Bob's "Big Boy" Finds Some New Friends

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From Legends of Caltech, Vol. 1

If you've ever looked around southern California for a place to eat, you've seen him. You can't possibly have missed him. An obese little kid with red-checked suspender pants that are too long. Wears his hair like Ronald Reagan (both tend to use too much grease). And, Statue-of-Liberty-style, he holds aloft the reason for his oblate physique: a lone Bob's hamburger (with cheese, no fries). Yes, we're talking about "Big Boy."

Over the years, countless Techers have journeyed to the residence of Big Boy known as "Far Bob's" (in east Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard). (By the way, nobody ever went to "Near Bob's"—on Colorado Boulevard near PCC—but there's also nobody who can tell you why.) But in the fall of 1958, a quartet from Fleming House realized that, for all their treks to Far Bob's, Big Boy had never once come to see them. So, to the Fleming House Quadruple Alliance (Bruce Allesina '59, Bob Pailthorp '59, Kirk Polson '59, and Gordon Hughes '59), the mission was clear: Kidnap Big Boy from Far Bob's.

A ransom note demanding 10,000 hamburgers for his safe return was left behind.

At first cut, it looked like a fairly straightforward operation. They took Nelson Byrnes' trailer over to the restaurant at 2:00 a.m. and waited in the parking lot. However, after several hours of waiting, they realized that the place never really closed. After the cleaning crew left, the delivery trucks started arriving. 

So, secure in their faith that you can get away with just about anything if you look official enough while you're doing it, our men unbolted the Big Boy statue anyway and drove off with him. A ransom note demanding 10,000 hamburgers for his safe return was left behind. 

The morning manager of Far Bob's was neither impressed nor snowed, and it took him only milliseconds to figure out where his little kid was. He was dutifully returned. Big Boy is shown in the photo standing in Fleming courtyard and saying goodbye to all of his new-found friends before returning to his usual place of employment.