Monday, March 06, 2006
The Saluki that never attended S.I.U.
I was the dog. The mascot. Actually, there were 5 of us. A "Big Saluki Dog" - and four "Puppy Salukis". I get asked about this often, since I revealed a couple of years ago. that I was an S.I.U. Saluki mascot in Carbondale Illinois 40 years ago. I grew up in Carbondale and was a "townie". I was a puppy - I was still a kid. The S.I.U. Gymnastics Team was the first place the University recruited team mascots. One was chosen, (he was Big Saluki) - and the other four came from my neighborhood. We puppies all lived right next to one another. We were all under 10 years old and had to provide our own Saluki costumes. I think that's how we got the gig. Our mothers committed to sewing the outfits. Team mascot outfits were in their infancy 40 years ago. I recall the suit being made of a material that felt like fur - and the head had a giant foam rubber nose insert. Mine was green. Yep, green. I was a green Saluki. We went to all the Saluki Football & Basketball games in the mid 60's until one by one we grew out of our suits. We were in all the parades. I especially remember the Homecoming parades. The suits were hot, but we survived. My Saluki Dog suit stayed in the family for years. My little brothers had an instant killer Halloween costume. When they outgrew the suit, they just wore the head. No, it's not around anymore. I'm sure it just fell apart from all the wear.
I bring this up because once again S.I.U. has made the NCAA basketball tournament. The last time I saw an S.I.U. game in person - was all those years ago - when the Arena was brand new! I was on the floor throwing little commemorative basketballs into the crowd - not realizing that 40 years later I'd look back on those times - with pure joy.
When I hit college age I attended Western Illinois University. To this day, I don't know what I was thinking.