Museum seeks help to make football time travel possible

Old football game films of George West and Three Rivers.

 A young high school football player is playing his best game on his own Live Oak County turf, when he misses the big tackle or drops the touchdown pass. 

His grandfather shouts from the stands, “I would not have missed that in my day!” Well, we may soon find out. With a little financial help, we can make it possible.

Soon after I became involved with the Grace Armantrout Museum, I found out the museum had a treasure and trouble. 

In our main closet, covering the floor were hundreds of old football game films. 

The treasure was that they were recorded from 1954 to 1985 and most of the games are there from those years. 

Coaches filmed the games and rushed the film to be developed and watched to analyze the games each week to locate weaknesses and strengths to be worked on before the next game. 

A good many of those years contain games between Three Rivers and George West, so they show both schools’ players. There is a lot of great history there, that was the “treasure.”

The “trouble” is that they take up a lot of space, and while they were in special wood holders, they made it hard to move in the closet to get to anything else. 

One of the things they blocked access to was the early Live Oak County record books. Next, they put off a smell, a smell caused from the fact the film is deteriorating. 

This history was at risk of being lost, we would be working against time if we were to preserve it. To preserve it would require transferring the film to a different and more modern format, and that many reels would not be cheap.

When the Cactus Park Board of Trustees met and made Sallie Mackey director for the museum, I addressed the issue of the storage of the films. 

They approved purchase of carts that would get them off the floor and allow them to be moveable so they no longer blocked anything, but we still needed to preserve them. 

It had been suggested to us that there were some Three Rivers and George West alumni, especially players who would be on the films, and their family members, that might be willing to help with the cost of the saving at least some of these. 

Sallie began looking into the cost and it seemed cost prohibitive to do them all, but we would aim at least for the George West vs. Three Rivers games.

If we were able to get the movies converted to DVD, we felt we might find enough interest to have a public showing of some of these games, but to do so, would take either the Dobie West Theater in George West or the Rialto in Three Rivers, or both. 

We mentioned our idea a couple of months ago to the George West Chamber of Commerce and the idea seemed to meet with an enthusiastic reception. 

It was suggested we meet with the Dobie West Theater board and we arranged to have that meeting to see if they were interested and what format of movies they could show. 

Before going into the meeting we checked prices one more time and found that as is was just before Thanksgiving the company we planned to use had a 60 percent off sale, but the order had a very short time left to lock in the price. 

We were looking at spending about $1,100 for 40 reels (20 games). Now we could get twice that number, so we could do more than just the Three Rivers and George West games for the same price. 

We had an individual donor give us about half the money we needed for all 40 reels. Most games are on two reels. One game is on three reels and a couple are on single reels. 

That donor isn’t on the reels, but he has family members and many friends that are from both George West and Three Rivers. That donor is Bulldog red.

If we could get another single donor, or even a few donors to come up with the remaining $600, we will be able to get all the TR and GW games transferred, plus one game from each year TR didn’t play GW or that game is missing, so all players who played in those years would have a reasonable chance to appear in them. 

We will also try to preserve all the George West playoff games from 1958 and 1963, as well as the 1954 George West vs. Jourdanton game. 

We have the help of one of George West’s football experts, who remembers many games to single out for their years, but we need a little help with some of the later years. 

If you played for George West in any of the years 1966 to 1980 or 1984 or 1985, and know of a good game to keep to represent any of those years, please let us know as soon as possible. 

If you can help us fund some or all of the remaining $600, please get in touch with us ASAP as well. Remember the score right now for this is Three Rivers Bulldogs 500 to George West Longhorns 0.

When we get the converted copies back, we will work on ways we can make these available to the public. The software to do some of that could be funded by any contribution beyond the needed $600 for the order.

We look forward to old rivals traveling back in time together to view these games of their past. 

It will provide an opportunity for our young players today to see what the “old days” looked like and to do for grandpa what grandpa has done so many times for them, watch them play football. 

Will the man match the legend, or will we find the legend was human too, and didn’t catch all his passes, make all his blocks, or make the game saving tackle? 

Soon, with your help, we will be traveling back in time watching Live Oak County football, some of it 65 years old.

Donations can be brought into the museum in the afternoons Wednesday to Saturday, or mailed to us at PO Box 1351, George West, Texas 78022. 

Call us at 361-449-3325 for more information. 

We can keep the donation anonymous if you would like, just tell us, but let us know to which school to credit the amount for our score keeping. Thank you for helping save Live Oak County history.