In the Desert

Lou Little and CU Football Players at the El Conquistador Hotel in Tucson, Arizona.

On December 19, 1933, the Columbia Lion football players set out on a cross-country trip to Pasadena, California to play in the 1934 Rose Bowl against the heavily favored Stanford. Every player making the cross-country trip was insured for $5,000 to guard against possible injuries on the train ride to California and back. The Lions traveled by night and practiced by day with stops in St. Louis, Dallas and Tucson, Arizona, where they drilled for a full week in the desert sun.

In 1984, Eddie Bromiski recalled the trip out West to the Spectator:

“It was Christmas Eve and we were at the hotel El Conquistador, six miles outside of Tucson,” Brominski recounted. “And because it was Christmas Eve all the Catholic guys wanted to go to confession. But the church was in Tucson. So Mr. Little got one of the assistant coaches to make a list of all the guys who wanted to go to church, and had him check each guy as he got on and off the bus at the hotel and then again at the church. Well, we had a squad of about 37 and half of them were Catholics. But I never saw so many Protestants go to church in my life because when all the Catholics were in confession, the Protestants were downtown having fun. And then another time,” Brominski continued, “Al Barabas went to Mr. Little and asked him if he could go downtown to get a haircut. Well, everybody else thought they’d go downtown too, get a haircut and then a have a good time. But Mr. Little told Barabas to get a list of everyone who wanted a haircut. When Barabas came back with the list, Mr. Little told him to bring everybody to room 224 and there’d be a barber there. I never saw 40 cancellations so fast in my life.”

On December 29, the team boarded a special train to Los Angeles and on to Pasadena, California where they went on to win the Rose Bowl by beating Stanford by a score of 7-0.

The “Roar, Lion, Roar” exhibition on Columbia football is now on view at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library through December 20.

-Columbia University Archives Staff