I don’t if Harry Kipke liked to be photographed, or whether the press chased him around a lot but, brother, there are always a lot of interesting photos of the former Michigan All-American player and coach on eBay.  

Vacation Kipke and Sarazen Kipke Saling

Just right now you can find photos of Kipke in scenes that have nothing to do with football—[left to right above] on vacation with his wife in Florida chilling in a bathrobe, hanging out with golfing legend Gene Sarazen, and most frequently, Kipke on his boat sailing or hanging out with other people who love to sail.  I don’t know if there are any Kipke family historians out there, but I’m guessing you can piece together Kipke’s life (certainly in the 1930s and 1940s) through solely the lens of newspaper wire photos that pop up on eBay.

Here’s my favorite and this might end up in my man cave.kipke_son_ebay

Taken in May 1935 (notably after the horrific ‘34 season), on the left that’s Kipke’s son holding what you have to assume is a leather Michigan helmet.  Kipke is kneeling in a sharp 3-piece suit with a flower tie as he tangles with two baby lions at his feet.   Harry’s no fool—note the protective oven mitts. 

So what’s the deal with all of this?   First, chalk this up to a day in the life of Harry Kipke, who clearly had photographers wherever he went.   I scanned the free newspaper archives but couldn’t find anything.   If I had to guess, Kipke and his son are at an event, perhaps a graduation party or something, at the estate of his pal Harry Bennett.  As posted on these pages before, Bennett was Henry Ford’s enforcer and lived off Geddes road near town, and yes, he was known to keep lions and tigers on the property.

Ships Wheel
While I’m on the topic of Kipke I have to share photo and note sent over by reader Bob.  First the photo:


Here’s the backstory from Bob:

Hi, I am looking for information on a item I bought from Harry Kipke’s estate. It is a very large ships wheel with a football welded to the center. It has gold leaf writing which says “Birthday greetings Harry Kipke”.   It was hanging at the bottom of the basement stairs going into the billiard room. It is said H.K. was good friends with Henry Ford, Roy Firestone and Tom Edison and they often hung out there…I was also told the wheel may have been a gift from one of the Ford’s (Henry or Gerald). The wheel is 52? tall and in great shape. What I would like to know is who gave it to him and what birthday did he receive it…It is a honor owning it but feel it should be in a place more people can see and enjoy it.  Any thoughts as to where it should go?  If so what’s it’s value?   A local guy says 5K plus but I just don’t know.

So first off, I have no idea how much something like this would be worth.   It’s one-of-a-kind and you’d have to find someone who’s interested in both sailing, history and Michigan football [mgoshoe?!] to even approach finding a price for this thing.  If someone’s got a truly unique collection this might look nice on the wall, but it is so tough to say.  For starters I’d want to know who gave it to Kipke, whether is an actual from a ship (or if was it created solely as a gift for Kipke—likely, given the football affixed in the center), and the manufacturer. 


* 1933 and the Dickinson Formula
* Harry Kipke and the Fall of 1934
* Jesse Owns and Gerald Ford (1934)
* The Willis Ward Protests (1934)

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Thanks to Jim for passing this along.  Up on AnnArbor.com now, writer Nathan Bomey explains how a old home video of what appears to be a 1930s-era Michigan football game at the Big House surfaced:

The startup, Priceless Photo Preservation, restored a home movie featuring “field-level footage of a Michigan football game inside the newly built (and nearly empty) Michigan Stadium,” co-founder Rob Hoffman said in an email.

The video owner, Ann Arbor native Susan Pearlman, said her grandfather, Ovid Weldon, shot the film, which shows extensive action featuring the Michigan football team, marching band and several views of the crowd. Two punts are clearly visible.

Pearlman believes that her grandfather, who earned a degree in landscape architecture from U-M in the late 1920s, shot the film sometime between 1931 and 1935 because other footage on the reel shows her father or uncle as a toddler. Her uncle was born in 1928, and her father was born in 1932. She said no one had seen the video since at least 1960, when her grandfather died.

Here’s the video:


It’s definitely the Big House of course, but there’s not enough data offhand for me to place the year or the opponent for that matter.  The uniforms look very similar to the footage that’s in the Black and Blue documentary on the 1934 season and story of the the Georgia Tech/Willis Ward/Gerald Ford game.

I love this kind of thing surfacing because to me, each day, instead of losing Michigan football history as the days on the calendar fly off, we seem to extending and enhancing it (sorry to sound like an Enzyte commercial).   I feel like this site is a small piece of that, but there’s so many more—Bacs, the guys at Stunt3, AnnArbor.com, James Dickson, many of the writers for Michigan Today and the Ann Arbor Chronicle and on and on.

Naturally one bone to pick with Bomey.  He writes:

Michigan Stadium opened on Oct. 1, 1927 with a capacity of about 84,000. After a minor expansion in 1928, the stadium wasn’t expanded again until the late 1940s.

The first expansion was in 1927.  The original capacity was 75,000 but to meet the ticket demand for the dedication game against Ohio State (and for the games against Navy and Minnesota for that matter), Yost dragged in bleachers from Ferry Field, affixed them around the stadium and rose the capacity to 84,000.

The Bentley has footage from both 1926 and 1927 (Wesleyan, and Ohio State games) worth a look.

Full story here on AnnArbor.com.