Fashion Plates and Ethnic Stew

A 21st century time traveling couple who happened to have been transplanted to the Notre Dame – Northwestern game of 1932 would have immediately noticed in their 25 cent game day program two distinctly anachronistic phenomena.

The first thing that they would have been taken by would have been that couple on the program cover, which looked as if it had been produced by a joint venture between Vogue and the soon-to-be launched Esquire. In a spirit of impartiality, the lady is sporting Wildcat purple and the gent the Ramblers’ emerald green, but for both of their sakes we hope they brought their heavy duty umbrellas and a good supply of brandy, as the hawk was out in full force that afternoon. Driving winds, freezing temperatures, and a heavy snowstorm sent many a fashion plate scrambling for cover. In other words, it was a perfect day for football.

And if our time travelers had managed to keep the program dry and gotten a look inside, they would have looked at the Notre Dame roster and thought they’d stumbled onto the set of one of those Hollywood World War II movies.

In this era before racial integration, such ethnic stews had a mostly European tilt, and though the South Bend team was named “The Fighting Irish”, the stars of the game that day were Melinkovich, Jaskwhich, Koken, Vairo and Kurth., with a liberal sprinkling of names like Canale, Costello, Kosky, Lukats, Pfefferle, Pivarnik, Schiralli, Sheeketski, and Wunsch providing more than able backup services.

Not that the Wildcats were without League of Nations representation themselves, but on this day the Ramblers’ peasant stock prevailed rather handily, with Melinkovich’s opening kickoff return of 96 yards sparking the Irish to a convincing 21-0 win. The couple on the cover then beat a hasty retreat back to their Lake Shore Drive penthouse, and our time travelers could only marvel at the texture of what they had seen on that long gone wintry afternoon.

Click here to buy a poster of this program cover.

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