of the results were for “hammer and,” as in “hammer and nail.” One such result, dated December 9, 1887, was titled “Vaccinated for lefthandness,” and I couldn’t resist finding out what that was about. It turned out to be a short humorous article about a man named David Sills who was “left handed all over.”  According to the article, published in the Dallas Morning News (see below), “Not only does [Mr. Sills’s] left side boss all the balance of his anatomy, but it controls and directs his walk, his conversation and his tobacco. In fact, when he saunters down the street the most casual observer can see at a glance that his entire right side is badly henpecked, and is keeping in the procession with servile timidity.”

Mr. Sills lefthandedness interested the local doctor who, for the sake of science, questioned Sills about it. The man told the doctor that “he was not built that way at the start, or a little earlier, and that he was vaccinated when quite young with a left-handed scab, and it stuck.” Then he solemnly told the doctor, “This world has never seen a bald-headed idjit or a left-handed fool.” 

Bobby from the t.v. show Supernatural
The last sentence popped open my eyes. It has been decades since I last heard the word “idjit.” I remember saying it when I was a kid, likely in elementary school, and we called each other idjits. I thought we had made up the word ourselves, so I was amazed to find it in an article written in 1887. Clearly the word had been around a long time before we used it on the playgrounds of Jefferson Elementary School.

As I remember the word, it was slang for “idiot.” I am not sure why we needed a substitute word for idiot, but it did save a syllable and sounds fresher. Doing the inevitable Google “research,” I found these two definitions of idjit:

Idiot, a person with an intellectual barrier blocking them from obtaining average intelligence
Derived from the Irish Slang word "Eejit", which means a person who is exceedingly  Stupid or an Idiot. It was Americanized and made "country" and slowly was changed into "Idjit" by southerners. 

An academic blog entry explained the origin and use of the word in Ireland:  If I looked hard enough, I am sure I could find a doctoral dissertation written about the word.

Even though I had not heard the word in many decades, the word has continued in circulation. Among its famous uses, Yosemite Sam called Bugs Bunny an idgit in a 1960s cartoon. And in recent years, Bobby, a red-neckish baseball-hat wearing character in Supernatural, a television show, often called Sam and Dean, younger characters in the show, idjits. As a result, the word has become a minor meme among the Supernatural crowd, and it is displayed on tee shirts, baseball caps, bracelets, etc.

It was fun to rediscover this word after so many years and to learn not only that it survived a journey from Ireland but also that its longevity extends well over a century. If I were to write an updated definition of the word, I would illustrate it with a picture of Mrs. Emilie Hammerand of St. Louis, a friend of Austrian Nazis, who, most assuredly, was not left handed.

Thomson Journal, Vaccinated for Left-Handedness
Dallas Morning News, December 9, 1887, accessed through

One of the unaccountable peculiarities of our good friend, Mr. David Sills, is that he is left-handed all over. Not only does his left side boss all the balance of his anatomy, but it controls and directs his walk, his conversation and his tobacco. In fact, when he saunters down the street the most casual observer can see at a glance that his entire right side is badly henpecked, and is keeping in the procession with servile timidity. The oldest inhabitant never saw him shove a jack plane with his right hand, and when he wears a bile it is invariably located to the right of the equator of his backbone. In you mention the stock law his left eye responds with surprising vigor, and his snore is known by neighbors as a strictly one-barrel performance. Mr. Sills is a quiet, unpretentious citizen. He does not carry around an intellectual headlight to dazzle people and make horses run away. But he has a head to defy the power of his eloquent hammer. And he is left-handed from away back. Not long since Dr. Durham, in a laudable pursuit of science, questioned Mr. Sills in reference to this peculiarity. Mr. Sills replied that he was not built that way at the start, or a little earlier, and that he was vaccinated when quiet young with a left-handed scab, and it stuck. Then he solemnly informed the doctor that this world has never seen a bald-headed idjit or a left-handed fool. In this Mr. Sills is eminently correct.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Come Hither Keats to Praise the Beauty of European Hotel Breakfasts

