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undated Interview with Adolph Rupp AF007:1996OH021 A/F 536 00:45:16 University of Kentucky Athletics Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Rupp, Adolph, 1901-1977 Allen, Forrest Claire, 1885- University of Kansas--Basketball Mennonites--Kansas Basketball coaches--Biography Halstead (Kan.) UKAW Adolph Rupp; interviewee Russell Rice; interviewer 1996OH021_AF536_Rupp 1:|10(3)|18(10)|27(7)|37(4)|47(9)|56(8)|65(8)|76(1)|85(12)|95(4)|105(3)|114(5)|124(12)|133(12)|142(14)|152(11)|161(6)|171(12)|181(5)|191(6)|201(10)|210(7)|221(11)|235(2)|244(3)|255(10)|265(8)|274(10)|284(8)|296(3)|306(9)|317(9)|330(6)|342(2)|352(4)|363(3)|373(11)|385(4)|395(4)|406(11)|416(9)|425(9)|435(2)|442(12)|452(10) audiotrans ARupp interview RUPP: This is Adolph Rupp. I was born at Halstead, Kansas on September 2, 1901. Kansas, at that time, of course, was almost in two different parts. The Eastern part, and we were right at the western end of the Eastern part, that was settled, and of course the extreme Western part was not settled. I remember distinctly that, in those days, the railroads were trying to get people to move out along the railroad track, so that they would produce wheat and other crops, so that they would have freight to haul on their lines. And they tried to talk us into moving out there, I remember hearing them talk to my daddy about this. My father came from Galicia, that was the Royal Crown colony of Austria. It does not exist at the present time. But, at that time, it was a very famous colony for the Royal Crown. He came to this country, and of course had very little knowledge of anything. He did not have a lot of education, and of course he had to pick up work wherever he could. His first job at Halstead, of course, was as a miller. He worked at the Halstead Milling Company where he helped make flour from the hard winter wheat that was famous, because it was brought over from Turkey, and was known as the Turkey red wheat. And, of course, is the most famous of all grain that was ever brought to the western section of the United States. Finally he met mother, and they were married. She came, of course, from Germany. From Grunstadt, Germany. And they were married, and they moved to a farm south of town where he got enough credit to buy some tools, and finally equipment, and he, of course, started farming. He made enough money so that he finally bought a place seven miles directly north of Halstead, and this was 120 acres. He was able to rent a few acres beyond that, but at that time, when everything was worked with horses, and usually by hand plows, it was difficult indeed to work much more than that. Now we were, of course, members of the Mennonite Church. And of course, everyone in that section of Kansas, at that time, almost all of us belonged to that faith. They were hard working people, industrious people, they didn't believe in a lot of the frills that we have today, and the social life, of course, was drab, because at that time we didn't have anything like we have today, such as radio, television, automobiles, or anything like that. There were no automobiles in those days. The roads were very poor, in fact, many of them just followed the prairie trails of that time. But, we were surrounded by good neighbors. And, although my father was talked to many times about moving to other sections of the country, I remember they tried to get him to move to the Rio Grande Valley, that was one time where we were sure to make a fortune raising oranges, and grapefruit and things like that, but he didn't go for that either. Some of the people in the area that did go down there, of course returned years later, finding no paradise there, as it was painted to them. Then others, of course, went to New Mexico to the irrigated sections there, but father stayed because he had good neighbors, and these neighbors around us were practically all of the same family. There was a family of Leemans that moved there from Summerfield, Illinois. And, there were ten or eleven members of this family, most of them boys, I believe there were only two daughters in the family. And, of course, they were much older than we were, and they looked out after us, and they were awful nice to us. They homesteaded 640 acres directly across from our farm. Then right as the Leemans got married, they acquired land in that area, and finally became, possibly the biggest landowners in central Kansas. Just immediately south of us was the Dan Leeman family. Across from us was a 640 acre original homestead of the Leeman--Leeman Estate. Then directly south of that was the Chris Leeman family, and across on the north east corner, was a Dave Leeman family. So, you had then one of the Lowmans married one of the Leemans and they had a quarter section directly east of that. So, you can see, we were surrounded by some good people, and we all chipped in together and helped each other with the farm work. I remember distinctly that as we grew older, there was my father, and there were four of us boys, and we all pitched in. When there was work to be done in the neighborhood, we all joined work. We did that work, we never charged each other to do this work, the work had to be done, and so the work was done. We put up a lot of native grass hay, that was the hay that we needed for the livestock during the wintertime, and that was always a big