One Unforgettable Spring BreakDalluge recalls 1961 spring break stunt which left him as a spring break legend and ultimately a 70-day jail sentence
By Chad Koenen
Over the years, George "Buddy" Dalluge, is perhaps best known around Starbuck as the man with the friendly smile and laid back attitude at the former Starbuck Re-Creation store. However, in 1961 Dalluge became a spring break folk legend by singing of all things the Minnesota Rouser and Star Spangled Banner.
It was March 27, 1961. Dalluge, who is the plaid shirt and white shorts young man hanging from the light pole in the pictures on the right, almost single handily helped Fort Lauderdale, Florida, make a push as not only the spring break capitol of the state, but of the entire United States.
A photo taken by Gene Hyde of Dalluge climbing on the light pole, wound up on the cover of almost every newspaper around the United States, and was featured in a number of magazines such as Life and Time.
"It was in just about every newspaper in the nation, for some reason it just hit," said Dalluge.
But how did this retired school teacher find himself in the middle of a world-class controversy?
The year was 1961, fresh off seeing the movie Where the Boys Are, a fictional tale about a group of Midwest coeds who head to spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, Dalluge and three of his friends packed into his Plymouth car and headed south.
Once the Minnesota contingent got to Florida, they converged on the historic Elbo Room on Los Olas Blvd., where thousands of spring breakers were already partaking in the festivities.
After having just a couple of beers, though by no means drunk, Dalluge wanted to see what the commotion was on the other side of the strip. So he began to shimmy up a light pole to get a better look over the crowd.
After seeing the college coed on the pole, a police officer began hitting Dalluge on his leg with a battalion and ordered the college gymnast down. In part to get away from the officer hitting him on the leg, Dalluge began to climb higher up the pole.
Though he continued to climb, Dalluge said at one point he offered to come down if he wouldn’t be arrested.
"I think I said if you let me go I’ll come down and the cop said ‘I can’t do that,’" he said.
With onlookers continuing to turn his way, he began leading the crowd in a variety of songs and chants while performing pull-ups, swinging on the pole from his legs, and simply sitting on top of his perch. Whether he knew it or not, Dalluge became the night’s main attraction and was slowly etching his name in Ft. Lauderdale and spring break history.
While police felt Dalluge was mocking them and inciting a riot, the retired school teacher thought he was doing the police a favor by controlling the crowd by acting as a cheerleader.
"I thought I calmed the crowd down but there seems to be some debate to that," said Dalluge.
After being on the pole for approximately two hours, Dalluge finally came down from his perch when a light truck came to the pole and picked him up before he was immediately arrested. He was charged and sentenced the next day to 70 days in jail for inciting a riot. He was allowed to go home for Easter, though had no way to get home as his friends took his car back to Minnesota, unsure of when he would be let out of jail.
However, shortly after receiving a telefax from his mother simply stating, "I’ve contacted Humphrey," Dalluge was suddenly set free, just 10 days into his 70-day sentence.
Though no one really knows for sure whether Hubert H. Humphrey, then a Minnesota Senator and eventually served as Vice President under Lyndon B. Johnson, actually had a part in the early release, Dalluge thinks the coincidence is far too great to overlook.
"I still think Humphrey had something to do with it," he said.
Just over a month from graduation, the freshly released Dalluge returned to Minnesota State University, Mankato, unsure of his status as a student. Though he was a free man, what happened in Ft. Lauderdale followed him to Minnesota where the president of MSUM suggested Dalluge join the Army for a while in order to let the commotion caused by his spring break performance calm down.
"He was really nice to me," said Dalluge. "‘He said if you want to be a teacher, the best thing you can do is go into the Army and let this cool down."
After six months in the Army Dalluge returned to MSUM, and graduated with his teaching degree. Though the university’s president asked Dalluge to temporarily leave, he eventually hired Dalluge back as the gymnastics coach during his masters study at MSUM.
"He couldn’t have been too mad at me because he hired me back," joke Dalluge.
Since the incident has taken place, Dalluge has been interviewed for countless stories including one written by the Miami Herald earlier this year. The famous photograph is also featured in a variety of books.
He returned to the Elbo Room for just the second time since the incident took place earlier this year after hearing that a framed photograph of the picture was hanging in the bar.
Though he resides in a home on Lake Minnewaska for most of the summer, Dalluge still lives in Florida during the winter months. Just a mile or so from the beach of the new spring break capitol, Panama City, Florida, Dalluge keeps his distance when spring breakers come each year, but will still try to get a free shirt or two from the Navy guys.
"They say it is only for college kids, and I say can’t I go to college," he said.
George Dalluge returned to the Elbo Room in Fort Lauderdale earlier this year and took a picture of himself under the famous 1961 photograph by Gene Hyde, which hangs in the bar.