The recent death of Mike the Tiger, LSU's mascot, brought up some family memories. I have heard that my grandfather, Smedley W. Amiss, had obtained a young tiger cub years ago to be one of the first tiger mascots. It was named ""Eat 'em up." Do you have any information on this subject?
Family stories are wonderful, but sometimes they're just stories. I'm afraid that the story about your grandfather is a fallacy.
The Fighting Tigers of LSU got their first live Bengal tiger mascot in 1936 from the Little Rock Zoo for $750, money collected from the student body. The mascot was renamed in honor of LSU's athletic trainer Mike Chambers and became Mike I. A permanent home was constructed for Mike " the tiger " near Tiger Stadium, and he was a great mascot until his death in 1956.
Mike II began his reign in September 1956, and there are many conflicting stories surrounding this mascot, including the fact that there may have even been two Mike IIs. Nevertheless, Mike II passed into LSU history in 1958.
Just in time for the 1958 championship season, Mike III arrived from the Seattle Zoo. Eighteen seasons later in 1976, Mike III went to mascot heaven after LSU had its only losing football season of the tiger's term.
Born in 1974, Mike IV was donated to LSU by August A. Busch III when the tiger was 2 years old. He came from the Dark Continent Amusement Park in Tampa, Fla. For 14 years, Mike IV was the mascot, then he retired to the Baton Rouge Zoo in 1990. He lived to be 21 and died of natural causes.
Mike V, who died at age 17 on May 18, was also a gift to the school. Donated by Dr. Thomas and Caroline Atchison of the Animal House Zoological Park in Moulton, Ala., Mike V was just a baby " born Oct. 18, 1989 " when he first met the LSU fans at a basketball game in February 1990. Shortly afterward, he took up residence in the tiger habitat across from Tiger Stadium.
In 2005, a new environment was created for Mike. It is a lush, 15,000-square-foot playground with trees, plants, a waterfall and a stream and is considered one of the grandest tiger habitats in the country.
Bengal tigers from India are the largest in the cat family. Their lifespan in the wild is eight to 10 years, and they are on the endangered species list. But animal lovers will take comfort in knowing that all of the Mikes at LSU were loved, as is Mike VI, a Bengal/Siberian mix donated by Great Cats of Indiana.
I left New Orleans 10 years ago and appreciate all ways to alleviate missing it. There is a certain shade of green that I recall is used to paint various municipal objects, such as streetcars. Can you help me out? Is it legal to use outside New Orleans?
I am always pleased to hear from our readers abroad. Tokyo wins the prize for being the farthest away. Aren't computers wonderful? There you are in Tokyo reading Gambit.
The color of our streetcars is not exotic or illegal. Historically, the St. Charles streetcars have been painted olive green. The streetcars on the old Canal Line also were painted olive green until they were removed in 1964. When the streetcars returned in 2004, they were flaming red like the streetcars on the Riverfront Line.
Sadly, the red cars were housed in a barn that flooded during Hurricane Katrina. It is estimated it will cost $800,000 to $1 million to restore each one. In the meantime, some of the green streetcars are being used on the Canal Line. The St. Charles Line also was hit by the storm, but the green streetcars, housed in a barn that didn't flood, were untouched. The St. Charles Line between Canal Street and Lee Circle is up and running. With luck, all of our streetcars " both red and green " will be back in service very soon.