Faces of Past Speak Loudly to Future

We never dressed like these dudes at Buff stadium back in 1950. In fact the coat over the shoulder look used here was nothing more than “product placement” for “Mosk’s Store for Men” – Sadly, the only thing “right” here is the 100% white face look of the general stadium crowd. In 1950, segregation forced black fans to sit in their “own” separate section down the far right field line. That’s one of the shames of Houston in this shameful old world.

 

Staying home today with one of those dripping viruses and sweaty feelings that you really don’t want to share with anyone else, I chose to swaddle my mind in the comfort food thoughts of memorabilia I keep in boxes for just such occasions as today. Well, that’s not exactly true. This stuff has been following me around since I was 8 to 10 years old, just waiting for one of these days to come along that elevates something from the piles to rise briefly from the sediment of sentimentality to full “needful thing” status – if only for a day.

Today it turned out to be this four-pages-in-all cardboard scorecard from the 1950 Houston Buff Texas League baseball season. 1950 was hardly a memorable year for the Houston Buffs. The team stank, finishing 8th and cellar-last at 61-93 – a full two games back of the 7th place Shreveport Sports – and 30.5 games back of the first place Beaumont Roughnecks and their two future MLB stars, infielder Gil McDougald and catcher Clint Courtney.  And, oh yeah, the great and strange Rogers Hornsby was the manager of our little brother city to the east’s whip-ass ball club too, a fact that galled the bloody bejabbers out of our Cardinals-proud Houston fans.

Hornsby was intimidating. How many times did he walk past some of us Houston Knothole Ganglings in silence, only for all of us to decide by his snarling looks that this probably was not a good time to ask for his autograph. We simply weren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer back then. There was never going to be a good time to ask for that old toad’s signature. (Yes, I said “toad” – and not that other four-letter “”t” word that comes to mind, but it would have fit here just as well, if not better.)

That’s Joe D. on the right wall behind the concession stand prices feature. He’s pushing Chesterfield as his milder choice in cigarettes.

 

 

Look at those concession stand prices, folks. This was back in the days when nobody had credit cards that made buying stuff seem cheap. Back then, you either had a dime or you didn’t buy. Then, when the day came that even a march of dimes couldn’t buy you the time of day, some marketing genius figured out that we had to have credit cards to make stuff still feel cheap, even if it no longer were.

For a lot people in 1950, you were either from Houston – or just passing through because your corporate oil patch company “boss of your life” had sent you here to do whatever it was you did that was of value to them. And that was OK, sort of, if you came from the South – or other parts of Texas where it’s also hot as blazes during the summer – but that wasn’t so true when it came to the carrot and stick problem that companies had sending many people to Houston back in 1950. There was nothing “cool” about living in Houston to valued corporate workers from milder, more sophisticated climates, at all. And that’s what’s so cool about these two adjoining ads in the 1950 scorecard. Air conditioning and television were poised to sweep through Houston like a decade-long “norther” of social change. Houston was on its way to becoming cool in all the ways that count – and that includes the assault that has taken place upon the ignorant and totally uncool hand of segregation and racism – a quieter battle that continues to this day.

By 1957, our little family home in Pecan Park was whipping up summer-long “northers” inside – thanks to two window units that seemed to cover the needs of our little one-bath sideboard house. By the fall of 1957, I was even taking a UH biology class on home TV – something that would have seemed like a tale out of Buck Rogers back in 1950. My only reservation was the timing of the lecture. Seriously folks. Who really wants to wake up early enough to watch an animal autopsy on television while they are trying to wake up?

I guess I did, ( see carrot and stick here) because it ultimately worked for me.

 

 

If you want a better look at the rosters of these two Texas League clubs, check them out at these two links to the 1950 Beaumont Roughnecks and Houstons Buffs at Baseball Reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/team.cgi?id=b15e635a

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/team.cgi?id=e03e7218

The 1950 Houston Buffs will always resonant with me for three things: (1) They made me jump for joy when I learned at breakfast one early June 1950 morning that Jerry Witte was now joining the club from Rochester; (2) They made me laugh when I saw fat little Buff manager Benny Borgmann bring the starting lineup out to home plate the first time in those blousy skirt-like shorts the Buffs started wearing to supposedly boost the gate with lady fans; and (3) They made me cry myself to sleep when the Buffs lost to Shreveport on the last night game of the season, missing out on a Buffs tie for 7th place with the Sports that would have spared us from the dead last place all-by-ourselves-alone finish that fell upon us as a result.

I could spend another two weeks about the life lessons that jump out at me from the finding of this old scorecard, and probably will. I just won’t write about them. Your time would be better spent looking for your own reminders of your own life lessons. We all have them. And they just wait around for the day that we revisit them for all there is to learn from even our long ago distant experience with joy, discovery, and occasional disappointment.

Take care of yourselves, folks. And thanks for allowing me the time to rattle.

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

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2 Responses to “Faces of Past Speak Loudly to Future”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Bill: Is it possible that the picture in the Motorola Television advertisement for Moore Bros. is of Texas Ruby and Curly Fox?

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      It is not only possible, it is – the same wonderful Curly Fox and Miss Texas Ruby who used to do a weekly show on Channel 2 every Friday night in 1950. In fact, that same caricature shown here was used as their early times “brand” reminder on everything from ads to limited edition drinking glasses. It was powerful enough to be easily recalled by youngsters like yourself from that era. Thanks for the nod on this clear mention.

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