advertisement

Meet 'Babe' Manns: The Gum Man

On Sundays for nearly half a century, one man has stood in front of his church and handed out sticks of gum.
Friday, August 17, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 9:32 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Alcide “Babe” Manns, left, gives a stick of gum to church member Wyatt Moore on Sunday in front of Olivet Christian Church in Columbia.

Just before the Sunday service, the Gum Man stood at the entrance of Olivet Christian Church. He wore thick-framed, old-fashioned glasses, a checkered shirt, light-blue pants and brown boots. He was holding a wooden walking stick and a green John Deere cap. The big smile on his face was inviting. Ninety-one-year-old Babe Manns stood there like a sturdy old oak, full of life.

Done with Sunday Bible class, kids raced to him to get a stick of gum. Each took one and gave Manns a big hug.

“I’m known as the Gum Man around here,” Manns said. “There are more kids who know me than the preacher.” He spelled his real first name for the Missourian photographer, “A-L-C-I-D-E.”

“They told me it’s a French name,” he said. “People call me Babe.”

Babe farms corn, wheat and soybeans and breeds cows “to pay the bills,” and also to buy lots of chewing gum. He has been a member of Olivet Christian Church for nearly 50 years. Every Sunday he stands there and waits for the little ones to come. He gives out 25-30 sticks of Juicy Fruit gum. Some call him the Juicy Fruit Man.

Kevin Brown, a member of Olivet Christian for 37 years, once begged the Gum Man himself as a child.

“I’ve only had about 40 years of that,” Brown said. “I still come back for gum and hugs.”

Brown has been a member of the church for 37 years. Babe watched him grow up. Now he watches Praise, Cecilia, Sydney, Quinn, Cameron, Christopher, Jordan, Jake and others grow. They all come for gums and hugs.


Like what you see here? Become a member.


Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Comments

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.

advertisements