By Tom Haller from an interview with Wilma Dilcher Messel

Forrest Messel moved to Dogtown from Terre Haute, IN after he left the U.S. Army Air Corps after WW II. Shortly thereafter Forrest married my distant cousin, Wilma Dilcher (Messel). We video taped Wilma for the Dogtown archives a few months ago, as you will recall.

Wilma told an interesting story during the interview. As most of us who grew up in Dogtown in the 50's, 60's and 70's will recall Forrest Messel was one of THE highly involved youth athletic coaches in those years. He was so involved in Dogtown happenings he was elected Mayor of Dogtown in 1989 for the annual St. Patrick's Day parade. Wilma related on how the Congo's teams got started. The Congo's were sponsored by Memorial Congregational Church, United Church of Christ. ( The pet name for member's of the denomination formerly known as Congregationalist from which the Pilgrims came from was Congo's. Thus, the athletic team names.) I'm telling this story as Wilma reiterated it because it is very informative of the way things were in Dogtown in the 1950's. Wilma said that shortly after she married Forrest, who loved athletics and coaching, Forrest started coaching CYC teams for St. James. He did it so well that somewhere in the mid-1950's he was voted CYC Coach/Manager Of The Year. However, when it was found out he was not Catholic but instead attended Memorial Congregational Church they refused to give him the CYC Coach Of The Year award. This did not set well with him for obvious reasons so he petitioned Memorial Congregational Church to sponsor teams and thus, the Congo's were born.

Many a young male from Dogtown grew up playing for the numerous Congo's teams in the 50's 60's and 70's.


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Bob Corbett