Football Follies

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To help solve 1922 Christmas buying worries, "Polly the Shopper" offered Tucson Citizen readers her advice. Polly suggested that parents buy children books for 65 cents and handbags for $1.

"If you cannot come to the stores, I'll gladly shop for you without charge," Polly wrote.

One downtown retailer had a giant pre-Christmas, year-end sale, offering infant shoes for 69 cents, sturdy school shoes for $1.95 and girls' gingham dresses for 89 cents. Other possibilities included boys' caps for 59 cents, an all wool-suit, regularly priced at $10, going for only $4.95, and boys' and girls' long-johns priced between 69 and 89 cents.

The almost-finished year of 1922 had featured some highs and lows. Locally, the Sunshine Climate Club was formed to promote tourism through an aggressive advertising campaign. Nationally, the Reader's Digest printed its first issue.

On July 1, railroad shop workers across the country called for a strike protest a cut in pay. At the Southern Pacific Railroad Company yards along South Third Avenue, about 500 boilermakers, carpenters and other maintenance shop employees walked off the job.

Despite the strike, trains kept rolling. Within days, some local men returned to work, and within a week, the rest of the strikers were told if they didn't come back, they would be replaced. Many of them did return, but a few held out longer, picketing the rail yard and trying to prevent others from going to work. Eventually, across the country, the strike petered out.

Six months before, in December 1921, the atmosphere had been much more jovial at the Southern Pacific depot on Toole Avenue. The Arizona football team departed for San Diego by train to face the "Praying Colonels" of Centre College in Kentucky in an East-West classic game, the University of Arizona's first-ever bowl game. The Wildcats had high hopes for an upset over a squad called "the greatest football team in the United States."

But on Dec. 26, in a driving rain, and on a field described as "a churned mass of slippery slime," Arizona failed to get a first down in the first half and ended up losing 38-0. The desert-dwelling Wildcats were simply out of their element.

Two days later, the Centre College team arrived in Tucson, attracting 500 people to the train station. Upon their arrival, the crowd welcomed the victors with a rousing rendition of "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here."

Some of the Kentuckians spoke to the assembled throng, complimenting their opponents and generously calling the Wildcats one of the best teams they had faced during the entire season.

"Arizona has a peach of a team," one Centre College player remarked, "and it is certainly one to be proud of, even though it lost." Those were kind words, but it was the holiday season, so he and most everyone else at the depot was probably in a good mood, much like a child opening a special Christmas present.

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