time for us, because we youngsters would get together, and there was a time to visit, although the olders kept after us all the time to get the hay up there to the stacks so they could stack it. Some of us were on the mowing machines, some of us were on the rakes, and some of them were on, what was then known as the "go-devils." Those were sweep rakes, as we call them now. But they were known as go-devils in those days, and of course one to each one of these, and there wasn't much time to visit. But then the people that were strong pitched this hay onto the stack, and those folks that stacked the hay, they had a good chance to visit and spread the gossip around, and before the week was over, they knew pretty well what had taken place, although they had no chance to pick up any news, because in those days many of us didn't even have a telephone. But I remember life was rugged, very difficult, but--and, there wasn't a great variety. Church was the main social affair, and everybody, of course, went to church on Sunday. That was a time we had where we could visit. And of course, we always looked forward to going to school, because the boys from the ages of six to eighteen attended school. We had ninth grades--nine grades in school, and of course some of these teachers had a difficult time with some of those boys that were in the ninth grade, because when you had four or five boys in the ninth grade, they turned out to be quite a problem for a young girl that had just graduated from high school, and that was the only requirement that you had, at the time, to become a teacher. But we learned. Discipline, of course, was very common because we always liked to have a woman teacher. We didn't go too much for these men teachers, because we had one at one time, and he had a piece of hedge stick that he used, and he hung on the wall right behind his desk, which meant that that was the law of the land. And, woe be it to anyone that violated that. Then, of course, we went to school about seven months in the year, maybe six and a half months to English school. Then we had a week's vacation, and then we went to German school, and everybody then went to German school. We learned to read German, and of course most of us spoke German in our homes. In fact, I could speak very little English at all when I went to school at the age of six. In fact, I could speak German as well as I could English until I was fifteen, sixteen years old. And of course, have no difficulty even now in reading German, although I do not speak it very fluently anymore, because I have lost contact and have little opportunity to speak it, because I do not know many Germans here, and you've got to practice it the way you do anything else, if you become efficient in mastering the language. And I've forgotten a great many of the words that I should remember. But I could read everything that was written in German, because I attended all of the German school until I graduated from German school. Then in high school, of course, the foreign language that we had in school was German. Then, of course, along came World War I, and some of the old cranks in the neighborhood thought that German was a bad thing to be teaching in the high school. And so a few of those old cranks stormed up and demanded that German should be ousted from the teaching in the high school, and that French or Spanish should be substituted. Well, of course, that's a wonderful thing, there were no Frenchmen out there in that neighborhood that I could see, and never heard of any, in fact. But they taught French, and some of them taught Spanish. The only Spanish we had there, of course, were the Mexicans that worked on the railroad gang, and we, of course, learned to speak a few Spanish words, and I did have some friends in these railroad gangs that I waited on while I worked in the store, while I worked in the restaurant, and we did communicate, in a very poor way, as far as I was concerned, in Spanish. But, that was mainly the way we operated in those days. And then, of course, finally about 1911 and '12, automobiles became, not common, but some of the neighbors were able to afford an automobile. And that was a wonderful thing. I remember they'd sometimes come by and pick us up during the noon hour, or in the evening, and we'd go for a ride, three or four miles, and that was really something. And, I always thought that we'd look forward to the day when we could afford a car. And finally that day came, I think around 1915, or '16, when the--we were able to afford a car. Now, then we had, of course, a--our social life at home, we of course were encouraged to sing, and do things like that. There was nothing to do. We didn't have radios or televisions, or anything like that. When we got home from school, it was a question of feeding the pigs, milking the cows, feeding the chickens, and coming in, having dinner, and then that was it. We didn't take a daily newspaper. There was no newspaper to be taken. And, we did get the weekly paper, and then, of course, mother and father got two or three German papers, and they of course kept up with the news. And, I had four brothers and one sister. My oldest brother was Otto. Then came Theodore, then came Henry, then I arrived, then my sister Elizabeth, and then my younger brother Alfred. Daddy died in 1910, and of course it was up to my oldest brother then, to drop out of school, and