In 1961, university life was completely different than it is today—or was it? In "A Puppy Dog Tale," a lighthearted item from the 1961 Oregana (the UO's yearbook), author Ron Abell, MS '60, and illustrator Jim Cloutier '63, MFA '69, enlisted the format of a children's storybook to tell the tale of how a little yellow puppy learns what life's really about. From a Duck. At the Fishbowl. Sound familiar?
Once upon a time a yellow puppy, after chewing up an old shoe, a welcome mat, and the brim of a discarded fedora, found a university catalog in his mouth. He had chewed his way through the table of contents, the faculty, and the admission requirements, and was halfway through scholarships and other grants, when he decided he very much liked the taste of college. So much, in fact, that he decided to get more than just a taste. So the yellow puppy trotted out to the nearest highway and stood there, smiling, waiting for someone to drive up and give him a ride.
After a while a car stopped and a big bear offered him a ride. "Come to my college," said the big bear. "It's in a big city and every year we all go to Pasadena and play football." But the yellow puppy thought, who needs football? And he told the big bear that he was sorry but he would wait a while longer. The next car that stopped was driven by a farmer. "Come to my college," said the farmer. "You'll learn how to drive a tractor and how to hoe a furrow and how to cash parity checks." But the yellow puppy didn't know what a furrow was, much less a parity check, so he said he was sorry but he'd wait a while longer. Then another car stopped and a duck offered him a ride. "Come to my college," said the duck. "It's surrounded by pretty trees and we all have fun and we learn what life is really about." The yellow puppy thought about trees and about having fun, and he sincerely did want to learn what life was all about, so he went with the duck.
At the duck's college the yellow puppy ran around smiling and barking and looking at all the trees. People petted him and fed him hamburgers and invited him to come along with them while they had fun. The yellow puppy visited the Fishbowl and watched all the ducks playing bridge and drinking coffee and talking about ParisFranceKarlMarxForeignFilmsandOlympiaBeer. But nobody seemed to be learning what life was really about. Then the yellow puppy trotted smiling to the Side, where he watched all the ducks playing bridge and drinking coffee and talking about ParisFranceKarlMarx-ForeignFilmsandOlympiaBeer. "Bark! Bark!" he said, wagging his tail and grinning, and what he meant was, "What is life really about?" Then the yellow puppy was invited to Maxie's, where a lot of ducks were talking. The puppy listened hard, but it seemed to him after a while that the ducks were talking about KarlFranceParisBeer-ForeignMarxandOlympiaFilms, which was indeed strange. But it was fun, and the yellow puppy did the same thing the second day he was at the duck's college, and the third day, and the fourth day.
After a while the yellow puppy had become a big yellow dog and he was still spending all his time at the Fishbowl, and the Side, and at Maxie's. He had a lot of friends and a lot of fun. Every year he would make a few new friends, although a few old friends would sadly move along somewhere, out to a different sort of world where, the yellow dog imagined, they would commence finally to learn what life was really about. When he thought about it, which didn't happen very often, the yellow dog decided that it might be nice to go along with them someday. But after all, he had plenty of time, plenty of time.
—By Ron Abell and Jim Cloutier
Oregana was published from 1910 to 1968 and from 1975 to 1980. It was preceded by yearbooks titled The Webfoot (1902, '03, and '05); Bulletin: a Class Book (1907–8); and, believe it or not, The Beaver (1909). Google "UO Oregana" or visit UO Libraries Scholars' Bank for a link to all the yearbooks, which are available online through the UO Libraries.