The Taylor young ladies, when they reached teenage, proved to be endowed with exceptional athletic ability. Bess recalls that field hockey was brought to this country from England in 1901 by Miss Constance Applebee, who still resides at the age of one hundred and three years in her native England. She introduced the sport to Vasser College.
There was a hockey club in Haddonfield in 1906 before there was a high school team. Playing on the town club were Elizabeth Remington, Dorothy Remington, (Mrs. John Marter’s mother), Peg Trons Bryson, Louisa Clement (Betty Lenhart’s mother, who all made the All Philadelphia team), Marion Furness, Ella Long, Gert Bergen, Reba Cawley, and the three Taylor girls.
Reba was the captain of the team (her sister was Miss Anna Cawkey who was the librarian at the Haddonfield Free Library for years).
The team was in the Philadelphia Associatin Teams that came to Haddonfield to play games were from Merion, Germantown, and Philadelphia Cricket Clubs. The athletic field was at the dead end of Eucleid avenue on Sam Wood’s farm in the vicinity of the YMCA building.
Bess recalls that the Philadelphia teams coming to town to play had a low regard for the Haddonfield field after their own beautiful fields.
Bess and Anne Clement in 1909 which was their senior year in high school finally persuaded the Principal Mr. Dechant, to permit the girls to start a hockey team and Bess believes that the Haddonfield and Moorestown High Schools was the first public schools to the United States to have hockey.
The high school girls were allowed to play club teams as well as high school contests. The Taylor girls made the All-Philadelphia teams that were chosen each year and that was as far as the awards went then. Miss Bess taught physical education at Woodbury High School for thirty-five years where her hockey coaching produced many successful seasons. At Gloucester she also taught for four years prior to her tenure in Woodbury, and for four years after, before her retirement Miss Stella was the lifeguard at the Mountwell Pool and during the summers there she taught eighty percent of Haddonfield’s young and old to swim. Bess and her sister, Sara were a fine ladies double tennis team representing the Haddonfield Club for years, in the early 1920’s.
The Taylor girls were a part of Haddonfield’s
past that must not be forgotten. In their hey day they wre unique
with their athletic abilities and they added color to Haddonfield that
otherwise never would have existed.
It all started on a summer day in Boston back in 1901.
Constance Mary Kathryn Applebee of Burley, England, was attending a physical education seminar for women at Harvard. She was appalled to learn that games such as Musical Chairs and Drop the Hankerchief were considered the fitting sports for young American ladies.
When asked what was played in London, Miss Applebee produced some sticks and a ball and introduced field hockey to this continent. The response was enthusiastic, and within three years she had taught the game at such exclusive schools as Vassar, Smith, Radcliffe, Holyoke, and Bryn Mawr.
The lady they affectionately called “The Apple” became an American citizen and single-handedly developed the sport into a national game, serving in some capacity until “retiring for the last tiem in 1971” at the age of 97.
She spent the last 10 years of her life in retirement back home in Burley, where she died last week at the age of 107.
Although nearly blind, she lived alone and remained independent until her death. A broken hip, suffered last March, hindered here activity. But she still managed to spend time in her garden, according to friends.
During her more than 65 years as “temporary coach” at Bryn Mawr, Miss Applebee was years ahead of her time. She battled her more conservative colleagues, who frowned upon development of women physically.
She was named director of outdoor sports at Bryn Mawr in 1904, when she was 31 years old. In 1906 she was appointed physical education director and in 1909 she organized a health department.
The outspoken leader left Bryn Mawr on a leave of absence in 1928 but stayed on unofficially until her doctors talked her into “slowing down” in 1969 when she was 95.
“I remember her running the length of the field to show a girl how to do it.” Recalled Meredith Scott, Triton High’s coach. “that was at a clinic 17 years ago and Miss Applebee was 90 years old.”
Asked once if she had any secret formula for her longevity, Applebee said, “No, I’m just healthy, that’s all.”
“She was a wonderful person.” Recalled Ethlyn Davis Myers, who worked closely with Applebee. “She was always a lady.”
Applebee also “coached” square dancing, was active in a Christian movement and supported college students in the then-radical proposal for publication of a newspaper.
