Sunday, November 3, 2013

Football Season

Try as I might, my "field goal" attempts as of late, have seemed to go wide right, or wide left. The uprights apparently have had a force field that deflected my kicks.

That was, until last week. As you probably recall, I "scored" a couple of BT&P / Oak Run minis replete with label and contents. And so, with the force field down, I marched down field, and scored once again.

Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay area, I am well acquainted with both Stanford and the University of California, "Cal." Although not as intense as it once was, they still have a strong rivalry when it comes to sports. Some things never change.

Football is the big thing in college sports these days, just as it was at the turn of the 19th century. In fact, one of the great tragedies of the era occurred on November 30, 1900 at a sold out Stanford / Cal. football game, which had been billed as "The Big Game".

It was held at Recreation Park, on 16th Street. Into this neighborhood massed the largest crowd to ever witness a sporting event west of the Mississippi. They clutched newspapers in which front-page headlines actually used the word "Rah!" up to six times. Some 19,000 onlookers packed the stadium, and thousands more milled about in the dusty streets. Not willing to be denied a chance to watch the game, hundreds of spectators crowded the roof of the new location of the Pacific Glass Works located on Fifteenth Street, which was adjacent to the football stadium. The furnaces had just been lit off for the first time, and when the overloaded roof collapsed, dozens fell onto or into the glass ovens.

The following is an excerpt from an article describing the tragedy~

"Well before the 2:30 p.m. kickoff, the factory's shiny, corrugated iron rooftop was packed with 500 to 1,000 spectators. It "was black with people," reported the Chronicle. "So densely were all the roofs packed, it was a matter of comment among the multitude which thronged the stands on the Folsom Street side."

Every factor that would lead to "San Francisco's direst calamity" was now in place. Factory employees wandered the streets in a futile attempt to locate a cop willing to evict the freeloading invaders. Those freeloaders, meanwhile, were massed atop a rooftop only required to withstand 40 pounds per square inch — hardly adequate for a football crowd, even in a hungrier era when the average Cal or Stanford player weighed 170 pounds. Worse yet, fans clambered to the highest accessible point, the 100-foot-long rectangular ventilator rising 4 feet from the apex of the roof. This open-sided structure was supported only by wooden braces — and, ominously, the fans' perch was directly above the hottest portion of the factory.

Forty-five feet below the thousands of stamping feet, loomed the squat 30-by-60-foot east furnace. Fifteen tons of molten glass bubbled within at 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit — a temperature on par with a red dwarf star. This was the only furnace in action that day. More observant fans would have noticed the capping atop the chimney behind them glowing red as it emitted a persistent plume of smoke.

But the action was in front, not behind. And even onlookers who grew uneasy couldn't negotiate the crowd to descend. "I don't know how many hundred people were up there, but there wasn't an inch of standing room to spare," Arthur Schwarz told the Examiner. So they made the most of it: "All of us were laughing and jesting," Charles Taylor told the Chronicle. "Some of the fellows said: 'If this thing breaks, we'll all go down together.'"

Twenty minutes into the game, they did."

The count, roughly 85 souls injured and or killed.

Switching gears a bit; Dumb question. What do a Saint Bernard, a bucket of beer, and a kitty have in common?

 Many years ago, I picked up ca. 1900 handled beer mug. "Newman's College"! Too cool to pass up, I figured it was some sort of scholastic thing. On one side of the handle was a portrayal of "California" (Cal.) sporting events. The other side had a portrayal of Stanford, with similar, but different sporting scenes. On the side opposite the handle was the scene with the St. Bernard, the kittie and the bucket of beer. Near the base on this side, it was inscribed, Famous Panting Exhibited - Newman's College / Cor. Eddy & Powell St. San Francisco Cal".




The biggest draw to me, was the main panel, which pictured "Dewey - the Rescuer" (a Saint Bernard) World Champion Blue Ribbon Winner. St Bernard." I'm a sucker for dogs and cats. But the graphics on this one were over the top. Dewey (the St.Bernard) sitting obediently with the cat at his feet. And a bucket, of what could only be beer, on the right rear.

Charles and Layo Newman were doing business as Charles Newman & Co, and were proprietors of the Russ House on Montgomery St., between Bush & Pine - San Francisco, in 1906.

Their enterprise went up in smoke early in the morning on April 18th of that year, courtesy of the Great Earthquake and Fire. I found no record of them in either the relief or temporary directories that were published in 1906 as the rebuilding of San Francisco got under way.

Newman's College Inn (Inc) was registered as a corporation on August 6, 1906, in Oakland Cal., with capital stock in the amount of $25,000~. In 1907 the Walter Fry directory lists Newman's College Inn (Inc.) as a cafe and grill in Oakland, California at 1011 Broadway. It was also listed under "Liquors - Retail" in the same directory, at the same address. The firm was owned and operated by Charles and Layo Newman, previously of the Russ House.

The 1909 S.F. Crocker directory lists Newman's College (liquors) at 1 Polk St. I found listings for the San Francisco location in the business directories through 1918. However, the Oakland location does not appear in any directory after 1909, indicating that they had permanently relocated to San Francisco and closed the doors to the Oakland location.

Newman's College Inns were the early day for-runner to the "sports bars" of the 21st century. And they capitalized on the rivalry between Stanford and Cal. The Newman brothers obviously saw the value of advertising. One advertising piece manufactured for them is a hard board giveaway in the shape of a football.

A College Inn token is documented to exist, along with two embossed pumpkin seed flasks (one two cities and one that is just embossed with the Oakland address); these in addition to pint and half pint ornate beer mugs. All but the token carry a football as the prominent theme.


I recently acquired a Newman's go-with from the same source as the BT&P Oak Run minis. This acquisition is also a mini, complete with original contents. It is embossed Newman's / Colleges / San Francisco and Oakland. Dating it is a no-brainer since the only year that both locations were concurrently in operation was 1909. One of the amazing things about this mini, besides it's extreme rarity, is that it is a figural. Shaped like a turn of the century football, it even has lacing on the reverse side, opposite the embossing. In many respects, it is a glass duplicate of the hard board giveaway.  

Sadly, all good things must pass. Regardless of how popular and successful Newman's Colleges must have been, nothing lasts forever. In Newman's case, the swan song proved to be the Volstead Act and subsequent prohibition. Roughly ten years after the concept of the sports bar was envisioned, the doors closed forever.
Thanks to the vision of Charles and Layo Newman, we have some amazing football themed rarities to seek out, and hopefully add to our collections.


Froggy said...

Great posting, esp. on Newmans Colleges. I have the B. Grapentine example of the football nip (Is for sale)and have been looking for more background info on this business.

Anonymous said...

I have on of these football minis' was searching for info on it. Thanks for the info. I knew it was a good one.

MikeVdP said...

Thank you for this great research on Newman's College. I've started a Wikipedia page on this. Feel free to edit that and add any reference links you can. Thanks! (My uncle was given one of the Newman's College mugs and this is the only source material we could find!)

MikeVdP said...

Thanks! This is a great article on Newman's College. My uncle was given one of these steins about 30 years ago. This is the only source we could find. I started Newman's College page on Wikipedia. Feel free to edit it and add references. Thanks!

swpshark said...

Thanks for all the information on these guys , I new the pumpkin seed was a rare one still have not seen a whole one.....

Anonymous said...

Seems there's a slight discrepancy with regard to the address of Newman's College or Newman's College Inn. (Are they two different places or one in the same?) The mug says corner of Eddy and Powell streets, and the directory listing states an address of 1 Polk street.

Site Meter