If I were a poet, I would write an ode to the European breakfast. Well, more specifically, to the complementary breakfasts served by moderately priced European hotels (CBSBMPH), at least in the western and northern parts of the continent. In the ode, I would praise the bountiful nature of the offerings and the richness of the choices. Also, I would rhapsodize how the breakfasts satiate those who partake of them. I might also contrast those breakfasts with those “served” in similar hostelries in the U.S., where the selection is meager, little is palatable, and nothing is memorable. Those sugar-based breakfasts are piled onto flimsy paper plates and eaten, amid debris left by earlier patrons, with flexible plastic utensils.  
Entrance to breakfast room in Aalborg, Denmark
I honed my appreciation of CBSBMPH during my recent Eurail Pass trip during which I typically stayed at a moderately price hotel near a train station. The hotels in Germany, Denmark, Norway, France, and Austria almost always provided breakfast in the price of the room. In Spain and Switzerland, breakfasts had to be purchased separately. As in the United States, more expensive hotels rarely had complementary breakfasts, instead demanding up to 20 Euros for their breakfast feasts. 

The complementary breakfasts I had during the trip were usually self service, though the one in Büsum (Germany) was not. There, the waitress described the options and quickly brought the preferred breakfast to the table with a kännchen of coffee. Elsewhere, breakfast items were spread across tables and each person piled what he or she wanted to eat on a plate or two. With few exceptions, drinks were also available for the taking. A few places served hot drinks Dennys-style, putting a thermos filled with the drink of your choice on the table. However, most often coffee was drawn from a huge machine with many choices (espresso, cappuccino, etc.), each selected by the push of a button. These automated machines make good coffee if they are fed fresh coffee beans. Every breakfast offered a choice of juices, including orange juice.** (In the old days, finding fresh-tasting orange juice in Europe was a challenge. Now, squeezed orange juice is widely available.)

From left to right: scrambled eggs and small wurst, sliced meats, sliced cheese, veggies and fruits, fruit compote, butter/margerine, jams, cereals, bottle water

The breakfast options always included fresh bread (brötchen in Germany, semmeln in Austria, sliced baguettes in France, and loaves of many varieties of heavy bread in Denmark and Norway), different varieties of cheese (soft cheeses predominate in Denmark and Norway, hard cheeses elsewhere), sliced meats (ham is the most popular), butter (also butter substitutes for the calorie conscious), different vegetables (sliced peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.), and many different types of jam. For me, an ideal breakfast consists of a couple of semmeln or brötchen smeared with butter, one eaten with Swiss cheese and ham, the other with a fresh jam.
To the right is a automatic coffee-tea machine and fresh fruit (not pictured are a selection of juices and containers of yoghurt)
Other options for breakfast usually included cereals (granola) with milk; fruits and nuts to be eaten with yogurt; fruits; and a fruit compote. Probably more than half of the hotels where I ate breakfast also offered scrambled or boiled eggs, and many of those also provided bacon or wurst alongside the eggs (a sign of the Americanization of the breakfasts). At some hotels there were surprises such as crepes or pastries, and one hotel had a grill where patrons could fry their own eggs. 
Bread selection. Slice bread is popular in Denmark, but it also has rolls 

After about 25 hotel-provided breakfasts over 35 days in October and November, I remain an enthusiastic fan of them. Not one of these breakfasts was bad or a disappointment. Some were inspiring. In fact, I wish Keats were around to write a proper ode to the beauty of the CBSBMPH, I am sure it would bring tears to my eyes. Of course, the tears would not be as voluminous as those shed the next time I eat a waffle at a Day’s Inn. 

Some more pictures of breakfasts:

Breakfast at a hotel in St. Anton located in the Austrian Alps. At this breakfast, coffee or tea was brought to the table. Bread jams, and juices are straight ahead ; to the right are sliced meats, cheese, yogurt, fruits and veggies; to the left is a warmer containing scrambled eggs 
Breakfast in Vienna: Table with sliced meats and cheese, fruits and vegges; to the left is a griddle on 
which diners can fry eggs; behind the table are cereals, yogurt, and jams

At same breakfast in Vienna, a table with breads, pastry, and fresh fruit (also a toaster for sliced bread)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Season of Justin and J.D.

