For the past few years, students and visitors at Central High School have walked past a set of glass cases containing a collection of Red Raider and Lady Raider memorabilia. A large portion of these items came from Pete Jackson, a retired local businessman and CHS alumnus. 

Jackson's collection mainly consists of football, basketball and baseball-related items and spans several decades.

"In the early days they didn't have all these other sports," Jackson explained. "My stuff goes back from about 1922."

From the 1922 football team photo, to items from the early 2000's, Jackson's collection provides a look into the long history of CHS athletics. With such a large collection, not all of it is on display in the cases.

"I don't know if they've got that arranged out there, but I think I have a picture of every team from 1922 up," Jackson said.

Jackson attended the school back when it was known as Manchester High School and graduated in 1963. While a student, he played on the football team as quarterback and started for three seasons.

High school sports was nothing new for Jackson's family by the time he was a student. Both his parents attended Manchester and played for varsity teams. His father Boyd played football and his mother Betty played basketball. Both Boyd and Betty graduated in 1940.

Jackson's interest in Red Raider and Lady Raider athletics began back when he was a fan and went to games as a child. One team that stood out was the 1958 football team that finished the season undefeated. Jackson was only an eighth grader at the time, but he was hooked.

"It was easy for a kid to like a winner," Jackson said. "I think that's really what got me interested."

Watching the success on the football field as well as his family's connection to the athletic program built up Jackson's interest in memorabilia. What started with some of his game programs from the 1960s built up as people began to give him more items. Over the years, the word of his passion for collecting got around.

"The majority of it came from people who knew I was interested in it," Jackson explained. "They said well we're gonna throw this away and I'm gonna give it to you because they knew."

The items Jackson kept or received from people included photographs, jerseys, jackets, equipment and programs. It included long-ago relics such as a leather football helmet from 1940 and varsity jackets more than a half-century old.

Eventually, his collection was so large that it could fill an entire room. Jackson, who operated a floor covering business in Manchester for over 30 years, adorned the walls of his office with the items he had acquired. 

Around 2014, when Jackson was prepared to retire, he knew he needed to put the collection somewhere. That's when the high school stepped in. With help from Paul Parsley and Dr. Joey Vaughn, the majority of Jackson's collection went to a new home.

"When I got ready to quit, I thought I'm not gonna take this stuff home and put it on the walls there," Jackson said. "I knew Mr. Parsley and Joey Vaughn both, they were close to my kids' age and I just called them."

Jackson knew the collection was in good hands at the high school. However, he did hold on to a few of the items for his own personal keepsake.

Of particular note was his father Boyd's 1940 varsity football jacket. Another is a photograph of his mother Betty shooting a free throw during a 1939 basketball game.

"I kept that because it was family," Jackson said. "Mine and my mother's and father's."

While the school administration told Jackson he could take the collection back if he ever wished to, he said he had no intention of doing so. In addition to the sentimentality of the items, Jackson also thought it was a great way for CHS students and fans to stay connected to their sports history. 

"I felt like they would take care of it out there," Jackson said. "It has no monetary value, it's just got sentimental value."