A dedicated little group of visionaries calling themselves the American Interplanetary Society announced plans to launch a seven-foot skyrocket. "We don't expect a great deal from this first experiment," said one of them. "If it climbs a mile we shall be very satisfied."...The eminent Dr. Karl Compton of MIT looked into the future and crisply prophesied: "The field of atomic science is so little explored that we should not be surprised if the next generation should uncover the most exciting and far-reaching developments in the whole of history."...The American people went to the polls and chose Franklin D. Roosevelt to succeed Herbert Hoover.... Despite the Depression the Rockefellers poured their money into the building of Rockefeller Center, largest and most imaginative act of urban restoration since the San Francisco fire.... The Russians were building, too—one big preoccupation was the glittering Moscow subway. An obscure tough guy named Nikita Khrushchev, aged 38, got a new job watch-dogging the construction engineers....
That was the year of our Lord 1932 and of the American republic the 156th. It was the start of a rousing chapter of modern times, the end of college and the beginning of careers for men named this week to the Silver Anniversary All-America. The 25 men honored here (see box) as outstanding representatives of their generation have two experiences in common: achievement as football players and achievement since football days. Beyond that, their careers have been as various as the men themselves. When MIT's Professor Compton gazed into the atomic future a halfback named Ken Fields was playing for West Point; today Brigadier General Kenneth Fields is general manager of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. Back in the days when Khrushchev was working on his subway, Brown University had a back named Bill Gilbane. Last week Bill Gilbane, executive vice-president of a Providence construction firm, was working on $85 million worth of industrial expansion business. Princeton's football captain, Josh Billings, settled in Nashville after a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford and became a doctor. Utah's Frank Christensen has a worldwide business in diamond drills. Georgia Tech's Albert Syd Williams is Coca-Cola's boss distributor in Britain. Quarterback Jim Aston of Texas A&M is president of the biggest bank in the Southwest. Haverford's Harry Hansen is a professor at the Harvard Business School—and so it goes.
But that is to get ahead of the story by some 9,000 days and nights.
The Depression cut college enrollments in the fall of 1932—about one student in every 15 dropped out for money reasons or was unable to matriculate—and the survivors began to think of themselves as a rather more "serious" generation than their predecessors. "Lit." majors switched to economics, and bull sessions became concerned with national as well as campus politics. It was a time of "working your way," and all but five of the 25 Silver Anniversary award men worked either at part-time jobs or summer jobs, or both, to help pay their way. For the award men as a group, tuition, board and room that year averaged $700 over-all; nine of the men pieced this out with athletic-scholarship help, seven with academic scholarships. Three were good enough to wind up Phi Beta Kappa. Eleven graduated with honors.
But if it was a serious year on campus it was not a somber one. Collegians read The Cautious Amorist and Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back as well as A Guide Through World Chaos, and they took their dates to see Garbo in Grand Hotel and Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in Red Dust. The surefire songs were Night and Day and I've Told Every Little Star. In dormitories and fraternity houses they rehashed the summer's performances in the world of sport. Gene Sarazen won both the American and the British Open championships, bombing his way ahead of men like Bobby Cruickshank and Walter Hagen to win the U.S. title at Fresh Meadow and whipping Mac Smith to win the British title at Sandwich; he was by all odds golfer of the year. In the Games of the Xth Olympiad, held at Los Angeles, the U.S. ran away with 39 gold medals to nine for the nearest rival—Italy; it would be 20 years more before the Russians would send a team to the Olympics. The New York Yankees crushed the Chicago Cubs in four straight games to win the World Series, and Babe Ruth hit perhaps the most famous home run of his life—on a two-strike pitch, after waggling a finger at the heckling Chicago bench in a gesture widely interpreted as meaning "next one goes out of the park." Which it did, of course.
The football season opened particularly auspiciously for three of the Silver Anniversary men. Cornell Fullback Bart Viviano personally scored three touchdowns as his team beat Buffalo 72-0. Gilbane scored two of Brown's three against Rhode Island and Fields both of Army's against Furman. As the season progressed, the University of Michigan, led by Harry Newman and with Ivy Williamson starring at right end, proved itself clearly the best of the Big Ten; when the season ended the Wolverines were named National Champions by the Associated Press. Yale won the game it wanted most; it beat Harvard 19-0 in the mud and rain while 50,000 people dressed in slickers, rubber boots and sheepskin coats cheered and moaned, according to their colors, in the Yale Bowl. When it was over, Captain Carl Hageman of beaten Harvard generously praised the Yale captain across the line from him: "John Wilbur played a great game and showed himself to be an outstanding tackle." Neither was aware that 25 years later both would be named to the same squad. Carl Hageman of Harvard, now a vice-president of Union Carbide and Carbon Corp., and John Wilbur of Yale, vice-president of the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co., were elected to this year's Silver All-America.
The Army-Navy game jammed 79,000 into Philadelphia's Franklin Field. Army won 20-0, and one of the strong men for Army that day was Halfback Fields. At right tackle for Navy was Bill Kane, a mild-mannered young giant of 6 foot 3, one of Navy's best all-round athletes (football, baseball, track and wrestling), who was to suffer embarrassment all his life from the nickname "Killer." Ahead for Midshipman Kane lay a distinguished career of duty well done—as fighter pilot, fighter group leader and Pacific war ace, as postwar skipper of the carrier Saipan—until the day, last February, when the electrical system of his TV-2 jet failed and he crashed to his death. By the nomination of the U.S. Naval Academy and the votes of the judges, the late Captain William R. Kane, USN, is honored in this year's Silver All-America.