            Among Fayetteville High School’s (FHS) many memorable sports teams, the 1961-62 basketball team must be rated as one of the best for both its talent and accomplishments.The team had a 27–2 record and did not lose a regularly scheduled game to a team in Arkansas. It was ranked first in the state during most of the basketball season. One of its players scored more points during the year than any other Bulldog basketball player had ever scored in a season. Another set a record for most points scored during his years playing for the FHS team.
            The 1961-62 basketball season belonged to Justin Daniel, who set the single season scoring record, and J.D. McConnell, who set the record for most career points by a Bulldog. These two tall, talented basketball players led a dominant team, backed by a good supporting cast of players, to the best season an FHS basketball team had ever had. 

Silk and Wool

            Both Justin and J.D. were extraordinary athletics, but in different ways. Though both were tall, J.D. was a finesse player with a smooth game built on deceptive, deadly passing skills, a classic jump shot, and elusive drives to the basket. J.D. glided up and down the court exerting little apparent effort.  With his head turned to the right, he would spot a teammate open on the left and hit him in stride for an easy layup or short jump shot.  His was a thinking man’s game, more the nuance of small moves than the bombast of slam dunks.  For him, the action was not only in front of him but also on the periphery of his vision, where a teammate might break free or an opponent become inattentive.  Then came a quick pass, a solid screen, or a sudden jump shot, usually with good results.  

            Besides his fluidity and uncanny passing, J.D. had one other huge advantage playing guard and, sometimes, forward.  He was usually much taller than the player guarding him, while just as quick. He was 6 feet 4½ inches in a league where guards rarely reached six feet and forwards were only a little taller.  When J.D. was at the guard position, it often seemed an adult was playing with kids.  
            Justin was not a finesse player.  If J.D. was silk, Justin was scratchy wool.  At 6 feet 4 inches, a little shorter than J.D., his job was in the middle with his back to the basket, getting rebounds and taking the ball to the basket with alacrity.  Yet, he also had, when needed, a delicate touch with his jump and hook shots.
            Justin typically was guarded by the opponent’s tallest player, so he rarely dominated his matchups with superior height -- many teams had centers as tall as him or taller.  Justin did his damage with a hard charging game of getting the basketball, whatever it required, and putting it into the basket, however it needed to be done.  
           Justin got his height early. I know because he was my cousin, who lived just a few blocks away, both of us within a half-block of Jefferson Elementary School.  Although he was four years older, I saw him often in my grade school years because I sometimes hung out with his brother Morris, who was only a year older than me.  I think I was in the third or fourth grade when Justin -- who was already tall -- had such a fast-growing spurt that, for a while, he found it difficult to do such basic tasks as bend over and tie his shoes.  
            During my first year in Little League (I was 9 and Justin was 12), he was a terrifying baseball player. He was by far the best player in the league and famous for how hard he pitched and for hitting eye-popping home runs at the Fayetteville City Park that not only left the field, but went over the street and hit a big apartment building a few hundred feet away. If you were a batter facing his fast ball, you went to the plate regretting that your mother had let play baseball so young. If you were a pitcher standing barely 40 feet away from this guy, you had to fear for your life.
            I learned much about how to play baseball from Justin, Morris, my cousin Jerry Durning (aka Monk, who was a very good catcher), and others who lived in the south part of town.  On Sundays during the school year, and almost any time during the summer, pickup games were formed on the lower field of Jefferson. Justin lived just a few steps from this field and usually was one of the people who picked the teams.
            In those games, which were great fun, we were scared about one thing in particular:   We feared that Justin would hit a ball about 350 feet over the trees in left field and break the picture window of the car repair shop across the street. If that happened, we would all be in big trouble.
            Later, for a couple of summers, Justin, Morris, Jerry and I (and others) played “sock ball” using the Jefferson building as a backstop.  I think Justin started game; I continued playing it years after he quit.  The first step in the game was to make the sock ball.  To do that, we cut open an old golf ball and extracted the little rubber ball in the middle.  Then we took old socks with holes in them and started wrapping them around the little ball.  With two or three socks properly wrapped around the little rubber ball, then sewn together, you had a baseball size “sock ball” with some heft, but also one that would not travel too far when hit or hurt too much if it hit you.  
            A strike zone was drawn in chalk on the side of the building and a batter’s box outlined on the asphalt.  Some rocks were set down around an imaginary infield to delineate where a ball, if passing there on the ground, would be a hit.  Otherwise, grounders were outs as was anything caught in the air.  A fence beckoned for home runs.  Other trajectories of hit balls were subject to prolonged, sometimes bitter, debate as to whether they were hits or outs.  
            The main thing to avoid in the game was hitting a hard line drive to the left of third base, which could bust a window.  Mr. Tincher, the Jefferson custodian, was a really nice guy, but he had to charge you 50 cents for a window replacement, and that was enough to buy a few visits to the Palace Theater.
            And so we played a schedule of round robin games, kept standings, and had fun for a summer or two, until Justin and Jerry outgrew sock ball and went on to organized sports.  I still traded baseball cards with Justin every once in a while, but once you get into high school you don’t want to mess around with kids.
            The year that Justin was terrorizing the Little Leagues, I was on the McIlroy Bank team with J.D.  I have a picture somewhere that proves it, but without that I would not remember it for sure.  The picture shows that J.D. was plenty tall when he was 12 years old.  With the age difference, we weren’t pals.

