Hard to believe, but it’s been three years since I graduated from the University of Oklahoma. I believe my plan was to get a job as an Editorial Assistant at a magazine and do some straight journalism. Well, we see how that worked out! I like the random path I ended up on, with its detours abroad and current stop in New York. It was Tim’s turn to graduate last Saturday.
That afternoon, we took our visiting relatives to Pops 66, the Route 66 location with the giant soda bottle and selection of over 500 sodas to purchase. We then drove by the Round Barn, which was awesome as always. It was great to see my old Route 66 landmark friends, as I made quite a few trips up to both places when I lived in Oklahoma City.
We then made our way down to Norman, parking at Campus Corner, which was looking great as always. Check it out, they even fixed that clock! And of course, there are still the red British phone booths all over campus, installed by OU President David Boren to make the university feel more international. I had some major nostalgia the entire day we were on campus, and felt like I should be calling my OU friends to see if they were around for a drink at the Library or coffee at Cafe Plaid.
I led an informal tour for us around campus, including a stop in the Union, where we saw the old controls for the carillon bells that play the OU fight song, the title song from Oklahoma, and other collegiate songs. Wow, there is a whole wikipedia article just about the Union! Like the red phone booths, apparently Boren was responsible for restoring the Union to its present gorgeous state. Actually, a lot of the buildings seem to have wikipedia entries. How wonderful!
And things just keep getting better there, as we stopped by my old journalism school to see the new wing of the building. I remember when I was a freshman and the journalism school wasn’t even built yet, so it’s crazy to see it getting even larger and more impressive in just a few years after its initial construction. And there was a big surprise on the third floor…
A whole Professional Writing wing!! I don’t think we even had so much as a corner, yet alone gorgeous alcoves for reading and writing. Not fair! I spent all my time writing in the library stacks. Okay, maybe I would have done that anyway.
We walked up the South Oval, and saw this awesome bus all decorated with dinosaurs for the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. We also stepped in the library, my favorite place on campus, and I showed off its beautiful Great Reading Room. The library has that great Cherokee Gothic style that is only found at OU, and I really think its many books and reading spaces were a big part of me deciding to go to OU for college. I remember having lots of doubts about picking it as my school, after really wanting to get out of Oklahoma, but I have absolutely no regrets. Really, they either do some great brainwashing there or just have the best programs. Where else could I have studied abroad in Oxford, taken a course with a Pulitzer Prize winner, seen one of the top football teams play each fall Saturday, looked at Impressionist masterpieces in between class, and taken classes in everything from the history of science to novel writing to photojournalism to film noir?
Due to storms, commencement was held in the Lloyd Noble basketball stadium. I believe Tim is one of the dots in the second section from the left.
OU always puts on a good show for its events, and commencement started with bagpipe music and a procession led by the Kiowa Black Leggings Society. The society is made up of Kiowa war veterans, and they also led the events at Quartz Mountain where I worked last summer.
Then came all the flags for the colleges. I love seeing all the regalia that the deans and professors bring out for commencement, especially the PhD hats and Boren’s Rhodes Scholar medallion. Maybe I will get one of those hats some day. And spend the rest of my life writing in library stacks. Sounds pretty great actually.
And here is Boren on the large screen, giving an address to the crowd with his usual high enthusiasm.
At a lull in the ceremony (probably the hooding of the master’s candidates), we walked around to the journalism section.
The ceremony ended with the singing of the OU Chant, where all the graduates got red glowsticks to raise in the air. There was also the playing of Boomer Sooner, which moved with rapid hand claps into the title song from Oklahoma. Yes, it was very exciting!
There were more graduation festivities the next day. Check back for more nostalgia!
Side note: I did some more nerdy literary travel blogging for Atlas Obscura this week. S’amusez-vous bien.