Houston Junior College and early UH history research - 1927-1930 Football Records and School Song

Hey Coogs,

I’m a former member of the scouts page - long ago. I was a UH student from Fall 2003 - Spring 2005 and a drumline member during the infamous Superbowl. I ended up transferring to Texas A&M where I graduated. Despite my Aggie degree, I have held a strong romance for UH and eventually met my wife at the UConn football game in 2016 (not a graduate, but met through a staff member at the game). I am grateful for what UH has given me, despite not being a full-fledged alum. I do wear UH apparel when the Coogs are playing and even confused my Aggie bretheren when I have my Aggie ring and Cougar hat on.

That said, I’ve recently moved to sunny Southern California (Any of y’all out here? The SoCal club is nonexistant) and decided that given my Ags have their own dedicated historians, I would like to put some amateur attention to UH history and lore. First on my list is researching the history of UH’s humble beginnings as Houston Junior College. I was not entirley shocked that the years of 1927-1934 are glazed over a bit, specifically the sporting years (especially in the sports records on Wikipedia, et. al.) under John R. Bender - the first Athletic Director and the first real football coach of the fledgling Houston Junior College Cougars. I was able to access some digital records and have started piecemeal together the 1927-1934 sports schedules. I was able to find out that the Football team was disbanned in Fall 1931 and I’ve found a couple neat photos of sports teams, the HJC logo and the first UH logo used (1935) in sports. Did y’all know the original colors of the school (HFC) were Royal Blue and White? Also the original (HJC) school fight song was a variation of Rudy Vallee’s (U of Maine) Stein Song? Really cool/nerdy findings.

My idea is to slowly put things together and update the school’s wikipedia page to the level of detail deserved of the institution. If NYU, UT Arlington (surprising), or UCLA can have a detailed history - why not HJC/UH?

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That’s crazy, man.

As somewhat of a history-buff myself, I’ve tried researching UH’s history on my own time, but like you said, there seems to be limited info (especially pictures) from the early years.

For instance, I’m just learning now that the OG colors were Royal Blue & White.

I don’t come from a College Football background, so I’m unfamiliar with Rudy Vallee’s (U of Maine) Stein Song. I’ll have to look that up.

Please keep sharing any tidbits like this. Some of us are in to this kind of stuff.

I’ve kind of imagined compiling this type of info and putting it together into an edutainment-type YouTube video clip format with graphics, transitions and maybe illustration animation. I feel that would reach a wider audience, especially now where it seems teams from other conferences are curious about us, and current/former students & alumni (or just UH followers in general) seem to be searching for UH-related video content on YT.

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When I get more time, I’ll post some more findings, but here’s a taste of what I’ve found:

Some background, I had to look up the most potential song this could have derived from and I was able to link up the lyrics and timing to the Maine University Stein Song. It was written in in 1929-1930, so it’s period correct.

Junior College Song (Written around Apr 30, 1930)

Lyrics: (Words by Alice and Bobbie McCul­lough)
Fill your hearts with school spirit,
Shout till the rafters ring!
Praise your Junior College with grit-
Let every loyal student sing
(Oh!) Fight when you go out to play,
And let your colors fly.
Fight for Houston Junior College
Let spirit reign until you die.

To the world,—to the school!
To the team in its glorious fight so
fine,
To the coach,—to the plays
To the fight of the Cougars in battle
line-
To the profs,—and the sophs,
And the freshmen who help win to
victory;
To the blue,—to the white,
To the school that we all loved to-
day-

Apr 30, 1930 via the Cougar newspaper:

Warning - this is a long song, but around 1:11 you can fill the lyrics in.

About Rudy Vallee: Rudy Vallée - Wikipedia

About the Stein song: The Maine Stein Song - Wikipedia

Edit: Updated U of Maine’s songs

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Interesting…wonder if there’s a recording of our Junior College days out there somewhere.

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Finally compiled the first ever football schedule for the Coogs of HJC!

