There’s a crazy amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make commencement work. As it’s gotten bigger and more complicated the number of people who have tasks to perform before, during, and after the ceremonies has also grown. But even from the beginning there was no way to get around the basic physical cleanup and set up, probably the thing most important and least noticed.
I found myself touched by this exchange between Guy McBride, the marshal in charge of those arrangement in 1953, and Norman Willison, who would have been the boss of the grounds crew at that time. Its so polite, even gentlemanly, a relic of a more formal time:
A culture of generous cooperation (and even–usually–a sense of fun) still exists among the people who do these tasks for Rice commencement today. I’m a sucker for continuity and tradition and this pleases me greatly.
I can’t find a picture of the 1953 ceremony but here’s the procession in 1954. It looks so small!
Bonus: Marshals organizational meeting, 2018. No booze allowed.
Extra bonus: Put it all up, then take it all down.
What the heck, one more: