October 26, 2012

Chickasha hosted Irish before '57 game

Aaron Colen, Sports Editor,
The Express-Star


Much has been written and said this week about the history between the Oklahoma and Notre Dame football programs, with a matchup between the two top-10 teams scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman.

It will be the first time the two historic programs have met since 1999 in South Bend, Ind., when the Fighting Irish beat the Sooners for the sixth straight time, 34-30.

OU is 1-8 all-time against Notre Dame, with the Sooners’ only win coming in 1956, when Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners beat Notre Dame 45-0 on the road that year.

The next year, in 1957, OU had built up a 47-game winning streak going into the Notre Dame game, which was to be played in Norman. Plenty of attention was given to the game itself, but what some may not know is that before the game during which Notre Dame snapped OU’s record winning streak, the Fighting Irish stayed in Chickasha.

The Friday before the game, the Notre Dame football team arrived around 6 p.m. at the Chickasha Hotel, which was managed at that time by Alderson Molz and is currently in the process of being restored.

The Fighting Irish flew into Will Rogers airport Friday afternoon, then participated in some light workouts in Norman before heading by bus to Chickasha.

More than 200 Chickasha residents were present to greet the team when they arrived, reportedly welcoming the Notre Dame contingent with polite applause.

The lobby of the Chickasha Hotel was crowded and busy for about an hour and a half after the team arrived, as Molz handled phone calls, tracked down players and coaches, and searched for missing baggage (Notre Dame head coach Terry Brennan’s suitcase had been left in Norman).

Notre Dame had a team meeting that night, and headed to Mass at Holy Name Catholic Church in the morning. Mass was offered by Reverend Joseph Berry at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The team returned to the Chickasha Hotel for breakfast at 10 a.m. before leaving for Norman, where the Fighting Irish would claim a significant win later that day. The breakfast menu included orange juice, dry cereal, baked potatoes with butter, a 12-ounce sirloin steak, head lettuce with Thousand Island dressing, peas and carrots, whole wheat rolls, and apples.

Floyd Reedy, a Chickasha resident, said he remembers when the team was in town.

“I remember people would gather on 3rd Street and watch them march down the north side of the street until they got to Irene’s restaurant, which was where the Chamber of Commerce is right now,” Reedy said.

Reedy said Irene’s was where the team had dinner after they got done with some workouts at the Chickasha High School football field.

The date of the game was also significant for Reedy, who was celebrating a birthday that Saturday.

“I remember the date, because it was my 21st birthday on Nov. 16, and the state of Oklahoma’s birthday was the same day,” Reedy said.

Notre Dame’s short stay in Chickasha was a big deal for the city. More than 20 local businesses sponsored a double-page spread in the Chickasha Daily Express newspaper welcoming the Fighting Irish.

The businesses were: The Anderson-Prichard Oil Company, C.R. Anthony Co., B&B Clothiers, Bills Bakery, Boren-Malone Co., Botts-Hulme-Smith Concrete Co., Chickasha Cotton Oil Co., Chickasha Furniture and Rug Co., Chickasha Hotel and Coffee Shop, Chickasha Mattress Co., El Rancho, El Reno Trailers Inc., First National Bank, Gilkey Hardware, Grady County Feed & Seed, Knights of Columbus, McWhorters Grocery, Melton Motors, Oklahoma National Bank, Rexall Drug, Ross Oil Co., Ross Seed & Grain Co., and Wadsworth Oil Co.

Information from the Nov. 14, 15 and 17 editions of the 1957 Chickasha Daily Express were used in this story.