THE CAPTAIN’S GOOD LUCK SHIRT
This is a short story about a shirt; not an ordinary shirt, mind you, but a very special and lucky shirt which was only worn a maximum of nine times per year. In addition, it had many owners—each for never more than one year. The story suffers for lack of a beginning and an ending. But more on this later.
To the DHS graduates of the forties and fifties, the title provides an ample clue that I am about to tell the story of the tradition of the “Football Captain’s Good Luck Shirt.” The first time I saw the shirt was on a Friday in the fall of 1945. It was being worn through the halls of DHS by James Dozier. James was the Captain of our football team that year and I was a “scrub” in the eighth grade. Football had been suspended for several years at DHS due to World War II and was started again in 1945. Due to a lack of candidates for the squad, “Bully” Hitchcock, Superintendent and Coach, was forced to reach down as far as the eighth grade in order to find enough players to make a small squad.
Therefore, on the day that I first saw the shirt, I was too young to realize that I was viewing one of the main traditions of DHS football.
But let me pause and describe the “Lucky Shirt”. It was made of cotton and the color, originally that is, was Gold/Yellow. The team colors being Blue and Gold. I say originally because I have no idea how old the shirt was in 1945, but it was obvious that it had been laundered many times. The collar was embroidered with horseshoes as symbols of good luck. In addition it included lettering as I recall spelling out “DEMOPOLIS HIGH SCHOOL TIGERS”.
My best friend and classmate, Walter Dozier, brother of Captain James, was fully knowledgeable of course of the tradition of “The Lucky Shirt” and he was more than happy to fill me in.
As Walter explained, “The Lucky Shirt” was to be worn only on the Friday of a football game, both home and away, by the Team Captain. It was recognized as being one of the main reasons the Demopolis High Tigers had a very impressive record over many years.
I learned that the “Lucky Shirt” was to be passed on to the newly elected Football Captain at the Annual Football Banquet following the completion of the Season.
Therefore, as my years at DHS progressed, I saw the “Lucky Shirt” passed to the following Captains:
1946 Gordon Moore
1947 George “Smokie” Smith
1948 James “Slo Joe” Briney
By the time “Slo Joe” received the shirt following the 1947 season, it unfortunately was more of a lucky yellow rag than a shirt. As I mentioned earlier, I have no knowledge of when the tradition started and thus how old the “Lucky Shirt” was.
It was obvious that it had to be replaced. As the 1948 season opened, “Slo Joe” appeared in a new “Lucky Shirt”. The lucky charms and lettering were the same. However, the material was nylon-like and a beautiful gold color. I am not sure who made the shirt but I suspect it was tailored at home.
At the completion of a very successful 1948 season, it was my honor as Captain Elect for the 1949 team to receive the new “Lucky Shirt” from “Slo Joe”. It proved to retain its lucky properties and our 1949 team, under Coach “Chink” Lott had an outstanding season---with, if my memory serves me correctly, only one loss.
Following the 1949 season, it was my pleasure to pass the “Lucky Shirt” on to “Buddy” Pyle, Captain elect for the 1950 season.
Now, my fellow DHS alumnus, the preceding is a partial story of the tradition of the DHS football Captain’s “Lucky Shirt”. I have been informed that this tradition is no longer followed at DHS. That leads us back to my comments earlier that the story has no beginning or ending. I would very much like to learn when the tradition started at DHS, other memories of “The Lucky Shirt” and when the tradition ended. Maybe one or more of the readers of Yesterdays Of Demopolis will recall some of these events and will be moved to add to the story of the Football Captain’s Lucky Shirt.
DHS, Class of 1950