“A preserved slice of Americana,” — that’s how James Boyd, an independent filmmaker, described what he found captured on a half-century old reel of celluloid which was located recently in a Pawhuska garage.
Like a time capsule, the recorded images transported the Californian back to the autumn of 1959 — a time that he had heard about and was now able to see via the black-and-white footage.
“I was so happy just to finally see the film, since I’d heard about it for years when my dad and his friends would get together for reunions,” said Boyd, whose parents are both Pawhuska High School graduates.
The long-lost treasure is the actual game film of the PHS Huskies-Vinita Hornets football showdown from Oct. 30, 1959.
“It had been stored away for 50 years and I was beginning to wonder if it would ever be found,” Boyd said.
The son’s prodding paid off and the 54-year-old relic was finally located and sent to the filmmaker, who first had the original 16-millimeter version converted to a modern format.
“I still wasn’t sure what it was going to look like,” he said. “What I found, though, was a perfectly preserved slice of Americana.”
Using his professional expertise, Boyd modified and enhanced the film with zoom, slow-motion and instant-replay features. He tagged on a Star Wars-like introduction, while adding background music and captions that describe play-by-play details of the contest, which was played on a muddy field at then 20-year-old Ormand Beach Memorial Stadium.
A 22-0 triumph over the Hornets was PHS’s sixth win of the year and put the Huskies in a three-way tie for first place in the Verdigris Valley Conference. The film provided indisputable proof of something Boyd had always been told: There really were all-star caliber football players on the ‘59 Huskie squad. Lynn Boyd, the filmmaker’s father, was a PHS fullback whose third-quarter touchdown broke a scoreless tie against Vinita.
Lifelong family friend Ronnie Corley was a dominating force in the contest, which quite possibly was the reason the game film ended up in his possession. He recorded a half dozen tackles for losses and blocked a punt on defense and scored a TD and extra points on offense. Following the season, Corley was named as an All-State end.
“The cars, the cheerleaders — it’s all amazing to me,” James Boyd said, adding that he came appreciate the film on a number of levels. “From a filmmaking point of view, whoever shot this did a great job.
Even the year the film was made holds a special significance, said Boyd, who was a history major in college.
“This was at the end of a decade known for its wholesome qualities — it was a very good year to be an American,” he said. “It also was right before the turbulent ’60s, the last year before things went crazy.”
As for the Pawhuska football team of 1959, the Huskies — under head coach Alvin Duke — entered the season as a favorite to win the conference. A week after a 22-12 win in the opener at Miami, PHS lost its first home game, 6-0, to Osage County rival Hominy. (The Bucks went forward to the ‘59 state championship game.)
The victory versus Vinita followed Huskie wins over Dewey (26-0), Nowata (26-20), Broken Arrow (36-6) and Shidler (44-14). A week after beating the Hornets, Pawhuska posted a 12-6 home victory over the Pryor Tigers, who were previously unbeaten and the defending conference champions.
PHS Homecoming festivities reportedly were rained out on three different home dates. The original homecoming game was postponed until Saturday because Nowata school officials ruled that the roads impassable due to high water.
Greater disappointment came later in the season, however, when the Huskies suffered back-to-back road losses to Verdigris Valley foes Claremore (14-8) and Tahlequah (26-14). Due to the defeats, Pawhuska missed out on the playoffs and finished the campaign with a 7-3 mark.
The 1959 Vinita-at-Pawhuska football game can be viewed on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8frgkEJMX58