Outdoor hobo statue, plaza planned


Jamison Lamp & Amy Poppinga

One Bummobile project has turned into two.

After its annual appearance in this year’s Hobo Day Parade, the 1912 Model

T was loaded onto a truck for California, where mechanics will work to restore the car to its former glory (see left story). This project spurred thoughts of another: a “living” gallery to display the newly renovated automobile and other Hobo Day memorabilia, year-round.

The Bummobile would be the centerpiece in a proposed Hobo Day Center addition to the northwest corner of The Union. The Pheasant Room would be opened up for the display that would include a conference room, soft seating as well as visuals and exhibits of past Hobo Days.

“The expansion would make [the Bummobile] part of student activities and a cornerstone of Hobo Day and the community,” said Jennifer Novotny, director of The Union.

The Hobo Day Center would also feature an abundance of homecoming memorabilia as a place to “reignite” some old memories and traditions, Novotny said.

“This would be a structure that could celebrate the spirit of Hobo Day,” Nick Wendell, assistant director for student activities, said.

“Generations of families would have the opportunity to come visit the memories.”

In addition to the center, the University Program Council and the university are working to landscape the exterior with a roughly 5-foot tall sculpture of Weary Wil and Dirty Lil. Marysz Rames, vice president of academic affairs, said the sculptures would be placed in a plaza area for students. The area would have outdoor furniture for students to relax in and a garden area surrounding the two statues.

Rames said the new center would be an asset for current students.

“It’s certainly an opportunity for us to create a space to help the traditions be amongst students,” she said. “? Students can go there and study, visit with their friends and be surrounded by those traditions.

The addition of a living gallery, consisting of 1200 square feet and 12 to 16 foot glass walls would cost approximately $300,000 dollars. The SDSU Foundation released in the most recent STATE Magazine, “The Class of 1958 ? is considering a leadership role in private fundraising for the project, estimated to cost about $300,000.” One anonymous member of the class has pledged at least $75,000 as a challenge match, said a SDSU Foundation press release.

Rames said currently, there is not a target date for completion of the project, because the university is waiting to raise the money and gain support for the Hobo Day Center.

“We’re working really hard right now on gaining support for the project, and we can go from there,” she said.

Wendell and Novotny stressed the importance of Hobo Day, its history and its connection to SDSU.

“The origins are so simple,” Wendell said. Brookings started as a railroad community, and hobos were a big part of it. They would do odd jobs around the community, and residences supported them, he said.

“Railroad hobos were part of the community,” Novotny said. “It is a feeling of hospitality.”

Wendell added that many universities had similar events centered on hobos and the railroad.

“SDSU is the only Hobo Day in the nation to survive,” Wendell said, “SDSU clung to tradition.”

The Bummobile also has a storied past at SDSU. Frank Weigel donated the Model T to SDSU in 1939. Weigel was a farmer from Flandreau. Since that time, it has been the first and last entry in every Hobo Day parade.

“The Bummobile is something all alums can remember,” Wendell said.

Rames agreed. “I think it really represent the traditions here at SDSU or one of the traditions. We talk about Hobo Day as being our homecoming, and the Bummobile represents those traditions that have been around for years.”