Biography - Alston, Virgil

Virgil Alston, a native of Darrtown, achieved acclaim as a track star at Miami University, served in World War II, and became a successful commercial artist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

Virgil was the son of Stanley "Doc" Alston and Anna Mae (Bufler) Alston.

 

Virgil's father, Stanley, was a brother to Emmons Alston, who was the father of Walter "Smokey" Alston.

 

Thus, Virgil Alston was a first-cousin of Walter Alston, baseball's Hall of Fame manager.

 

Virgil was the brother of Betty Mae (Alston) Martin and the uncle of Betty's son, Rick Martin.

 

Rick Martin, a life-long resident of Darrtown contributed many of the items that appear on this page.

Virgil Alston

Virgil Alston - a born artist!

 

From an early age, it was obvious that Virgil Alston had a special talent as an artist. People of his era recall young Virgil frequently walking around Darrtown, with drawing pad and pencils in hand, sketching various individuals and local scenes. The following art pieces are examples of Virgil Alston's artistic abilities.

Teenager, Virgil Alston, honors his cousin with illustration

 

Virgil Alston was 15 years old when he created the

illustration that appears at the right. The subject of this 1937 piece is Virgil's cousin, Walter "Smokey" Alston.

 

 

Darrtown native, Ron Wiley contributed this item to the Darrtown website, in September 2012.

 

 

The image at the right is a reduction of the original drawing, which measured about 12x18 inches.

 

 

The captions that appear in the drawing are difficult to read in this reduced image; therefore, they are listed in the section that follows.

1. By Virg Alston ~ 15 yrs. ~ March 1937

2. Smokey is 6 ft. 2 and 195 lbs.

3. Walter Smokey Alston ~ St. Louis Cardinals rookie - after a brief stay in the minors - Greenwood, Miss. and Huntington, W. Va., Walter was called up to the Gas House Gang's lineup. Sent to Rochester for more seasoning.

4. "Smokey" batted .336 for Huntington RedBirds last season - and delivered 36 circuit clouts.

5. Along with being an outstanding baseball player, Walter starred in college and high school basketball.

6. Walter held down the initial sack for Huntington during the 1936 season.

7. Emmons Alston - "Smokey's" father coached the Baldwin team to a Clark County Championship & says that in his day, he could have kept "Smokey's" tracks warm in a foot race.

8. V. Stanley Alston

9. "Knock it over here, Pop." Smokey was a born ball player.

10. And, he hails from Darrtown.

11. While playing with Baldwins, Smoke collected 3 homers and a triple - all in a day's work.

Virgil Alston - champion long-distance runner

 

Before entering the Army, Virgil attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

 

As noted below, Virgil was an accomplished long-distance runner for the Miami Redskins. His collegiate running career was acknowledged posthumously in 2006, when Virgil Alston was elected to the Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame.

VIRGIL ALSTON RECOGNIZED AS ARTIST

WITH THE U.S. ARMY

 

The following article (and Alston's art work, at the right) appeared in the Hamilton Journal during World War II.

 

 

“Alston Wins Fame As Artist With Army Group In Germany

 

Staff artist on “The Warrior,” published by the men of the First Armored Division in Germany, is Pfc. Virgil Alston, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Alston of Darrtown.

 

Copies of “The Warrior,” which have reached Hamilton, show that Private Alston is doing a fine job. The accompanying art, a sketch of Private Alston by himself, further attests to his ability at the drawing board.

 

Before enlisting in the army, Alston was connected with a Cincinnati firm as an artist and plans to return when he leaves the service.

 

Alston’s capability as an artist is not his only claim to fame. He was one of the greatest distance runners to compete in intercollegiate track events. A noted harrier, or cross-county runner, at Miami University, Alston went on to win the national two-mile championship in the Drake Relays at Des Moines, Iowa, in 1942. He was practically unbeaten as a distance runner at Miami University.

 

Athletics in the Alston family are traditional. Private Alston’s father, “Doc,” is one of the legendary baseball figures of Hamilton and vicinity.”

RIGHT: This is an image of a drawing that Virgil Alston created.

 

Rick Martin, nephew of Virgil Alston, contributed this item in 2012.

The barn, that is depicted in the image above, stood at the southwest corner of Darrtown, on the north side of the bend or curve in Darrtown Road.

 

Unfortunately, the barn no longer exists.

Virgil Alston

Elected to the Miami University

Athletic Hall of Fame

On May 3, 2006, Miami University recognized Virgil Alston and his accomplishments in track by awarding him membership in the 2006 Class of the Athletic Hall of Fame. Since the Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame began in 1969, the inductions of 2006 marked the 38th Hall of Fame Class and brought the total number of Hall of Fame members to 200.

 

The citation included the following information about Virgil Alston and his track exploits:

 

"Virgil Alston (Cross Country/Track and Field, `44) was a three-time All-American for Miami from 1940-43. Twice he earned All-America status in cross country, placing fourth at the NCAA Championships in 1941 and 14th in 1942. Alston went on to capture his third All-America honor with a fourth-place finish in the two-mile run at the 1943 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. During his Miami career, he posted first-place finishes in dual-meet action 24 times, while placing second twice. As a junior, he went undefeated in dual cross country meets and led Miami to an Ohio AAU Cross Country title with a second-place individual finish--second only to NCAA and American Champion Gil Dodds. Later that year, he set a Miami record in the mile run at the Ohio Wesleyan dual meet. The following year, Alston won the Ohio AAU Cross Country Meet, National AAU 10,000 Meter Run, the two-mile run at the Ohio AAU and was second at the Central Collegiate Meet in the two-mile run and at the Ohio AAU in the one-mile run. Alston earned six letters at Miami as a three-year letter winner in cross country (1940-42) and three-year letter winner in track and field (1941-43)."

Remembering Virgil Alston

Ron Wiley, Darrtown native, submitted the following memory of Virgil Alston, on March 3, 2012.

 

"I remember that he often ran from Darrtown to M.U., attended his classes, practiced with the Cross Country team, then ran back home.

 

He would see me out on my bicycle and say, 'You want to race with your wheel?' We had great fun racing, and he never intentionally let me win; but, I got closer and closer as years went by. I was 5, 6, 7 years old at the time he was at Miami. This happened later, while, I think, he was home from WWII, and I don't think I could ever outride his running."

 

Webmaster Note: Darrtown is approximately five miles from Oxford; so, when Ron Wiley relates that Virgil Alston ran from Darrtown to M.U. (Miami University) and back to Darrtown each day, that means Virgil was running about ten miles per day, in addition to the distance he ran during his cross county/ track practice.

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