One of our favorite Facebook pages is titled “Austin As It Used To Be.” Public members — who number 2,655 — post mostly old pictures of our city along with memories, questions and answers.
Jolene Haney posted an image — linked to a Portal to Texas History page — described as “Photograph of football players sitting on the sidelines at an Austin football game.”
Creator: Unknown. Date: Unknown.
My quick response: “Almost surely House Park Field. Almost surely Austin High School Maroons. Almost surely before 1965.”
That said, several things bothered me. The players look awfully manly for a high school team. And the coaches look pretty dressy. Not only that, the team is totally relaxed. Is this instead a practice?
Maroon alumnus Scotty Sayer: “That’s a tough one, Michael. Because of the angle, I can’t find any landmark to indicate it’s House Park and the stands at House Park almost come down to ground level, unlike these … always have as far as I know. Based on uniforms, equipment and the kid and gentlemen in the suit, I’d say it could be early ’50s.”
Forrest Preece: “I agree Scotty. I don’t recall coaches wearing suits and hats in our era.”
Andy Rogers paid attention to the helmets that he dated to the 1930s.
Then there’s the issue of the building in the distance. Old Austin High? Old band hall? Old gym? Pease Elementary?
The angle of the shot tended to argue against all these suppositions.
Then James Roy Walker found the exact same picture in “Legends of the Mean Green: Circa 1940s,” a digital exhibition, with the caption “Photograph of North Texas football team on the sidelines in the the 1940s.”
That would explain the older players, dressy coaches and a decade that feels right. Also, other shots of the UNT stadium from that era match pretty closely.
At this point, almost nothing about the tantalizing original caption appears correct.
You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historical images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.