Abuse of hinkey

The Buffalo Sunday Morning News

16 Dec 1894,

 Abuse of Capt. Hinkey

 His Life and Characteristics Show it to be Without Rhyme or Reason.

 He is Manly and Modest.

 That Is the Verdict of Life Neighbors. Stories That Are Told About the 'Silent Ghost"--"Evening Post's" Vituperation Unfounded.

 Thackeray's Col. Esmond was called by his slap-dash friends "Don Dismal:" with what ground unless it is that he was one of the most loyal, lovable, grateful, courteous and modest fellows in creation, does not appear.  Capt. Frank Hinkey of Yale and Tonawanda is called the '"Silent Ghost."  Tonawanda people say he is retiring, gentlemanly and an all-around good fellow. This, then, is Capt. Hinkey's offense!

 Ever since the Yale-Harvard football game at Springfield the New York Evening Post has been endeavoring to make people believe the "Silent Captain" is bad.  Mr. Godkin has asserted it and reasserted it, spelling bad in big letters. They have called him a ruffian by nature, intimated that long association with lumber shovers has made him rough, and that he has done more to distrust people with the noble game of football than anybody else in the world.  These are only a few of the allegations which have appeared through Mr. E. Larrup Godkin’s dream cap.  When he thinks he's got a good thing he just pushes it along, regardless.

 No young man has been more sinned against by certain newspapers than Capt. Hinkey.  As is usual in such ungrounded attacks a revulsion has set in, in which the best papers of the East are free to acknowledge the absolute unfairness and injustice of the Post’s vituperation.

 A NEWS man passed a day at Tonawanda last week and found out in very short order how Capt. Hinkey is regarded in the village of his birth.

 Since Capt. Hinkey's name (and with it Tonawanda) became linked with notoriety more than one visitor to the lumber town has casually observed the sign. “Nice & Hinkey, Hardware,” over the door of a big double store on one of the principal streets. And if they crossed the two bridges and walked down the street in the twin town they must have been impressed with this information: 

 NICE & HINKEY. Branch Store, Hardware.

 This represents a business established by the family of Mrs. Hinkey (the Nices) and Mr. Hinkey in 1868 and which has been a family industrial monument for the last 26 years.

Nice & Hinkey circa 1890

 The business is looked after by a paid manager, assisted by members of both the Nice and the Hinkey families.

 On what is called “the square” is the Hinkey homestead where the famous “end” lives."  Mr. Hinkey has been dead 13 years. The family now consists of Mrs. Hinkey, four boys - Frank, Fred, Louis and Ben - and two girls, any one of whom would modestly have preferred that nothing be printed complimentary to Frank or in his defense.

 Mrs. Nice, Capt. Hinkey's grandmother, and her family live on a well-kept farm on the island, and here Capt. Hinkey puts in most of his time when he is at home on vacations, away from the stare of the public and where he can have quiet and rest. According to one of his closest acquaintances not one-third of the people in the town ever know that he has been home, so far as seeing him is concerned.

 One of Capt. Hinkey's friends tells this story:  At the end of his first season's success at Yale his Tanawanda friends proposed to give him a right loyal reception when he came home on his vacation.  The manager of the Hinkey store heard of it and calling the leaders together asked them to give it up, for if the "Silent Captain" heard of it he either would not come home at all or would get off at Buffalo and come down on a trolley car.  This manager has known Frank Hinkey from birth and the story illustrates characteristics which certain disgruntled newspaper men have chosen to designate as the "big head."

 Mrs. Hinkey does not think that Frank is particularly close mouthed. "If he has anything to say," said she, "he usually says it."  But THE NEWS man suspects after having met most of the family that the "Silent Ghost" comes naturally enough by his modesty.

 1895 Yale Graduation photo

 Capt. Hinkey will have been away to school for the last nine years when he graduates from the Academic Department at Yale in the spring.  He was born Dec. 24, 1871, therefore will be 24 years old one week from tomorrow.  Up to the time he left for his first preparatory school he attended the public school which faces the square a short way from the Hinkey house.  Two years he was at DeVeaux Military and the next three at Andover, where for the first time he was disposed toward those irresistible tackles which have brought fame to Yale.  Hinkey made a big reputation as an "end" at Andover and did yeoman service in tearing up the turf with her rivals at Exeter.

