This week, my buddy Greg shot me a text-pic of the latest additions to his home bar…top shelf, far right. Well, not far right, that’s a Yellow Pages. Far right in the glasses category:
I don’t expect that to mean a whole lot to anyone who is not an alumnus of Wauwatosa East High School. In fact, it may not mean much to those who attended Wauwatosa East High School after 1994. I have spoken on-air of him, the guy on the glass, many times. His name is Tommy Raider, and he was, for good reason, unceremoniously retired in 1994. Here’s a clearer picture for ya:
Yep, that was our mascot.
I often speak of the things that I cannot believe have happened in the lifetimes of those who still walk this planet. This is one of those things.
Back when I was a high schooler, I didn’t give Tommy Raider a second thought. He was just a mean lookin’ warrior guy around whom we would rally on game day. And even now I can look at him and say, “Dang, the dude is pretty bad a*s.” Of course, the overriding truth is that Tommy Raider, though bad a*s and mean lookin’ and a symbol of ferocity and therein a source of pride for all who perform under him, is heinously offensive! It may very well be the most offensive mascot ever.
Tommy Raider was not only perched atop the gymnasium and plastered on apparel – yes, students and administrators alike used to wear that guy – there was a time when he would roam the sidelines in costumed glory. In fact, he had a little lady friend, all dolled up in buckskin fringe, who would dance around prior to the game and get the fans all fired up.
Yep, that happened.
Once Tommy Raider was eliminated, Tosa East suffered a bit of an identity crisis, sampling a number of symbols, ranging from a big block red W to an arrowhead with some feathers. At present, my alma mater sports a shield with menacing T-E lettering, pierced by a pair of swords:
I’m definitely down with that look, but like my friend Greg, my heart will always harbor a pocket of kinship with ol’ Tommy Raider, for he was the mascot of my school, and he was designed with noble intentions. Of course, noble intentions is not a legitimate roadblock to change. That dude had to go.