One Fine Team
            In addition to Justin and J.D., the 1961-62 FHS team had several very good athletics.  One of them was George Coppage, who excelled in football and was not afraid of contact on the basketball court. You could usually count on him to give you four good fouls a game.  He was listed in the program as 6’ 2’’.  I doubt he was quite that tall. (Coach Smith listed me as 6 feet 1½ inches three years later, which would have been true only if I had been measured standing on a very thick book.)  After he graduated, Coppage was signed by Frank Broyles to play football for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

            The team also had Freddie Rice, a junior who was listed at 6’ 7’’, taller than either Justin or J.D.  Freddie played forward because the center position was already occupied, and he had several high scoring games.  Though Freddie lacked some of the athletic ability of Justin and J.D., he was good enough to get a University of Arkansas basketball scholarship after he graduated in 1963.  He averaged over 14 points a game for freshman Razorback team and had a memorable game in which he broke the record for most points scored in a game by a UA freshman. He played a few games his sophomore year at UA, but did not return after that.
           The picture of the team shows one African-American player, Thomas Lackey.  I do not know if he played in any games during the season.  Likely, FHS’s Arkansas opponents had no black basketball players and, at this time, would not have taken too kindly to integrated teams. (That was still true in 1964-65 when we played against teams from segregated high schools in Hot Springs, El Dorado, Texarkana and other cities.)  Also, FHS likely would not have been able to play a black player in the Arkansas state tournament.  (In 1964, Robert Wilks and Louis Bryant were the first African-Americans to play in the Arkansas state basketball tournament.)  The schools in Missouri probably had African-American players during the 1961-62 school year, so Lackey may have played in some games against those teams

