Legacy of Naming School Sports Teams

I’ve seen it mentioned that V.L. “Stubby” Currence provided the nicknames for at least two Southwest Virginia High School sports teams.

Graham G-Men

Graham G-Men

Graham High School, Bluefield VA – nicknamed the G-Men

While the Town of Graham was renamed Bluefield in a ceremony with its “sister-city” Bluefield, West Virginia, the school retained its name and adopted the moniker of “Graham Men” or “G-Men.”  The origin of the moniker dates back to ca. 1936 and Bluefield Daily Telegraph reporter Stubby Currence.  He often said in reference to the football team, “just as the FBI ‘G’overnment Men always get their man,” so do the “Graham Men” or “G-Men” get their man.  Athletes were also referred to as “G-Men” when they received a letter in sports.
Graham High School website

Richlands Blue Tornado

Richlands Blue Tornado

Richlands High School, Richlands, VA – nicknamed the Blue Tornado

The story I’ve always heard about Richlands is that the nickname originated with Stubby Currence in his description of a game played back in the 1930s or thereabouts. RHS wore blue jerseys and in this particular game generated a lot of offense. In his description of it for the Daily Telegraph, Currence supposedly described the Richlands team as moving down the field like a “blue tornado.” – By RichlandsAlum on How our schools got their nicknames, SWVASports.com Forums

I haven’t be able to personally verify if these stories are true. But was a cool legacy, if so. I’ll post if there are more teams Stubby may have helped name.

Comment how your favorite high school sports team got its name. I’d love to hear them.

~Melissa

Stubby in the New York Times

newyorktimesSo good ole Stubby Currence was mentioned in the New York Times a little while back in an opinion piece by Erin McKean titled “The Wise Words of Maya Angelou. Or Someone, Anyway.”

The author, the chief executive and founder of the online dictionary Wordnik.com, was writing about a new Maya Angelou postage stamp which attributes this quote to Angelou:

A bird doesn’t sing because he has an answer, it sings because he has a song.

But it was in fact written by children’s book writer Joan Walsh Anglund. 

McKean goes to to use Stubby as another example of possible misattribution for the master Mark Twain:

A favorite Twainism-that-isn’t is “The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work,” which might be the work of a 1930s newspaper columnist named Stubby Currence, but is more likely a variation of an older, anonymous joke.

Quite the mystery! I guess only Stubby would know for sure. And keeping company with the New York Times, Mark Twain and Maya Angelou sounds about right for Stubby.

Wishing all dads a very Happy Father’s Day. I’m missing The Dad a lot today, but he’s always in my heart.

~Melissa

 

Christmas has come and gone

Forty years ago today, Stubby published this column in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Maybe the copy editor was off that day? Nonetheless, a favorite for the family…

Christmas Now and Then Column Stubby Currence

December 30, 1973. Click to zoom in.

Christmastime is a great reminder that family is what’s important in life. We’re feeling that more than ever with The Dad‘s passing this year.

So remember: Hug ’em all tight! And cheers to “booze and whoopee” for 2014!

~Melissa

Never yesterday’s news

The Dad once told me about a cold day in April when he was leaving Bluefield. It was 1981 – the day after his father Stubby’s funeral. He pulled the car into a gas station to fill up before driving his family back 400 miles back to Cincinnati, and he came face-to-face with his pop. Stubby’s photo glanced up at him from the trash can. It was his obituary on the front page of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

He said grief came over him in that moment. It brought it home that Stubby was literally and figuratively yesterday’s news. A family lost its patriarch. A town lost a significant champion.  But sons lost their father. A wife lost her partner. Co-workers lost a friend.

Unfortunately, the grief is back. We recently lost The Dad. Like many deaths, it was a long time coming but too sudden, too soon. The Dad loved to tell stories about the sports scene he grew up in. He loved reminiscing about the neighborhood baseball games in which he played while living on Pen Mar. He was devoted to the 1959 Bluefield Beavers Football State Champs until the very end. He put West Virginia Mountaineers stickers on anything that wouldn’t move.

Even though we don’t have The Dad anymore doesn’t mean his stories are done being told, or our stories here are over. Even though the newsprint has long been recycled, the memories are old and dusty, and those we have loved may have gone on, we still have their stories to tell.

And Dad, I’ll miss you.

Love, Melissa

Kentucky Derby Diamond Jubilee – 1949

In 1949, Stubby attended the 75th Anniversary of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville in 1949. As Eric Crawford writes

The Kentucky Derby has always been a writer’s event. At the Derby, bloodlines come first, but story lines are a close second. Great writers, some of the best, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Hunter Thompson, took their turns penning descriptions of the great spectacle.

Let’s not get too carried away here comparing Stubby to these literary giants. But the ole man did attend and got him some killer sway.

A pair of Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Glasses

Kentucky Derby Diamond Jubilee Glassware

Yeah, mint julep!

and a cool souvenir book

1949 Kentucky Derby Book

They even personalized it for the ole Stubs!

And we’ll end with sage advice from Stubby himself from his Press Box column, May 3, 1936 …

Happy Horsing!

~Melissa

Career advice

Press Box Graphic from 1936

Above is The Press Box graphic from 1934. I hope to share more graphics from The Press Box column as it changed throughout the years.

But I liked the following was a tidbit in the December 30, 1934, Press Box column from The Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

sport_writing

“Correct this sentence: “Son,” said the newspaperman and father. “I hope you will choose an easy job like sport writing.”

I think we might have a double entrendre on our hands, especially with the teasers that follow:

1934_press_box

Whether it was sport writing or sports writing, Stubby made good sports out of all.

~Melissa