he had to take charge of the farming operation, and of course he was assisted by us all. Mother was very strict because daddy was strict. When daddy said something, that was it. It's different than it is today when you say something to a child and the child says, "Well, uh-huh, I'll do as I please." When daddy said something, that was the law. There's no one ever talked back to him, we just did exactly what was--we were supposed to do. In fact, that's typical I think of the Mennonite faith, that the father is head of the household. Well, of course when daddy passed away in 1910, mother had to assume all of that obligation. And here she was with six kids, and it was a really rough time. As I recall, we had two or three consecutive crop failures there, and times were really rough. And, she, of course, kept us all together, and we did the best we could, each one was assigned a definite task that we had to do, and we were expected to do it. And, my oldest brother, then a kind--he took a little authority on himself, that he felt that he had the right, also, and I'm glad that he did feel that way, because someone has to take and assume the responsibility when it comes to field operations and things like that. That, when he assigned us to do certain things on the farm, that we had to do those things. And, I remember all the time that I came through grade school, and until I went to high school, it was my job to always come in, because the older boys were in the fields plowing, or cutting the ground, or drilling the wheat, or picking the corn, or doing something, it was up to someone else to do the chores, because they worked from sun-up to sun-down. I, of course, was assigned to feed the hogs, and at that time, that was a--quite a chore, because I had to take this corn and put it in--well, we, of course worked from early in the morning until late at night. And, of course, all the neighbors, as I said, worked with each other. We helped fill the silos, and of course, I was always used whenever I--any of the neighbors need any help, they always called on me because I think I turned in an honest day's work, and they liked to have a boy that would do that kind of work. I helped fill so many silos out there, that I tramped possibly all the silage in Central Kentucky for a while--or, Central Kansas for a long time. And, this, of course, on Saturdays; that was always a full day's work. Now then, we of course had a lot of fun too, in those days. The neighbors, of course, had some horses, and some of them, of course, didn't like to break these horses. These were usually two years old, and none of them had ever had a harness on their back, and we needed horses, of course, to--for horsepower on the farm, so the older boys thought that that would be a good way for us to get the use of a horse during the summer time, if we'd take good care of it. So they didn't hesitate at all, and we'd get these youngsters, we'd put a harness on their back, and we'd tie them to some old experienced horses, and we'd go down the road on a wagon, and that was always a big experience. We'd take them about three or four miles, turn around and come back, then we'd do that for three or more days before we'd tie them into some expensive piece of equipment, because if they decide to run, that would scare the other horses, you could possibly tear up all that equipment. But, as long as you just had one of those wagons, there isn't a great deal of damage that they could do. Now then, in the wintertime, of course, we looked forward to that, because as soon as the weather turned cool, and the neighbors got together, there was four families there, that included us, and we slaughtered the hogs, and cured our own hams, we cured our own sausage, and things like that, and smoked these, and I remember they did a fine job, at that time, in really curing country hams. The hams were entirely different than the hams that are cured today, that are forced hams, because they were given tender care, and the surplus, of course, you couldn't take care of all of that, so mother would take a lot of this meat, the pork chops, and the loin, and the sausage and things like that, and fry it, and put it in five gallon crocks, and then it'd preserve itself, we put these in the basement, covered them up, tied them up, and in the summertime, of course, whenever we wanted some meat, we'd go down there, and get some of this meat out of the lard that had formed around it, bring it up, and fry it some more, and that was mighty fine eating. I'll tell you, you can't beat that, and I'd like to find someone today that does that, because that was really the very best. Now, of course, we had lard in those days, we didn't have these artificial lards that they have now, but everybody had to render the lard, and we had the lard type hogs in those days, you don't have those today, because lard, I think, is drug on the market, and they try to avoid it as much as possible. We canned, of course, all the vegetables, all the berries, all the plums, and everything else that we could get that grew wild out in the sand hill region, which is just about four or five miles from where we lived, and naturally a good harvest, in the garden, always resulted in a good -- [Pause in recording] RUPP: I was also a member of the debating team in my senior year, and I remember we used to debate the different schools around in our area. We