It's 1910 in Buffalo, NY and you're 11 years old.
The summer is winding down and you're dreading returning to school. Your father says that after this year you can be done and join your brother down at the mill.
|Ma always said the dog could hold still longer than you could.|
It's Saturday morning and you have two choices. You and your brother (Lev) can sit around and listen to your father keep talking about how Buffalo is going to be the largest city in New York by the end of the decade, or you can head down to the square and catcall at the pretty ladies walking by.
It was a pretty easy choice. Lev runs into the corner shop and grabs a couple packs of cigarettes. He smokes Piedmont and you smoke Hassan. Lev won't shut up about the Bisons, the local Eastern League team. You think the Bisons are pretty lame. You're more of a New York Highlanders fan, but you'd never say that to Lev. "Hot dog!" Lev yells. He shoves the cigarette card in your face.
You ask him who that is. "It's Dummy Taylor you dummy!" Now you remember. Dummy Taylor is that old fart pitcher for the Bisons. He's a deaf-mute, but he's pretty darn good.
You rip open your pack of cigarettes, light one up and grab your card.
Welcome back to 2014. Featured above is "Race of Young Bucks", one of the fifty cards in the Indian Life in the 1860's tobacco card set by Hassan Cigarettes. Yet again we have another example of incredible color and art work on what wasn't meant to be more than a fancy piece of trash. Two young Indians are racing along a makeshift track with (spandex?) leggings and feather tails tied behind their colored loin cloths. Green seems to have the edge, assuming they're running straight ahead. The Indians in the background (who look like women in oriental robes) are not amused. Maybe these two hooligans aren't the tribe sprinters, maybe they're just confused young men who actually believe they're male deer. Personally, I'd find that very amusing.
To-day there aren't many full-blooded Indians left anywhere. In 1910 it was a different story. Some of the top athletes were Native Americans including 1911 NY Marathon winner Lewis Tewanima, NY Giants Pitcher John "Chief" Meyers, and perhaps the greatest athlete of all time, Jim Thorpe. 4-5% of Americans are at least 1/32nd Indian today with many more having Native American Heritage farther down the line (including myself at 1/64th). You might be surprised to learn that there are three Native Americans in the MLB today. Kyle Lohse of the Nomlaki Tribe, Joba Chamerlain of the Winnebago Tribe and Jacoby Ellsbury of the Navajo Tribes.