Past grad classes share tradition

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The following article explains the history behind a long lost K-State graduating-class tradition – the passing, stealing and hiding of a shepherd’s crook with each class’s graduating year attached – it was published in the April 8, 1938, Collegian.

SHEPHERD’S CROOK RITE A 40-YEAR CUSTOM When the senior class of 1938 presents the Shepherd’s Crook to the class of 1939 April 18, they will be carrying on a 40-year custom, for it was in 1898 that the crook came into being. The history behind the crook goes back even further. As a memorial to their class, the class of 1892 planted an ivy vine just north of the entrance to Anderson Hall. George L. Clothier, an agriculture student, conceived the idea of presenting the spade, which he used, to the class of ’93 with appropriate ceremonies. The class of ’93 designated this spade as a symbol of work and displayed it in a case in Anderson Hall. They never were able to put their numeral on it, though, for it was stolen by the class of 1894. When the class of ’95 received the spade, they refused to pass it on but, so tradition says, buried it in the Blue river.

First Crook In ’98 Remembering the tradition of the spade, the class of ’98 presented a crook with a ribbon bearing their class numeral to the succeeding class at the Junior-Senior Prom. It was passed on the next year, but the class of 1900 refused to receive it. Appropriately enough, a piece of crepe now bears the “00” of this class. In the following decade, most of the traditional history of the crook was made. It became the object of sophomore classes to try by any means to prevent the junior class from receiving the crook and placing their numerals on it. Fierce class rivalries grew out of the custom. At one time it was buried in the depot of the Blue Valley railroad and never found by the class of 1908. In summer 1909, the crook was in a barn in Wabaunsee County and the ribbons were sewed in a cushion.

Secrecy Prevailed Each year the process was repeated. Greatest secrecy surrounded those who had custody of the crook during the year. Students’ trunks, local bank vaults, Wamego and Junction City all were its hiding places. The task of pressing the ribbons before the prom each year was done at great risk of surprise by the sophomores. One class ingenuously rigged up a series of pulleys and wires to pull the crook from the gym to the attic of Calvin Hall during a moment when the lights were out to keep possession of it. Another group followed the car in which Dean Van Zile was riding home from the dance, suspecting her of being the custodian. If a member of the class of 1940 should make away with the crook before April 18, historical precedent would be with them.

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