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Look Back: Football exploits continue

YMCA Park, a.k.a. Athletic Field, was the destination of the boys who began their practically daily escapades, going from the YMCA on Eighth Street, via Williams Court Alley, to the sports field at the end of Juliana Street. Before the current PHS was built the Big Reds practiced and played games on this field. The WVU Mountaineers even played games here. De Sales Heights can be seen in the background. (Photo from the November 1913 Football-Thanksgiving issue of The Quill, published monthly by students of Parkersburg High School)

Editor’s note: The following is a reproduction of historic newspaper items and contains descriptions of people that are understood to be wrong and would not be used today.

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The Boys and Williams Court Alley, continues: Traveling “the Alley,” the boys finally reach Thirteenth Street and Riverview (Cook) Cemetery: Graveyard — Stay Out!

There was no wandering into the graveyard for the very excellent reason that it was fenced with many a malicious turn of overhead thrusting barbed wire.

Memory fades but at least a few of the stars of the championship team can be recalled. There was flashy Ed Schlarb, whose leg was broken in one of our encounters. And Louis (Gooley) Marchi, powerful battering wedge of the forward wall. He and Shorty Graham were the pin men of every major offensive. All resistance automatically faded before them as the twilight before the dawn.

Not Flat.

Fleet-footed Cornelius (Corney) Deem who was as good at end as in the backfield, and so played both. Equally fleet Phil Deem, the [St.] Margaret Marys pole-vaulter with an uncanny hook for long passes. And Vinny Taylor. Not forgetting Jim Graham, big, willing, capable, and determined, on the St. X end of the string, and the late Bill Owens, as spunky and hard-fighting a player as ever graced the lineup.

Those days are gone. But the “Y” park remains the same. It changes no more than the looks and the shouts of the kids who play on it today. It remains bare and frequented by a missionary cow, tufted with sour-grass, damp and cool to hot young bodies. [Note: The Y.M.C.A. park was situated where the First Presbyterian Church is located today.]

The Only Alteration.

All that seems to have changed is the progressive fact that below the graveyard in a hollow distinguished by one ramshackle hut so flimsy it seems to have been stuck together with piano wire, a hillside quite exhausted looking, an industrious colored man has put in a little garden. Make no mistake — the ramshackle hut is not his, but a neighbor’s. His is an enterprising little cottage with white flowers by the door.

There he plows a little and watches the wild games, listens to the wild games and listens to the wild shouts on the field above.

The park is still beneath the red sheltering shade of De Sales Heights convent. And at six the Angelus tolls and the boys by mutual agreement “break it up.” The pall of smoke settles down, thick and blue, over the steel mill. Lights go out and voices linger longer on the air, as the lads trail down off the hill, collecting a few brambles as they go. Their swinging arms fade from beneath the street lights at the foot of the hill and their shrill, eager voices die away.

The Parkersburg News

April 2, 1939

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Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.

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