By Ariana Burns & Dusty Fleener, Palouse Anthropology
In 1946, amid the post-war boom of veterans going to college and the accompanying increase in people and vehicle traffic, the University of Idaho decided a security officer was needed. Fred Pennell was selected to handle most police work on campus and eight years later he became the University’s traffic officer. He was also active in the University community. “Freddy the Cop” was a “policeman, unofficial public relations man, amateur student adviser and part-time greeter….” (Argonaut, Apr 22, 1966).
A well-known presence on campus, he was occasionally mentioned in Argonaut April Fool’s spoof articles: “Freddy, it developed, was afraid of the dark and his only weapon consisted of a Civil War service revolver….” (Argonaut Mar 31, 1959). He was also mentioned in the student paper when his absence was noted on campus in 1965. An illness had confined him to Gritman Memorial Hospital for a few days, but he would soon be back (Argonaut, Jan 19, 1965). When his retirement was announced, the Argonaut described him as a “University Legend” (Argonaut Apr 22, 1966).
Originally from Tennessee, Pennell had been a Whitman County farmer in Washington and a student at Washington State College (now Washington State University). He patrolled the Idaho campus for nineteen years and was hailed by the Argonaut as the UI’s first and only traffic officer. “It’s a nice job and a nice bunch of people to work with,” he remarked (Argonaut, Jan 19, 1965).
Palouse Anthropology is a group of researchers interested in preserving the micro-history of the Palouse through the collection and compilation of historical artifacts and oral histories for the benefit of researchers and future generations. firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Nels Reese for tipping us off about Freddy the Cop!