She founded the United States Field Hockey Association and later produced and edited a magazine “The Sportswoman.”
She spent her winters in Virginia, where she helped develop field hockey at William & Mary.
In 1923, Applebee opened the famed Teqawitha Hockey Camp, and operated it through 1965. During that 42-year stretch, “The Apple” coached virtually every top field hockey player in America.
Sarah and Bess Taylor were among her early pupils, and the two Haddonfield sisters combined to bring the sport into South Jersey.
“She said I was her oldest friend.” Said Bess Taylor, now 90 years old. “That’s for two reasons. She knew me longer and I lasted longer than most.
“She was very outspoken,” continued Miss Taylor. “She scared some people to death. But everyone who knew here was touched by her. She had a lot of class.”
Her influence helped make the Delaware Valley the field hockey capital of the country and her style of coaching made a lasting impression on South Jersey’s finest.
“Without her,” Bess Taylor said, referring to Applebee’s early push for women’s right to participate in athletics, “we wouldn’t be the same as we are now.”
The list of those she coached reads like a page form the hockey hall-of-fame. Bea Thomas, Bea Markwich, Jeanne Kline, Ellie Kind, Claire Harden, Bert Allen, Topsey Mutchler, Dianne Wright, Jane Kennedy, betty Miller, Bert Nolan, Marie Gimmi, Vonnie Gros, Ellen Sayers, Emma Mutchler, Duby Pratt, Dotty Woodward, Claria Allen, Nonie Schumacher, Ethlyn Myers, Pearl Kowalski, Phillis Stadler, Loraine Styles, Floss Brudon, Mary Rice, Manny Porter and Joan Maguet and many others learned the game under Applebee before beginning long careers coaching hin South Jersey.
Year after year athletes from Woodbury, Collingswood, Audubon, Haddon Heights and Merchantville high schools were regulars at Applebee’s camp.
“She always wore a brown tunic with a yellow sash,” recalled Klein, “and heavy brown cotton stockings. I’ll never forget her, or what she taught us.
“If she was unhappy with your play, she ordered you off the field. I showed up one day with new, maroon velvet bloomers and thought I was doing pretty good until she yelled, “You, with the purple panties, off the field.”
“You never knew when “The Apple” was going to show up at your session,” said Joan Maquet. “You never knew when to dress inconspicuously. It paid not to wear anything bright which would attract her attention.”
“If you did a very stupid thing,” recalled Bess Taylor, “you were invited right off the field.”
It was a favorite tactic, one which commanded attention. Often six or seven players would be lined up along the sideline.
“If you didn’t meet her standards of team play, you would end up playing alone against the other team,” said Ellen Sayers.
“It was you against 11 and an embarrassing lesson you never forgot.”
“It was an honor, really,” said Klien, “to be ordered off the field. It meant you were good enough to be noticed.”
“Once,” recalled Bea Markwich, “I made a nice dodge and failed to pass. I had to explain that she had told the left inner to stand over on the sideline.”
“She was one of a kind,” recalled Claire Harden, retired Holy Cross coach. “She had an awful name for everybody. She could rally cut you down, but she would give you her right arm if you needed it.”
“I don’t imagine anyone ever called her Connie,” continued Markwick. “She commanded respect.”
“The only player who could get away with anything was Ellie Kind. If she did something wrong, she would cry out in anguish and Miss Applebee would end up consoling her. Floss Brondon and I could never understand it, because it didn’t work for us.”
“She was always bigger than life,” said Maquel. “But one year we had a hurricane knock out our water supply and we had to bathe in the lake. I’ll never forget “The Apple” floating in an inner tube with a bar of soap. It was reassuring to know she was one of us.”
Funeral services will be held Tuesday in the Burley Village Church, with Ethlyn Davis Myers representing the South Jersey contingent in England.
Memorial services are planned later at Bryn Mawr. “A memorial fund is planned.” Mrs. Myers said.
There was only on Constance M.K. Applebee.
A Truly amazing woman, she influenced countless people over her 107 years.
She also left with us the sport of field hockey, insuring that her memory
will live forever.
||Days of Yore Homepage|