Photo: Elta Cartwright in action: photo from the Times-Standard article below.
EUREKA -- A new exhibit at the Clarke Memorial Museum commemorates local 1920's sports star Elta Cartwright.
At a time when girls were first being allowed to play school team sports, Cartwright joined and became captain of the Eureka High School girls track team. At first the girls had to wear bloomers, but later they switched to shorts.
"Elta quickly began making a name for herself and for Eureka at local, state and national track meets, bringing home many medals and trophies. She went on to continued track stardom at Humboldt State," said Pam Service, curator of the Clarke Memorial Museum.
On July 4, 1928, Cartwright attended the Olympic team tryouts in Newark, N.J. There she took three firsts in the 50-yard dash, the 100-meter dash and the running broad jump. Her performance was so impressive, Service said, that she became the first woman to be selected for that year's U.S. Olympic team.
"One newspaper," she said, "called her 'the best woman athlete in the U.S.'"
A few weeks later, Cartwright and her teammates set sail for Amsterdam and the ninth Olympic games. Debilitating seasickness prevented Cartwright from bringing home any Olympics medals, but she returned to a rousing welcome -- with a decorated train, a grand parade, parties and public appearances.
"She was still Humboldt County's local girl makes good," Service said.
Recently, Cartwright and her family donated many momentos of her athletic career to the museum. Included in this exhibit are photographs, trophies, medals and sourvenirs of the Olympics and of the European tour she and teammates made after the close of the games. Highlighted are "Welcome Home" banners and the key to the city presented by Eureka's mayor to the returning heroine.
The exhibit will run through this year's Olympic season. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. The Clarke Memorial Museum is located and Third and E streets in Eureka. Admission is free. For more information call 443-1947.
Thurs, May 25, 2000