1927 Season - Results: 1-4-3

John_R._Bender

Coach: John R. Bender
Date Opponent Op Score HJC/UH Score W/L/T Location Time Day of Week
10/7/1927 San Jacinto High School - Golden Bears 0 0 T San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:15 PM Friday
10/17/1927 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 13 0 L Huntsville, Texas Monday
10/22/1927 St. Mary’s Seminary 7 7 T La Porte, Texas Saturday
10/28/1927 John H. Reagan High School - Bulldogs 18 7 L West End Park - Houston, Texas 3:30PM Friday
11/7/1927 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 7 7 T San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 2:30 PM Monday
11/12/1927 William M. Rice Institute Freshmen - Owls 45 0 L Rice Field - Houston, Texas 3:30 PM Saturday
11/18/1927 Jefferson Davis High School - Panthers 10 6 L San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:00 PM Friday
11/23/1927 St Thomas College - Toms 20 21 W San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:00 PM Wednesday

Notes:

  • Coach Bender named the HJC Cougars after one of his former teams, Washington State University adopted their name (in 1919 after defeating UC Berkeley in football). Also assisted in the naming of the Saint Louis Billikens because he looked like one.
  • HJC and San Jacinto HS (would become HCC Central College building in what we call “Midtown”) were both housed in the same building, but HJC students were evening students. I yet to find a picture of the football field at SJHS. The building was originally built as the “South End Junior High School” in 1913, but became a Senior High School in 1923. The area of the school, in the 1920s, was called the “South End”.
  • SHSTC called their Freshman team “Reserves”. This team is the only back-and-forth schedule that HJC had in its football history.
  • St. Mary’s Seminary was a Catholic theology school and high school in La Porte that, at this time, recently was granted on the 1856 charter of the previous St. Mary’s University from Galveston. It eventually left La Porte, for Houston in the 1950s, after storm damage and eventually merged with St. Thomas College to become current day University of St. Thomas.
  • John H. Reagan HS moved multiple times, but eventually became Heights High School.
  • Rice’s football team told their “slime” (as they were called then) to beat HJC by 8 touchdowns. There’s a Cougar write up trolling this commandment.
  • Jefferson Davis High School became Northside High School.
  • St. Thomas College was originally located near two prior locations (in what we know as Downtown), but at this period were located in the “South End” on Austin and Hadley. Once it became large enough, it moved to its current location near Washington/Rice Military with the name St. Thomas High School. The buildings were kept to merge into University of St. Thomas with St. Mary’s Seminary.
  • “West End Park” was a premier multi-sport venue located in the Fourth Ward (“Freedman’s Town”) as opposed to the real “West End” that we associate with the Washington Corridor. The I-45 “Pierce Elevated” is located where the original West End Park once was.

Edits:
8/25/2022

  • Table data updated
  • Details written about opponents
  • Added notes section

8/26/2022

  • Added reference to Coach Bender naming the Cougars

8/31/2022

  • Addition of John Bender photo and more about him.
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This stuff is great! Please, keep it coming.

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Glad to see there’s interest in this dusty information!

I’m going to post the details broken over a few posts. I will be updating notes for the years as I build up more data on them. Embedded in descriptions, there will be links to other sources.

I intend to also attach the newspaper clippings for each game, but I have to finnagle some files before that can happen.

Stay tuned!

Update (8/26/22): For all those reading these posts, note that I am updating and editing them with new data as I am able to extract them from newspapers, books, and the internet. I intend to also include the former team rosters and team photos, if available.

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1928 Season - Results: 4-3

1928 - CB Smith

Coach: C.B. Smith
Date Opponent Op Score HJC/UH Score W/L/T Location Time Day of Week
10/1/1928 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 0 12 W San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 2:30 PM Monday
10/12/1928 Blinn Memorial College - Bulldogs 25 0 L San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:00 PM Friday
10/27/1928 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 0 12 W Huntsville, Texas Saturday
11/5/1928 St. Mary’s University - Saints 0 25 W San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 2:00 PM Monday
11/12/1928 Westminster Junior College (Tehuacana, Texas) - Wildcats 2 39 W West End Park - Houston, Texas 3:00 PM Monday
11/17/1928 Blinn Memorial College - Bulldogs 32 0 L Brenham, Texas Saturday
11/24/1928 William M. Rice Institute Freshmen - Owls 49 9 L Rice Field - Houston, Texas 2:30 PM Saturday

Notes:

Athletic Director and Football Coach Maj. Johannes “John” Reinhold Bender died July of 1928 in Houston, at 46, due to complications while in Hospital. He was a World War I hero (360th Infantry), graduate of University of Nebraska (class of '05 and All-American) and coached at many institutions including Kentucky. Prior to coming to HJC, Coach Bender was an assistant football coach under Dana X. Bible (Texas A&M and later University of Texas Austin football coach). As previously mentioned, Pearl C. Bender, his widow, would become a focal point for the fledgling college as the Registrar and later Dean of Women (promoted in 1938). She would also assist in creating the Cougar Collegians womens club and the John R. Bender Dramatic Club. There is or was (unverified, but near the Science or Roy G Cullen buildings) a “Pearl C. Bender Memorial Flagstaff” dedicated by the '40 class of Cougar Collegians and retired from her position in 1943 after 16 years and be given the title of the “First Lady of the University of Houston”. Coach Bender’s sons William and John Jacob would attend the University of Houston.