Fourteen of the award men wore their country's uniform in World War II and most of the others found themselves occupied in war-directed civilian work. Nowadays they are sending their own children through college. Admission is more difficult, tuition has trebled, academic demands are almost universally stiffer. Even so, the award men would enroll for football again if they were entering college today. No matter what their careers, they are inclined to agree with the words lettered on the gymnasium at West Point; words of Douglas MacArthur a generation ago: UPON THE FIELDS OF FRIENDLY STRIFE ARE SOWN THE SEEDS THAT, UPON OTHER FIELDS, ON OTHER DAYS, WILL BEAR THE FRUITS OF VICTORY.
AS THE QUARTER CENTURY BEGAN
Capping the job, construction workers raise the final stone and American flag into place atop the 70-story RCA building in Rockefeller Center.
Changing the guard, incoming President Franklin D. Roosevelt exchanges handclasp with Herbert Hoover before Capitol inauguration at which Roosevelt said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Exploring the wild blue, Balloonist Auguste Picard says farewell from sputnik-shaped gondola before his 10½-mile, record-breaking ascension. His report on the stratosphere upon his return: "Delightful beyond description."
Changing another guard, Germany's new F√ºhrer, Adolf Hitler, rides to heiling rally with old President Paul von Hindenburg.
Glory day for Babe Ruth comes in third game of 1932 World Series after the Babe, two strikes down to Cub Pitcher Charlie Root, waggled a magisterial finger to demand one more pitch—and lashed it over the center-field barrier. Here Ruth gets a happy handclasp from teammate Lou Gehrig after crossing the plate.
Explosive kick, good for 65 yards, is booted by Army Halfback Ken Fields in 1932 Army-Navy game, which Army won 20-0. Onetime Halfback Fields, now general manager of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, was elected to this year's Silver All-America, as was Navy's tackle Bill Kane.
Gold-medal day comes for Babe Didrikson in Los Angeles Olympic Games as she outruns and outjumps an international field in the 80-meter hurdles. The Babe also won a gold medal in the javelin throw in the Games that year. Thereupon she gave notice: "My mind is set now on winning a national golf championship."
Explosive shot from a trap, which landed his ball inches from pin, is Gene Sarazen's response to sandy challenge in the National Open, held at Fresh Meadow Country Club, Long Island. Sarazen, aged 30, won both the U.S. and British Open tournaments that year, was manifestly the golfer of the year.
Davis Cup upset is registered as France's Jean Borotra and America's Ellsworth Vines march off Roland Garros courts in Paris after the Frenchman's unexpected victory. France won the Davis Cup for the sixth straight year.
Rose Bowl Day 1933 brings triumph and added national stature to Southern California Trojans, as they crush the highly regarded Pitt Panthers 35-0 at Pasadena. Here Trojan Quarterback Homer Griffith, one of the game's heroes, plunges off-tackle for more Southern California yardage. In the regular season 10 opponents had managed to score only 25 points against Pitt's Sutherland-coached team.
Bridge triumph comes for four-man team of Willard Karn, Hal Sims, Harold S. Vanderbilt and Baron Waldemar von Zedtwitz who outscored the runners-up for the Vanderbilt Cup, a trophy put up by Bridge Master Vanderbilt himself. Pre-tournament favorites had been Ely Culbertson's team. The tournament referee was Army Lieutenant Alfred M. Gruenther, later to become a four-star general.
THE 25 AWARD MEN
WILLIAM J. GILBANE
Construction company executive, Providence
THOMAS H. COULTER
Chief executive, Chicago Association of Commerce
KEITH I. PARSONS
Univ. of Chicago
Attorney and corporations director, Chicago
GEORGE A. NEWTON
Univ. of Colorado
Investment banking, St. Louis
BARTHOLOMEW J. VIVIANO
Vice-president and general counsel, Lehigh Valley RR
JOHN M. GABRIEL
Civil engineer and company president, Paramus, N.J.
ALBERT SYDNEY WILLIAMS
Manager, Coca-Cola Export Corp., London
CARL H. HAGEMAN JR.
Vice-president, Union Carbide and Carbon, New York
HARRY L. HANSEN
Professor, Harvard Business School
GILBERT I. BERRY
Univ. of Illinois
General manager of WIBC, Indianapolis
IVAN B. WILLIAMSON
Univ. of Michigan
Athletic director, University of Wisconsin
GEN. KENNETH E. FIELDS
General manager, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
CAPT. WILLIAM R. KANE
World War II flier, late commander "U.S.S. Saipan"
RICHARD J. FENCL
Auto rental company president, Chicago
H. HOWARD COLEHOWER
Textiles manufacturer, Philadelphia
DR. FREDERIC T. BILLINGS
Specialist in internal medicine, Nashville
JOHN W. OEHLER
Vice-president, barge line company, Joliet, Ill.
Saint Louis Univ.
Personnel officer, Monsanto Chemical Co., St. Louis
Metering devices manufacturer, Los Angeles
JAMES W. ASTON
President, Republic National Bank, Dallas
ROBERT EMSLIE MURRAY
Superintendent of schools, Schenectady, N.Y.
Univ. of Utah
Diamond drills manufacturer, Salt Lake City .
TOM P. HENDERSON JR.
Insurance executive, Nashville
Head football coach, Syracuse University
JOHN S. WILBUR
Metals manufacturer, Cleveland