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Item of the Month: Photographs of America’s Favorite Pastime

Published: October 05, 2010 by Joanna Riley

My name is Joanna Riley and I am a senior at the University of Vermont. I have recently finished my undergrad degree in Exercise and Movement Science in the college of Nursing and Health Science and am now a first year student in the Doctorial Physical Therapy program. Growing up I was very involved in sports. At some point along the line I participated in basketball, baseball, softball, hockey, soccer, swimming, and gymnastics. I am now on the women’s club ice hockey team at the University of Vermont. I have browsed through Louis L. McAllister’s photograph collection and chose several pieces that caught my eye. Part of his collection contains sport pictures and I would like to share what I found intriguing about the different photographs. I leave it to open to you to come up with your own interpretations as well.

Who said women stayed in the kitchen in the 1900’s? These young women from the 1920’s are part of a rifle team. Notice how they are wearing bloomers and not skirts or dresses as you may assume they were required to. There is a number on the uniform of the woman in the front row, three in from the right. I am interested to know what school or group these unidentified athletes are from and what sort of events they competed in.

Baseball is not Americas only favorite past time. For these men it was running. From Athletics, unidentified there is a photograph of the 1928 Burlington High School Track and Field Team posing outside of what was then Edmunds High School and now an Elementary/ Middle school. There are several different uniform versions amongst the athletes. One gentleman has a V on his sweater and is wearing pants. I would assume the “V” to stand for varsity. He could be the team manager. He is the only one in the front row without spikes on his shoes. I wonder if the different uniforms are a mixture of the varsity and junior varsity teams or if all these athletes comprise of one team and are wearing uniforms from different years. Notice the gentlemen in the back row. The two in the middle have different colored shorts on and the one on the right is wearing a nice pair of pants. There is a trophy in the foreground implying the team has recently won a race. After browsing through The City of Burlington Schools Athletic Hall of Fame I found that Edward S. Hutton, Sr. also attended Burlington High School from 1925-1928. He was one of the first black football players at BHS and was also a member of the basketball, track, and baseball team. He is missing from this picture.

This picture is of the Cathedral High School JV basketball team. Cathedral High School is now known as Rice Memorial High School. It is a coeducational Roman Catholic secondary school in South Burlington, Vermont. The boys in the front row are only wearing their jerseys while the ones in the back row have on their warm up jackets. I would believe the first row to be the starting five players on the team. This is one of the few pictures I have come across where the athletes are smiling. They seem to be lined up in the hallway on a tiled floor rather than on the basketball court.

This undated photograph is of unidentified group of bowlers and audience. The location is possibly the Burlington Bowling Arena on Pearl Street in Burlington, Vermont. This looks like candlepin bowling opposed to ten pin. The bowling balls do not appear to be large enough for ten pin bowling. However, depending on the time period there may only have been one type of bowling ball. There is a large audience so I would guess that some sort of tournament is going on at this particular site. The players are also not wearing the typical bowling shoe. The players on both far lanes have on white shoes. In other pieces of McAllister’s work, such as Bowling League, the players have on the typical bowling shoes ( Each of the five bowlers’ are shown in different stances. There are very special techniques used amongst elite bowlers today. The strategy seems to vary player to player in this picture.

The 1944 Bristol girls' basketball team is stationed in front of the old high school in Bristol, Vermont. One of the team members holds a plush panda bear mascot that appears to have one eye and some sort of clothing on. All the girls in the front row also have their left foot slightly in front of their right. This may be their stance during games or just how McAllister aligned them. The girls have similar hair dos and many appear to have makeup on, epically lipstick which is not as common to be seen in athletes today; maybe on picture day but not during a competition. The woman in the back row has a different jacket on than the rest of the team and if you look closely she seems to have high heeled shoes on. She could be the coach of the team. The dynamic of a female team just by looking at a picture is vastly different from a men’s team. The men would probably not have a stuffed animal as their mascot.