Celebrating 150: The Gum Tree

Remnants of the gum proceed down Franklin Street during the Homecoming parade in 1999. Vandals destroyed the tree that fall, but new versions have continued on campus ever since. 

In the 1920s, it was against the rules to chew gum in class. According to campus lore, students used to stick their chewing gum inside an old suit of armor named Oscar located inside the library. That hiding spot was later replaced by a tree on the east side of the Quad because it was closer to classrooms. Some said adding gum to the tree would bring good luck. Others claimed contributing to it on the way to an exam would ensure a passing grade.

The original gum tree was knocked down by vandals in 1999, and the tree made its farewell appearance as a float in the Homecoming parade that same year. Within days of the first gum tree being knocked down, a new one was appointed. The replacement tree survived for many years until it was lost due to a drought in the summer of 2012 and had to be cut down a year later. The most recent gum tree is located on the west side of the Quad near the sidewalk.

To see more campus traditions, visit truman.edu/about/facts-about-truman/traditions.
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