Editor’s Note: The members of this photo have been identified! We received the following response from a loyal Mobile Bay reader.
In reply to your query about the “Backyard Gridiron” photo in your October issue, I am the the snaggle-tooth kid in the center. The missing teeth indicate that I was six years old which dates it in 1938. We were in our front yard on Hillwood Road in Spring Hill. From left to right, the kids are: Richard Lester (7), myself (6), my brother Blake (9), Jack Cummings (7), and Jack Friend (9).
In 1939, John T. Riddell introduced the first plastic helmet, and, while invented for football, the U.S. government saw the helmets as a benefit for soldiers fighting in World War II. It wasn’t until 1943, however, that helmets became a mandatory piece of football equipment.
S. Blake McNeely Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama • Colorization by Dynamichrome Limited