Coach Bender was replaced on Aug 25, 1928 by Coach Cecil “CB” Smith in time for the 1928 season. Originally, CB Smith was to be the coach of San Jacinto High School, but due to Coach Bender’s passing, it was decided to elevate Mr. Smith to head coach of the Cougars. CB Smith was a “four letter man” who competed three years for “North Texas Agricultural College” (“UT Arlington”) with his final year at UT Austin as a football player (1925 team), basketball player, and three years as a track star and captain and graduated with a masters degree (I actually found his 400 page dissertation, but unfortunately lost it). He is also, later in life, the owner of “CB Smith Motors, Volkswagen” and “CB Smith Motors, Dodge and Plymouth” dealerships in Austin, TX.

Updates:

  • Westminster College corrections (8/26/22)
  • CB Smith photo (8/31/22)
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My father in law once told me about attending UH Ice Hockey games when he was a kid, at the Sam Houston Coliseum. If I remember correctly, this would have been in the late 30’s (?).

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It might be worth your while to get in contact with Pat Moran. He posts on here as EatEmUp. Pat knows more about the University of Houston than anybody I have ever talked to. He has been a football season ticket holder since 1947, and is still going to the games, both football and basketball, and he is in his 90s. He has forgotten more UH history than most of us have ever known. Sharp as a tack.

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Larry, I was able to pull all of the athletic records when I did my reseach, RE: HJC/UH Ice Hockey. I would need to reconfirm, but I think UH Ice Hockey started in 1932 or 1933. While fun, I think it was less organized than the years of interscholastic football.

It would be great to speak with Mr. Moran and record the interview. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure how much I’d invest in the project, beyond reading dusty documents. I am the definition of an amateur historian and given my location in SoCal, I figured interviewing would be a challenge with my day job.

I have been fortunate to unlock a large quantity of digital resources that has helped in finding records. The motivation for this broad review is my nerdy interest in the lore that I felt UH never promoted. I figured that if it wouldn’t be written, I would roll up my sleeves and figure it out. My experiences in Aggieland opened my eyes to how respect to history/legacy creates a connection to the past for future classes. Essentially, “these are the people who walked these halls and made a mark on the world. You are walking in their path.” As I write this paragraph, it makes me realize that you’re absoultely right that Mr. Moran would be someone, along with the other alums to access for their experiences and first hand knowledge.

I am thinking of splitting up the history pieces (by sport or subject) into multiple threads. It would be easier to access if split, but possibly better if coogfans had a wiki option in the software. My ultimate goal is to get this info on Coogfans servers and then update the official UH Wikipedia page. I’ve already started a skeleton of what I’d redesign. It would be an amazingly lofty goal to author an authentic and high quality book (similar to the Polytechnic University history book), but I laugh at the idea of my ability, specifically as an accountant, at make something that challenging.

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1929 Season - Results: 4-5

1928 - CB Smith

Coach: C.B. Smith
Date Opponent Op Score HJC/UH Score W/L/T Location Time Day of Week
9/28/1929 St. Mary’s University - Saints 7 25 W Rice Field - Houston, Texas 3:30 PM Saturday
10/7/1929 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 0 14 W Huntsville, Texas Monday
10/12/1929 Westminster Junior College (Tehuacana, Texas) - Wildcats 6 19 W San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:00 PM Saturday
10/18/1929 Baylor University Freshmen - Cubs 19 0 L Waco, Texas Friday
10/26/1929 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 6 0 L Rice Field - Houston, Texas 3:00 PM Saturday
11/1/1929 Victoria Junior College - Pirates 0 6 W Victoria, Texas Friday
11/8/1929 University of Texas Freshmen - Longhorns 12 0 L Austin, Texas Friday
11/16/1929 Hillsboro Junior College - Indians 6 0 L West End Park - Houston, Texas Saturday
11/23/1929 Blinn Memorial College - Bulldogs 18 0 L West End Park - Houston, Texas 3:30 PM Saturday

Notes:

  • First year playing Baylor University and University of Texas Austin (freshman teams, of course)
  • Baylor University Freshmen were called “Cubs” by the Houston Chronicle.
  • Victoria Junior College still exists today as Victoria College
  • Hillsboro Junior College closed in 1950 after a county wide college system failed and Hill College opened in its place in 1962.
  • Academic year of 1929-1930 was the final season of Coach CB Smith who was in his first year of PhD studies and teaching Government courses at HJC. On June 21, 1930 Coach Smith resigned and would retire from active coaching, immediately. This news caught the school by surprise as he was developing a strong football and basketball team. Coach Smith accepted a job in Mexico City unrelated to the field of athletics. Prior to leaving, he helped schedule a future 1930 9-game schedule and financing plan for facilities and equipment. In the late 1930s, CB appears in newspapers as part of the Chevrolet dealership management team zoned to Houston. It appears he went on to success as a car salesman and dealership owner.

Updates:

  • CB Smith Photo (8/31/22)
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Thank you for all the research and posting you are doing. I find it all very interesting, and informative.

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1930 Season - Results: 0-7-2

Coach: Archie French
Date Opponent Op Score HJC/UH Score W/L/T Location Time Day of Week
10/4/1930 Baylor University Freshmen - Cubs 50 0 L Waco, Texas Saturday
10/11/1930 St. Mary’s University - Saints 0 0 T West End Park - Houston, Texas 3:00 PM Saturday
10/18/1930 Temple Junior College - Leopards 0 0 T San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:00 PM Saturday
10/25/1930 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 25 0 L Huntsville, Texas Saturday
11/1/1930 Sam Houston State Teachers College Reserves - Bearkats 13 0 L San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:00 PM Saturday
11/7/1930 Victoria Junior College - Pirates 25 0 L San Jacinto High School Field - Houston, TX 3:00 PM Friday
11/11/1930 Allen Military Academy - Cadets 67 0 L Forrest Field (Bryan, Texas) Tuesday
11/15/1930 Lutheran Junior College - Bulldogs 13 0 L West End Park - Houston, Texas 3:00 PM Saturday
11/21/1930 Blinn Memorial College - Bulldogs 38 6 L Brenham, Texas Friday

Notes:

  • 1930 was the first year of Coach Archie French, athletic director and athletics coach who was announced on September 3, 1930. A World War I hero and retired Captain in the US Marine Corps. Coach French was a University of Idaho graduate and earned his master’s at Columbia University in advanced studies in Physical Education. Prior to joining HJC, Coach French had a ten year coaching career including as a “line coach” at Pacific University in 1926. The Cougar claims that Pacific won their Northern California Athletic Conference championship in 1926, but thanks to the internet - this was debunked.
  • Temple Junior College was renamed Temple College in 1996. TJC had a similar founding to HJC, in their local High School: Temple High School. TJC moved out into its own campus in 1957.
  • Allen Military Academy is claimed to be the oldest private school (K-12) in the state of Texas, founded in 1886 near Texas A&M University. It is known primarily as “Allen Academy” and in 1927 began offering Junior College courses to prepare students for University. It added a full Junior College division in 1947 which was taken over by Blinn College in 1968.
  • Lutheran Junior College gained status as a JC in 1928 and gained a senior four-year institution status in 1948. TJC later evolved into Texas Lutheran University.

End of the Houston Junior College Era of Interscholastic Football: 9-19-5
In the end of the 1930-1931 school year, after initially planning the 1931 football season, Houston Junior College banned interscholastic sports with a compromise for a commitment to intramural sports built around “football, basketball, playground ball, speedball, and soccer” under Coach French. The decision was made by Assistant Dean N.K. Dupre, after attending a meeting with the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (“SACSS” later known as SACS) for accreditation purposes. The outcome of this meeting stated that in order for HJC to gain accreditation, HJC would have to join a Texas Athletic Conference (at this time, Texas Junior College Athletic Association was active), but the leagues required students taking 4 courses, per semester, and passing 3 of them.

It was decided that HJC could not gain membership from the athletic conferences because school was conducted at night and the schedule did not allow athletes sufficient time to enable them to carry the required number of courses and maintain athletic competitiveness. From what I’ve found, this ban was initially communicated (in the Cougar) as only a ban on interscholastic football.

September 1930 HJC Cougar Lineup Photo

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You should really consider transposing this information to an “edutainment” type of short video clips to post on YouTube…I feel it would gain traction quickly.

Just my $0.02.

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Oh boy. I mean, I already know what I’d call it :rofl:, but you’re definitely overestimating me.

Real question is what does a guy gotta do to get a sticky on the board?

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Great stuff and very much appreciated. I just now found this

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