Drury's oldest resident has a new home in Trustee Science Center. A display case in the front lobby is a place of honor for Toby the skeleton.
Toby arrived at Drury in 1873, the year Drury was founded. Purchased from a medical supply house in Boston, he helped Dr. T.U. Flanner teach physiology and hygiene to the college's earliest students.
When Dr. Flanner left, Toby stayed, and became a pawn in many campus hijinks. Whether dangling from the Stone Chapel spire or frightening neighborhood girls, Toby's exploits are now legends.
"There's a place above the stage in Clara Thompson Hall where you could hold Toby on a wire and he could stand up on the floor and you could walk him around," recalled physics professor Oscar Fryer '25 a few years ago. "They put fluorescent paint on another fellow, on his arms ... They had this fixed so a man was walking on stage with Toby and had a conversation with him. He had [spring-loaded] jaws, so he could work the jaw. And Toby would talk: 'Oh yeah, so's your old man!' ... It was really something, them standing there talking to each other. There wasn't anybody who could figure out what was happening."
In the early 1940s, wear and tear and a lot of concern over his mistreatment led to Toby's retirement, and he disappeared. Some thought he had been given a respectful burial. Others said he was tucked away in a storeroom. Turns out they're the ones who were right: as items in the biology store room were being catalogued for the move to Trustee Science Center, Toby was rediscovered in his box on a top shelf. Prankster no more, Toby takes his rightful place as a key figure in the history of science at Drury.