New Year’s Day in Dallas: Black-Eyed Peas and the Cotton Bowl Classic — 1960

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by Paula Bosse

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What better time to share this seasonal article from the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock:

Next to a helping of black-eyed peas, about the most important thing to Texans on New Year’s Day is a good football bowl game. And to Texans, there is no bowl game more important than the Cotton Bowl contest played each year in Dallas. Many even would rather do without their “black-eyes” than to miss this annual grid classic. 

Texans have long been noted for their bragging and their love of football. In the Cotton Bowl game, they believe they have something which warrants a little boasting. Since 1937 when the classic was inaugurated, they have succeeded in showing the nation that they, too, can stage top grid productions.

There’s more to the Cotton Bowl Festival than a football game, however. The host city of Dallas resembles a three-ring circus during the week preceding the big game. The game is played on New Year’s Day except when that holiday falls on Sunday. In that event, it is played on Monday, January 2.

The list of events for Cotton Bowl Week this year contains something of interest for all visitors. The National Finals Rodeo, the first “world series of rodeo,” will be staged in the new State Fair Livestock Coliseum, December 26-30. The popular Broadway production, “My Fair Lady,” will be presented by the national company of the show in the State Fair Music Hall all during the week.

There will be a fashion show for the ladies and the Texas sportwriters will sponsor the annual Texas Sports Hall of Fame luncheon, honoring great athletes and coaches of the past. There will also be college and high school basketball tournaments, a tennis tournament, and a bowling tournament. 

The big event prior to the game will come on New Year’s Eve with the annual Cotton Bowl Festival parade through downtown Dallas. Bands will play, colorful floats will be displayed and the Cotton Bowl Queen will make an official appearance, along with the many princesses representing each school in the Southwest Conference. 

The Cotton Bowl game was conceived and originally promoted as a private enterprise by J. Curtis Sanford, a Dallas businessman. The first game was played on January 1, 1937, and featured Texas Christian University and Marquette University. TCU, with L. D. Meyer scoring two touchdowns, a field goal and a conversion, defeated Marquette, 16 – 6. 

The classic eventually became a Dallas civic enterprise, produced under the auspices of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. The CBAA later became an agency of the Southwest Athletic Conference. Thus the Southwest Conference sponsors and controls the event, making it unique among all post-season games. The Conference voted in 1942 to send its championship team to the Cotton Bowl game as hosts. The opposition is chosen from the top teams in the nation. 

The Cotton Bowl Stadium has a seating capacity of 75,504 fans. At $5.50 a seat, that represents close to half a million dollars in receipts. Each competing team receives 39 per cent of the gate with seven per cent earmarked to be paid toward retiring the bonded indebtedness on the Cotton Bowl Stadium. The remaining 22 per cent goes to the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association. After paying the expenses for the year, the Association gives the remainder of its income to the Southwest Conference. 

Thus each team in the eight-school league realizes a financial assistance from the annual classic. 

A helping of black-eyed peas and a serving of Cotton Bowl football are two items most Southwesterners like on their New Year’s Day menu.

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Sources & Notes

This article is from the Christmas, 1959 edition of The Shamrock, the quarterly publication of the Shamrock Oil and Gas Corporation; this magazine is part of the Southwest Collection, Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University — the entire issue has been scanned and may be viewed as a PDF here.

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