Bucky – On Wisconsin https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com For UW-Madison Alumni and Friends Thu, 27 Jun 2019 17:02:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.10 Alumni Park Opens https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_alumni/alumni-park-opens/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_alumni/alumni-park-opens/#respond Fri, 03 Nov 2017 23:02:05 +0000 https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=22068

At the Alumni Park grand opening in October, visitors admired the new statue of Bucky Badger. Andy Manis

Alumni Park welcomed more than 2,600 visitors at a grand opening on the weekend of October 6–8, despite intermittent rain on Friday and Saturday.

The park is a 1.3-acre green space located between the Memorial Union and the Red Gym that celebrates the Wisconsin Idea with exhibits honoring alumni contributions and the university’s positive impact around the world. Spearheaded by former WAA president and WFAA chief alumni officer Paula Bonner MS’78, it is believed to be the first park of its kind in the country.

Visitors watched the real Bucky zoom into the even on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Andy Manis

The festivities included the unveiling of a statue of Bucky Badger, arts activities, an appearance by the UW Marching Band, and an opportunity to explore the park’s more than 50 artful exhibits and nearly 200 stories of alumni achievements and UW innovations and traditions.

The park’s exhibits were designed by museum- exhibit firm Ralph Appelbaum Associates, whose other projects include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Many exhibits, such as the Badger Pride Wall and Alumni Way panels, were fabricated by Wisconsin companies and artisans.

Visitors also enjoyed exploring other facets of the project, including a rooftop terrace that overlooks the park; One Alumni Place — a welcome and visitor center and the new home for grads as they return to campus, and Goodspeed Family Pier, which features public boat slip access.

Visitors listened to remarks from WFAA’s Paula Bonner. Andy Manis

Alumni Park will feature special programming on a year-round basis. Following opening weekend, visitors enjoyed a Day of Learning panel with Park-featured alumni, coinciding with the 50-year reunion for the class of 1967; a Homecoming block party with music and a fish fry; Wisconsin Science Festival programs, and more. Can’t make it to see the park in person? See alumnipark.com for a virtual tour and expanded content on the stories featured in the park.

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Flashin’ on Flashback https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/letters/flashin-on-flashback/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/letters/flashin-on-flashback/#respond Thu, 07 Mar 2013 16:46:28 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=8599 Your photo of George Holmes [Flashback, Winter 2012] brought back many great memories. My husband, John T. (Tom) DeYoung ’49, was chairman of Homecoming in 1948, and George was a member of his committee. Tom and I had been married just three months, and it was a thrill for me to be Homecoming queen.

That was some weekend, with Fred Waring and his huge choir performing Friday night at the Field House. Then there were two proms in the Union Saturday night with Tommy Dorsey’s band and Vaughn Monroe (I think). The football team didn’t do too well, but it was fun to watch anyway, and to be introduced on the field at halftime as king and queen.

Jill Floden DeYoung ’47 Stanwood, Michigan

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Badger DNA https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/badger-dna/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/badger-dna/#comments Sat, 10 Nov 2012 22:00:32 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=8111

Wisconsin Historical Society, image id 55447

Recognize the face on the left? That, Badger fans, was your mascot, prior to Bucky. Named Regdab (for those unskilled at anagrams, that’s badger spelled backward), he was described as a badger in a raccoon-fur coat, and he represented the UW for just a year. His friend is George Holmes ’49, a member of the Badger yearbook staff.

The UW’s sports teams have always been nicknamed the Badgers, evidently deriving from a derisive term for the lead-miners who were the region’s first white residents. (They lived in holes in the ground, like wild badgers do.) In the early twentieth century, the university had a live badger (acquired from Eau Claire) attend games. But the critter was unsociable and liable to bite his handlers, cheerleaders, fans, athletes, or anyone else who crossed his path. The UW packed him off to Vilas Zoo.

In 1948, as the university was preparing to celebrate its centennial, the staff of the Badger yearbook offered Regdab as a replacement. The juvenile raccoon, in its red-and-white W sweater, was easier to control. But for all the cleverness that went into his creation, Regdab wasn’t a badger. He didn’t catch on. In 1949, Bill Sachse ’50 came up with the idea for Bucky (see “Flashback” in the Fall 2012 issue), and Regdab, too, was retired.

