AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following article would probably never cop first-place in an "Accuracy in Journalism" contest. We do "hope," however, that it might rank a bit higher than most entertainment efforts based on historical research garnered from Wikipedia-like research. The entire extent of information- gathering took place during a 30-minute conversation held recently in a local office.
The following question would most likely go unanswered in trivia contests. "What do New York City (population 8.5 million); Americus, Ga. (pop. 17,000) and Hope, Ind. (pop. 2,000+) have in common?"
The not-so-obvious answer is... They all are home to an athletic teams named the Jets.
How many other "Jets" are in existence in addition to the NFL's New York Jets, the South Georgia Technical College Jets and Bartholomew County's Hauser Jets might be a topic for a yet-to-be-penned feature story? But for sure, there aren't many.
Also unknown to this author is the background as to how the pro football team or the collegiate athletic teams received their nicknames. But we believe the story as to how the local Jets were born is pretty clear, at least as clear as mud.
Howard "Bud" Herron is best known in the Columbus area because of his career in journalism. The Indiana University graduate retired from the profession after a lengthy stint as publisher of The Republic newspaper. Most recently, Herron, who graduated from Hauser High School in 1962, supplied all of the information on which this "Jets" article is based.
It all started, according to Herron . . .
"The Indiana State Legislature passed the School Reorganization Act," said Herron. "The Act called for all schools with fewer than 1,000 students to consolidate with other schools.
"It (the Act) had been talked about for years and a lot of school corporations had gone ahead with consolidation plans," he continued. "Bartholomew County had started to do some reconfiguring back in '56 and '57. The people in Hope did not want to lose control, so they had started talking back in '55 or '56 to the folks in Clifford so they could avoid becoming part of the other Bartholomew County schools."
So, according to Herron, the announcement was made in the spring of '56 that the consolidation had been approved and the search for a name for the new corporation had commenced.
"Flat Rock-Hawcreek was a slam dunk," said Herron. "Flat Rock was listed first I think because that was the smaller (township) and they wanted to juice those folks up a bit."
Next on the school board's agenda was to find a name for the new high school. That, too, was an easy decision.
"It was almost unanimous that it would be Hauser, named after Martin Hauser - the founder of Hope (1830) and one of the original members of the Moravian Church," explained Herron.
Then, this conversation/interview took a bit of sidetrack.
"In the beginning, it was thought that Hope would be exclusively a church community." Herron said. "And early on, it was perhaps planned to be just a Moravian community."
Apparently, the population in Clifford did not object to the name choice, at least not loudly enough to make a difference. Thus "Hauser" became the name of the junior-senior high school. Then, it became time for the new school to be nicknamed and be given school colors, a school song, etc. etc.
A call was put out for ideas. Herron and fellow 8th grade peer Earl Shay answered the call. The father of Herron's buddy was Earl Shay, Sr. The elder Shay was pastor at the Moravian church.
"We began to talk," said Herron. "It used to be Hope Red Devils. That nickname had long infuriated some church members. Earl and I agreed it should be a modern name. We talked about the fact that we hadn't heard of any other teams being named the Jets. Of course, that was even before the New York Jets."
The pair of junior high boys weren't content with just their "modern" out-of-the-box nickname suggestion.
"It may have been a bit of rebelliousness, but we then suggested black-and-white to go with our nickname," Herron said. "Those ideas were submitted to the Student Council."
The name was accepted. But here is where history may have turned a bit murky. The confident Herron became a bit dubious. At this point he may have even rubbed his chin and/or scratched his head.
"I guess there is a long-shot possibility that someone else may have also suggested Jets," said Herron. "We had talked about our idea quite a bit, so there could have been others that wanted to put their two-cents worth in and submitted the same name. Lo and behold - they picked the Jets. Our colors were also picked, but they changed that. Years later, for some reason, red was added."
Along with a name and colors, the old Hope High School fight song (that of Notre Dame's) was discarded in favor of that belonging to University of Northwestern.
Herron and Shay weren't quite done being influential.
"We thought Jetstream would be good name for the yearbook and Interceptor would be appropriate for the newspaper," said Herron.
The Jetstream has withstood the test of time. The school newspaper is no more.
When queried about ranking these contributions with others he has made to the community over time, Herron didn't hesitate before responding.
"These may well be my only contributions," said Herron, smiling. "When you get to be my age, some things that you are sure happened, never really happened."
And if there are inaccuracies in this story???
"I am confident that everything I have said is accurate," he said with wry grin. "I've told this story through the years with great pride. But if someone else has different recollections, I hope they will send in the info to HSJ Online and tell Bud he is full of crap."