 When Hinkey went to New Haven the high priests of the Yale Olympics were in waiting to urge him into the lists. The glory of that freshman year to the unpretentious young Tonawandian made him a fixed star among the "starlets" of the football firmament.

 The summer vacation following (one of his intimate friends is authority for this) he came home and drove a one-horse delivery wagon for the hardware firm of Nice & Hinkey.  Just before it came time for him to go back to college he went up to the manager of the store:  Mr. Campbell, and said impassively: "Mr. Campbell I have decided not to go back to college, I'd like a permanent situation."  "All right," said Mr. Campbell, seriously, "I will promote you.  You have been driving one horse all summer, now I will let you drive two."  Hinkey seemed perfectly satisfied and without saying a word walked away. 

 The powers upon whom the mighty athletic reputation of old Yale depended were not satisfied, however, to let Hinkey, the Great, settle down to the plebeian life of delivering hardware.  Twice that fall Manager Ed Holter of Yale went to Tonawanda to urge that he go back to the team and incidentally finish his course. This he finally decided to do.

 Fred Hinkey told THE NEWS man that when Frank became captain he laid down two laws for himself, namely, never to read the newspapers while the eleven were in training and never to talk football for publication.  By following this course he was certain not to be influenced by reports about, the play of the other colleges, nor would he compromise himself or Yale athletes by any ill-advised statement.

 It is a matter of fact that Capt. Hinkey never looks into a newspaper to read about himself.  If the collar of notoriety ever galled anybody it is the “Silent Captain”.  This is acknowledged by common consent among those who know him.  So absolute is this lack of interest in himself that Mrs. Hinkey has been obliged to start a scrapbook to preserve a record of the praise and abuse which the papers have heaped upon her son.  Mrs. Hinkey, while she says little, is greatly interested in football and takes the sensible view that the dangers which attend the game are no greater than those of any vigorous exercise.

 When THE NEWS man called at the Hinkey home Mrs. Hinkey was reading the latest number of Harper’s Weekly, in which Casper Whitney fluctuates between favor and criticism of the "Silent Ghost" with each successive paragraph. Whitney has always been down on Hinkey for no other obvious reason than that he views him through the eyes of a Harvard graduate.

Mrs. Mary Nice Hinkey

 Abuse of Hinkey started in his first year as captain and with the New York World.  The story is this: Hinkey went down to New York with Manager Holter to make arrangements for the big Thanksgiving game. A New York World reporter approached him to find out the details. Hinkey in his never-waste-a-word-style replied he had no information to give him. "Well, if you don't tell me about this thing," said the reporter, “I will have you caricatured and roast hell of you besides.”

 “You can roast and be damned,” replied Hinkey incontinently.  (In justice to Hinkey he never damns except in Centennial years.  The exception was made this time on account of the World’s Fair.)  The next day a column roast appeared on the man who refused to be bulldozed. The World has depreciated Hinkey's popularity at Yale since that time. It does not follow that if a man was truly morose and sulky, as has been charged to Hinkey, that he could reach and maintain the position of popularity which it has been his honor to occupy almost since his first year at Yale.

 This New Haven special which appeared in the New York Herald following the New York game is interesting in this connection: "While there is much being said about all the players, Capt. Hinkey's name comes up first and foremost.  Yale men cannot say anything too good about the way he has handled the team and landed the championship. Then, too, Hinkey's unjust treatment by the papers has touched to sympathy many who have never more than seen the 'Silent Captain.' There was no better example of how Yale men feel toward Hinkey than the dinner given him at the University Club in New York Saturday night after the game.  An interesting little story is being told on the campus which came out at this dinner. The elder Hinkey was in close proximity, as usual, to the Princeton half-back Poe, when the latter had just closed on a Yale punt.  Hinkey, crouching before him in a familiar steel trap posture, quietly murmured, 'Don't try to run Poe; I don't want to tackle you.’ Poe said. 'Down.'  It was the easiest and most logical solution of the situation that confronted him. 

 Yale men are so indignant over the treatment of Hinkey by the Post and other papers that such men as Judge Henry E. Holland, Edward G. Bishop and Arthur M. Dodge seriously contemplated bringing an action for libel.  This serves only to illustrate, for Hinkey would never have permitted it if he could have prevented.