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Farewell to the Head https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/farewell-to-the-head/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/farewell-to-the-head/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 21:15:46 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=7317 bucky head

UW-Madison Archives, S040502

Early this summer, Badger Nation lost its head — or at least the man who gave us our head: Bill Sachse ’50 was the brain behind Bucky Badger.

Bucky’s been around so long that it’s tempting to think that he’s always been part of the university, but that’s not true. UW teams may have been known as the Badgers for as long as the university has taken part in intercollegiate sports, but Bucky’s history is far more modern.

The illustration that we today call Bucky — wearing a striped sweater and a frown, his fists clenched — was designed by California commercial artist Art Evans in 1940. It was nameless. Meanwhile, the football team had a mascot — a live badger from Eau Claire that appeared, evidently unwillingly, at games. “He was so anti-social,” said Sachse in a 1999 interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. “Once you dragged him [into the stadium], he’d immediately start burying [himself in] the turf on the field.”

It was Sachse who brought the two images together — the sweater-clad humanoid figure and a live performer. Inspired by African masks he saw at Memorial Union, he suggested creating a papier-mâché head that a male cheerleader could wear. Artist Connie Conrad made the head; Bill Sagal ’51 debuted it at a football game in 1949. All three appear (left to right, Sachse, Sagal, and Conrad) in the photo above.

Sachse’s contributions didn’t end there. He also helped run the contest in which the student body voted on a name for the new mascot. When the ideas students suggested — Bernie, Buddy, Bouncy — underwhelmed, Sachse rigged the election so that Buckingham U. Badger won out.

Sachse passed away in May, in Kohler, Wisconsin. But he left behind a powerful legacy.

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If You Want to Be a Badger … https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/if-you-want-to-be-a-badger/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/features/if-you-want-to-be-a-badger/#comments Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:39:02 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=5566 There are a few things that every UW–Madison grad should know. Do you make the grade?

Being an official Badger is about more than just what you learn in the classroom. To earn your red and white stripes, you need to know a few things about Wisconsin traditions and rituals, past and present. Here’s a refresher course in the basics of being a Badger.


Illustration: Barry Roal Carlsen


Badgers have sung this sentimental closer for more than a century. The tune’s staying power can be found in its easy-to-remember lyrics and arm-swinging motion, introduced by former UW Marching Band Director Ray Dvorak in 1934. To do the Varsity wave like a loyal Badger, you have to remember to use your right arm and start your swing from right to left during the song’s last line:

Varsity! Varsity!
U-rah-rah! Wisconsin,
Praise to thee we sing!
Praise to thee, our Alma Mater,
[Get ready. Get set. Wave!]
U-rah-rah! Wisconsin!

Paul Bunyan’s Axe

All Badger fans worth their salt know about the legendary battle for Paul Bunyan’s axe, the trophy passed between football rivals Wisconsin and Minnesota. Badgers should also know that before Paul Bunyan’s axe, the trophy was the Slab of Bacon. It was passed between the Badgers and Gophers from 1930 to 1943, when the trophy was “lost” and neither school claimed to know its whereabouts. The slab was a piece of wood that had hooks on both ends so the trophy would display either a W or M, with game scores engraved on its back. After the slab disappeared, Paul Bunyan’s axe replaced it in 1948. The slab wouldn’t be seen again until 1994, when it was happened upon in a storage room during a renovation of Camp Randall Stadium. It currently resides in the Wisconsin football office. Oddly enough, when the slab was discovered, the scores of the games from 1943 to 1970 were found to be engraved on its back.


Illustration: Earl J. Madden

Honest Abe

Though students today might think of him (or more intimately, his lap) as a commencement photo op, learned Badgers know that Abraham Lincoln is memorialized on Bascom Hill because he signed the Morrill Act in 1862 to provide federal aid to land-grant colleges such as the University of Wisconsin. The act was hailed as the “Education Bill of Rights” and proved to be instrumental in giving more students from all economic walks of life access to a college education.

Fifth Quarter

The UW Marching Band is nationally famous for its Fifth Quarter, a celebration that takes place after UW football games. Win or lose, Badger fans sing, dance, and cheer while the band plays traditional favorites such as “On, Wisconsin,” “Varsity,” and “You’ve Said It All” (the Bud song). Originally designed to give fans something to listen to on their way out of Camp Randall Stadium, the postgame concert has grown into a Wisconsin tradition with ever-evolving band antics and audience participation. How does Wisconsin convince thousands of fans to stick around for thirty minutes after every home game? In 1978, when it was announced that the band would delay playing until ten minutes after the game had ended — to enable the weak-of-heart to exit the upper deck before the “swaying” began — interest in the post-game festivities exploded, and a tradition was born. As every true Badger knows, “When you say ‘WIS-CON-SIN,’ you’ve said it all!”

