Thobe's Fountain


Oxford stonemason Harry Thobe was known during the first half of the twentieth century as Miami's self-styled number one sports fan and the nation's leading gate-crasher. During his lifetime of over 80 years, Harry was reputed to have gotten into 20 World Series games, eight Rose Bowls, three Orange Bowls, and a Sun Bowl without paying. He also claimed to have attended 54 consecutive Miami Homecoming games.

Although this assertion was a clear exaggeration, Harry was a familiar figure at Miami sporting events virtually until his death in March 1950. Decked out in a white suit and hat, carrying an umbrella and megaphone, and sporting a mouthful of diamond-studded teeth, Harry was loved by the student body, but his headline-grabbing antics were a frequent source of misery for Miami administrators. Among these was his assertion that Miami game outcomes were revealed to him in dreams the night before they were played. He would predict those outcomes through his megaphone on game day, announcing to the crowd that " I had a dream last night . . . "

Whatever Harry's contemporaries thought of him, everyone agreed that he loved Miami. In the early 1900's, he gave Miami a fountain, built with his own hands in the area roughly halfway between the current King Library's northeast corner and Harrison Hall's southwest end. As he did with all of his work, Harry left his signature on the fountain so that visitors would know the builder's identity. Members of the Miami community had mixed views of the artistic qualities of Thobe's work, and his fountain also gained unwanted notoriety as a favorite spot for fraternity hazings. Despite the controversies, Harry lovingly maintained it for most of his life.

But the fountain quickly fell into disrepair after his death and had to be replaced by a smaller one in 1952. In 1959 this fountain too was removed because of septic problems, to be replaced by a plaque and a monument. But this remaining token of remembrance may not have been enough for Harry, who always wanted to be the center of attention, whether it be in life or in death. Legend has it that his spirit still resides at his fountain's former site, ready and willing to greet all passersby. All you have to do is stand west of the fountain, facing the nearest oak tree, and call Thobe's name. If you do, Harry's spirit will supposedly answer you by echoing his name back. Regrettably, his spirit has yet to make any predictions for upcoming Miami football games.

Thobe's Fountain

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