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.
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
Yeah, mint julep!
and a cool souvenir 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 …
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:
“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:
Whether it was sport writing or sports writing, Stubby made good sports out of all.
Oh, those cold winter nights of West Virginia of today and days past…
While staying warm, I found this reference to Stubby attending a Davis & Elkins basketball game in a Bluefield Daily Telegraph “Press Box” column from January 24, 1936:
This D & B crowd is no bunch of pansies. Especially those three husky members of the outfit who so generously pushed my marooned car out of the snow in front of that Fairmont road house the night after the ball game in which they were crowned state champs at the state tourney last season. I’ll love them for that, if for nothing else. But I hate to think to what might have happened to me that night had l gone to Wesleyan and not to D & B back in the days of my callow youth. And I love ’em for that, too.
Stay warm, kids!
Maybe Stubby Currence missed his calling as a stunt driver!
“Sports Editor of The Daily Telegraph in car plunging off the road.” (click photo to see a larger size)
Miraculous escape for two in wreck of auto
Sports Editor of Daily Telegraph in Car Plunging off the road
Tuesday evening while driving across Elkhorn mountain, near the spot known as “Tank Hill” Fred Duesen of Huntington and V. Lloyd Currence, of this city, miraculously escaped death when the Nash coupe in which they were riding plunged more than 100 feet to the bottom of the deep embankment at that place.
The occupants of the doomed Nash car managed to get out of the wreckage (before) it tumbled down the mount…to its destruction. Currence, sports editor of The Daily Telegraph, was thrown from the car after it had turned three complete flips, and with the exception of being jarred up considerably, suffered no injury. Duesen managed to free himself from the car several yards below the spot where Currence was thrown from the wreckage. Duesen suffered a severely sprained wrist, but otherwise came out of the wreck in good shape.
The cause given for the accident was a slippery road. The car skidded from the road when attempting to pass a Negro taxi car.
I suspect some tomfoolery was going on. But thank goodness, Stubby knew how to hit dirt, or I wouldn’t be here 🙂
My guess is this happened in the 1920s. This poor car had to die a horrible death:
1929 Nash Special Six Coupe. Photo by Lars-Göran Lindgren Sweden via Wikimedia Commons
Ever wonder what would happen if the Poet Laureate of West Virginia didn’t like you? Stubby didn’t have to guess. He knew…
HE’S LOOSE AGAIN
Out of Bluefield comes a rumble
Words are flying in a jumble
Over hill and dale like showers of winter rain;
They are senseless, they are sappy
And they make no sports fan happy
Stubby Currence prattles foolishly again
Copyright By Roy Lee Harmon, Beckley Post-Herald April 16, 1937
Yesterday, I checked on Ohio State (one of my alma maters) to make sure everything was running smoothly. While in the bookstore, I noticed a bevy of Jim Tressel books at 30 percent off.
Scandal = Bargain bin
I know Tressel is old news but I wonder what Stubby would think of the all the college football scandals in the past few years. And then there is the big kahuna of sports scandals: Penn State.
Stubby was no stranger to college sports scandals during his time. But I wonder, can we expect college sports to ever be scandal-free?
I got a stumper for you today. Well, probably not for YOU, but for me, because I didn’t get a chance to ask The Dad about this one. Here is a photo from Stubby’s archives. Unfortunately, we’re losing the image to the ages.
Bluefield vs. Bramwell. Click photo to zoom.
From what I can tell, it is a photo of a baseball game with the catcher and batter at home plate. The crowd is behind them and baseball bats on in the foreground. But Stubby’s caption reads fine: “Bluefield vs. Bramwell – Glenwood Park, Aug. 1922. Bluefield easy winners over League winners – Walters, at bay.”
I wanted to share this one because this game was played 90 years ago this month. But the stumper is the dates. According the Bluefield Blue Jays website, the Blue-Grays (a precursor to the Blue Jays) were formed in 1924, two years later than this game was played. I’m confident Stubby got the year right, so I’m guessing games were being played before the League was formally formed. The town of Bramwell also lists 1924 as the start of the Coalfield Baseball League:
Interesting Fact: In 1924 “The Coalfield Baseball League.” consisted of four teams in the league including the Bluefield “Blue Grays,” the Gary “Coal Diggers,” the Pocahontas-Bramwell “Indians” and the Coalwood “Robins.”
Even 90 years later, I’m glad Bluefield was victorious.
So we’re back after our summer break and as promised, we got some sports memories on tap.
Helmets! We don’t need no stinkin’ helmets! Stubby is in the top row, far right. Click the photo to zoom.
Here is a photos from what I believe is the 1922 Morris Harvey College (later renamed the University of Charleston) football team from Barboursville, West Virginia. Stubby was not a player but was a coach or manager. The Dad points out that the ole Stub Man had colored his outfit in black ink because he was embarrassed by his duds.
All covered in ink!
That sounded like a challenge. So I dug around and found an undoctored version of the same photo.
A bow tie revealed!
I have some other documentation to go through to match up who is who in this team photo. Stay tuned!
It’s probably a little obvious I love history, but The Dad asks why I’m so interested in genealogy. He is a major history buff, but just doesn’t get the family tree stuff. (In full nerd disclosure, I, in fact, I attended the National Genealogical Society’s Family History Conference. I can’t be blamed. It came to me. How could I resist?). But I can say I love family history–it is a personal way the boring details of history can come alive. I rub my hands in anticipation of the West Virginia index of the 1940 Census. Oh, happy day!
I heart my “Working With Records” workbook.
Since we lost The Dad words ago, let’s move on. As we’ve mentioned, Stubby went by many names, including V.L. Currence. That “L” has quite the history. Lloyd is a family name from Wales and the first Lloyd in Stubby’s family came to America in 1683 when his 6th great-grandfather Thomas Lloyd moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after becoming a Quaker. Thomas Lloyd died in 1693, and the Lloyd family moved around Virginia and West Virginia.
“Thomas Lloyd (1640-1694) was a Welsh-born Quaker and physician. In 1683, he moved with his family to provincial Pennsylvania along with William Penn. He swiftly entered politics, representing Philadelphia County in the provincial council in 1684. He went on to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania from 1690 to 1693.” (Source: Sethkaller.com)
See more about Thomas Lloyd’s Wikipedia page. And more sports next week. I promised The Dad.