Lore has it that the concept of the gum tree originated in the 1920s when it was against the rules to chew gum in class. You had to get rid of the stuff somewhere, so students who had classes in Pickler Memorial Library found the perfect repository. An antique suit of armor was on display just inside the front door and good ole Oscar, as the armor was affectionately known, was just standing there, all hollow and so very convenient.
In later years, Oscar was replaced by a tree on the east side of the Quad, handy to both Kirk Building and Ophelia Parrish. Some folks said that adding your gum to the sticky mass would bring good luck. Others were more specific and swore that a contribution on the way to an exam was the way to ensure an A (or at least a passing grade).
That particular gum tree met its demise at the hands of axe-wielding vandals in October 1999 -
but you can’t keep a good tradition, even a slightly disgusting one, down! Within days a new tree
had been appointed and anointed. This tree, unfortunately, was recently lost due to the Summer 2012 drought
(it was cut down in 2013)--but the tradition still continues on, as yet another tree has become the designated
As for the original, it made its farewell appearance as a “float” in the 1999 Homecoming parade.