The Season 
            The season was one of streaks.  Fayetteville won its first fifteen games, lost its 16th in Missouri, then won twelve straight.  Early in the season, the team was ranked first in the state by the two major polls that did such rankings.  It stayed at number one through the end of the regular season.
            I attended a few of the games and listened to Wally Ingles broadcast many others. When FHS played at home, the gym was packed.  The action was inspiring for a fledgling basketball player like me.  Justin always looked confident, though often scowling; apparently he was frequently irritated at something or someone.  J.D. was always relaxed, moving around like he was taking a stroll between classes. (One thing that struck me about J.D.:  big feet. His shoes seemed twice as long as mine.)  Both Justin and J.S. had plenty of swagger on and off the court.
From FHS Yearbook. Justin is shooting, J.D. (42) and Coppage (back to camera)are running in to rebound.
I think No. 14 is Troy Steele and no. 40 is Freddie Rice
            One other FHS player that I particularly liked to watch was Troy Steele, a 5’ 10” (or smaller) guard who was quick and a hustler.  At least early in the season, he played quite a bit and seemed to energize the team.  Sadly for the team, he was no longer playing for F.H.S. at the end of the season and missed the state tournament. He had to leave the team because he got married during the season and was expelled from the high school.
            As I watched the two dominant players on the court, and thinking about it later, I often wondered how Justin and J.D. got along.  They had such different personalities (cool vs. intense) and backgrounds (north Fayetteville white collar vs. south Fayetteville blue collar), I doubted that they were inclined to be close friends.  I never found out if there were any conflicts between the two. I hope that they saw each other as good teammates and had healthy doses of mutual respect.  
            After winning the Ozark Conference and going undefeated in Arkansas, FHS traveled to Little Rock in early March to play in the state tournament.  I am sure that the team members and Coach Smith expected to win the state AA-AAA championship.
            FHS easily won its first two games.  The second game was against the Green County Tech Eagles, whom they beat 66 -59, though they did not shoot very well.  Their scoring for that game was:
Player              FG/FGA          FT/FTA            Rebounds       Fouls   Total Points
Rice                 5-13                 2-4                   17                    3          12
Coppage         3-9                   2-2                   3                      4          8
Daniel              6-12                 2-2                   10                    1          14
Faucette          3-6                   4-8                   5                      5          10
McConnell       4-10                 3-4                   10                    0          11
Backus            5-7                   1-2                   5                      2          9
Stuckey           0-2                   0-0                   2                      0          0
Adams             0-1                   0-0                   0                      2          0
Durham           1-1                   0-1                   2                      0          2
Allen                0-0                   0-0                   0                      1          0
TOTAL            26-61               14-23               62                    19        66

            The stats show that Freddie Rice had big game with 17 rebounds and 12 points.  Justin and J.D. had so-so nights for them, but Coppage, Faucette and Backus had joined with Freddie to make up the difference.  Coppage had his usual four fouls.
          The next game was the tournament semi-final game against North Little Rock, which had a 21–6 record.  Over 7,000 people showed up at Barton Coliseum to watch it.  The night was frustrating for the FHS Bulldogs.  Though NLR was smaller, it out rebounded the Bulldogs and, according to the Northwest Arkansas Times account, intercepted “seven key passes.”  Clearly, the team suffered from the loss of Troy Steele as a ball handler.
            Fayetteville lost the game by 59-54, but had chances at the end to pull out a win.  Ultimately, the game was decided by free throws.  FHS hit 10 of 15 free throws while NLR made 19 of 25.  In comparison, FHS made 22 baskets while NLR made 20.
Both J.D. and Justin had big games, scoring 42 of FHS’s 54 points.  Unfortunately, the other FHS players were mostly shut out, unlike during the previous game.  Only four players scored points.  Here is the FHS box score for the game:

Player              FG/FGA          FT/FTA            Rebounds       Fouls   Total Points
Rice                 2-8                   2-2                   4                      2          6
Coppage         2-5                   2-2                   2                      4          6
Daniel              7-10                 4-8                   7                      2          18
Faucette          0-0                   0-0                   0                      2          0
McConnell       11-18               2-9                   9                      2          24
Backus            0-4                   0-0                   0                      2          0
Stuckey           0-1                   0-0                   1                      2          0
Durham           1-0                   0-0                   0                      0          0
Allen                0-0                   0-0                   0                      0          0
TOTAL            22-46               10-15               62                    16        54

            Though the season ended sadly for the FHS team, it still was a fabulous year.  This team had the best winning percentage in the history of FHS basketball team.  The next closest was a 28-3 record in 1947-48.  
            During the season, Justin scored more points (504) than had ever been scored in a season by an FHS player.  Also, J.D. set the record for the most career points scored by an FHS player (869).  Both were showered with honors, including all-district and all-state.  Both were selected to play in the Arkansas High School All Star game in August 1962.  

