Have you ever been shopping for a suit, dress outfit, or even for furniture for your home and you had a hard time deciding what would look great, or coordinate with other accessories? If you are like me, then it’s difficult, partly because I am not tied to fashion protocol. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t choose combinations that would be “off the scale,” but what looks good to some may not catch my eye.
David Fong, Troy City Schools’ communications director, and former Troy Daily News sports editor, tickled a question last week that we had discussed several times over the years. When did Troy athletic teams adopt scarlet and gray as the high school colors? And why those colors, in particular?
Of course, some colors and names were chosen in time immemorial, and it has been forgotten in more recent years why they were chosen. While people from Troy have always been referred to as “Trojans,” do any current Troy students know that the high school colors used to be purple and white?
Purple in the ancient to medieval world was considered the color of royalty and honor because only those with status could afford to purchase fabric dyed with purple. The color was perceived as a sign of uniqueness or distinctiveness, perhaps even superiority.
During the early years of Troy football, as with other teams, the uniforms were often a mish-mash of whatever the boys could cobble together. In 1902, one of the first allusions to an actual uniform is highlighted when local businessman C.J. Harr purchased new caps and sweaters for the football team. The sweaters, as jerseys were called, were white (all the mothers must have been horrified) with purple lettering. It was stated they were the class colors. Somewhere along the line, this color combination caught on and was adopted as school colors. Obviously, Troy High School colors are now scarlet and gray, so when did it change?
The Troy Trojan teams carried the colors of purple and white into the World War II era with no indication of changing. Then a very strange thing happened … Troy’s football uniforms changed to gold and black in 1945.
There is no suggestion in the newspapers regarding why Head Coach Carlton Kazmeier decided to introduce these colors. Recently, I spoke with longtime Troy attorney and Troy alumnus John Fulker, and he stated that he doesn’t recall hearing why “Kaz” chose gold and black. Several years ago, one person suggested that purple may have been expensive or harder to obtain during the war years and early post war days and, therefore, necessitated a different color combination.
It should be noted, despite the fact that the Trojans wore these colors for several years, the official school colors remained purple and white. Mr. Fulker confirmed this and “Letters” given to varsity players were still purple and white.
One funny story related to the gold and black uniforms involved Troy’s first game in the fall of 1945 with Dayton Kiser. Coach Kaz was all set to introduce his team in the new uniforms (a home game), but Kiser’s colors were also gold and black. Coach Kazmeier tried to get Kiser to wear alternate jerseys, but Kiser stated they had none. Likewise, since they were new to Troy, there were no alternates for the Trojans. Kiser basically stated they were wearing their colors or not coming. Seeing the contest as important since it was the only “warmup” before Miami Valley League games began, Kaz relented and the Trojans donned their old purple and white jerseys for the first game of the season.
I am still searching for information, but the succeeding years get a little fuzzy. Troy wore the yellow and black for at least three years, then the uniform took on a distinctive change in appearance. Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine specific colors since all the old photos are in black and white.
Dick Calvert, another Troy alumnus and longtime Trojan, recalled the uniforms about 1949-1950 becoming red and black. It appears the move to scarlet and gray was possibly in the works for several years. As early as 1946, with the players uniforms being gold and black, the band members received new caps, which were black with red trim.
Despite some of the mixture and confusion of those couple years, it is known that the student body of Troy High School took a vote during the 1950-1951 school year and decided to officially change school colors to scarlet and gray. The team was already wearing the red and black and may have already transitioned to some gray as well. Moreover, in the fall of 1951, the cheerleaders donned their new scarlet and gray outfits for the football season.
Why did the students change the colors? I am not sure if there is anyone still around who really knows. But, officially, Troy High colors have been scarlet and gray since 1950-51. The 2020-21 school year will celebrate 70 years of scarlet and gray.
John Fulker, as a loyal Buckeye fan, loves those colors, but stated that as far as he’s concerned, purple and white is still old Troy High’s colors of preference.
Patrick D. Kennedy is archivist at the Troy-Miami County Public Library’s Local History Library, 100 W. Main St., Troy. He may be contacted by calling (937) 335-4082 or sending an email to email@example.com