As I was trying to select a book to review for the Thanksgiving issue of the Jimp, my thoughts turned to food, faith and football. Browsing the Jefferson Carnegie Library’s collection at jeffersoncarnegielibrary.com, I knew I had found the perfect book when Reveille First Lady of Texas A&M came up.
Who better to bring out the best of college football than the beloved mascot of Aggieland? Even those who are not football fans or Aggies can’t help but love the beautiful American collie that is the goodwill ambassador of Texas A&M.
The first Reveille was a black pup with white feet, a mongrel of indiscriminate origins “who was forty pounds of pure compassion, warmth, and unconditional love.” Soon she was living in the dorms, moving from room to room and claiming rights to any bed she wanted.
Her first appearance at a football game was in the fall of 1932, when, in an impromptu move, she pranced onto Kyle Field ahead of the Aggie Band’s drum major. She was a firmly entrenched tradition by the time her tail wagged for the last time on January 18, 1944. She was buried with full military honors just outside the north end zone of Kyle Field, starting another tradition. Handling that tradition when plans were made to enlarge Kyle Field is just one way traditions surrounding Reveille have evolved.
The book Reveille is filled with candid snapshots and formal portraits of Reveille I through VII. Since this book was published in 2004, there have been two others, with Reveille IX serving since 2015. The five chapters examine the birth of a tradition, explore how Company E-2 became the official caregivers and handlers of Reveille and American collies the dog of choice, and follow Reveille into retirement.
But the most fascinating chapter is about the theft of Reveille and how that theft led to her rise in popularity. On December 26, 1993, Reveille was spending the holiday with the family of Mascot Corporal Jim Lively. Jim’s father, Fred, opened the back door early that morning to let four-month old Reveille VI into the fenced back yard.
After pouring himself a cup of coffee, Fred opened the door and called, but was greeted by silence. It was six days before Reveille was returned unharmed, but not without intrigue, deception and the involvement of the Texas Rangers and a former Mascot Corporal for Reveille IV who was a special agent for NCIS.
Woven throughout the book are a number of sidebar stories. My favorite was how Reveille II not only helped some Aggies find dates with some sorority girls at the University of Arkansas in the 1950’s, but also put them in the Arkansas homecoming parade before the football game. Those seniors may have been in full uniform and wearing their senior boots, but it was Reveille that made the difference! Across the page is one of my favorite pictures: Reveille IV letting the Rice Owl mascot know whose sideline it is.
Reveille First Lady of Texas A&M is a delightful book, one I recommend whether you choose to read it cover to cover or to simply enjoy the pictures and read a few of the stories. Jefferson Carnegie Library is thankful for the gift of this book from the Tocker Foundation.
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