 Although Kentucky scouts had come to watch J.D. play, he (apparently, I don’t know for sure) did not receive a basketball scholarship offer from them.  According to the NWA Times, both Justin and J.D. received basketball scholarship offers from the University of Arkansas and some smaller schools.  Some people expected Justin to sign to play professional baseball.  
            Both accepted the UA basketball scholarships. They were joined at UA by two Arkansas players who also were in the 1962 Arkansas All-Star basketball game: Ricky Sugg of Berryville and Steve Rousseau of Dewitt, Arkansas. 

And After The Season
            Justin and J.D. played on the Razorback freshmen basketball team (the Shoats) during the 1962-3 season.  At the time, freshmen were not eligible to play varsity sports.  In a dozen games, J.D. scored 156 points, 13.1 points per game.  Justin scored 116 points, averaging less than ten a game.  He decided not to return for his sophomore year.
          One day, I think it was in late summer 1963, I got a call from Bubba McCord who told me that a baseball scout who was thinking about signing Justin to a pro contract wanted to see him in a tryout.  The guy asked if we would help him with it. I was needed to pitch to Justin and Bubba would catch.  Of course, I jumped at the chance.
            When we showed up at the fairgrounds, it was clear that I was much more nervous about Justin’s tryout than Justin, who seemed to be nonchalant about the whole affair.  Bubba and I did our best to impress the scout while Justin did his thing.  I tried to throw strikes so Justin could blast them, which he did.  Justin was sufficiently impressive:  he signed a professional contract with the Kansas City Royals.
            In 1964, at the age of 19, he played for Wytheville, VA in the Rookie League.  His stats are on-line:  he hit .288 in 212 at bats with seven doubles, 3 triples, and 4 home runs.  Not bad, but before the season was over, he was sent home.  The word was that he had an injury.
            During the next ten years, Justin was a top player in the Northwest Arkansas Industrial Basketball League and on Fayetteville semi-pro baseball teams.  In 1964-65, he averaged almost 30 points a game in basketball and in 1965 his baseball team, Ken’s Sporting Goods, won the semi-pro title with the benefit of his pitching and hitting (including two home runs in the final game).  In 1971, Justin was the MVP in the Arkansas semi-pro baseball tournament and his team, Farmers Insurance Group, won the state championship.  And on it went year after year.  
            At some point, I think it was in the early 1970s after I had left Fayetteville, Justin started a business dealing in baseball cards. This grew into a retail business selling sports cards and memorabilia, with a store, Justin’s Clubhouse, just off of College Avenue.  Justin ran the business until his death in 2006, at the age of 61.
J.D. and Freddie Rice as Sophomore Razorbacks, 1964

            J.D. had a good four seasons with the University of Arkansas basketball team.  His stats for the four years are as follows (from   

                        GP   FG-FGA   Pct  FT-FTA   Pct  Reb  Avg   PF  Pts   Avg
1962-63+         12   69-156      .442  18-25   .720  131 10.9   23  156  13.1
1963-64           23   80-187      .428  19-33   .576  123  5.4    40  179   7.8
1964-65           22   99-227      .436  43-63   .683  153  7.0    44  241  11.0
1965-66           23  120-259     .463  37-46   .804  196  8.5    47  277  12.0
Total                68 299-673      .444  99-142  .697  472  6.9  131  697  10.3
+ Stats on freshman team, not included in totals

             After graduating from UA, J.D. studied medicine and became an M.D.  When I was living in Little Rock in the 1970s, I would occasionally see him at the Y.M.C.A or at some city league basketball game. I do not know where he is now or what he is doing.  However, when I googled “J.D. McConnell” and Little Rock recently, I got a picture showing a tall, gray-haired guy with big feet hitting a drive at a Little Rock golf course. It was J.D. The picture’s caption was: “J.D. McConnell of Little Rock watches his tee shot on the first hole while playing a round of golf with friends on a spring-like day at War Memorial Park in midtown Little Rock, January 31, 2011.”  He retired and, the last I heard, was doing quite well.  

