The “Blue Goose,” a behemoth of a bus, transported St. Mary’s basketball and football teams cross country between the years of 1938 and 1942. Despite only transporting St. Mary’s athletes for four short years, the “Blue Goose” became known across the country.
St. Mary’s bought the Pickwick-engined “Blue Goose” from a California Greyhound company in 1938 to transport its athletic teams across the country. St. Mary’s debuted their bus on a trip to Houston in December 1938. The Rattlers beat St. Edward’s 27-7 on the last game coached by Frank Bridges, giving Bridges a satisfactory conclusion to his coaching career at St. Mary’s while launching the “Blue Goose” on a legendary start to its St. Mary’s career. The large blue bus, with its barred windows, was an eyesore. Upon seeing the bus for the first time, Senator John Stafford, a St. Mary’s alumni, gave it the nickname “The Blue Goose.” The football players embraced the name and it quickly stuck.
Paul Casseb, a student at St. Mary’s Law school in 1940, came across a definition for a “Blue Goose” in American Tramp and Underworld Slang: “A ‘Blue Goose’ is the general cage or shell, shared by all the prisoners, in a convict road camp or on a chain gang. Also, the general room in a prison or jail from which access is had to the cells. The open mesh or steel-barred sides of this enclosure through which small articles may be thrown, is responsible for the expression, ‘Like mud through a blue goose,’ which indicates any swift or easy passage through a town or district.” Upon reading this description, Casseb wrote The Rattler to ask if the originator of the nickname understood its full significance. Senator Stafford was encamped with the National Guard at the time, but The Rattler contacted a close affiliate who confirmed Stafford’s full knowledge of the term.
Indeed, the definition adequately fit the giant bus. It carried 53 passengers in full capacity. When empty, the bus weighed 22,000 pounds. The State license costs $110 in 1939, when adjusted for inflation, it cost $2,036.55, adjusted to 2019 standards. For the three years it was in use, the “Blue Goose” travelled 30,000 miles, guzzling 7,500 gallons of gasoline, which ran up a bill of $1,125 ($17,761.61 when adjusted for inflation). It packed in the football and basketball teams as it travelled cross country to various games. The “Blue Goose” made its longest trip when it transported the Rattlers to New Hampshire and New York City. It’s reputation preceded it wherever the “Blue Goose” travelled, so much so that Life Magazine wrote an article about how a group of brothers shuttled students across the country in the largest bus imaginable.
Considered an embarrassment by some students, the “Blue Goose” found an honorable second career during World War II. In October 1942, the Armstrong-White Motor Co, took the bus in for remodeling, making it suitable to transport war workers to their jobs. The “Blue Goose” had a short existence at St. Mary’s, but it’s impact on a generation of students is marked in road trips shared by the team and a bemused Life Magazine article.