School Colors

When it comes to UW–Madison’s official school colors, there is no gray area. They are cardinal and white, and have been since before the Daily Cardinal, the UW’s first student newspaper, was established in 1892. That’s not to say red is wrong, however. Cardinal is obviously a shade of red. That’s why alumni and students wear The Red Shirt, cheer “Go, Big Red!” during Badger football games, and gather as the Grateful Red in the student section at the Kohl Center. Badgers like to rally around red.

Wisconsin Idea

One of the university’s longest and deepest traditions, the Wisconsin Idea is the principle that education should influence and improve people’s lives beyond the university classroom. Former UW President Charles Van Hise 1879, 1880, MS1882, PhD1892 (who clearly spent a lot of time in the classroom) is most often credited for articulating the philosophy in 1904, and its definition has evolved throughout the university’s history, creating a living, breathing expression for Badgers of all generations. The Wisconsin Idea is now understood to mean that the university benefits not just those in the state, but around the world. In 2011–12, the UW is celebrating the Wisconsin Idea throughout the entire academic year.

Camp Randall

Built in 1917, Camp Randall Stadium is the fourth-oldest college-owned football complex in the nation. Badgers marching into Camp Randall for a football game should know that the athletic field was a Civil War training post named after Governor Alexander Randall. Seventy thousand Wisconsin troops, representing nearly all of the state’s military might, were trained at the camp before being sent to battlefields in the South. In 1862, 1,400 Confederate soldiers were captured — most of them taken in an action along the Mississippi called the Battle of Island Number 10. They were taken north and held at Camp Randall. Many of these soldiers died of their wounds and are buried in a cemetery on Madison’s west side in an area known as “soldiers’ rest,” the northernmost Confederate cemetery in the United States.


Illustration: Earl J. Madden

Bucky Badger

To be a Badger, you have to dig into the origins of our beloved mascot. In the early 1800s, when settlers came to the Midwest in droves to mine for lead, badgers were abundant in southwestern Wisconsin’s prairie habitat. The settlers who worked in Wisconsin’s lead mines were nicknamed “badgers” for their digging ways, and because many of them lived in burrow-like dwellings through the winter, much like badgers in hibernation. The lead industry was so important in Wisconsin’s early days that the badger was honored in 1851 with a place atop the state seal, along with a miner holding a pick. Shortly after football became an official sport at the UW in 1889, the badger was adopted as an athletic mascot, and so began Wisconsin’s love affair with the mighty mustelid. The name Bucky — short for Buckingham U. Badger — came along in 1949, chosen by student vote.

Babcock Ice Cream

Though widely divided on favorite flavor, Badgers are united when it comes to picking a sweet treat on campus. The UW’s dairy building has been making and selling ice cream for nearly a century, but the name Babcock ice cream did not arise until after Babcock Hall, the third dairy building, was built in 1951. Specializing in gourmet ice cream, the Babcock Dairy Store creates special, limited-edition flavors such as Mad Grad Medley (named in honor of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s 150th anniversary) and Berry Alvarez (named for Athletic Director Barry Alvarez) in addition to longtime favorites such as Blue Moon, Butter Pecan, and Orange Custard Chocolate Chip.

“Jump Around”

A hit single by the band House of Pain, “Jump Around” made its Camp Randall debut in 1998. The song is now played between the third and fourth quarters of all Badger home football games, accompanied by the entire student section (fifteen thousand strong) jumping up and down in the bleachers. Badgers in the know — even those without the endurance to jump around for three-plus minutes — understand why it’s on credit cards and T-shirts spotted around the country.

Statue of Liberty

Even Badgers who weren’t students in the late 1970s know about the university’s most famous prank. Led by James Mallon ’79 and Leon Varjian x’83, the Pail and Shovel Party was elected to lead the Wisconsin Student Association in 1978, vowing to give campus issues “the seriousness they deserve.” The following winter, they erected a gigantic replica of the Statue of Liberty’s head and torch on frozen Lake Mendota. After the first version of the statue fell victim to arson, a second Lady Liberty was built, and she has been resurrected several more times in recent years.

