Sport?! Those who know me know that I have not got a single sport gene in my body. I tried playing baseball, football, and soccer as a kid. When it came time for basketball season, I figured out that I could score the games and they wouldn’t make me play on the school team. (It was a very small school.) So, I was a bit at a loss looking at this topic.
I’ve never really thought a lot about my ancestors and sports. However, I know that my grandfather, Hudson Wren, was a football letterman at the University of Arkansas in the 1920s. So, let’s meet him and his career there.
Some of you may recall meeting Hudson Wren in previous posts (here, and here). He was born in 1906 in Nevada County, Arkansas. He attended Prescott High School, where he played football for the Prescott Curly Wolves.
After graduation, Hudson went to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to study Agriculture, having been raised on a farm. He arrived in Fayetteville in 1925 as a freshman and joined the freshman football squad. The Arkansas Razorback annual tracks his career during his years in Fayetteville. It sounds like his freshman year was successful, since he earned his number for the varsity squad that year.
After his freshman year, Hudson met a cute young transfer student from Southern Methodist University, Mary Higgs (always called Mary Jim by almost everyone). She was active in athletics, to a degree, herself. She participated in the Women’s Athletic Association, both at SMU and at Arkansas. The W.A.A. promoted intramural sports activities among the women at the university. A whole host of sports were represented, including women’s football. I have not been able to find out which sports she played, though. As you might expect, the 1920s were not a time when women’s sports got the same billing as the men’s teams.
I am not sure why Mary Jim (Nannie) transferred from SMU to Arkansas. Her mother and she lived in Dallas at the time. Her mother may have moved with her brother around that time (have to check further) so she was going to move somewhere. Why Arkansas? Don’t know. I had heard that she sat out for a time from SMU after a diving accident, but I could have made that up, too.
In the both the 1927-1928 and 1928-1929 seasons, Hudson lettered in football. He played tackle, predominantly. Remember this was in the days when the men played both sides of the ball – offense and defense. The squad wasn’t that large and the starters, especially on the line, just kept playing. It was also the days of leather helmets and far less protective gear than we see today. I remember Papaw saying that often by half-time, he would barely know where he was.
In addition to playing football, Hudson was active as a part of both the Arkansas Booster Club and the Varsity Club, promoting interest in athletics and other student activities. He was in the Press Club, different fraternities both on and off campus, and lead the Agri Days at the University.
After graduation with degrees in agriculture and home economics respectively, Hudson and Mary married and set out on careers. They started as teachers in the Portland High School in Portland Arkansas. Take a look at these previous posts (here, and here) to see more about Hudson’s career in agriculture. And visit the site of Wilson, Arkansas, to see more about the town birthed by the farm that he helped lead for many years.
For as long as they lived, Hudson and Mary Jim remained staunch supporters of Arkansas football. They contributed generously to the program and maintained really good season ticket seats at mid-field in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (one of two homes of the Razorbacks).
I guess I never heard Papaw let go with a hog call, but something tells me he could get a pretty good” Woooooooo Pig Sooiee! Razorbacks!” going when he wanted to.