Sunday, May 7, 2017

Scrapbook #2 – The Great White Hope – The end of the story

A few years ago, I shared a photo of my grandfather, Sig Levy, when he was in Ben Lomond in 1910 while Jim Jeffries trained for his upcoming fight against Jack Johnson.  You can read about it HERE.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Now that you’re caught up, I’ll catch you up even more.  At that time I wondered if my grandfather had been there when Jim Jeffries was there and if the two men had met.  I didn’t think I’d ever know the answer to that question.

Until today.  When I found this in Sig’s scrapbook.

Great White Hope

By now my readers have it etched in their minds that Sig was a pretty short fellow, which makes it easy to pick him out in a crowd.  And there, front and center, was Sig holding the Raisin Day sign.  And towering over Sig is Jim Jeffries himself, the Great White Hope!

The caption reads: Taken Exclusively for Republican by Pictorial News. Co, New York City.  Reading from left to right:  Al Quadros, Wick Adams, a New York enthusiast; Billy Papke, Sigmund Levy, James J. Jeffries.

My question has been answered – looks like Sig and Jim met after all.  And while Jim Jeffries was in the original photo I posted previously, I had no way of knowing that was him.  But now I do!

Sig 1910 Ben Lomond Close up

The article goes on to say:

James J. Jeffries, he of fight fame, is now a confirmed Raisin Day booster.  Within the confines of his beautiful training camp at Ben Lomond, Jeffries is munching raisins, and as he eats, he thinks of Fresno from whence came this dainty morsel.

When the Raisin Day campaign was first inaugurated, Jeffries and Johnson were both sent a box of raisins.  Jeffries replied by wire thanking the committee for remembering him, but thus far Johnson has failed in any way to acknowledge receipt of the fruit.  So good did the raisins taste to the big champion that before many suns had passed over his head, the box was empty and big Jim went around with a longing look on his big physiognomy.

That longing look was seen down in Fresno, where the raisins grow, and within a very short while another box of raisins was on its way to Ben Lomond, in the custody of Sigmund Levy of the Republican.  Levy journeyed into camp one fine day last week, his little frame staggering under the big load of raisins he was carrying.

Jeff is often cranky, but when he saw Levy straining under the big box of raisins, his heart grew light and his face beamed with joy, for behold! he was to once more enjoy raisins.  Jeffries is sometimes very cranky about posing for pictures, but when Levy told him what he wanted, the big fellow was right in the game.  In the picture shown, Jeffries has in his hand a  bunch of raisins brought to him by Levy last Thursday.

“Jeff says the raisins that have been given him by the Raisin committee are the finest he ever ate,” declared Levy after the presentation.  “He further says he likes them and that he eats them all the time.  His trainers also eat them and enjoy them, for they say they are most nourishing.

In addition to the advertising given the Raisin Day committee by the receipt of a box of raisins by Jeffries, R.E. Taylor, representing the American Press Association, who is furnishing this Association with all the pictures of Jeffries, has sent out pictures of Jeffries receiving the choice fruit to the 4000 papers which this Association serves.

On the front porch of Jeffries’ quarters hangs a Raisin Day poster for the gaze of all who come to his camp to see him train, and Jeffries himself is a walking advertisement of Raisin Day, for there is seldom a minute during the day that he does not have a bunch of raisins in his hand when he is not otherwise occupied.

So now we have the end of the story – my grandfather didn’t just meet Jim Jeffries, he presented him with raisins and had a picture taken with him to prove it!


  1. With his little frame staggering! Ha - what a line. I've never heard of anyone loving raisins that much. Maybe Fresno raisins were not the dried little knots that Sun-Maid sells.

    1. I don't like any raisins - I must have missed that gene.

  2. I love raisins alone or on cereal, but hate them cooked, whether in cookies, cake, or other foods. Glad you found the answer to your question!