Sunday, January 23, 2022

WU-Shock takes on a new form

 

It's time once again to join Sami at Sami's Colourful World and her Monday Murals.  Even though it's still Sunday in my world, please be aware that Sami's mural link goes live at 10:01 a.m. my time today.    

Seems our (Wichita State University or WSU) mascot, Wu-Shock has taken on a new form.  He is strangling the Kansas University (KU) Jayhawk and the Kansas State University (K-State) Willy Wildcat.  Note the muscle bound giant's wheat hair and torso.

This is WSU's real mascot: a shock of wheat.  A bit of history about WU-Shock begins with its creation.  When Wichita State University, then known as Fairmount College, first formed a football team in 1904, many of the players earned tuition money by harvesting wheat. When wheat is harvested, it’s tied together into a bundle called a shock. The shocks are then put through a process called threshing, which separates the edible wheat kernels from the chaff.
 
The school’s first football manager, R.J. Kirk, used the name “Wheat Shockers” for the football team on a poster advertising an upcoming game. The school’s pep club members were called Wheaties, and the football team played on a wheat field, so the name stuck.  

Then something incredible and unimaginable happened.  On Friday, October 2, 1970, a pair of Martin 404 twin-engine aircraft took off from Wichita, Kansas, carrying the Wichita State University (WSU) football team, coaches, and VIP supporters. They were bound for Logan, Utah, to play the Utah State University Aggies the following day. Both airplanes refueled at Denver's Stapleton Airport.  One of the planes proceeded to Utah via southern Wyoming, avoiding Colorado’s high mountain wall. 
 
According to one article (see below):
This was also the first time the team would play that far west. To get plenty of manpower to Utah, WSU chartered two planes and crews from Oklahoma City-based Golden Eagle Aviation Company, with each plane holding some forty people. The plane now bound for the high mountains of the Continental Divide carried WSU athletic director Bert Katzenmeyer, head coach Ben Wilson, Kansas state legislator Carl Fahrbach, the university’s admissions director, several of their wives, ticket manager Floyd Farmer, and twenty-two starting players. 

Ahead stood the Continental Divide, nearly 13,000 feet above sea level. To its passengers, the plane seemed quite low, and some of them heard the pilot announce that it was taking the “scenic route” through the Rocky Mountains. The plane followed the new Interstate 70, where a construction crew worked below on the Straight Creek Tunnel.  Copilot Skipper had been gaining altitude since departure from Denver, but it was quickly becoming apparent that the plane was too low to proceed over the lofty granite barrier looming ahead. Below on the interstate, California tourists Mr. and Mrs. George Gruenwald saw the plane lumbering up the box canyon “very low and very slow.” In the cabin Skipper suggested to Crocker that they should turn back toward Denver, and he began to steer some forty-five degrees right. But Crocker seized the controls and began a left turn. At 1:14 pm, highway workers saw the plane dip and strike the side of Mt. Bethel, exploding twice on the slope.

Adapted from Ariana Harner, “‘Scenic Route Through the Rockies’: The Wichita State University Tragedy,” Colorado Heritage Magazine 18, no. 1 (1998).

Eleven passengers survived the crash, but twenty-nine died on impact and another two succumbed to wounds afterward. Remains of the crash are still located on Mt. Bethel.  Needless to say, Wichita State never recovered from the loss. WSU hasn't had a football team since that fateful day in 1970.  We DO have a great basketball team, though!  

WuShock has been called everything from ugly, terrifying, and weird.  In fact, a quick online search on WuShock yields a plethora of both images and insults.  People have called him things like a french fry and a highlighter.  And now he's depicted as a giant in this mural.  The internet isn't alone.  I've always thought a shock of wheat was a stupid mascot and have said so on countless occasions, even though this is my final alma mater.
 
This is another mural by Potts, the same artist who created the Selfie a few weeks back.  This triptych mural is located inside The Pumphouse, a drinking establishment, at 825 East Douglas in Wichita, Kansas (USA).

If you enjoy murals from around the world, please don't forget to visit Monday Murals at Sami's Colourful World.  Thanks for stopping by to visit Bleubeard and me today.  
 

20 thoughtful remarks:

Elephant's Child said...

What a sad, sad story.
Everyone in town must have known someone on that plane.
The mural made me smile at first glance, but that smile faded as I read on.

Valerie-Jael said...

Not a happy mural or story today! Have a great Sunday, take care, hugs, Valerie

Iris Flavia said...

What a very sad story.
"Glad" I read it only today after I spent the night.... watching football.

CJ Kennedy said...

The WuShock in the mural looks like the Hulk from the Marvel comics.

DVArtist said...

OMG I love this mural!!!!

Mae Travels said...

Thinking about the hyper-masculine, aggressive, and ultimately dangerous side of sports mascots and sports promotions is a bad idea. To me, this monster is an extreme example of the essence of college sports. (Note: I live in Ann Arbor MI so I get kind of an OD without going to any games)

As T.S. Eliot said, “humankind can not bear very much reality” -- I think that includes sports. Not that I really like T.S.Eliot.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Divers and Sundry said...

That's quite an evolution!

Tom said...

...if you are a Wichita State University sports fan, then this one would be right up your alley! It's a tad violent for me, peace be with you!

My name is Erika. said...

I think I like the original WU-shock better, but that mural sure shows some school spirit. I didn't know about wheat shocks. That's the 4th new word or phrase (or use of a word) I have learned today. It is definitely word Sunday. And that was one terrible accident back in 1970. Hope your weekend is ending well. Hugs-Erika

kwarkito said...

a sad story and a strange mural...

Cloudia said...

How very curious! Sad story

Sandra Cox said...

Oh gosh. What a sad story. I'd never heard about the plane that went down.
That mascot is just a tad bit violent:) Though so is football. I like his Wheat hair. Looks like the hulk doesn't he? And now knowing what it means I like the name Shock:) All kinds of info today.
Thanks, dear Elizabeth.

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Bertiebo said...

I am happy with your detailed explanation. Without that explanation, I wouldn't have understood anything about it.

Sami said...

What a sad story about the plane crash and all those lives lost.
He looks like Hulk, and a bit aggressive.
Thanks for participating in Monday Murals Elizabeth.

craftytrog said...

Goodness! He certainly looks very frightening!

pearshapedcrafting said...

Oh My! What a sad story to go along with this striking mural. Chrisx

Birgit said...

I never knew that about wheat and I wonder if that is where the Wheaties cereal comes from too. That is a very sad story and I saw this on a Mayday episode. "Mayday" is a docudrama series about airplane disasters. I am nopt sure I would want to look at this wheat hulk every day when eating my lunch. Oh well each to their own. have a beautiful day and week ahead.

Linda said...

I am amazed that 11 people survived that crash!

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Great mural.