enjoyed that a great deal. I don't know if they do those things anymore or not, but we competed against the teams in our conference, the same as we did in basketball. Now, I think the records will show that in the first game of basketball that I ever played, I was the center, I played the pivot position, different, of course, than it's played now, but the records will show that I got ten field goals, and we beat Sedgwick 67-17, and we won the championship that year, and of course we won the championship the following year also. The records will also show, and I didn't realize this until I went back there many years later, in fact, I didn't realize it until just a year ago, that I averaged nineteen points a game in the two years that I played on the high school basketball team at Halstead. Now, in summertime, of course, it was always the same. It was harvest. And, we, at one time, had the idea that if we worked on a threshing crew, that it would develop us and make us into much better basketball players. And everybody, of course, tried to get on with one of these threshing crews. I worked, I think two or three years on a threshing crew. I remember the last year I worked on Paul Schrader's outfit. And, many of the neighbors, of course, stacked their grain. They put--in order to get into the fields earlier, they took the wheat bundles, and the oats bundles and put them into huge stacks, then, of course, later on in the year, sometimes in September, they'd move in there with the threshing machine, and pitch the bundles off of these stacks into the threshing machine, and that gave us an opportunity, of course, to have a very long period of time when we could work at these threshing crews. It was always a lot of fun because we slept outdoors. In the evening, we usually go to some little creek and take a splash, or try to wash off some--in some stock tank if the stock tank was clean, and then we'd go out to the straw stack, we'd take a pitch fork, and we'd take the straw and spread it out on the ground, we'd take a couple of blankets, and sheets, and put them down over this straw, and there we would sleep until in the wee hours of the morning, usually before sun-up, the boss would come and holler at us, get us out of bed, and we, of course, would go in, wash, and eat breakfast, sometimes by lamplight, and as soon as we could, we'd get out there, and it was just work from sun-up until sun-down. In my senior year at school, this, of course, was the last thing that happened that I remember, we had a play. The seniors always have a play, and this play was "The New Co-ed." And I played the star. It was Richard Bradley, and I was an all-around athlete, and a big-shot, and I remember very distinctly I fell in love with a little girl there that had a part in the play too, and the amusing thing about this thing was that I was supposed to hold my hand over my heart when I got ready to propose to her, and accidentally just put it down over my stomach, and everybody in the entire audience laughed, and I never lived that down for weeks around there. But that was part of it. And then, of course, came that hour of decision, what are you going to do now since high school is all over? Well, most of the boys and girls decided to go to the smaller colleges in the area. A great number of them went to Emporia College, and to Emporia State Teacher's College. And, Roy Leeman of course, was going to the University of Kansas. He'd made up his mind on that. He was going to study geology. Well, I wasn't going to study geology. I didn't know what I was going to study. And so we all got on this train. I remember, it must have been about eight or ten of us, and we all stopped at Emporia. In those days, the trains ran constantly. Passenger trains were running almost every hour. But we all got off there, and we went up to Emporia College and looked around, it was a small little college, it didn't interest me a great deal, and then we went to Emporia State Teacher's College, and most of them, of course, had rooms assigned to them, and they were interested in going there. Well, Roy kept pecking away at me all the time, and he kept saying, "Adolph, go to the best. If you're going to amount to something, go to a big school." He said, "You take your bags and you go with me." And, by about five o'clock that evening, he'd convinced me that I ought to go to Lawrence, Kansas, which was about one hundred miles beyond there. So, we went down to the depot, the others, of course, all pulling on me to stay. But I finally got my bag, and we jumped on the train. We got off at Lawrence, Kansas, and I remember the inner--the street railroad came right by the depot. And, so we got on that thing, and I told the man-- conductor, I said, "Now, when we get up here to where the University is located, just let us off." Well, sure enough, we got up on top of Mount Oread, and he said, "This is the University." So we got off. Well, there wasn't anybody there. That was the university, sure enough, that was the university. But, the students all lived downtown. They didn't live up there in those buildings, and there wasn't a single men's dormitory, or women's dormitory on the campus. Well, we just stayed there until the next streetcar came, and we got on it, and shelled out another nickel, and I told this fellow, I said, "Now, when you get down to the heart of the student district, you stop and let