Color War at Saginaw is always a high intensity affair that often comes down to the Songfest to decide the winner. For the Boys Camp Color War between the Red Crusaders and the Blue Bolt Lightening in 1958 it was no different.
The teams were led by two of the most intense competitors of their era in Hank Aberman and Joel Levin so the gamesmanship was going to be strong. It was no surprise that it came down to a 15 point differential at the end….with a wee bit of controversy hanging in the air.
The Red Crusaders were led by counselor captains Hank and Stan Wolk from lower camp and the Blue Team was headed by Joel and Steve Lewis (pictured above) from the Inter-Junior divisions.
Let me digress to say that we were having trouble ascertaining the name of the Blue Team and it was Jim Korman, the Red Team senior boys captain, who informed us that after 58 years, he could still sing the lyrics to the Red Crusaders fight song.
“Mighty Red will raise the score,
Conquer Lightening, and with a mighty roar…
Blue Bolt Lightening can’t destroy us….”
Now if that is not top notch Color War forensic work I don’t know what is.
These two teams were stacked with athletic talent in every division as you can see by reviewing their rosters. This was going to be an intense competition up and down for four days.
The schedule of the first day of Color War was fairly soft with lots of individual skill stuff like tennis, ping pong, horseshoes, and lays ups though there is Varsity and JV Softball in the Inters which were worth some points. Only the Senior Swim Meet really could have a big impact and the Red Crusaders won that to take a 47 point lead at the end of Day One. Further complicating matters was that Harold Levinson, the Blue Team senior captain and one of their best athletes, went down to an injury and would not be available the rest of the way.
But the Bolts were not to be deterred and things heated up on Day Two. The morning Junior Track and Field Meet going big to the Crusaders and the afternoon Junior Swim Meet being won by the Bolts. The big points on the Hill this day were the morning Senior Varsity and JV Softball which were split and the afternoon Inter-Senior Track and Field Meet. The Blue Bolt Lightening closed the gap with a romp in the Track Meet and by the end of the day were behind a mere 12 points.
Historically the third day of Color War is pivotal with the Inter-Senior Medley Relay during the day and the Senior Varsity and JV Basketball in the evening. This was where the intrigue transpired because the Red Team won all three and their lead stretched to 89 points heading into the final day.
The controversy developed because it was alleged that the Red Crusaders used an extra Senior in place of an Inter in the Medley Relay thus enabling them to win it handily. Joel made a frantic protest over this but the powers that be chose to ignore the allegation and the 50 to 10 points for the Medley went Red’s way.
It cannot be ignored though that the two Red Team wins in the Varsity and JV Basketball games on the Hill Court that night were worth an 85 to 20 point split for Red and this was easily as significant in building their lead going into Songfest.
Songfest is often the great equalizer in Color War and the Blue Bolt Lightening made a valiant comeback winning Songest 823 to 774. The Bolts won this battle but lost the war……when the scoring was done the final tally came up to
Red Crusaders 2776 … Blue Bolt Lightening 2761
A footnote to all of this, the Red Crusader Fight Song was such a hit that it was later modified and became the Mighty Hillmen song that has been sung by generations of Hillmen.
This it was just another typical nail biter Saginaw Color War. Four days of spirited competition built on the drive of the Team Captains and the unrelenting team effort of the 150 kids who made up the Red Crusaders and the Blue Bolt Lightening.