Raymond "Dutch"' Peck

Raymond "Dutch"' Peck, captain of a Penn basketball team that won the national championship 100 years ago.

The NCAA canceled March Madness because of viral distress. The Scribbler has a minor fix for disappointed basketball fans.

The University of Pennsylvania alumni magazine’s current edition carries an article about the national basketball title Penn won 100 years ago. The captain of that team, Raymond “Dutch” Peck, later became an Armstrong Cork Co. executive.

Bill Mehler is a Penn graduate. He shared the alumni magazine with Gene Moore, who gave it to the Scribbler. Both are Armstrong retirees who live at Homestead Village.

The Penn Quakers had won every game they played to win the Eastern Intercollegiate championship. That set up a March 1920 contest for the national title with the University of Chicago, the Western Intercollegiate champs.

Penn lost the first game 28-24 in Chicago but won the second 29-18 in Philadelphia. The third game was played on a neutral court at Princeton, New Jersey. Penn led 23-13 with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Chicago rallied with eight unchallenged points, but “Dutch” Peck’s team held on to win by the skin of its teeth, 23-21.

Moore says Henning Prentis, then Armstrong president, recruited Peck, a Washington, D.C., native, for Armstrong’s first training class. Peck spent 42 years at the company, retiring in 1963 as vice president and general manager of the building materials operation.

He died in 1973.

Last local slave

“Uncle Billy” Adams was the last ex-slave to die in Lancaster.

After escaping from bondage in 1863, Adams worked at several adventurous jobs before settling in Lancaster County. He died in 1955. He was 110 years old.

According to his obituary, Adams was a gracious and quiet-spoken man with a clever sense of humor. Asked once why his memory was so sharp at such an advanced age, he replied, “Well, I just never wore it out tending to other people’s business.”

He was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1845, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. He said one slave master sold his parents to another when he was 10 years old and then he fled to freedom.

“One day I walked off and came north,” he told a reporter. “The hounds followed me, but I rubbed onions on my shoes and got away from them.”

While working for a circus and on the railroad, Adams traveled the country for decades. He came to this area about 1925 and settled in Landisville. He helped build the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge in 1930.

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Snavely befriended Adams in Landisville, eventually provided his living quarters and remained at his bedside as he died.

Local newspapers periodically printed his recollections. He said he had watched part of the battle of Antietam in 1862 “until someone run me off” the battlefield.

Adams said his wife had died early in the 20th century. He also said he had fathered nine children, the oldest of whom would have been about 80 when Adams died. He had not seen any of them in many years.

“I just lost track of them,” he said.

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Wednesday. He welcomes comments and contributions at scribblerlnp@gmail.com.