February 10, 2011 (updated, December 12, 2016)
Birch Bay, Washington

Monday, December 12, 2016

Three Changes in Vienna, Two of them Good

During my Vienna visit in late November, I noticed three changes that might interest past and future visitors.  Two of the changes were positive and one is annoying.

Front Entrance to the Vienna Main Train Station
The first change is that most rail traffic is now routed through the recently opened Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station). This change has been expected since December 2009 when the South Train Station (Suedbahnhof) was abolished and construction of the new one began. 

Modernistic Design of the Main Train Station
The Hauptbahnhof was mostly complete when I was in Vienna in November 2015, and trains were being routed through it. Now, it is a busy station.  Also, it is a spacious, attractive, and luxurious station with its own large shopping center. It offers many good places to eat, plus plenty of stores for shopping. Remember, one of the business advantages of locating in a train station is that a shop there does not have to follow the country’s restrictive hours of operation. Thus, unlike other stores in Vienna, the stores at the Hauptbahnhof (and other train stations in the city) can open on Sunday. 

Top Floor of the Main Train Station

Information Board on the Top Floor of the Main Train Station
The station is built on three levels. On the lowest level, a traveler can access much of the public transportation to and from the station, including the U-bahn (Vienna's subway) and the street cars. The second floor consists of most of the 90 stores that are part of the Hauptbahnhof shopping center. The third floor has provides access to the trains, plus ticket offices and several restaurants.  In truth, when I arrived at the first time by bus (which unloads to the second level of the station), the layout was a bit confusing. Also, when I arrived on another day on a train from another city, I got turned around and had difficulty finding the bus stop. Fortunately, the station has many signs and it does not take too long to figure out where you need to go. 
Burger Brothers Restaurant on the Top Floor of the Main Train Station
Of course, train stations are a magnet for shady looking people who stand around in groups and watch passing people through the corners of their eyes. Also, they attract people with all kinds of personal problems. Nevertheless, the Hauptbahnhof seems to be a secure place with plenty to do while waiting for your train to arrive.

Great Bakery on the Second Floor of the Main Train Station
Related to the opening of the Hauptbahnhof, another positive change is that travelers can now take a train from there to the Vienna Airport. In fact, for many trains, the Hauptbahnhof is not the end station in Vienna, but the next-to-the-last station with the train continuing to the airport. Because of the new Hauptbahnhof-Airport link, travelers arriving at the Vienna Airport, they now board a train there that will take them not only to the Hauptbahnhof but also to other locations throughout Austria and Europe. 

With the opening of the train station, Vienna is helping travelers avoid the need to travel between stations for their trips. For example, when I was living in Vienna in 1972-73, travelers who arrived from Budapest and wanted to continue to Italy would have to get out at the West Train Station and travel by tram or taxi to the South Train Station. No longer.

Vienna’s second change is that Herrengasse is now a pedestrian zone from Schottengasse to the Hofburg entrance, though taxis and fiaker can still drive on it. The road has been filled in to eliminate the curb. For people who do not drive, this change makes walking along the narrow road much safer and faster. It should be noted that the rest of Herrengasse from the Hofburg to the Albertina Museum is open to automobiles and buses.
Herrengasse near Palais Kinsky

Famous Cafe Central along Herrengasse
The third change in Vienna is mostly an irritation. Two multi-story buildings are being constructed in the open space between the front to the main Hofburg building at Heldenplatz and the entrance to the Volkspark. These new, temporary buildings, behind the back of the statue of Archduke Charles, block views from the Hofburg toward the Parliament building and the Rathaus.

Statue of Archduke Charles on Heldenplatz, with Parliament (left) and the City Hall (right) in the distance; this
view will be blocked by the temporary Parliament buildings being constructed behind the statute

Construction on Heldenplatz near the end of November, 2016
Signs on a fence surrounding the construction site explain that the buildings are temporary structures that will be used in the next few years by the Austrian Parliament. They are needed because the interior of the Parliament building will be reconstructed. 

 As an old city, Vienna is constantly being rebuilt and spruced up. Fortunately the painful disruption usually results in improves to the city.