I came across a fellow bloggers page and it was about a visit to Seattle,WA and the Gum Alley at Pike Place Market (the blog). I made me think of my home town San Luis Obispo, CA and the local tradition of putting your “ABC” gum on Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo Alley way. No one knows exactly how this local tradition started other than it could have been between the SLO High and Cal Poly.
The reconigtion this wall has goes on as tall as I am…lol
San Luis Obispo’s Bubblegum Alley has been featured on a number of television shows, news programs, and in newspapers around the world. Newspapers such as the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have addressed the disgusts and delights of the gum wall visitors. Other newspaper articles have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Grand Rapids Press in Michigan, the Times Union from Albany, New York, and The Guardian in the United Kingdom. KSBY Action 6 News did a story about the alleyway and broadcast it nationally. TV crews filmed the alley for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, That’s Incredible!, Real People, and on PBS. MTV featured Bubblegum Alley in the show Call to Greatness. The crew picked Bubblegum Alley to film the episode on breaking the world record for largest bubblegum bubble. It featured record holder Susan Montgumery Williams, or as she’s known in the business, “Chewsy Suzy”, and at the end of the show a graphic was shown that said that while she was there she blew a 24-inch (610 mm) bubble, which wasn’t shown on TV (Her record bubble, which was blown on national TV in 1996, was 23 inches). ABC’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not also aired a story on October 14, 1984 about the alley. It was also featured on an episode of The Girls Next Door on E! and mentioned in an episode of “United States of Tara”.
( Thank You Wikipedia)
So the Myth or Tradition of the Gum Wall is, An alleyway full of over-chewed, 40-year-old bubble gum sounds unpleasant, but contrary to that belief many have started their own gummy traditions to keep this alleyway a must-see. One obvious tradition is the different fraternity and sorority letters. Another tradition that might confuse someone unfamiliar with the area is the variety of numbers lining the walls. To most people they may seem like a random assortment of numbers, but to any Cal Poly student these numbers represent Week of Welcome (or WOW) numbers. WOW is the first week before school starts in the fall for incoming freshmen; each WOW group has a different number and the leaders of each group take their students to Bubblegum Alley to leave their first mark on the city. Some just stick their gum on the overloaded walls while others get creative and leave their actual group number.
If you ever find yourself in my hometown of San Luis Obispo “SLO”, bring your ABC and contribute to the tradition that has been growing over 40-years!
on a side note- I think the Seattle Alley is sooo colorful!