Nuts, Bolts and Toilet Paper – Keep Them Special

Lyn Scarbrough

January 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm.

Sep 10, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; View of the Toomer's Corner trees after they were rolled following the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Red Wolves 51-14. Photo Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 10, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; View of the Toomer’s Corner trees after they were rolled following the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Jordan Hare Stadium. The Tigers beat the Red Wolves 51-14. Photo Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

We have a tradition at our house every Christmas season. We call it Nuts ‘n Bolts.

It’s party mix, more or less, but with some different twists.

We do this each year the week after Thanksgiving, around the time when one team or the other in Alabama is celebrating an Iron Bowl win.

There is a special recipe that we came up with, specific ingredients that are mixed in large plastic tubs. My wife, Cindy, prepares a sauce, putting in a precise amount of each item to be stirred into the tubs. (No, I won’t reveal the recipe, so don’t even ask!)

We often give full decorative tins to friends, family and co-workers. They tell us that they enjoy them, but probably not as much as we enjoy making them. It’s become a tradition and our Christmas season wouldn’t seem the same without Nuts ‘n Bolts.

We’ve been asked, “Why not make it during the year? It would be good at times other than Christmas.”

That’s probably true. It would still be good … but things would be different.

Nothing wrong with Nuts ‘n Bolts in April. We could substitute some ingredients, and it would still taste good. But, it wouldn’t be the same. Nuts ‘n Bolts at Christmastime would no longer be as special.

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it.

Which brings us to Toomer’s Corner.

When a handful of people, most apparently students, rolled Toomer’s Corner after Clemson defeated Alabama for the national championship, it ignited a furor in some places, raised questions in others.

Was it wrong to throw toilet paper to recognize Alabama’s loss and Clemson’s win? And, should there be guidelines on when it’s acceptable to roll the famous corner?

We don’t remember exactly when we started making Nuts ‘n Bolts and we’re not sure what caused us to start making it in the first place.

Much the same with rolling Toomer’s Corner. There’s no consensus on when the trees were first rolled, what prompted it to happen and when it went viral to become one of the best known traditions in all of college sports.

For sure, it has been widely publicized since the 1980s, specifically when celebrating athletic victories, especially football wins over Alabama. Since 1980, Alabama has won the match-up 19 times and Auburn 18, so it’s virtually a dead-even series for the past 37 years. That’s a lot of times for both sides to celebrate, and Auburn fans have done it at the intersection of College and Magnolia with each win.

But, there have been many other times for tossing toilet paper. Significant football wins over other SEC rivals and nationally ranked teams. Heisman Trophy wins by Bo Jackson and Cam Newton. National championships by swimming and diving and other sports. It hasn’t been limited to football victories.

Toomer’s Corner became the place where Auburn alumni, students, fans and area residents gather to celebrate when good things happen for Auburn athletics, and somehow throwing toilet paper into trees became the way to do it.

Over the decades, the most significant Toomer’s celebrations have been after Auburn wins or when things have helped Auburn sports. It would be best for things to stay that way.

Even if people are happy about another team’s loss or excited about an election outcome, those celebrations should happen somewhere else, not in the limbs of the Toomer’s oaks.

It’s not in the best interest of the oaks themselves for a rolling overkill. After the poisoning, and then the fire that was ignited after the football win over LSU in September, the health and long-term existence of the trees have been primary concerns. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

And, it’s not in the best interest of Auburn athletics for the rolling to become known as celebration for the misery of opposing fans, as much as for the happiness of Auburn fans. It needs to remain an Auburn thing.

With that said, the Toomer’s gathering after the Clemson-Alabama game should be kept in perspective. Making it sound significant helps throw fuel on the rivalry fire or makes spicy material for a column or radio show, but it’s not reality.

As rollings go, this one was small, very small. I watched a three-minute video of the rolling that was posted on a web site. At least during those minutes, I was only able to count about 35 people around the trees, a few throwing toilet paper, most just making noise, and as many walking by disinterested.

An Opelika news source reported that same night that “several” students were rolling the corner. There may have been a few more than “several,” but it was immeasurably fewer than converged when Auburn defeated Oregon in Arizona or when Auburn defeated Alabama in the Kick Six or when the new oaks were dedicated after the cowardly criminal Harvey Updyke poisoned them following an Auburn win.

Some Auburn fans, like some from LSU and Tennessee, pulled for Alabama against Clemson because of SEC loyalty. Some from Auburn pulled for Alabama because of the in-state angle. But, it’s likely that more Auburn fans … and probably more LSU and Tennessee fans … pulled for Clemson.

But, it’s not fair to say that the “several” who came out to throw toilet paper last Monday night represent the Auburn fan base any more than it is to say that the average Alabama fan was represented by Updyke, whose reaction to an Auburn win was much more sinister and sick than throwing paper.

For the record, there won’t be any changes at our house. We’ll still go with only the Christmas season, keeping Nuts ‘n Bolts special, sticking with tradition.

Hopefully, Auburn fans will make the same decision when thinking about their toilet paper.