Bummobile showcase to be opened fall 2010

Vanessa Marcano

Vanessa Marcano

Approximately one year following its complete restoration, one of SDSU’s iconic symbols –the Bummobile– will have a new permanent home that will allow both students and alumni to revel in the memories and learn about the peculiar traditions of the legendary Hobo Day.

In October 2010, along with the ongoing The Union expansion, Jackrabbits will have access to the Hobo Day showcase, projected to be part of the transformation of the Campanile Room in The Union.

Jennifer Novotny, director of The Union explained that the Bummobile Showcase will be a pedestal inside the Campanile Room, encased in glass that will reach up to the ceiling, where the 1912 Model-T will be resting during the year.

“The Bummobile Showcase is going to be added onto the north exterior of [the Campanile] room. It’s going to become one larger room with a dividing wall,” she said.

The showcase will have exit points and a movable ramp for the Bummobile to be taken out of the building for parades. Around the showcase area, there will be lounge seating available for students or visitors to use when the Campanile Room is not booked for meetings.

“Students could hang out around the Bummobile, study, drink coffee ? it will be a comfortable, relaxed environment,” Novotny said.

The Campanile Room will still remain a fully functional meeting room for banquets and other events.

“It will be a nice open walkway and there will be art on the walls, mainly Hobo Day history and the Bummobile’s parts that couldn’t be restored. It might be [decorated] kind of eclectic,” she said, adding that there will also be photos of Jackrabbits celebrating Hobo Day throughout history.

This section of the Hobo Day Showcase concept would be accessible without having to go through the meeting room area, Novotny said.

More than merely a display gallery, the Bummobile showcase’s purpose is also to help preserve the vehicle in its best conditions.

“The encasing will have a special ventilation system to make sure that by storing it there won’t be any smells emanating from a vehicle of that era,” said Nick Wendell, assistant director of student activities.

Other features in the Bummobile showcase include past Hobo Day posters, buttons and bumper stickers, as well as a track lighting system, said Wendell.

“The glass wall will give a great perspective into the Bummobile in the evenings,” Wendell said.

The initiative for the Bummobile showcase was motivated by the vehicle’s restoration.

“We worked with students in the University Program Council and the Grand Pooba. We never thought it would be possible to have a fully restored vehicle, so we asked ourselves, ‘what do we need to do to make sure it has a good place to be?'” Novotny said.

UPC and Novotny agreed that the best thing would be for the Bummobile to be in full view for all students, alumni and visitors at SDSU.

“It really took a lot of students to start this up,” she said.

Efforts to restore and preserve the Bummobile have come at the hands of various groups and authorities on campus, including UPC, the SDSU Foundation and Vice President for Student Affairs, Marysz Rames, said Novotny.

Wendell, once program adviser for UPC, said that the overarching concept of the Bummobile restoration had been conceived over two years ago: first, the refurbishing of the car itself, and second, finding a place to store it. “I think it’s going to be a really neat project. It’s something that has been years in the making,” Wendell said.

Steve Erpenbach, president of the SDSU Foundation, said that their goal was to raise between $250,000 and $300,000 to cover the costs of the Bummobile showcase. The fundraising was kicked off with a small reunion of Hobo Day Committee members in a luncheon last October.

“So far, it’s modest, we have received gifts and commitments totaling up to around $20,000 towards our goal right now,” said Erpenbach.

In addition to the financial support needed for the structure, Erpenbach said that they need people to continue donating interesting Hobo Day items to have on display.

“I know that they found a nine-foot-tall hobo cut out of wood from a 1965 parade float, which may find its way into the Hobo Day gallery,” said Erpenbach. “Having the Bummobile available all year will be a sentimental point for alumni and a learning experience for students about what Hobo Day really means.”

Novotny said that one of the most interesting donations came from alumnus John Young, who was Hobo Day chairman in 1952 and was in charge of arranging the visit from President Dwight Eisenhower to campus that day. Young donated a briefcase full of memorabilia, with old issues of The Bum magazine, newspapers and even mail that had special Hobo Day stamps.

“Our hope is that when people walk through the Bummobile showcase area, they know more about why Hobo Day started, how it started, as well as some of the highlights over the years,” said Novotny.