Sifting and Winnowing

The board of regents introduced this concept for academic freedom in 1894, when it stated that the university should never censor or limit faculty or students in the quest for knowledge. A plaque that hangs on Bascom Hall reads: “Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continued and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.” Generations of Badgers have benefited from this credo.


Any Badger who has survived a Wisconsin winter should be able to name the university’s largest outdoor recreation program. When establishing the group in 1931, students chose the name Hoofers to evoke a sense of “getting there under your own power.” The group is credited with introducing skiing at UW–Madison and reviving the ski jump on Muir Knoll. Over the years, Hoofers has added thousands of active members and various clubs, including six that are still offered today — outing, riding, mountaineering, scuba, ski and snowboarding, and sailing.


Illustration: Earl J. Madden

Terrace Chairs

If you’re a Badger of true colors, you should be able to list the signature hues of the Terrace chairs: sunshine yellow, “John Deere” green, and “Allis-Chalmers” orange, which also represent the site’s most popular seasons of summer and fall. (Allis Chalmers is a company that used to manufacture bright orange tractors at its home plant in West Allis, Wisconsin.) The Memorial Union introduced the sunburst Terrace chairs in the 1960s, and they quickly became an iconic campus symbol. They almost became extinct in the late 1970s, when their manufacturer went out of business. Thankfully, the Memorial Union Building Association purchased the tool-and-die equipment to keep the beloved chairs in production.

Karen Graf Roach ’82 formerly wrote the “Ask Abe” column in WAA’s e-newsletter ONline Wisconsin, which invites readers to write in with questions about campus.

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Big Red Wagon https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/big-red-wagon/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/on_campus/big-red-wagon/#respond Wed, 09 Nov 2011 16:54:54 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=5959 The antique fire engine returns, greener than ever.

fire engine

Rebuilt and ready for action, the Bucky Wagon rolls down State Street in the 2011 Homecoming Parade. Photo: Jeff Miller

When the 2011 Homecoming Parade began to wend its way down State Street, a familiar vehicle led the way, a symbol of triumph over the ravages of time. The Bucky Wagon, a part of the campus scene since 1971, has returned after two years of rehab and rebuilding.

Thanks to the efforts of the College of Engineering, the Bucky Wagon is back on the road, running safer and greener, with updated steering and braking systems and powered by an electric motor. “It’s taken two years,” says UW faculty associate Glenn Bower MS’89, PhD’92, “but we wanted to do it right.”

Bower advises the college’s student vehicle teams, engineering students who gain hands-on experience designing and building cars and trucks, often in competition with similar groups at other universities. The teams took on the Bucky Wagon as one of their projects — one with unique problems.

The wagon was already a bit of an antique when Jay ’49, MBA’50 and Norma ’48 Normington donated it to the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) in the early 1970s. A 1932 American LaFrance fire engine, the vehicle had cable brakes and no power steering. In 2009, a cracked transmission nearly sent it to the junkyard, as replacement parts were too hard to come by.

“At first we had only one option, and that was to sell it for parts,” says WAA’s Mark Blakeslee. “If the College of Engineering hadn’t stepped in, the Bucky Wagon today would just be a memory.”

To get parts, Bower and his students drew aid from contacts at various companies, including Pierce Manufacturing, A123 Systems, Phoenix International, Remy International, Ford, Alcoa, EnviroTech, and ZF Transmissions. The result is a fire engine that looks traditional, but is almost entirely new. After making its debut in the Homecoming Parade, the Bucky Wagon returned to its duty as an ambassador for UW spirit.

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Bucky Badger Always Warms My Heart https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/campus-news/bucky-badger-always-warms-my-heart/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/campus-news/bucky-badger-always-warms-my-heart/#respond Wed, 09 Nov 2011 16:34:08 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=5861 3 buckys

Illustration: Barry Roal Carlsen

There is a warm spot reserved in my heart for Buckingham U. “Bucky” Badger.

Always has been; always will be.

He was christened officially in 1949, the year I was born. We share the same hometown. His favorite team is my favorite team. We’re from the baby boomer generation. Love that shared experience!

Over the years, Buckingham U. Badger has literally made me laugh out loud. He has brought joy to virtually every university event — sporting or otherwise — that he attends.

