Our Mascot: The Creation of the Miller Man
During the early years of Yukon's school, the team was called the Panthers and the yearbook was called The Javelin. The school's colors have always been red and white or "Crimson and Creme." The first graduating class in 1904 consisted of three women - all of whom have returned to Yukon and have taught in the Yukon Schools. They called themselves the "pioneer class" and were the first basketball team, the first tennis team, and the first alumni.
In 1910, Yukon had its first football team. One of the former members of the team, Bennet Harris, stated, "the first game was with Epworth University of Oklahoma City, which ended in a scoreless tie, and Pat Patterson's left ear was missing after the game." (The Yukon Sun, date unknown)
In the 1920's the school newspaper was The Red and White, and in 1923 the first mascot was a dog named Mike. Mike is thought to be buried by the goal post at the old high school football field, which is west of the current Central Elementary School. Not until the fall of 1930 or the spring of 1931 did the name begin to change from the Panthers to the Millers. The transition was difficult as some fans liked Panthers while others liked the Millers! However, the Yukon Flour Mill played a significant role in Yukon's development—and therefore, had impacted the school.
The Yukon Mill and Grain Co., an important industry for Yukon and surrounding farmers' wheat produce, contributed much to the growth and modernization of our community and school. Yukon Electric Company, a subsidiary of the Yukon Mill and Grain Company, brought electricity to the new District 27 School in 1911. The school was also excited about indoor plumbing, and they no longer had to worry about poor conditions of the outhouses, as reported in 1905.
The name "Miller" identified the individual responsible for opening the mill early in the morning and locking the mill late in the evening. He had a very important job! It was in the fall of 1930 and spring of 1931 that the transition from the Panthers to the Millers was made!
Thirty-four years later, in the fall of 1965, the Millers were playing in the State football playoffs in Edmond. Yukon was the only school without a mascot! Marie Wilkins, marketing teacher, decided to design a quick costume for the event! Janice Wilkins Bedell, Marie's daughter, was a freshman cheerleader. Marie clothed her in white leotards, a Yukon Flour Mills sack, and ear muffs! Janice Bedell claims she was not the first "Miller Man". She was only a Yukon Mill Flour sack!
During this time, opposing teams were wearing spirit ribbons entitled, "Swat the Miller Bugs!" Many of the teams in the conference were named after various insects, "The Hornets, Yellow jackets, etc." No one really knew what a "miller" represented—except for the "miller bug". These small moths are commonly found in sacks of flour.
The situation was very worrisome for the Yukon student body, but no one seemed to have an answer to their problem until Miss Thelma Ratcliff and her senior English classes were reading The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. One of the notable characters in the tale is a Miller Man. In the Prologue, Chaucer wrote, "The Miller was a chap of sixteen stone, a great stout fellow big in a brawn and bone. He did well out of them, for he could go and win the ram at any wrestling show. Broad, knotty and short-shouldered, he would boast he could heave any door off hinge and post,...“
The 1965-1966 Senior Yearbook staff decided this was their fellow. This would be the Miller symbol. Senior Tommy Thompson, yearbook artist, was given the task of sketching the first Miller Man. The drawing was not as ferocious as the Miller Man in the Canterbury Tales, however, he still had time to "blossom" and grow. Yukon had their Miller Man.
The 1966 yearbook is the first annual to boast this fine character. It was not until several years later, when Tommy Thompson returned from the Vietnam War, that he was very surprised, as well as proud to see his sketch on the stadium cushions.
This inspirational story and creation of tradition began with an English teacher, Miss Thelma Ratcliff, the determination of the 1966 yearbook Staff, and the artistic ability of one student, Tommy Thompson, to create an image that has given our school and community a source of much love and pride!
The Miller Man held his first image until 1974. Then, just like you and me, growing in confidence and strength, he evolved into the fine symbol he is today. So far, The Miller Man’s appearance has changed four times—once in 1974, again in 1984, 1987, and once again in 2011. The Miller Man boasts of strength of character and sportsmanship and continues to grow stronger with our love and support.