Monday, June 11, 2007

Marquette’s Hot Dog Man is Back

His name is John Rockefeller, and he has been selling hot dogs, bratwurst and Italian sausages in the sidewalks around the Marquette campus since at least fall, 2005.

Rockefeller was in the middle of a minor controversy on campus last year, when we failed to show up, and a local blogger reported that Marquette had forced him to close up shop.

In fact, no such thing had happened, and the blogger (Ryan Alexander) was given bogus information by an employee of campus food service.

The notion that Marquette might have tried to run him off seemed plausible, given that Marquette officials had tried to prevent a woman who briefs incoming graduate students mentioning Sweeney’s book store as a place to look for books at better prices than can be found in the University-sponsored Book Marq.

So it seemed plausible.

But in reality, Rockefeller’s hot dog cart sits in front of Raynor Library on land owned by Milwaukee County. It was originally planned as a bus shelter, but after a concrete slab was poured, those plans were scrubbed.

So it sits there now as a dandy site for a hot dog stand. And Marquette could not force Rockefeller to move away even if it wanted to.

Several days ago, we got an e-mail from a colleague in another department, “Did Marquette finally make good in kicking him out?” And indeed, Rockefeller had not been seen on campus at that time.

We contacted Rockefeller, and he said there was “no grand conspiracy.” He had, quite simply, been missing from campus because he only comes in good weather, and the weather had been poor.

Rockefeller works in construction in the winter, and was indeed back on campus last week, and again today.

He offers a hot dog, brat or Italian sausage for $2.50. For just another fifty cents he will throw in a bag of chips and a soda.

Such a bargain. We ate there today with a colleague.

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