Friday, November 7, 2008

Turkey Day Gridiron Memories

Northern's Art Johnson hauls in a 50-yard game-winning touchdown pass on fourth-and-19 in the 1953 Turkey Day showdown with Central

Now that we're into November, you may find yourself missing the old Northern Vs. Central Thanksgiving Day football games. Thanks to former Flint Journal reporter and editor Larry Gustin you can relive some of the action from Atwood on DVD and help restore the old stadium at the same time.

Larry explained the genesis of the project in a post on mlive last year:

"When I learned there was a group trying to restore Atwood Stadium, I thought it would be cool to offer up a few of the great Northern-Central high school Thanksgiving games on DVD as part of the momentum, maybe for fund raising. After all, those classic football games made Atwood the city's center of attention along with IMA Auditorium.

"I remembered some of the old Northern-Central films were gathering dust atop a file cabinet in The Journal sports department when I worked there 1960-63 (I was then in the news room until 1984). When I asked about the films in conversation with Len Hoyes and Dean Howe, they hadn't seen them in years. Turns out, they were in the bottom of a file drawer. So when I mentioned those old films to Journal sports writer Dan Nilsen at the Buick Open last summer, he said he knew where they were and brought them out to me at Warwick Hills."

Ken, a regular reader, has made an order and, although the footage isn't state-of-the-art, he thought it was well worth the cost. Besides, it will probably be more fun than watching the Lions.

Here's all the ordering information:

Games available: 1938, 1942, 1951, 1952, 1953 (the color 1953 film has edited highlights and added sound), 1955, 1956, 1957 (first half only), 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1964 (second half only), 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 (second half only), 1973 (first half only), 1974, 1975, 1976.* No others available at this time (summer 2008).

Each film is available on DVD for $25 plus shipping and handling.
Half of price goes to Atwood Stadium Authority for stadium restoration fund.

Order by phone or mail:

VIDCAM Productions
7550 S. Saginaw St., Suite 1
Grand Blanc, Mich. 48439
Phone (810) 694-0996
Contact: Craig Smith (

Please note films were transferred to DVD as found. Some are in black & white, some in color, quality varies, perhaps not every play is recorded. In some cases, as noted, only half of the game is available. VIDCAM was chosen by the Authority to handle orders.

We want more game films! Did anyone you know shoot amateur film of Thanksgiving games not listed above? Do you have or know of an official game film? We have a few segments of other games, and want any you may have of Northern-Central games played on Thanksgiving (1928-1976). We particularly want 1947, 1949, 1950, even if it’s only a few feet.

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at