Saturday, January 15, 2011

A High Water Mark For RHS Grads

June 1967
  One of the chairmen for the annual Home and Garden Tour last Saturday and Sunday asked us to write a strong editorial demanding good weather for the event which depends wholly upon good weather.
  At the same time, after over three weeks of drought, other folks suggested we give a bouquet of poison ivy to the weatherman who had promised showers and never delivered. Word must have gotten around that we were ready to spring into action because we were drenched at midweek and by Saturday there were mostly sunny skies. The garden clubbers were happy and so were all those whose lawns were drying up.
  FOLKS FROM THE school administration, however, forgot to put in their bid for good weather so they could hold their commencement outdoors at the Meadow Brook Festival pavilion. As a result, they weren’t as fortunate.
  You will recall that it had rained all day last Wednesday. Grads were to be at the pavilion at 7 o’clock to start the ceremony at 7:30. Things just didn’t work out that way. By 7 p.m., cars were stacked up from the Meadow Brook entrance eastward along Walton for two miles. Adams Road was jammed up for a half mile.
  Once the grads, their parents and relatives arrived at the parking lot, it was a dash across fields through wet grass and spots of mud. The stirring “Pomp and Circumstance” processional finally got underway at 8 a.m. Some musicians were still arriving. Backstage, the director of the Meadow Brook Festival, Jim Hicks, had a sheepish look on his face as he informed Supt. Douglas Lund and school board members that not once in the 3-year history of the Festival has it been rained out.
  Since the pavilion is covered, the audience was in the dry. And most agreed that it was a while lot more comfortable than the torrid gymnasium where baccalaureate was held three nights before.
  ONE OF THE MORE distracting features of every commencement are those who take home movies of the event, using blinding floodlights. I’ve often wondered if they offer to help pay the electric bill for the evening. I held my breath last week when one home movie cameramen stood at the side of the pavilion in a large puddle of water and plugged her floodlights into an outlet. It could have been her parting shot.
  Being a home movie buff myself, I would propose that school authorities throw a couple of permanent spotlights on the stage giving enough light to eliminate the need for the camera person to import their own lights. On the program, a footnote could advise the photographer the proper F-stop setting for their cameras.
  THE SPEAKER for the evening was George E. Gullen, Jr., a resident of our community and for the past decade was a vice president of American Motors until he took on a vice-presidency of Wayne State University. He is also president of the National YMCA Board. The Gullens have started their own little private YMCA by having eight children.
  Mr. Gullen began his address by taking note of the downpour and advising the grads that the event could be called a “high water mark in your career.”
  One of his favorite stories concerns a phone call he once received. His phone number was only phone digit away from a Rochester record store. “Once I answered the phone and a sweet young voice on the other end asked, "Do you have Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue?“
  “No,” Mr. Gullen advised. “I’m an old geezer with eight children and three grandchildren.”
  “Is that a record?” she queried.
  “It’s not a record,” Mr. Gullen replied, “but it’s a good enough for me.”