Dods, John P., 1902-1905

John Pallisier Dods was a member of the Phillips Academy class of 1905, joining in the 10th grade in the fall of 1902. Born in Silver Creek, New York, in 1881, to Dr. A. Wilson Dods, he lived on East Main Street in Fredonia, New York, and was an avid member of the track team.

The scrapbook that Dods kept is in excellent condition. It is a blue felt binder with blue pages, with a deteriorating white “A” on the inside cover, presumably earned for serving as a varsity athlete. There seem to be no signs of decay aside from the “A”, and adhesives have not deteriorated. There are multiple envelopes containing newspaper clippings about the track team inside the scrapbook. Photos are glued to nearly every blue page, along with caption and context, and are well organized. Many of these photos are sports-related, often with multiple pictures showing Dods in the same track race. There are also many photos of Dods’s teammates, particularly those on the intramural football team. Furthermore, there are photos from 1902 and before that show Dods’s vacations and trips around the world, which Dods probably took himself. Although the scrapbook contains very many sports-related photos and newspaper clippings, there is little else shown.

Dods was a crucial member of the track team. He specialized in the Mile, for which he was Andover’s fastest runner. According to his scrapbook, one of his major successes came during his 10th-grade year, at the 1903 Yale Interscholastic Track Meet, the second edition of the annual event. Dods earned a close third-place finish in the Mile to a Mercersburg runner, who won the race, and a Lawrenceville runner, who finished second. According to a newspaper article which Dods kept in his scrapbook, “It was one of the most interesting events of the day as Magroffin of Mercersburg who won it was hard pushed for his place all the way to the finish.

Considering the very fast men that Dods had against him, he certainly did well in getting third place.” Considering Magroffin clocked a time of 4:44.8 minutes, Dods could most likely run the mile in about 4:46-4:48. To put this into context, Dods would likely have been fast enough to be a mid-pack runner on the 2017 Andover Varsity Cross Country team. In addition, Dods appeared in the track team photo at the 1903 Andover-Exeter dual meet.

In addition, Dods liked football. He appears in the Commons Football teams in multiple editions of the yearbook, and his scrapbook contains many pictures of teammates in football gear. However, this was probably an intramural team, as there are few pictures of the Commons Football teams in the Pot Pourri yearbooks, and no mention of him in the Andover/Exeter football matches, as there would be for the varsity team.
Standing at 5’10’’ tall and 165 pounds, Dods must have been a comparatively stocky runner for his event, and yet not big enough to play on the varsity football team. (For comparison, milers of his height generally weigh about 140 pounds.)

Dods also liked photography. The numerous photos in his scrapbook attest to this. Some of these photographs he took himself, on vacation or of family, while other photos are pictures that other people have taken of him. He served as the secretary of the Camera Club at Andover during his 10th grade year, which he appears to have helped founded, as the Camera Club did not exist during the 1901-1902 edition of Pot Pourri. However, although the Camera Club continued into the 1904 edition of Pot Pourri, Dods no longer appeared on the board, implying that he probably left the club.

After Andover, Dods aimed to attend Cornell University. The NCAA was founded in March 1906, when Dods would already have been in college, so it is unlikely that Dods was recruited to college for his track success. Whether he was accepted or attended isn’t clear.
Dods did not do much on campus. Aside from sports and a brief stint in the Camera Club, he does not demonstrate any other interests, according to his scrapbook and the Pot Pourri yearbooks. His 11th grade yearbook mentions him almost solely for track-related features.

It appears that John P. Dods was a very unpopular student, and especially that he was conceited about his success as a track runner. In fact, in the 1904 edition of Pot Pourri, Dods was the hands-down winner of the “Thinks He Is Best Athlete” award, with 35 votes, while the runner-up had just 14. He also won the “Thinks He Is Best Winner” award, with 17 votes. Dods was nominated for the award of “Most Conceited” with 6 votes, tying him for 5th place, and “Windiest” (i.e. talks a lot but never says anything important), with 2 votes, for 9th place. Dods only earned 2 votes for “Best Athlete”, one of which may have been his own, so his boastfulness may well have been unmerited. This was his only positive superlative. Dods apparently made his exploits on the track a little too-well-known to his peers.

He may not have graduated as he does not appear in the 1905 Pot Pourri yearbook except for mentions of his 11th grade track success. Furthermore, the scrapbook does not contain any photos which indicate that he held any sort of senior-year presence at the school at all. I couldn’t find a reason for the details behind his departure from the school, however, it’s possible that his unpopularity with his classmates was a major driving factor.

by Jacob Buehler, class of 2019

Scrapbook Box 118