“You never saw anybody more excited than I was that night at the railroad station in Beaumont, Texas, back in February 1930. Here I was, just a little old high-school girl, wanting to be a big athlete. And now I was getting a chance to go with an insurance company in Dallas and play on their basketball team in the women’s national championships.
It was an overnight sleeper trip to Dallas, about 275 miles from Beaumont. To me, that was like going to Europe. I’d never been more than a few miles away from home in my life. I’d hardly ever been so dressed up, either, I was wearing the blue silk dress with box pleats that I’d made in school, and won a prize with at the Texas State Fair. I had on my patent leather shoes, and socks, and the little hat I’d got for graduation exercises at junior high school. I was carrying a black patent leather purse. It had my entire fortune in it the $3.49 change from the money they’d given me to buy the railroad tickets.
My dad was traveling with me. I took the tipper berth and Poppa took the lower. He propped himself up with his newspaper and started puffing away on his big black pipe, the way he always did at home. For a while there they thought that Pullman car was on fire.
In Dallas the next morning Col. M. J. McCombs, the man who was in charge of the basketball team, met us at the station with the big yellow Cadillac he used for driving the girls around to games. He had a redcap take our bags and put them in the car, and then tipped him a quarter.
I said to Poppa, ‘Look at that! He gets a quarter just for carrying those bags out. Man, I’d like to get me a job like that!’
I bet I’ve traveled a couple of million miles since then, competing all around the United States and in other parts of the world, but that first trip was the start of everything. Even then I had other ideas besides playing basketball.”
– Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who would become a star in golf, basketball, baseball, and track and field. She won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Summer Olympics, 10 LPGA major championships.
“Babe Didrikson Zaharias quote about her childhood” sources:
“This Life I’ve Led by Babe Didrikson Zaharias / Photograph taken in 1947 – National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, NPG.97.211