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How long has a beaver been Oregon State's mascot?

I would like to start by saying, happy birthday to mr. Andy Landforce, 103 years young today!


Andy Landforce is a family friend, but also a legend, he has been a beckon of light and happiness for as long as I've known him. He fought in WWII, raised a family with his beautiful wife, Evelyn, and is also OSU's last surviving member of the 1942 Rose bowl championship. I've never seen him bleed, but I'm sure his blood is Oregon State Orange. I love making his birthday card each year, trying to figure out how to incorporate a beaver in each card, it's the card I look forward to making the most. So of course, the Daily Doodle on his birthday had to be about the OSU Beaver! How long has the college been associated with their beaver mascot?


Let's start from the beginning... Jimmie" was OSU's first mascot... he was a coyote. According to a listing of historical items in the OSU Archives, Jimmie was the college's mascot in 1893 and was owned by M.H. Kriebel, a local football enthusiast. At the time, OSU was known simply as "State Agricultural College" or S.A.C, and the school colors were probably navy blue and white.


Though it is disputed, records in the archives suggest OSU was first referred to as the "Beavers" in 1910. Some historians argue the date is later, around 1916. The college's name had been changed by this time to Oregon Agricultural College.


At some point after football was introduced at Oregon State, Corvallis' John Richard Newton Bell, a Presbyterian minister and longtime member of the OAC Board of Regents, became the team's most passionate supporter (Andy would surely give him a run for his title). As things evolved, J.R.N. Bell, as he was known, became the official Oregon State "mascot," and he is so pictured and written about in early school yearbooks. His chief claim to fame was his ritual of marching to the Marys River after each OSU Civil War victory to toss his top hat into the water as a token of celebration. Bell first threw his hat after Oregon State's initial victory over the U of O in 1894. To honor his devotion to the university in general and to athletics in particular, Oregon State honored Bell in the 1920s by naming its football field, known up to that time informally as "The College Field," Bell Field.


References to "Beavo the Beaver" first appear in a Barometer article in April 1921. Found by students canoeing the Mary's River, the six-month old beaver was brought to campus and nursed back to health. It may have been an attempt to replace Bell with a live beaver, to mark the recent practice (around 1910) of calling athletic teams from the school "Beavers."


The cover of the December 1935 Oregon State alumni magazine includes a photo of "Billy," a live beaver under the care of the school's Wildlife Club. Copy underneath the photo clearly identifies Billy as the school's new "beaver mascot." His cartoon likeness appears throughout the 1930s and early 1940s in newspapers and other publications, particularly the Barometer.


The 'Gnawed Log' was the name was used to title a sports column in OSU's student newspaper, The Barometer, in 1943, and is a very early reference to the name 'Benny Beaver.'


According to Candance Hayes, OSU's Trademark and Licensing Coordinator, the earliest reference to the name 'Benny Beaver' can be found in the 1942 Beaver yearbook on page 14, where there is pictured a group of students with a beaver statue mounted on a trailer named 'Benny Beaver.' The photo was taken in connection with campus activities surrounding Homecoming for 1941. The 1941 Beaver yearbook, which covered student life for the year 1940, also has this same statue pictured but refers to that beaver likeness as 'Bill.'; So between 1940-41, according to Ms. Hayes, "someone came up with the name 'Benny'. Hayes says it's also interesting to note that the lovable Benny Beaver cartoon icon, was used until replaced by an 'Athletic Beaver' icon in 2001, and was drawn by Arthur Evans, a graphic artist for Angeles Pacific, probably around 1951.


Ken Austin was the first student to appear at OSU athletic events dressed as "Benny Beaver." This was during the football season of 1952. During the 1980's and '90s, Benny was joined at most athletic events by "Bernice," a female beaver mascot, giving OSU the distinction of possibly having the only "uni-sex" mascots in NCAA history. During her reign, Bernice had a habit of wearing a wedding dress every Homecoming. Benny, course, would always be in a tux.


Introduced in 1999, a new "angry Beaver" logo replaced the kinder, gentler "Benny" logo during the last week of January 2001. "Benny Beaver" remains OSU's official athletic mascot, even though it has become customary for the new beaver likeness to be referred to by the campus community as the "angry Beaver." For most alumni and friends of OSU, any likeness of a beaver representing OSU will still be known as "Benny," including the new, what I like to call "wind tunnel" beaver logo.


The "Old School" Benny the Beaver mascot is my favorite, which is why I chose him for Andy's doodle... how about you? Which is your favorite OSU mascot or logo?




© 2020 by MADMYSHA.

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