Early Sunday evening I decided to drive over to the East side and make a visit to Jim Thorpe’s memorial and monument to get a sense of the place without many people around and for a short respite from drenching humidity in an air-conditioned car.
While the granite that entombs Thorpe’s body is carved with images of his athletic feats and displays King Gustav of Sweden’s quote at the 1912 Olympics, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world,” what struck me was Thorpe’s carved face atop his football statue. I wondered what he would say about the burial controversy and his son’s lawsuit to bring his body back to Oklahoma.
Jack Thorpe may believe his father’s spirit can’t rest unless he’s buried in Oklahoma, however, according to a May 29, 1957 Jim Thorpe Times News article, the folks of Jim Thorpe took great care in their perpetual tribute. The Jim Thorpe Memorial Mausoleum Committee not only brought earth from the Prague, Oklahoma farm where Thorpe was born, but also soil from Saupula, Oklahoma, the Polo Grounds (the former home of the New York Giants, where Thorpe played), the pitching mound of Indian Field at the Carlisle Indian School, as well as the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden where Thorpe won the decathlon and pentathlon.
I don’t presume to know what Jim Thorpe would have thought and with all due respect to his son’s beliefs, this tree surrounded memorial on Joe Boyle Circle exudes peace and honor.