Bob Perry 1947 yearbook

That’s Bob Perry wearing 68 as a junior on the 1946 Brookville Red Raiders football team, the first team to play since the program was shut down after the 1941 season due to World War II. To Perry’s left is head coach John Chillcott. In front of Perry is Don Gray and the players in the back are Don Reid (52) and William Allgeier. This picture was in the 1947 Brookville High yearbook.

One of the favorite features I’ve worked on through the years at the Jeffersonian Democrat is the “Look Backs” featuring headline stories from previous editions 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago.

I’m an ardent researcher, avid reader of history and when you tie it in with some old Brookville sports history, I believe I’m not the only one who likes reading old stories.

Case in point: The 1946 Brookville football team from the 75 years ago section of course.

That was the first high school football team at the school to play following World War II. Many schools shut down programs during the war and at Brookville, there was no football for the 1942 through 1945 seasons.

But in 1946, with war veteran and former Brookville graduate John Chillcott coaching, the “Red” Raiders played a three-game schedule and finished 1-2. They beat Falls Creek 26-6 in the first game and lost to Rimersburg 13-0 and Clarion 45-6. All three games were on the road.

In early October, I received a letter from, as it turns out, a junior from that team and 1948 BHS graduate Bob Perry.

”Dear Sir, I really enjoyed reading the column ‘A Look Back; in your Sept. 30 edition regarding the restarting the football program following World War II at Brookville High School in its game at Falls Creek. Actually, most of the coaching for that team was by Franklin ‘Hank’ Mohney. He was still recovering from some type of injury/wound from his army service and his arm was red beet colored from his shoulder to his finger tips.

”Falls Creek was the first of a three-game schedule and the football field at Falls Creek as not a level field and a portion of it was cinders or ashes. No grass. Yet, it remains one of my fondest memories of my life. I have also noted the dramatic improvement of the athletic programs in football, wrestling and track.”

Thanks for the Memory, Bob Perry, BHS Class of 1948.

So I found his phone number and called him last Saturday.

Perry, now 91, lives alone at his home in Lancaster, a house that’s been in his family since 1965.

Bob was married for 65 years until his wife died in 2019. He lives near one of his two daughters, Lori. His other daughter Paula, died of cancer in 2011.

Following a two-year military stint just after the end of the Korean War from 1953-55, he went to graduate school at Pitt and then to Grove City for four years before moving for good to Lancaster in 1960.

He retired after a 35-year career in the insurance industry in 1995.

His memory and recollection of his football and childhood days in Brookville was vivid.

“I was born in Brookville in 1930 on Western Avenue on the house right on the corner above the steps coming up from Euclid Avenue,” Perry remembered. “I can’t believe that Western is still brick after all of these years.

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“We moved around a lot with my dad getting different jobs and I returned from the suburban Philadelphia area the summer of 1946 right before football season.”

I grew up on Euclid Avenue, obviously, years later in the DeMotte homestead. John DeMotte, one of Perry’s teammates on the Raiders, was my great-uncle. My other family tie to that 1946 squad was Lyle Painter, a multi-sport standout who scored one of the touchdowns in the Raiders’ first game against Falls Creek.

He remembered both teammates, of course.

“I started out as a tailback, but they switched me to fullback in the old single-wing offense and it worked out a little better for the team,” Bob said.

The 1947 season was Perry’s senior year. The Raiders played a more full schedule and they finished 2-6 with wins over Falls Creek again and Emlenton, 12-0 and 13-0.

After being shut out the first two games against Punxsutawney and Brockway, Perry actually was partly responsible for the team’s first TD of the season in a 12-yard pass to Bruce Vasbinder.

Bob remembered Vasbinder’s first name — I didn’t have it in my records — but he didn’t remember the TD pass he threw.

“I forgot all about that,” Perry laughed. “I would’ve claimed that and put that on my vest if I had one. How about that?”

But his days at Brookville, in what’s been a long rewarding life for the former Red Raider, are his most cherished years.

“It probably ranks up there with some of the number-one events in your lifetime,” he said. “You know, I have always said all the big deals in my life are squeezed into about 10 years, from 1947 to 1957.

“You graduate from high school, fall in love, get married, go off to the war and start your family and then witness the birth of your children. All that stuff was squeezed into about 10 years and then I had to wait awhile before the next big deals came along with my own children.”

Bob asked if I was interested in his parents’ high school yearbooks from the 1920s. Both were Brookville High grads. I graciously accepted his offer, of course.

“This has been a most pleasant and surprising interlude and I’ll treasure this conversation and thanks for taking the trouble to call me. It’s been more than pleasant,” Bob thanked me.

It’s certainly been a pleasure, Bob. Thank you.

Rich Rhoades is the Sports Editor of the Jeffersonian Democrat and Leader-Vindicator in New Bethlehem. E-mail: rrhoades@thecourierexpress.com and follow on Twitter @TheSkinny1969.

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