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Eddie Morris -- World’s Fastest Schoolboy

A LOOK BACK

Our longtime resident Orville Hanson stopped by to let me know

that the Huntington Beach Bullet had passed away.

If you were around here in the late 1930s you would instantly know

who Orville was speaking about.

That was only one of the many nicknames that was given to

Huntington Beach High’s Eddie Morris by his fellow classmates and the

national media.

Edward E. “Eddie” Morris was born in St. Louis, Missouri on Aug.

9, 1922.

When Eddie was 8 years old in 1930, the family moved west to

settle in Long Beach.

Young Eddie attended Grant Elementary School in north Long Beach

and it was there, when Eddie was in the sixth grade, that he first

noticed that he could outrun his boyhood friends in neighborhood

races.

After graduating from grammar school the Morris family moved to

Pomona where Eddie attended junior high.

In 1936 the family moved again. It was this move that brought the

Morris family to Huntington Beach.

Eddie’s father went to work as an driller for Petrol Oil Co. in

our oil fields.

Both Eddie and his brother Carl attended Huntington Beach High.

During Eddie’s first two years there he was looked upon by his fellow

classmates as a bit of a playboy, but he settled down in his last two

years there.

When he was a freshman in the fall of 1936, coaching legend Harry

“Cap” Sheue spotted Eddie’s talents during gym classes and

transferred him to the school’s track squad in the spring of 1937.

During that year Eddie, as a Class B contestant, won every

100-yard and 220-yard dash in the Sunset League and the California

Interscholastic Federation or CIF.

This would begin his long tradition of holding records and would

bring fame to his high school, for it seems he was breaking one

record after another while at Huntington High.

As a varsity contestant in 1938 Eddie would continue to win every

100-and 220-yard dash he entered.

During district CIF trials in Long Beach in early May of 1939,

Morris not only tied the record for the 100-yard dash in 9.7 seconds,

but captured the 200-yard dash in 21.3 seconds for a new furlong

record.

He would go on to compete against sprinters from Compton High,

Long Beach Poly and Woodrow Wilson High.

During the Compton Invitational meet on June 2, 1939 Eddie ran

against his rival from Stanford, Clyde Jeffrey, who was known as the

“world’s fastest human.” Jeffrey won that race, but he really had to

work at it for a time of 20.7 seconds.

In 1940 it was the same old story for Eddie.

At the March 1940 Sunset League’s annual Relay Meet Eddie’s team

won first with a time of 3.37.1 seconds thanks to Eddie.

Also during the month of March, Eddie won both the 100 and

220-yard dashes at Compton High with a time of 9.7 for the 100- and

21.2 for the 220-yard dash.

By now Eddie had twice won the All-American Interscholastic

rating.

His records were piling up at Huntington High and putting the

little school on the map.

In April 1940 Eddie ran the 440-yard dash against Newport Harbor

High School’s fastest sprinters and ran a time of 49.4 seconds nearly

breaking the official record of 49 seconds.

Before and after each dash Eddie would get a rubdown from Bob

Henry, whose father owned a dance hall here in Huntington Beach.

The May 1, 1940 race for the national interscholastic 220-yard

dash had Eddie breaking Jesse Owens record by 1/10 of a second for

a time of 20.6 seconds.

He also ran the 100-yard dash for a time of 9.5 seconds and an

unofficial time of 9.4 seconds, Marcus Howard told me.

He was now considered the “fastest schoolboy sprinter in the

world.”

Not bad for a 17-year-old kid from Huntington Beach who was just

under 6-feet tall and 175 pounds who preferred steak to any food.

Eddie continued to compete and win.

At the Visalia race against Bakersfield in June 1940 he set a

record time of 20.6 for the 200-meter dash.

After graduation from Huntington High in June 1940, Eddie attended

Santa Ana College and then USC. He became a four-time All-American in

track.

Eddie would be a natural for the 1940 Olympics.

But then World War II came along and the Olympics were canceled.

Eddie served in the Army in the South Pacific and was wounded in

the leg.

Howard also told me that Eddie was best man at his wedding to

Arline Huff.

Eddie was married twice, the first time to Naomi Stinson, Howard

said.

Eddie later served in the Air Force during the Korean War. During

the war he fell and injured his knees.

He received two purple hearts, one in each war, but it was the

wars that damaged his knees forever.

Eddie had four children -- Clare, Caralee, Casey and Christopher.

His son Christopher died in 1972.

In 1990 Eddie moved up to Vancouver, Wash. to live and it was

there, on June 24, 2002 that the fastest schoolboy passed away.

When coach Sheue was alive, he once said of Eddie was born fast.

When Huntington High has its reunion at Lake Park on Sunday there

will be fond memories of Eddie and maybe a tear or two shed for the

fastest schoolboy Huntington Beach High has ever produced.

* JERRY PERSON is a local historian and longtime Huntington

Beach resident. If you have ideas for future columns, write him at

P.O. Box 7182, Huntington Beach, CA 92615.


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