Dr. Skip Koff
Dr. Skip Koff's Peacemobile: Stirring it Up 1988-2010
I always wanted a Ferrari.
I guess that's what started my hobby of working with cars. I
had absolutely no mechanical training when I decided to take apart
my Dodge Charger in 1985 and rebuild it into what I call a
"Sciacallo" - the Italian word for a jackal. It was shiny red and I
still have it. When I came to Walsh in 1988, Dan Suvak helped take
some photos of the car and I had my 15 minutes of fame when it was
featured in the August 1990 issue of "Kit Car Illustrated."
In 1991, the Gulf War broke out. Everyone was protesting, and feeling frustrated to have my voice heard, I joined the marches for peace. As an activist - I wanted to share my message with the world, but in my own unique way. I loved playing around with that Sciacallo so much that I decided to tackle another car project as my way of message delivery.
Tom Ling had an old green, 4-door Plymouth that I bought off of him for $300. It was President's Weekend and there wasn't much going on campus - so I asked if we could use the maintenance garage for the weekend. Three or four students joined me and we decided to paint that old Plymouth with messages of Peace. We painted the American Flag on one door and a Bald Eagle on the side. It was all painted with model paints you'd buy at Pat Catans. We didn't really plan; we just painted. Most of it was a psychedelic tie dyed motif but we also put phrases on there like "Love Yer Neighbor."
And then I drove it around town - my own personal way to deliver a peaceful message. That was the first ever Peacemobile. There have been 4 since then. When the Plymouth died in 1993, I decided to make a sequel because by then I was hooked! And I loved the attention I got from driving it around town. So I bought a 1985 Mercury station wagon because it was an even bigger canvas to work with. The most recent addition was created in 2008, though I keep adding to it. If I make a mistake, I just spray paint over it and start again. Members of the Behavioral Science Club came out and autographed the car while they added their own art work to it last spring. I guess it's become something of an icon on campus.
I'm not sure if I'll keep up the Peacemobiles now that I'm retired, but as long as I get some joy out of driving it around, I think I will. I guess most people that see me driving the car around town would probably be surprised to know that I graduated from Yale or that I have a Ph.D. in social science from the Medical College of Pennsylvania. But as long as they get the peace message I'm trying to deliver- and smile a little bit - I'll keep driving the Peacemobile.
Dr. Skip Koff recently retired from Walsh after 22 years as Professor of Psychology. His academic interests range from psychology and American culture to chaos theory and post-modern theories of identity. Off campus, Dr. Koff enjoys tennis, customizing cars (his own Peacemobile being very well known on and off campus), and music. Koff is also the recipient of Walsh's Outstanding Educator Award ('94). He was named Adjunct Professor Emeritus at Walsh this past summer, 2010.