SMU Football Players’ Unusual Summer Job: Strutting and Parading at the Dog Track — 1937

by Paula Bosse

mickey_greyhounds_010835-cropIt was kind of like this… (click for larger image with caption)

by Paula Bosse

In doing research for my recent post on the Oak Downs/Sportsman’s Park greyhound racing track across from Love Field, I came across, of all things, a 1935 Mickey Mouse comic strip story arc about dog racing. The first panel of one of the early strips is above. Its caption:

“The preliminaries have been run, and now, the main event of the day is about to start! The band strikes up as the proud owners parade their dogs to the starting box.”

So when I came across a 1937 story about financially-strapped SMU football players earning extra money during the off-season by parading greyhounds around our dog track, I couldn’t help but think of the cartoon panel above. …But with maybe more strutting. (Click for larger image; transcript below.)

smu-players_grehyounds_dmn_043037Dallas Morning News, April 30, 1937

Dallas Morning News
April 30, 1937

“It’s a long time yet until football season and it’s getting almost too hot to even discuss the sport now, but the college coach is just launching into one of his hardest jobs. As vacation time approaches his chief worry is finding summer employment for the lads on his squad for a great majority of them are boys of little or no financial means and it is essential that they find steady work during the summer if they are to continue in school in the fall. Within a few weeks you’ll find the husky linemen and rabbit backs you cheered last autumn and whose praises you will be singing from late next September until New Year’s roughing it in the oil fields, barking at sideshows at the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition, policing the grounds and evidencing their versatility in many, many ways.

“Some of Matty Bell’s Southern Methodist University Mustangs already are picking up something more than pin money out at Sportsman’s Park, where greyhound racing is flourishing and gaining in popularity nightly. When Lou Harris’ jazz band strikes up a lively tune for the parade to the post you’ll see eight husky young athletes leading out the field of greyhounds in that race. They’re decked out in handsome uniform and they’ve learned to strut with the music and put on their part of the show in style. After finally placing the dogs in the starting box they keep fit running down the track to a stand where they wait until the race is over to catch the canines and then return them to their owners. Of course, there must be a lead man in charge who plays the role of drum major and one of the Pony gridmen of 1937 fills this role, too. The nine now making up in the Sportsman’s staff of lead boys includes Clyde Holloman, Wesley Aaron, Chelsea Crouch, Cliff Matthews, George Sanders, Wilson Goss, Johnny and Charlie Sprague and Bombing Bob Belville.

“Coach Matty Bell not only is pleased over his discovery of this new medium for furnishing employment to his lads but he thinks the work in the open, combining strutting with running, will help keep off that excess poundage. Meantime some other coaches are wishing they had dog tracks in the vicinity of their schools.”


Mickey Mouse panel from the 9-week dog-racing story arc which ran between Jan. and March, 1935; this particular panel appeared in newspapers on Jan. 8, 1935.

Article appeared in George White’s “Sport Broadcast” column in The Dallas Morning News on April 30, 1937. I’m afraid I know nothing about Mr. White, except that, lordy, that man needed to pare down his sentences and use a lot more commas!


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.