Do you ever investigate or look into local legends? We have a local newspaper that does a semi-regular feature about local legends, heroes, villians, and the like. I’ve found out about the guy that the street in front of my house is named after and things like that.
Well, this past week we went to Hutto, a small town near us and while we were there we had to pose at the famous Hutto Hippo.
Here’s where local legend comes into play.
There are several versions of how hippos came to be the town mascot. I mean you don’t tend to think of hippos when you’re talking about central Texas.
The “official” version, or the one I usually hear goes like this:
Once a train stopped in town to reload and get water and such stuff. Well, a circus was part of that train and they took the opportunity to water and feed their animals, and suddenly a cry went up, “The hippo has escaped! The hippo escaped!” (Now, I’m picturing this with crayon drawings, aren’t you? Maybe like kid stick figures.)
Well, there was a frantic scramble, and the railroad station is suddenly sending a telegraph up and down line to Taylor and Round Rock to “stop all trains, there’s a hippo loose in Hutto.” Of course there was some doubt on the other end, but they stopped the trains.
That’s the story I usually heard, but when I was asked by my in-laws how the mascot came to be and I looked it up to confirm I also found:
1. Back in the early 1900s (same time period as the first story) their football team would take the field and being big burly ranch boys the other team took one look at them and said, “We can’t play them, they’re as huge as hippos!”
2. The final one is that Hutto didn’t have jerseys and they went onto the field wearing feed sacks, and the opposing coach said they “looked like hippos in those uniforms.” The Hutto players decided to make it a badge of honor.
I don’t know which story is the real one, but I think the circus one makes for the best story. They really take pride in their hippos, you’ll see people with a hippo statue in their front yard, most businesses have one somewhere. You can even buy your own hippo statue from the chamber of commerce. If Jeff didn’t think I was crazy I’d be kinda tempted to get on, that and it’d be disloyal to our “round rock”…. round rock just isn’t as amusing a story. Well it is, but it was like the fourth or fifth name choice the first few were taken.
Oh and as a side point, don’t you feel sorry for those girls? The Lady Hippos? I kinda do, but if you’re smart, you really don’t want to mess with a hippo, they are deadly.