He is a celebrity in our clan, from the oldest to the youngest among us. Actually, he’s a celebrity in sports venues across the country.

I’ll never forget how he generated squeals of recognition and delight among throngs of kids on a beautiful summer evening at Fond du Lac’s Buttermilk Creek Park many years ago. The local UW–Madison alumni chapter invited him to a Buttermilk concert, and he gladly accepted — and brought along gallons and gallons of famed Babcock Hall ice cream to treat the crowd.

In the dark ages of the Don Morton football era, Bucky was one of only a couple of bright spots to be found. The UW Marching Band was the other.

Bucky and the band continue to entertain appreciative crowds, but they’re no longer the only reasons fans flock to Camp Randall. The Badgers have showcased a litany of good to excellent football teams over the past eighteen years, and the future looks bright, even rosy on occasion.

Those are a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind last November as I watched Bucky Badger doing pushups to match the tidal wave of scoring against a bewildered Indiana University team at Camp Randall Stadium.

In all, Bucky did 535 pushups that afternoon. It’s part of the job — despite his massive thirty-five-pound head and sweaty fur — for the Badger mascot to match pushups with the score after every extra point, field goal, or safety.

In fact, the responsibility that day was shared by three Buckys. When one Bucky’s arms go limp, the next Bucky steps up.

The final score was 83-20. When Bucky completed the final pushup and melted onto the turf near the student section, we left the stadium secure in the knowledge that we had just witnessed Buckingham U. history.

On the way home, I recalled the night Bucky Badger called me at my house in Fond du Lac.

It’s a matter of legend and lore in the Mentzer household.

It was April 1995. We had sent a check to our daughter, Julie, a student at UW–Madison who was desperate for financial aid from the home front. Turns out, she lost the check. And she was frantic.

“Hello … Mr. Mentzer?” The caller inquired. “I found a check to Julie Mentzer on University Avenue. I could deliver it to her, or I could just send it back to you.”

I told him I would be at Camp Randall on Saturday, a few days away, for the annual spring football game. I said I would like to meet him and thank him personally, and I could get the check from him at that point.

“That’s perfect,” he said. “I’m one of the Bucky Badgers. I’ll be there for the game.”

And so we met at the ticket office gate, though he wasn’t yet in his Bucky suit. He handed me a crumpled, street-stained check. He refused any reward, saying he was happy to help. He was an honorable young man — a salt of-the-earth Wisconsin Badger in more ways than one.

I couldn’t help but think there was a message in that chance meeting — again, in more ways than one.

The memory warms my Badger heart.

This essay originally appeared in the Fond du Lac Reporter, where Michael Mentzer ’72 is the managing editor.

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Badger Beauty https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/2208/ https://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/bygone/2208/#comments Thu, 18 Feb 2010 23:38:52 +0000 http://onwisconsin.uwalumni.com/?p=2208

Becky Badger, courtesy UW-Madison Archives

Last fall, Buckingham U. Badger passed his sixtieth birthday — six full decades as the sole official mascot for the UW. That’s a long time to be alone. Why, we wondered, has Bucky never had any feminine companionship?

It turns out, we were wrong to assume he hadn’t. This photo, shot circa 1980, proves that there once was a female badger mascot running around Camp Randall Stadium. Who was this fetching creature in the miniskirt and hair bow?

Her name was Becky Badger, a legendary — some might say mythical — figure on campus. Some say she was Bucky’s girlfriend. Others claim she was his sister. Let’s hope they’re not both right.

One reason for the mystery surrounding Becky Badger’s origins is that she was never an official UW mascot. She was the creation of Madison’s Park Bank. Bob Gorsuch, former president of Park Bank, says that in the 1970s and 1980s, the firm gave away Becky dolls to patrons when they opened new accounts. It also dressed an employee (usually a student) as Becky and sent her out to football games to promote financial services.

Becky quickly caught on. Capital City Comics declared she was “the Campus Mascot for the Seventies” and sold T-shirts with her image. The Wisconsin Alumni Association and the National W Club included her at their official, annual tailgate party, called the Badger Blast, where she received billing right alongside Bucky.

But bank mascots don’t last forever, and Becky disappeared sometime in the 1980s. She’s not entirely gone, though. A mascot-supply company called Facemakers still sells this very costume, keeping alive the legacy — and mystery — of Madison’s Mascot for the Seventies.

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