Famous Animals at Tech

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Georgia Tech has always had its share of animals around campus. They range from the semi-feral cats that roam East Campus avoiding Brittain Dining Hall cooks to the various fraternity house dogs that will yelp and run into a dumpster at the first sign of a beer tap. In the history of Georgia Tech, there were some animals that appeared on campus and had their names known to the Tech community. Among those the most famous two were a California bear and a crippled dog.


Stumpy's Bear

The bear was given to the Georgia Tech football team after it beated California in the 1929 Rose Bowl, the fisrt major victory of Techin Bowl games.[1] Stumpy Thomason, the noteworthy Tech fullback took over the care of the brown young cub named Bruin, but it soon became known by all as Stumpy's Bear. Stumpy's bear was not unlike many of the bipedal inhabitants of Tech. Dean of Students George Griffin once said of Bruin that "he was at least as smart as most Tech students, with all of the vices of modern youth." He often enjoyed drinking beer and Coca-Cola, and was fond of taking rides in the back of Stumpy's car and showering in hot weather. As a record for his drinking games, the bear learned to drink beverages out of Coca-Cola bottles and was reputed to be able to down up to 20 bottles at a time, and, not a suprise to every Tech student, it was said the bear's favorite beverage was beer.[2]

Stumpy and his bear

During his years at Tech, Stumpy took the bear with him everywhere he went but the bear's residence was officially under the East stands of Bobby Dodd Stadium, where he was somewhat tenuously chained. He often escaped his confines when Stumpy would forget to feed him and wandered the city of Atlanta. On some of these occasions Atlanta Police would receive calls from frightened Atlanta homeowners complaining of a bear on their back porches. The police, who were familiar with Bruin, would pull up to the house, open their passenger door, and beckon Bruin into the car. They would return him to Grant Field with a request to Coach Alex to have Stumpy feed his bear.

Stumpy was so regular a fixture at the Athletic Association that he was almost ignored by the staff. Newcomers, however, found his acquaintance a difficult one to forget.

In August of 1929 Mike Chambers and Lee Jensen, new trainers for the Yellow Jackets, arrived in Atlanta. They reached Tech a few hours before their expected time. The coach, who was still in practice, had them wait for him in the team's equipment room. The two men believed Atlanta to be a sleepy southern town, devoid of excitement. They complained to each other that they had made a mistake coming to "this last outpost of civilization" where "nothing ever happens." Just then Bruin, hearing stranger's voices, ambled into the room to meet the new men. Both of them dove for the first containers big enough to conceal them: a locker and a medicine cabinet. Bruin, thinking that they were playing some sort of game, sought to get at each of the men, clawing and biting at the metal hiding places in which the men were hiding. A few hours later Coach Alex returned to the room, shooing out Bruin, to look for the new trainers. Only after the bear had left did he hear the muffled cries of the men in the lockers. Opening the medicine cabinet one of them fell out, exhausted from the heat and lack of air, and declared to the coach, "I will never again say that nothing ever happens in Atlanta." [3]

The bear grew and grew and soon weighed over 400 pounds.Eventually, Bruin outgrew the campus and was moved to New York, where he became the mascot for a football team there. He later retired to a zoo in Crystal Springs, Canada.


Sideways' gravestone

Sideways was a white female terrier, with black patches on her face[4]Sideways the dog.She came to Tech in March 1945, when she was eight months old, from the home of Mrs. Schofield, a kindly boardinghouse owner on North Avenue. Mrs. Schofield took the dog in as a young puppy after she was severely injured from a fall from a car window at the Varsity. Tech students, rescuing the dog, brought her back to campus and nursed her back to health. She recovered, but was left by the accident with a walk in which her head was permanently at an angle from her tail. This odd, off-centered gait and on-the-bias walk gave her a name: Sideways.

Sideway was a popular figure on the campus, attending classes, marching with the drill teams and often leading the football team onto the field. She would often accompany students to and from their classes, displaying a preference for certain professors' lectures. It was said that she would sit up and listen raptly to interesting lecturers, while she would curl up and sleep for a less engaging speaker. Sideways would spend every night in a different dorm room, and would always get her meals at Brittain Dining Hall. Sideways often had run-ins with the law and was frequently caught by the dog catcher, but was always bailed out of "prison" by her loyal student benefactors.

Her life ended sadly when she ate some rat poison. She was buried on the northwest corner of Tech Tower, where her grave marker still stands today. It reads, "Sideways. Ever faithful and true. Companion of student body of Ga. Tech." From that vantage point on The Hill, she continues to watch over her benefactors in the student body.[5]


  1. 1929 Rose bowl game, retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Rose_Bowl
  2. Stump's Bear, from http://web.archive.org/web/20070905033207/gtalumni.org/Publications/techtraditions/legends/stumpy.html
  3. "Ramblins - Stumpy's bear, Sideways the dog remembered in Tech history,from The Technique
  4. Sideway the dog, from http://web.archive.org/web/20070902132042/gtalumni.org/Publications/techtraditions/legends/sideways.html
  5. sideway's gravestone,from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Tech_traditions
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