Harrietta Rides Again: A Kearney couple keeps Husker history alive
About 20 months ago I went absolutely nuts over a vintage Nebraska rug on eBay. By the time I was made aware of the listing the price was already out of my range so I saved the images, posted about this new entry into Husker logo lore, and hoped that Google would help Harrietta Husker live on.
A few weeks ago I learned that a few devoted Nebraskans were way ahead of me. I received an email from a woman named Deann telling me that her husband, Ken, had taken the image from that rug, licensed it, and was now producing t-shirts and bumper stickers featuring the logo.
Ken was kind enough to answer some of my questions regarding the history of Harrietta and the process of going from a good idea to a finished product.
Q: First off, tell me a bit about yourself and you’re Husker fandom.
A: Well, I have been a Husker fan my entire life. The first game I remember was the "Game of the Century" in 1971 at my uncle's farm as a kid. I watched the Osborne years, the Solich years, suffered through the Callahan years, and now the Pelini era is here, back to real Husker football.
Q: Had you heard of or seen the Harrietta Husker logo prior to the now infamous, at least in my mind, eBay listing?
A: My wife found one maybe at a garage sale, not sure if it was before or after anything on eBay or not. I think I have seen the rug twice on there. I never really knew much about it until reading a eBay listing though.
Q: How did you get from the “this is a really cool rug” phase to the “I need to do something to keep this logo alive” stage?
A: Well, I was thinking of different ideas of Husker stuff, maybe a bumper sticker that might be cool, then--I happened to look at our rug--and that was a better idea than I had come up with. It just attracts men and women, and it is a part of vintage Husker history.
Q: What can you tell us about the logo itself? Who, if anyone, had the rights to it?
A: I think it was sort of an unofficial NU logo. I have read that in the 1960's on a Parents Day the father's were given a mug of Harry Husker and the mom's got a Harrietta mug. This must be how she was tied into being Harry Husker's wife. Also, there may have been very few pennants of her too.
As for the rights, I have licensed this recreated design of Harrietta on T-shirts and bumper stickers, so, as far as this design of her I have the rights. In fact, UNL Director of Licensing Michael Stephens has told me that UNL would not allow my design of Harrietta to be replicated on other apparel or bumper stickers.
Q: You could call Harrietta Huskers significantly sexier than either blue-collar Herbie or her white-collar husband, Harry. Did this present any problems with approval from the university?
A: Well, at first Michael at UNL said that they would approve it for bumper stickers, but may not be inclined to approve it on other items. Later, after I got the ball rolling with the bumpers stickers and maybe educated him more about her, he gave me a licensed company's name that could do the shirts for me too.
Q: How long did it take for you to get from an idea to actual merchandise?
This took awhile. UNL didn't have any of the artwork, as this was not an official logo. The rug did have UNL trademarks on it, which meant it needed it to be officially licensed. My daughter Alicia recreated the artwork in her spare time for me, as I didn't have a clue how to do that. She basically had to trace and free hand it, paste and color it etc. And back to the last question of her being sexy---Alicia told me how she liked how she looked when she re-created her, as she sort of looked like she was in a cartoon. The licensing company for the bumper stickers were very picky about everything from how it had to be in computer formats and such. It took a few months.
Then after the company accepted the picture they then had to send it to UNL for their approval even though I personally was given the approval already. It took about six weeks from when it was sent to UNL for their approval before I received them. As for the T-shirts, I got them about the same as it turned out. But again, the company had to receive an acceptable artwork pic from me for them to be able to reproduce it for the shirt designs. The shirts have about 7 colors on the design. Then they had to submit it to UNL for their approval too before they were produced.
Q: Are you a collector of vintage Husker merchandise or was this particular piece something that spoke to you?
A: I collect all Husker memorablia but I do like the vintage stuff the best, from the 60's-70's mostly. The Harrietta rug did "speak" to me----dosen't she speak to you too? (ed. Very much so.) Like I said, I think she attracts men and woman.
Q: Where can people purchase your Harrietta Husker merchandise?
A: Well, we have them on Ebay, just type in Harrietta Husker on the search line, or do an advanced search for "seller ID" kdnick. Or call 308-237-2504 to place orders too. Shirts are available in red or black for $16.00 plus $3.00 shipping. Bumper Stickers are $2.00 plus $1.25 shipping. Of course we will combine shipping best we can. Credit card orders must be bought through eBay.
Thanks to Ken for taking the time to answer my questions and to Deann for originally reaching out to alert me to the dramatic revival of Harrietta Husker. More than that, however, thanks simply for putting in the work
If you're the nostalgic sort--aren't we all when OU comes to town?--you know what to do. Or, if you're of a more superstitious bent, look at it this way: You've probably never watched the Sooners beat Nebraska while wearing a Harrietta Husker shirt.