us off." So, he got down to about Fourteenth Street, and he said, "Well, this is about the center of the student activity." And so we got off there, we stood with our suitcases, and I said to one of the boys that was walking past there, I said, "Where would be a chance to find a room?" And he said, "Well, all you have to do is just go up and down the street here, they've got signs up if they've got any rooms available, and go in, take a look at it, and if it suits you, fine, if not go to the next place. There are plenty of rooms around here." Well, we walked down there about four or five houses, and sure enough, rooms for rent. So we went in there, and they had a nice room there, we went in there, everything was fine. And so she extracted seven dollars a piece from us before she'd let us bring our things in the house. Then I asked one of the boys that was staying there, I said, "Where's the bathroom? I want to wash and get cleaned up." He says, "We don't have a bathroom here." I said, "You don't have a bathroom?" He said, "No, we've got a little outhouse back here." And he said, "They've got a wash basin in there, you'll have to get your water," he said, "and wash that way." I says, "Great day, no wonder this room was vacant." And I said, "I'm not going to like this at all." Well, I told Roy, I said, "Let's see if we can't improve on this thing." But we got to talking with those boys, and they all said that things would work out all right, that we'd get along well, that that was right there in the heart of the student section, and we'd get along fine. Well, the next day, of course, was Monday, the day they enrolled in school. We went on up the hill, and wasn't much of a problem to enroll in those days. There were--although, they did have the biggest enrollment they'd ever had in the history of Kansas, there were a little better than three thousand students there. Everybody rushing around, shaking hands, and embracing each other. But poor little Roy and myself, we just kind of played it by ear, and finally we went through the lines, and then we found half of the classes were closed, and they pushed us into these other classes. I remember I took trigonometry and English, and literature, and trigonometry, and one other subject, I don't remember what it was. But it was a good load anyway. I'll tell you, I had all I could handle. And then came that awful thing where they extracted our tuition, forty-five dollars. I tried to argue with this fellow, told him that I thought it was a state school, thought everybody got to come there. "No," he said they had--"Tuition is forty-five dollars." And that was it. And so immediately I parted with forty-five dollars. And with the seven dollars I had spent the night before on my room, it left me a little short. So, I didn't have a great deal to start with, you couldn't get any student loans in those days. And, I had borrowed that money from the bank anyway, because I had had an appendicitis operation in August, and I needed some money. And--but we got along all right, and finally started classes, and the first thing, of course, we had to do is get a freshman cap. Woe be it to any freshman that passed Green Hall, that was the law school building, the first building on the campus, if this green little old freshman, he didn't have that freshman cap, those law students all had paddles, and they'd just simply take you and put you down along that sidewalk, and they'd wallop the daylights out of you, and I'll tell you, there was only one exit off of that campus, and that was by that law school, and you wouldn't forget that freshman cap. And, they had a way of inflicting punishment on these freshmen that showed absolutely no mercy at all. Now, the next thing, of course, was I needed a job. All right, fine. The YMCA was the place to go to find a job. I went to the YMCA and I found that all the jobs already had been taken. Well, I thought it was just about like it would be around Halstead, any time you wanted a job--I never had any trouble finding a job, and I couldn't find a job. All the jobs were taken. And I just finally got to the place where I'm getting desperate. I just--for weeks, and weeks, and weeks, I just didn't know what to do. So, Roy finally got a job in The Jayhawk, that was a little cafe, and I told him, I said, "Now, the first opening that happens around that place, you get me in there too." But after classes, I'd run out in the country and help fill silos, and then on Saturdays and Sundays, I'd go out and pick pears, and apples, and things like that in some of those nice orchards that they had around there. And, in that way, earned a little change to tide me along from week to week to make things go. It was really rough, so I tried to make ends meet, I went down to the grocery and got a loaf of bread, and got some cold cuts, and at noon I'd come home and I'd make myself a sandwich, and in the evening I'd go and get something to eat, very reasonable. In the morning I'd probably eat another sandwich, or wouldn't eat anything, but I was going--I was determined I wasn't going home. I was going to stay there if I didn't get anything to eat. I was going to stick around there. But, in about four or five weeks, one of the other boys thought that the work at The Jayhawk was a little tedious, and he quit, and Roy told me about it, and I got up there as fast as I could, and sure enough, I landed the