History of Oski Includes Forcible Removal From Stadium,
Mascot’s Hunger Strike, Absence, Renaissance in 1942
By Ann Beaman '49
Friday, November 22, 1946
Oski was a lively mascot on this campus 11 years ago when he first appeared at the Cal - St. Mary’s game in 1935.
Instead of being welcomed as he is now, the poor bear was forcibly removed from the stadium. In protest, the cub went on a hunger strike. The Californian said, "Refusing all nourishment, since being banned from the Memorial stadium Saturday, the Alpha Tau Omega's cub mascot has shrunk from his formerly chubby form until he now resembles a bear skin rug draped over a frame of bones."
The little cub issued no statement regarding his strike at that time, for he really was bear and an important bear, too.
Executive committee debated 45 minutes before officially adopting him as the Varsity mascot. The Ex committee resolution when passed read, "If Oski is muzzled and manicured, he may be brought onto the field in the middle of the first quarter and removed at the middle of the fourth." This caution resulted from an accident in 1933 when a man was clawed in the stadium by a ferocious bear, not Oski!
But Oski the bear - the loyal Oski - who fasted when he was barred from the Memorial stadium and who lost five fleshy pounds after the Big Game, was never again to grace a fraternity house lawn, for he was sold for $10 to Pete's zoo. As most cubs do, Oski had grown into a full size bear and had learned with great accuracy to floor his keeper, J. Paul Jones '37, with one mighty blow.
Thus Oski disappeared from the University in 1942 when he was created as he is now portrayed by Bill Rockwell, then class of '43. Before coming to Cal, Rockwell impersonated a Viking for Long Beach Junior college.
At the time of his initial appearance Warren Colescott ’42 drew a series of Cartoons and Rockwell designed a paper mache head. An Oski yell was written by rally committee and the active bear made his appearance at a Cal-St. Mary's rally. Cal was the underdog that year but it defeated St. Mary's 31-7, a victory which Oski has always credited to himself.