 THE NEWS man while in Tonawanda, called on Mr. E. G. Roisterer, cashier of the German-American Bank, Mr. James H. DeGraft, president of the State Bank, Mr. George Rand, cashier of the First National Bank; Dr. Hoyer, and L. G. Stanley, druggist, and every one of the gentlemen had words of praise for the "Silent Ghost."

 A consensus of their opinion is that Hinkey has always been one of the best behaved young men in Tonawanda; that he is excessively modest, retiring and reticent, and that his family is one of the oldest in the town.

 One of these men, who was a neighbor of the Hinkeys for 13 years, said: ''One thing is certain, if Frank Hinkey has become what the Post claims he is it must all have happened since he went to Yale, and I do not believe that.  I have known him ever since he was born, and I know he was well brought up.  He was always quiet and obedient and never gave anybody any trouble. It would be hard work to make anybody in this town believe Frank is a ruffian or a slugger. I remember Mr. Hinkey (Frank’s father) was exact in keeping the boys in after 9 o'clock.  When Frank was quite a youngster he bought the boys two good footballs to keep them home. They used to play in the square opposite their house.  I guess this was the forerunner of Frank’s football career.  Later, Mr. Hinkey gave a football to the school.”

 Mr. A. C. Campbell, manager of the Nice & Hinkey store, has known Frank always and probably in closer friendship than anybody in town. "There isn't a rough thing in Frank's nature;" said he.  “He is quiet, modest and a perfect gentleman always.  Frank isn’t a seeker after notoriety and doesn’t like that sort of thing.  When he was working in the store during school vacations it often happened that drummers who came in would want to know if the captain was in.  I would call him out and introduce him and he would talk on every day matters pleasantly enough, but the minute football was mentioned he would shut up like a steel trap.  Frank is plucky and has lots of grit and I believe that if anybody deliberately slugged him they would get it back, but it is not his nature to harm a person from choice."

1894 Yale Football

 Capt. Hinkey had an experience on the Hinkey farm on the island which shows what he will do when he is provoked.  On Sundays gangs of toughs are in the habit of laying in a supply of beer and rowing over to the island to put in a day of debauchery.  On this particular Sunday Hinkey happened to be down to the river front of the farm when a party of this sort came up. There were three half-intoxicated toughs in the boat and a keg of beer.  Hinkey told the men they could not land, that they would have to go elsewhere.  A jeer and a derisive laugh was the reply.  Hinkey said no more, but quietly walked away.  In a little while he came back with one of his brothers.  The three were seated on the river bank.  Hinkey walked through the midst of the trio to the boat and raising the keg of beer over his head threw it with all his strength into the bottom of the boat, smashing it to flinders.  Then he and his brother proceeded to give those three bums the greatest licking bums ever received, and left them to their sorrow.

 So much for Capt. Hinkey's home life.  As to his position at college the following from the New Haven Register is satisfying enough for the most critical.

 “Mr. Hinkey's claim to gentlemanhood is quite as well established among his fellows at Yale University as are the claims of the editor of the New York Evening Post to a like distinction, and he is certainly a much more modest and tractable person. He is neither brutal nor a slugger.”

 “If he occupies a false position in the eyes of the world, or any part of it, it is due to the deliberate misrepresentations of such papers as the Evening Post, who have taken no pains to inquire personally about him, and who have only too gladly accepted the deliberate misstatements of the metropolitan press, who have failed to pierce Capt. Hinkey's armour of reticence, and ‘who have had it in for him’ ever since. Had he stood about the street corners letting his opinions fly as loosely as the Evening Post does its, he would be the especial care of the press instead of its especial aversion.

 ‘We have not the pleasure of Capt. Hinkey's acquaintance, but we know how he is regarded by his fellow students, and Yale students, let us add. do not give their respect to each other without reason.  Life at Yale is a serious test of a man's gentlemanhood.’

 “His fellow students know Capt Hinkey as an honorable, modest, patient and sympathetic fellow. He is a reserved man, not a gadabout.  He is respected by his associates and his instructors, for no man has worked harder than he to improve the game of football and to put it upon a true basis of sportsmanship. And he is today doing more to bring this result about than the New York Evening Post.”

 This, then, is Capt. Hinkey’s offense!