The Griffon...

My friend Jerry McKenna, who sculpted the six magnificent works of art that surround Notre Dame Stadium and commemorate our five National Championship Head Coaches and Moose Krause, as well as the sculpting of Frs. Ted and Ned, at the south end of the Hesburgh Library, will especially enjoy reading this.  

It’s impossible not to notice “The Griffon”, the 27 foot sculpture, at the south end of the Snite Museum.  This art work was created by David Hayes, a 1953 grad (classmate of Regis Philbin) with an impressive list of sculptures and awards.

So………..have I finally found “culture” in my dotage?  Not exactly.  As most of you know, I am working on a book on early (1887-1917) Notre Dame Football.  David’s dad, David Vincent Hayes was an outstanding ND man.  He received his Notre Dame degree in Journalism (my pal Bob Schmuhl will be pleased).  Dave was the starting left end (5’8, 165) on our 6-1-1 1917 team, the last year of my research and final year before Rockne was elevated to the Head Coaching position.  

An example of Dave’s writing ability was found in a letter he sent to Fr. Joseph Burke, from his combat post in France, during WWI:

Dear Father:—

I well remember one day last winter when you saw me in a typewriting class you said that it looked like a contradiction to see me behind a typewriter. Now I am behind a machine gun; we shall call that the other extreme—n'est ce pas? I left school shortly after Christmas when my father died, and a little later joined the flying service of the signal corps. While awaiting my call I was drafted, and do what I might, I could not be transferred to the flying service. Three weeks after being drafted I sailed for France. France is a most picturesque country. I have been in some beautiful churches since arriving here. Only the other day I visited one which was built in the thirteenth century.  Every little town, however small, has its church, and a church not of wood but of stone. Often a little village is hidden away in a valley-or on the side of a mountain and the only way one can locate it is by the spire of its church.  I have had many experiences since I arrived over here, some of them very annoying. I have been ‘over the top’ twice; the first time I went over I certainly experienced some novel sensations. One who has never been under a barrage cannot begin to imagine the feelings of the soldier.”

When Dave graduated, the 1921 DOME added some details to what Dave was referencing:

“After the football season, Dave went to France for reasons that will be obvious to the reader. When he came back he had suffered injuries that made it seem impossible that he should ever play football again. With a strong determination to try, and an indomitable courage that was the very sublimation of what we call ‘the Notre Dame spirit’, Dave went out when the call for football men was issued.”  

After recovering from his war injuries, Dave earned the second team right end spot behind future All American (and Hall of Fame Coach) Dr. Eddie Anderson, for the 1919 and 1920 seasons.

Dave then foreshadowed, by more than 50 years, the heroism and indomitable spirit of Rocky Bleier, by playing in the fledgling NFL during the 1921 and 1922 seasons.  Dave played in 16 games, starting 14, for the Green Bay Packers and the Rock Island Independents, scoring one touchdown.

After the NFL, Dave served as Assistant Coach, to former Teammate Joe Brandy, at St. Thomas College.  Later, he put his Journalism degree to work, in the advertising department of the Reuben Donnelly Corporation.

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