Criminal Gila Monsters Riding Tractors and Eating Artichokes


OK, I am COMPLETELY recovered from my previous skepticism of Facebook and now embrace it wholeheartedly, and here's why: a discussion of tractors, gila monsters and criminals.

In a discussion of hair in high school yearbook photos, one of my friends gloated over the truly huge hair sported at his high school, adding, "Go Tractors!"

Tractors? Did I read that right, I wondered? Tractors? I had to make sure. "Your mascot was the tractor?" I asked.

Turns out my friend went to Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan. FHS was started with a generous gift from Fordson Tractor Company--hence the name. But apparently the unique, interesting mascot has been a source of embarrassment rather than pride. I couldn't find an image of the mascot on my own, though someone was good enough to provide a link to this picture.

I'm a fan of funky mascots. Everyone knows about the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug, and yeah, that's cool, but there are even BETTER mascots out there.

One of my favorites is Gila Hank, mascot of Eastern Arizona College, alma mater of my father and my siblings. (My mom and I are the only two in our family who never attended full-time, though even she and I took the occasional writing or quilting class there.) Who wouldn't love a purple and gold gila monster, brandishing six-shooters and sporting a ten-gallon hat? Especially since he is unique enough to be copyrighted; no other sports team in the entire world can have a gila monster as its mascot. Some minor league something in Arizona tried, and they got sued.

Another cool AZ mascot is the Fighting Artichoke (scroll down for image) of Scottsdale Community College, whose colors are purple and green. As I remember, SCC was started in the last 60s/early 70s, when things like mascots were seen as a joke, so a joke mascot was chosen on purpose. But they've gone with it and made it work.

And thanks to this discussion on Facebook, I just now learned about THE COOLEST MASCOT EVER, which also happens to represent an Arizona school: The Yuma High School Criminals.

That's right: the criminals. You have to check out the school's home page: there's a ball and chain and a big ring of jailer's keys and a cell door and all sorts of fun stuff. The history of how the school got its mascot is found here.

I am still giggling over that. It has made my day. I hope it helps to cheer yours. And if you know of a cool or unusual mascot, please share!


my high school mascot was the lion, so that is fairly boring/typical.

my college mascot was the prarie fire, they changed it due to a prior native american name. I always liked the prarie fire mascot. Obviously it wasn't a large school, so having a cheerleader-type mascot (running around as a flame) was not necessary...

My favorite mascot is the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.

I was a "Driller" in high school, living at the time in Bakersfield, which is an oiltown in central California. The image on our t-shirts and such was a gushing oil rig. Very phallic. Our mascot was personified by a male & female cheerleader who dressed in school colors and were called Danny & Dottie Driller. The school tagline "Once a Driller, Always a Driller."

Hi aerin--thanks for telling me about the Prairie Fire. Very cool. I started to write "Prairie Fires," but realized that wouldn't work. I like that it's an entity that can't be pluralized, like the Crimson Tide.

Hi Jana--I googled the Bakersfield Drillers to find out more about this very cool mascot. I couldn't find a good image of the mascot, but I'm still intrigued. It belongs to a class of mascot I didn't understand when I was little, the occupational mascot: the Steelers, the Lakers, the Fighting Irish. I didn't understand the logic behind them until I was big. The only occupational mascot I understood was something like the Cowboys.

Hi Spike--yes, the Banana Slug is a cool mascot, which is why I mentioned it in my original entry. My appreciation for it as a strange mascot increased when I saw what was done with a banana slug in "Coraline." But as the mascot of a big UC school, it's fairly well known. I'm hoping still more people will tell me about less familiar mascots, like Drillers and Prairie Fire.

by the way, I came across a claim that the word "mascot" derives from a witch's familiar. I couldn't find substantiation of that claim, but I did find this etymology (scroll down) tracing the word to witches in general. Wikipedia offers a slightly different take on the derivation of the word.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on July 20, 2009 9:05 AM.

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