Caterpickles Consults Grandpa: “Is the Auburn mascot a tiger or an eagle?”

It’s been a hard year for The Four-Year-Old when it comes to football, with both her beloved New England Patriots and Auburn Tigers coming in second. With the season over, there’s little for a wee football fan to do except craft a field and use her Auburn swag to relive the best and worst moments of the past season. (Although not official Auburn swag, The Four-Year-Old regularly casts her Angry Bird as the War Eagle.)

Recently, The Four-Year-Old caught on to the fact that there are multiple fighting beasts associated with the Auburn University football team.

The Four-Year-Old: “Is the Auburn mascot a tiger or an eagle?”

This is not a question that I am in any way equipped to answer. Fortunately, The Four-Year-Old’s grandfather attended Auburn and is more than happy to instill The Four-Year-Old with the appropriate respect for the school’s sporting traditions.

According to Grandpa, the official (and award-winning!) Auburn University mascot is a costumed tiger named Aubie.*

The college’s name and its mascot both come from an Oliver Goldsmith poem, “The Deserted Village.” The opening line of the poem yields the college’s name: “Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain.” The school’s mascot, the “crouching tigers [who] wait their hapless prey” don’t show up until quite a bit later when life has frankly gotten a bit bleak in Auburn village.

Grandpa: “The term ‘Plainsmen’ also comes from a line in that same Goldsmith poem.”

“Now wait a minute,” said Mommyo, who it must be said is not noted for her football acumen. “Where do the Plainsmen come in?”

Grandpa: “In the early days Auburn athletes were mostly men from the Plains. The reference was shortened to ‘Plainsmen’ and is also the name of the University student newspaper, The Auburn Plainsman.”

The Four-Year-Old, impatiently: “But what about the eagle?”

Grandpa: “‘War Eagle’ is a battle cry, used by Auburn fans in the same manner Alabama fans yell ‘Roll Tide!’ and Arkansas fans yell ‘Woo Pig Sooie!’ War Eagle is also the official fight song of Auburn University.”

The Four-Year-Old: “No, I mean the eagle flying over the field.”

Grandpa: “Oh, you mean War Eagle VII, Auburn’s current golden eagle symbol. The Four-Year-Old, do you want to know what he’s called?”

Silly question, Grandpa.

Grandpa: “Nova.”

The Four-Year-Old: “Like the TV show?”

Mommyo: “Wait. A tiger, plainsmen, and an eagle? How many symbols does one team need?”

The Four-Year-Old, decisively: “As many as Auburn.”

*Fun Auburn fact: Did you know that Aubie began life as a cartoon character? Birmingham Post-Herald artist Phil Neel created him for the Oct 3, 1959 football game program. Aubie didn’t start working the games in person until 1979.

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About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, or musing about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.wordpress.com.
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4 Responses to Caterpickles Consults Grandpa: “Is the Auburn mascot a tiger or an eagle?”

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