Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
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"Hazel didn't feel like she needed a man," said Francies Garroutte, 77, of Cabot, who played for the Travelers all 16 years of the team's existence. Garroutte and Walker took turns driving, booking games and handling business, carting their portable typewriter everywhere. According to Garroutte, the Travelers were too focused on basketball to be bothered with roadside attractions. "We had to get to the games, and we had to be on time," she said.
Walker couldn't entirely escape her era, and maybe she didn't want to. Like the Red Heads, the Travelers "did not go out in public unless you were dressed right, hair and make-up fixed," Garroutte said. "Hazel was a high class lady. She believed you could look like a woman, act like a woman, and play ball like a man."
But the Travelers weren't hired exactly like men. "I selected my players for morals, character, neatness, looks and most of all ability," Walker told the Arkansas Democrat in 1950. "We stress good basketball. You've got to if you want to go back next year. ... We do pull stunts. We mix one into each quarter, and it takes only a few seconds." Newton explains this as Hazel "understanding her times. She knew that ultimately, they were an entertainment entity. They were charting new territory. There had never been a professional basketball team owned by a woman, traveling alone, without men." Walker didn't want the Travelers to play without her, so in 1965 at age 51, she dissolved the team. She lived in Little Rock until she died in 1990.
In 1954 Olson finally sold the team to his favorite Red Heads coach, a ginger-haired man from Caraway. Orwell Moore, the team's second and final owner, was born in 1917 and had been a teen-age baseball star with aspirations of joining the St. Louis Cardinals. But after two bouts of tuberculosis, he channeled his passion into teaching at a one-room school in Hancock (Craighead County). When he was 26, he ended up falling in love with a sassy 14-year-old student named Lorene. They moved to Cotter, where the high school didn't allow married students and it certainly didn't allow them to play ball. But Lorene was an extraordinary athlete, and Moore threatened to resign if she was banned from classes or basketball. After Lorene graduated high school, the couple joined the Red Heads — Moore as a coach and Lorene as a player. Lorene played for 12 years, scoring more than 35,000 points and becoming the team's greatest all-time scorer.
In 1959, they had a daughter. "I was born into the Red Heads," Tammy Moore Harrison said. "I just thought everybody had a whole bunch of girls hanging around all the time that played ball and stayed at your house." When she was too young for school, she traveled in the team station wagon. She considered the players her older sisters, only better, because they were celebrities. When they pulled up to the evening's venue, people would crowd the vehicle to meet them.
Much later, in the '70s, the Red Heads trained at Camp Courage — 350 acres of forest in Holly Springs, Miss., with two lakes, cabins and a mess hall. Moore bought the camp and poured concrete over an area larger than a football field, put up goals and created multiple basketball courts. The Red Heads also coached the young campers, girls from 10 to 18 who came from all over the country to spend a few weeks learning basketball. Sometimes college-aged women came as well, in the hopes that they would be hired as Red Heads.
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