Earl and Martha Hudson
Dec. 1, 2005
Martha Gower Hudson, whose family has supplied nine bluetick coonhounds named Smokey to UT since the mascot's initial selection in 1953, died Tuesday (Nov. 29, 2005) in Knoxville. She and her husband, Earl, owned and trained the famous bluetick coonhounds generally known to most people and fans of the UT football team as Smokey. They have owned, cared for, and trained Smokey VIII (retired) and Smokey IX.
When you went to Earl and Martha Hudson's home on Mountaincrest Drive in North Knoxville, you could be assured of two things, without fail:
- Smokey VIII or Smokey IX, or perhaps both, would greet you at the door with a wet nose, more than likely a couple of large paws in your lap, and/or rousing barks of recognition and welcome
- Martha would always make you feel at home, as if you were the most-welcome houseguest there could be.
Rev. Brooks entered what he called his favorite dog in a Pep Club contest to select a mascot at the Mississippi State game Sept. 26, 1953.
"This can't be an ordinary hound," the criteria read. "He must be a 'Houn Dawg' in the best sense."
From all accounts, the dog, which was named "Brooks' Blue Smokey," was apparently the people's choice from the word go.
When the dogs and their owners lined up on the old East side cheerleading ramp that September day in 1953 on Shields-Watkins Field, "Brooks' Blue Smokey" was the final dog shown to the crowd. The more the crowd cheered, legend states, the louder Rev. Brooks' dog barked. That began the line of pooches that continues to this day. "Brooks' Blue Smokey" thus became Smokey I.
Rev. Brooks supplied the dogs until he died in 1986 and Mildred took over the caretaking role. She did so until 1994, when Earl and Martha took over responsibility for Smokey VII. The Hudsons have continued to provide the dogs through Smokeys VIII and IX.
You couldn't have asked for better caretakers of this important part of Tennessee tradition. No hounds have ever received better treatment.