During the Fall football season you can frequently hear the roar from the football field from the 7pm Friday night games (Sept-Nov) where the Lincoln Lion's play against Santa Teresa, Aragon, Willow Glen, Westmont, Sobrato, Evergreen, Live Oak, Silver Creek, and Gunderson high schools. The last game of the year is called the Big Bone Game and is against longtime rival San Jose High School Bulldogs. This game is played over at San Jose City College's football field. The trophy has a fun story that goes back to 1944.
What you might not know is the wild history behind Lincoln's famed Don Bowden's Track and Field.
Rose Garden Dog Park
Since the Municipal Rose Garden bans dogs in their park, there really hasn't been a dog park in our neighborhood until Ed Hodges and Bob Walker of the Lincoln Hound Society was able to negotiate a special agreement with San Jose Unified on using a fenced off patch of grass between the baseball field and the track. It is open during non-school hours for neighborhood dog walkers. There is a suggested $10 yearly fee to help pay for doggie doo bags and general maintenance.
If you are walking your dog through the area and want a fenced off area to unleash your dogs then stop by. Just wish they had more benches and trees for folks to socialize!
The Garden City Velodrome
Before it was Lincoln High School it was Dewey Maxwell's 1/8th mile outdoor wooden bicycle track originally known as the Garden City Velodrome and later renamed the San Jose "Burbank Velodrome". It was in existence from 1936 to 1941 and was the home of the Garden City Wheelmen. It was San Jose's 3rd Velodrome (the first one was built in 1892 at nearby Race & Park Ave). Famed San Jose historian Clyde Arbuckle was a huge cyclist and was made a referee at the track.
It was built with the school district's blessing to convert Dana's Spinach farm into a state of the art bicycle velodrome. It was paid for using Work Progress Administration funds. It featured grandstands that could seat 3,000 an under track entrance for riders to get in and out without stopping a race during the May - Sept racing season. Bicycle crashes and fist fights both horrified and entertained the crowds. They even allowed motorcycles to race on the track until an accident sent one motorbike into the wooden grandstands. Admissions was only 25 cents, but it was WWII that sent San Jose's idyllic youth off to war and lead to the closure of the track in Feb of 1942.
For those wanting to know the complete history check out Tracy Ann Delphia's 1994 SJSU thesis, "A History of Bicycle Track Racing in San Jose: The Burbank Velodrome Years, 1935-1941." If you want to experience bicycle racing on a velodrome be sure to check out Hellyer Park Velodrome, the 6th Velodrome to be built in San Jose.
Lincoln High School and the Rifle Range
The Burbank Velodrome was torn down in Feb of 1942 after the San Jose city school board approved the building of Lincoln High School and a small bore rifle range for boys and adults on the property! It was a combination civil defense and school project. There was an indoor range for a 25 yard rifle range and classroom and two outdoor ranges of 50 and 100 yards. The school had use of the rifle range on school days until 4pm at which time the rifle club would use it after school hours.
I can't help but wonder if the velodrome was chosen as the site for the rifle range because the wood bicycle track sat on an oval saucer shaped dirt pile which could help constrain any stray bullets from hitting school children and nearby residents.
The only thing to top the high school's rifle range was the huge display of roaring US Army tanks tearing up the fields at Lincoln a year later on April 29, 1943. It was part of the War Department's effort to sell War Bonds, back in the day before budget deficits.
After WWII the range was torn down and was replaced with an athletic track and field for Lincoln High School.
With the recent spike in horrific school shootings I can't help to think about where we've gone wrong as a society. While I doubt we'll be going back to encouraging young boys to learn how to shoot a rifle on school grounds in preparation for going off to war I do think we need to find ways to reverse the the sad trend of young disenfranchised males bringing guns to school to kill fellow students.
Maybe it's time to look at what used to work - giving purpose to kids' lives. Funding schools with enrichment and athletic programs, getting boys to join youth groups like Boy Scouts that promote gun training and safety. Talking more about positive male role models, like intact families with fathers and more male teachers in the schools Get to know your neighborhood kids by name and push for a workplace environment that gives working parents more time to be at home focused on their kids.