-- Coaldale came out with its 1962 Thanksgiving Day program containing two solid pages of the school's permanent football record. I mean every score of every game, year-by-year from 1921 right up to what would be the 41st annual game against Lansford. The souvenir program, a real treasure, sold for 10 cents. Coaldale's regular season programs usually were priced at a nickel, but were not always dated. The one I've got in my hand has big lettering on the front listing the game for 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, but no year. According to the printed information inside, Tom Leonard was the Tigers' coach, assisted by Tom Raymer and Bill Roller. In cross checking my files, I find that the year was 1957.
-- The program for the 1958 Coaldale at Lansford Thanksgiving Day game was 20 pages thick, chock full of photos and crammed with election campaign ads. And for the last game of the traditional rivalry in 1963, there were stories about both teams and a review of the 57-year series.
Around this time of year work begins behind the scenes in preparation for the upcoming schoolboy football season.
Fans seldom think about what has to be done to insure a memorable campaign but one of the mid-summer tasks which helps add to a season's enjoyment is the printed program.
What would a game be like without that familiar cry "Hey! Get Your Program Here. You can't tell the players without a program." Right?
Well, a lot of effort goes into producing programs and much of it has to be done well in advance of the season.
So schools start to tackle it now. There's the design, the content including the number of pages, ads, photos and stories to think about. Often it's a fund-raising project for booster clubs but in some cases the school's students pitch in.
Today's programs have come a long way. I'm looking at a stack of a couple hundred, dating back to the early 1950's, which I managed to accumulate in my lengthly career on the Morning Call sports beat.
I wasn't able to save them all, but every time I was covering a game, I was given a program either at the gate or up in the press box. As you well can imagine, it would have been next to impossible to report a game without one.
The colorful programs I have in my possession are still like new and filled with great memories.
My favorites are the ones from Thanksgiving Day games. I remember how I had to be at either Palmerton or Slatington Thanksgiving morning to take photos and also cover the game before hurriedly taking off to be able to do the same that afternoon in the Lansford-Coaldale rivalry.
What makes the Turkey Day programs special to me, now as I look back through them, are the extra features they contained.
I never realized it then but there was always that additional week from the end of the regular season to prepare something a little more elaborate.
For example, Coaldale came out with its 1962 Thanksgiving Day program containing two solid pages of the school's permanent football record. I mean every score of every game, year-by-year from 1921 right up to what would be the 41st annual game against Lansford.
The souvenir program, a real treasure, sold for 10 cents. Coaldale's regular season programs usually were priced at a nickel, but were not always dated.
The one I've got in my hand has big lettering on the front listing the game for 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, but no year.
According to the printed information inside, Tom Leonard was the Tigers' coach, assisted by Tom Raymer and Bill Roller.
In cross checking my files, I find that the year was 1957.
Jim Thorpe rarely printed the year on its programs.
Back then, Coca Cola provided all the colorful action-packed covers with few exceptions. Coke reserved the centerfold for its own ad often containing X-and-O diagrams of running plays alongside it's familiar bottle of Coke.
The company distributed the covers to the schools who then needed only to provide the printing. Summit Hill preferred to simply use the school's mimeograph machine.
In 1954, the Summit Hill program carried an article on the major rules changes for that season on the back cover. Get this: one of the changes noted that "a slight revision makes it clear that a field goal can be scored only through the opponents' goal. Under last year's rule, it could have been scored by a backward kick through the kicker's goal." I would love to have seen that.
One of the most colorful programs I have was designed and produced by Lansford printer Joe Vadyak for his alma mater. I have several but the one I'm looking at was from the Panthers' game against McAdoo on Saturday night Sept. 16, 1961.
Unlike the shiny Coca-Cola covers this one jumps right out at you on thick, textured paper featuring a great cover. There's an angled, football-shaped team photo surrounded by colorful pennants of Lansford's opponents, plus a bevy of cheerleaders in action and a rich red Lansford banner.
Tons of ads plus plenty of black and white photos of the team's personnel along with the rosters and starting lineups appear inside.
These were given away free of charge at the games which advertisers loved.
Let me quickly scan through this pile and tell you about some of the others.
A popular feature appearing regularly in Palmerton High's programs in the 1970's was called "Bombsights". But, even before that, PHS included special articles of interest.
In 1955, for example, there were stories on every page describing the opening of the new school, dedication of the new gym, a basketball preview and lots of photos.
In 1966, the program contained information on the new stadium, installation of lights, recaps of the previous game and a look-ahead to the upcoming games, all of which made interesting reading for the fans.
For its game against Slatington in 1967, a story appeared about the school's first homecoming queen.
Meanwhile, Lehighton printed its 1967 programs with no dates, only the year, on the front cover.
The Silver Anniversary game of the Thanksgiving Day series between Palmerton and Slatington in 1959, which was played in Palmerton, was observed by including team photos of both squads and a history of the lengthy rivalry.
I liked the idea of all these extras and often wondered why it was that information, other than rosters and starting lineups, hardly ever appeared about the visiting team.
The program for the 1958 Coaldale at Lansford Thanksgiving Day game was 20 pages thick, chock full of photos and crammed with election campaign ads.
And for the last game of the traditional rivalry in 1963, there were stories about both teams and a review of the 57-year series.
Nesquehoning made the most of its programs, by listing the next home game on the front cover. In 1959, a boxed note on the cover called attention to the advance sale of basketball season tickets (8 games, $4). Those were the days.
School colors were often used in the production process. Marian printed its 38-page program in 1966 in Blue and Gold as a souvenir yearbook. The 1975 Slatington-Palmerton program was printed in Blue and White, sold for a quarter and featured many photos.
Panther Valley's first programs broke from the familiar 8x11 format by presenting a wider edition in the school's colors. In 1975, Tamaqua produced a 40-page program-the largest up until then. But, Marian, which got a good look at a swanky program when it played Prendergast High in Villanova Stadium in 1954, went from just the Coke cover in 1964 to a 64-page in 1981.
And over the last several years, the Marian program has swelled to an inch thick with nearly 200 pages of ads, articles by contributing sportswriters, present and past records, stats, photos and even recipes.
Large or small, programs do indeed require thoughtful planning and preparation. That's why schools are working on them right now. The season is just around the corner.
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Coaldale football programs: coaldale_people_page_5