05: SWINGING ON A C, 1944.

Welcome to the first Wednesday of 28 in 28.

When I was thinking about how to do this project, one of the things I definitely wanted to do was create some ideas that would kind of be unusual for what we presume soccer club badges could be. I wanted to reference sources that one might look at and go "Wha?" What better day to try something "Wha?" than Wednesday? We could call it "Wha Wednesday", I suppose.

With that in mind, this one took some work. My premise for this one is what if the Columbus Crew hadn't played their first match in 1996, but in 1896. Let's imagine that the Crew have been a team in Columbus with a history similar to soccer clubs in Europe and South America that mark the beginning of their histories around the turn of the 20th Century, rather than the 21st Century. Let's also imagine that, during that time, soccer was as popular as baseball, and the two sports were thought of as America's Pastime A, and America's Pastime B. The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds were the big sports in their corners of Ohio, and right square in the middle of the state the Columbus Crew were the main thing going. People from all over knew that Columbus was a soccer town in the 1910s, 1920s, through the Great Depression of the 1930s, and into the war years of the 1940s.

Picture what it's now like in, say, 1944. Times are getting better, but it's still terribly hard for so many of us to make a go of it, as the country struggles through a horrible economy, and then the war; but the soccer is great. Our team plays some strong, midwestern soccer, loaded with players who grew up in and around Ohio, and a handful of dazzling imports from Mexico and South America. The Crew are known around the world. Heck, Jim Thorpe once played a season for the Crew in 1915. And Jesse Owens can often be seen around the pitch whenever he's back in Columbus, talking to the coaches and the players.

And it's still pretty cheap to go watch the "Golden Boys" (as they've been called since winning the domestic league 4 consecutive years in the mid 30s). Moms and dads give a nickel to let their kid on weekends go to the Columbus Crew Soccer Grounds, situated on a large flat meadow just off of Hudson Avenue near the fairgrounds. To the south, one can barely see downtown from the grandstands at the soccer grounds, but the American Insurance Union Citadel, built only 20 years earlier, rises high above the city. It's one of the tallest buildings in the world, and the well-to-do business men and politicians travel north from beneath its shadow on match days to watch the Crew play, too. Sometimes even Governor Bricker shows his mug around here when he's not campaigning for vice-president—which is rare and we all know President Roosevelt's going to win, anyway.

The colors are Gold and Black, or Black and Gold, depending on which side of the stadium one sits (it's a long story). And then there's the badge. What a badge we got. It was redesigned this year when the new chairman of the club decided it was a good time to change things up, particularly since the new investors from The Barbasol Company have decided they wanted to advertise all over the old soccer grounds, and maybe even finance a new stadium. That's the rumor, anyway. At least, that's what some waitress at the Blue Danube told me.

So, with The Barbasol Company in the mix, the board decided to offer a commission to Mr. E. Simms Campbellthe graphic artist who's been doing a swell job with the advertisements for Barbasol we see in Life and Look and Harper's magazines. All the fellas use Barbasol, mostly because like the advertisements say, the gals like it, too. So, Mr. Campbell shows up one day from New York City and he's got this design that just blows everyone's socks off. It's a girl, and she's wearing a Crew uniform, and sitting on big letter C with a soccer ball, and—well, how about I just show you...

I think it's pretty safe to say that the board and the Barbasol people fell in love at first sight. Airmen overseas have been painting our new badge on their B-17s, we hear. Someone started singing that new Bing Crosby tune, "Swinging on a Star" when they saw it, and now we sing it all the time during the matches—except we sing "swinging on a C." Pretty clever, huh? But boy oh boy, is this badge different than our plain old English-style "C" that the Crew had for 40 years.

But it's a new time. Hopefully the war ends soon, and we can get back to worrying about fighting off relegation, instead of fighting off Nazis. Be Massive, ya bums.