job. And when I landed that job, I held that job until I quit at the University. The last day of school. And I had plenty to eat then, and I started gaining some weight. But, to work in my basketball, and to work in my studies, and to work in my work at The Jayhawk turned out to be quite a chore. Well, we finally worked this thing around in such a way that in my sophomore year, they allowed me to work from eight o'clock at night until twelve, and from eight until one. And, in that way, I'd go to the campus in the morning, I'd get up in the morning, go to The Jayhawk and get breakfast, then I'd go up on the campus, and I'd stay in the library all day and study, and wouldn't come down for lunch or anything, I just stayed there and studied. I'd go to class whenever I was supposed to be in class. I'd do all my outside reading, and they assigned a lot of outside reading in those days. And I got that all out of the way, and made good grades, and then about quarter to eight I'd show up at The Jayhawk, because they didn't want us to eat on their time, they wanted us to eat on our time. So I'd get something to eat, and then put on the apron at eight o'clock when the night crew showed up, we were ready to go. So, that's how I worked my way through school. If it hadn't been for The Jayhawk Cafe, I wouldn't have had a college education. And I'm always grateful to them for that, because it shows that if a man is willing, and if a man is determined, he can always get along. Now, finally, they decided that they wouldn't have varsity basketball practice, in 1919, that was my first year there, until after the football season ended. Then they called for varsity basketball practice, three or four of the football players were also basketball players. So, they had a man by the name of Karl Schlademan, and he was the basketball coach. He coached the first game, and I think we played, if I remember correctly, we played Emporia Teacher's College in that first game, and we beat them by a score of, I just don't exactly remember, I think it was 37-22. And then Karl decided that he would rather devote his time to his track team, he was an excellent track coach, leaving Kansas many years later, and coached track at Michigan State where he was an excellent track man, and had excellent track teams there. And he would devote his time to the football team. And, then, Dr. Allen, who was supposed to coach the freshman team, took over as varsity basketball coach. It was kind of a jumbled up affair, because "Phog" had us out for basketball as freshmen, then turned us over to Schlademan, and Schlademan didn't care much about basketball, and I don't know if we got any coaching at all or not. I can't remember that too well. I do remember we were mainly cannon fodder for the varsity, because the varsity was very streamlined at that time, and they'd kick us around pretty good, although on that team, we had five boys that played on the Lawrence High School team that won the state tournament the year before. And then there was a big boy by the name of Meeker(??) from Wichita. I was on that team, and John Wolfe, an import, I believe, from Oregon, I don't know how he found his way over there, was on that team, and that constituted our freshman basketball team. And, the varsity had very little trouble with us. But, we got along well, as sophomores, and then of course, as juniors, and seniors, as everyone knows, were awarded the national championship, because we had outstanding teams in those days. Now, the--getting back, again, to these freshman caps. We always had what we called an Olympics. They were contests that consisted of five events. I think there was a sack race, a tug of war, a relay race, a push ball, and an obstacle course, and then we had a ring, tug ring or something like that, I don't remember what we called that thing, which was automobile tires, we placed them on the fifty yard line, and then they matched the freshmen against the sophomores, and they tugged on these things, and at a specified time, the referee would blow the whistle, and you were awarded points according to where you had the tire at that particular time. This was supposed to last twenty minutes, it only lasted ten, because everyone was so exhausted they couldn't continue the thing. But the freshmen always won these Olympics, because the freshmen really put their heart and soul into the thing, and the sophomores, of course, being fat cats, they didn't show up and naturally the freshmen always got to throw their caps away at the football game with Missouri on Thanksgiving Day, and that was quite an event, because as soon as the game was over, all the freshmen sailed their caps up into the air, and that was the end of paddling and everything else. [End of interview] Adolph Rupp talks about growing up in his hometown of Halstead, Kansas, working on his family's farm and surrounding farms, and the differences between his childhood and now. He discusses playing basketball in high school, his last minute decision to attend the University of Kansas, the transition between small town life and the college experience, and being a freshman at the University of Kansas. Rupp briefly mentions the transition between basketball coaches Karl Schlademan and Forrest "Phog" Allen and working at the Jayhawk Cafe. The interview ends with Rupp recalling the tradition of the freshman caps at the University of Kansas.