Brookings. SD (KELO AM) - Hi, my name is the Bummobile. When I was 27 years old, I switched my tag from automobile to make me feel more at home so I could participate in what SDSU calls the Hobo Day parade.Ever since replacing that cruddy old two mule-drawn carriage in 1939, I’ve been the lead entry in every Hobo Day parade with the exception of 1942, when Hobo Day and classes were cancelled so our students could help with the war effort.When I wasn’t performing in the Hobo Day parade and a few summer parades in the immediate area, I was always tucked away in an off-campus garage. I didn’t mind living there, but for somebody of such high standing I always felt that I deserved better.
Well, as luck would have it, wouldn’t you know that in the fall of 2010, through some very generous folks, a gallery was created in the University Student Union and guess who was chosen as its centerpiece? Yours truly, that’s right.
I now reside in a glass case on a huge wooden platform. Not only do my new digs do me justice as the icon I’ve become, people can now come and stare at me all year-round when I’m not busy doing the parade thing.
I love it at the Hobo Day Gallery, which has all sorts of Hobo Day memorabilia for students, alumni and visitors to look at and share some time-honored traditions of the past.
Speaking of the past, I’ve had a long and interesting life, that’s for sure. I feel great. I’m in excellent health, thanks to a new body from a nice, caring alumnus. But, before I say anything more on that subject, I have to bring you up to speed concerning all my twists and turns during the past century—man, do I sound old!
I was born as a Model T Ford in 1912 right out of Henry Ford’s factory. I was pretty good looking and soon I caught the eye of Frank Weigel, a farmer near Flandreau who also happened to be a big supporter of SDSU.
In 1938, after years of driving people to-and-fro in and around Moody County, good ol’ Frank decided it was time for me to have a new home and what better place than SDSU, so he donated me to the students’ association with the condition that I appear in the Hobo Day parade every year.
I wasn’t sure at first what to expect, because after all, I had already lived a rather strenuous life doing farm duties. Once I got into it, though, it became fun and exhilarating—something new and different. It made me feel good to be taking part in such of an important parade.
I’ve had the privilege of giving rides to governors, grand poobas—an interesting name for the student homecoming leader—and parade grand marshals.
I will never forget the time when Dwight Eisenhower came to town in 1952 campaigning for president. It was two weeks before Hobo Day and he was giving a speech at Sylvan Theatre. Well, some locals asked him if he would hop in, and wouldn’t you know it, he agreed. I was a little nervous about the whole affair, but I kept myself together while he had his picture taken with the grand pooba. It appeared in the college newspaper and I looked, well, pretty proud knowing I was holding the next president of the United States.
I was having lots of fun and never grew tired of performing, but unfortunately there’s no escape from getting older and I certainly wasn’t the same Model T that I once was. So, let me tell you about some hard times.
I actually bruised myself when I backed into a campus building. I was really scared one year when I caught myself on fire. My brakes have given out and once I even lost a wheel cruising along Medary Avenue. One of the most embarrassing things happened just a few years ago, in 2006, when I had to be pushed through the entire parade route. Ouch, that was the low point of my illustrious career.
Before I go on, I have to give thanks to Rudy Lundin. He was at the university for 47 years, and if it weren’t for his mechanical know-how, I probably would have broken down more often than I did.
It was clear that I needed help. Much to my relief, Harold Hohbach, a 1943 electrical engineering graduate, was my savior. You see, he had refurbished a 1911 Model T pickup and donated it to the Ag Heritage Museum.
Well, the higher-ups here were so impressed with his work that they asked if he could fix me up, too, when he was here for Hobo Day in 2008. He gladly said yes and hauled me to his shop in Palo Alto, Calif. With the help of his assistant, they did a bang-up job.
They completely rebuilt my engine and somehow they managed to locate a 1912 rear end to replace my old backside. I also have new wheels and tires, and they found original brass kerosene side and rear lamps, plus a brass horn. But, that’s not all. I have new wooden framing and for my body, well, the paint had really dulled and it was fading, too. Now, I sport a midnight blue body with black fenders.
Boy, do I feel special. But, hey, after all it’s my intention to be around for many more years to come and I have so many people to thank for making me feel at home. More importantly, though, I can been seen and appreciated year-round from my new suite in the Hobo Day Gallery.