Contemporary Legend – Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana

My mother went to Purdue University for her Bachelors degree.  My father went to Notre Dame and I am attending the University of Southern California.  There is a lot of fighting in my family about who is the best team.  One day we got into the discussion of our mascots.  By far my mom, a boilermaker, has the most unique mascot.  She began to explain the legend behind how they got their name.  She described it as the “Purdue lore” that everyone knew.

A long time ago when Purdue was just getting started, they did not have a name to call themselves.  When Purdue was playing a game against Wabash collage in 1889 in Crawfordsville all the local newspapers were there reporting.  She said there were so many reporters there that they made up for the lack of turnout of fans.  Purdue won the game by an astounding 18 to 4, “Of course we won” my mom added.  The papers started to write about the game.  They called the players of Purdue big burly brutes, and hulking men.

But then two years later Purdue played Wabash Collage again.  This time they won 44 to 0.  Even more reporters were there this time.  Even more fuss was made about how big Purdue’s men were.  They called the Purdue players “a burly gang of haymakers, cornhuskers, log haulers” and finally boilermakers.  The school decided they liked being called the boilermakers, and the name has stuck until present time.

My mother is still very proud of her school and her team the boilermakers.  The first time she told me they were called the boilermakers, she laughed.  The name is not very scary, not very intimidating, and kind of embarrassing, but she will always be a boilermaker.

March 2007