By BOB PALMER
Last week Reveille VIII was laid to rest with full honors at the north entrance to Kyle Field. Like her predecessors, she was buried so she could see the special scoreboard that keeps Texas A&M’s deceased mascots informed of the progress of the football game.
Texas Aggies’ special relationship with dogs goes back to 1931 when cadets adopted a mixed breed mutt and named her Reveille. She would dash onto the football field and march with the band at halftime endearing her to Aggie fans.
Aggies now boast their ninth Reveille. Some of the traditions surrounding her make for more than a boy and his dog story.
To every freshman in the Corps of Cadets she is known as “Miss Reveille, Ma’am.” That is how you will address her or the weight of 137 years of tradition will fall on your head and crush you.
An entire company (E-2) in the Corps is charged with the responsibility of protecting her, but one cadet, the mascot corporal, eats, sleeps and goes to class with her.
This is the first year for the mascot corporal to be a female. She is Mia Miller, a biology major attending A&M on a US Marine Corps contract. When Mia completes her degree, she will be commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marines.
It became a tradition to bury deceased Reveilles outside the north endzone. The spot had a clear view of the scoreboard.
During the recent remodeling of Kyle Field, deceased mascots were moved to a field east of the stadium. Realizing the dead Reveilles could not see the scoreboard, upperclassmen had Corps freshmen stand on the top row of the stadium and hold signs indicating the score for the dead dogs to read.
Non-Aggies are permitted at this point to think this is a little strange but are not allowed to share their musings with Maroon bloods who might take offense at such lack of faith.
When the remains were returned to their new final resting place, the scoreboard was no longer visible. A new scoreboard just for the Reveilles was built.
When I attended A&M, two dogs were considered VIPs – Very Important Puppies.
Of course, there was Reveille. Earl Rudder, the university’s president, also had a bulldog named, “Ranger.” We called him “Rudder.”
While Reveille was closely guarded, Rudder roamed the campus, cheerfully blocking traffic, auditing classes and eating at the mess hall. It was at Sbisa Dining Hall where I met Rudder.
I was a freshman sitting at the end of the table in a position known as “hot corner.” Waiters would bring food and it was my job to get it passed around or dumped on the table and the empty platter sent back for more.
We had ham that day. I sensed more than saw, since my eyes had to be kept looking straight ahead, a presence near my left leg. An upperclassman noticed Rudder as well.
“Fish Palmer,” came the order.
“Feed the dog.”
I picked up a ham slice and held it over the brown body with the squashed face. The jaws opened, and a massive cavern was exposed. I dropped the ham. The jaws slammed shut and the ham disappeared.
Aggies like their dogs, the official mascots and the ones that wander into our lives. If in our reflective moments we may wonder if some of our activities seem a little extreme, that will just have to be our little secret.
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