Flashback: SDSU 1966 Hobo Day

Flashback: SDSU 1966 Hobo Day

Terry Woster Alumnus

Here’s the deal, Staters. It’s been 47 years since I celebrated Hobo Week as a student.  Yeah, that makes me an old guy. I’m not great with technology. I like Elvis and the Beatles. I saw the Dirt Band before they were Nitty Gritty, and I remember where I was when I first heard a Bob Dylan song. There was a time, though, when I was just like you.  OK, maybe not just like you. I don’t want to insult the entire student population (which, by the way, is a much bigger number than it was when I enrolled at South Dakota State College in 1963)

Here’s a difference: I never carried a phone across the campus green. The only phone in Brown Hall was in the main lobby (along with the only television). If my mom called, my contact with her depended entirely on whether one of the guys watching television felt like 1) getting off the couch and answering the phone and 2) trudging up the stairs to Fourth East and halfway down the hall to pound on my door and tell me my mom was on the phone. Like it or not, one of the guys didn’t feel like doing that. Instead, one of the guys would say, “Uh, I think he’s over at the library hitting the books.’’ That was a much more comforting brush-off to a mother than, “Uh, nobody has seen him for eight or 10 days.’’ I’m like you in that I lived on campus a while and took part in the various Hobo Week festivities. I’m not big on offering advice. Usually people remember lessons longer when they learn those lessons themselves. 

However, I do have one piece of advice that could come in handy long after you’ve graduated and made your way in the world.

Ready? If you’re riding in the Hobo Day parade and they give you a choice of vehicles, pick the convertible. Seriously. You have a much better view of the crowd, especially the students hanging from second-story windows and lounging on the pitched roofs of rented houses. A convertible makes it easier to scan the crowd when you hear someone yelling at you. “Hey. Hey, Woster. Terry. It’s me. Remember me?’’The time I rode in a convertible, it took me about 10 blocks to figure out nobody doing the yelling knew who I was. They saw the sign on the side of the convertible and were in a, well, convivial mood.

Weather can be a factor in the choice of vehicles, but I still say choose the convertible. I did, that one time. It was 1995. I was a distinguished alumnus. (Yeah, imagine that. If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.) The weather was bitterly cold, and by the time Warren Williamson and I – WS are always last – were ready to ride, the remaining vehicles were a heated SUV and a convertible. Warren, former wrestling coach at State, said he was taking the SUV, unless I wanted to go two falls out of three?

“All yours, Coach,’’ I said. “I love riding in convertibles in this kind of weather.’’ When the time comes, take the convertible. And, uh, bring sun screen.

Terry graduated in 1966 from SDSU with a degree in journalism. He can be reached at [email protected]