It’s been twenty years since I was a college student and I returned this past weekend as an alumni to preach the airline life. These guys on campus now are kids! Many born after I started college. Not only could I be their father… I could be the father to their older siblings.
But, while on campus, naturally I was hit with a flood of memories.
A great one revolved around my graduation in 1996.
Let me start be saying this, I almost didn’t walk that year. My last semester I only had two classes to take and they both were scheduled for the same time. I asked one Professor if I could audit the class and just come in for the tests. “Sure.” He said.
I asked the same of the other professor.
Needless to say, I didn’t do very well in either class.
Jump to graduation. With just a few weeks to go in my college career a friend and fraternity brother asked if I wanted to be the Senior Class President. He was the Student Government President and told me the previous position holder was just kicked out of school leaving a vacancy.
“Nope.” I said. “But thanks.”
“You get to make a speech at graduation.” He offered.
“Sold! Where do I sign?”
“You also have to present a gift from your class during the speech.”
“What’s the gift?” I asked.
“You have two weeks.” He said. “The previous President never secured one.”
So with a few weeks to go I called the owner of a trophy factory in Tampa that I used to work at and asked if he could make me a plaque that read, “Donated by the class of 1996.”
It would be on it’s way in a few days.
Back to the two classes I was auditing.
If my memory serves me well I wasn’t going to pass one of them and my graduation would be postponed.
I explained to the professor that I was to speak at graduation and the programs had already been printed. “They are going to have reprint all those programs at great expense?”
He gave me a passing grade. He was an economics professor.
A few days before graduation an art student friend of mine and partner in crime said he uncovered a 100 foot roll of fabric in the art studio and thought we should do something with it. Along with two other partners in crime (whose names will all remain private) we decided the best thing to do would be to make a huge “For Sale” sign and hang it from the iconic Main Hall the day of our graduation.
And now the planning began.
How to reveal it?
Wires and cables… timed explosives.
One of the foursome, who I will call Beaver, figured the best way was the simplest.
“We walk up the steps and unroll it.” Beaver said.
“And won’t they see us?” The man known here as Milo offered.
“We will walk up in our graduation gowns.” Beaver said. “And then on the way down we will take them off telling anyone who asks that a few guys in cap and gowns did it.”
And that is exactly what we did.
I presented the plaque that read, “Donated by the class of 1996” to the college President and suggested they put it in front of a building or tree or park bench… or whatever really.
While at the mic I asked the President since I came all this way could I say a few more things?
“Of course Mr. Stork.”
Who really knows what I said. I was reading a lot of Vonnegut at the time so I may have said something about enjoying every sandwich. But I do remember reading a few lines from Dr. Seuss and then wishing the faculty good luck during the sale.