Saturday, May 9, 2009

Centennial Commencement

"May I have your attention, please! This is your first call for the Continental Trailways five-fifteen P.M. Air-Conditioned Silversides Thruliner to Houston and Dallas, now leaving from lane one next to the building for: Inez, Edna, Ganado, Louise, El Campo, Pierce, Wharton, Hungerford, Kendleton, Beasley, Rosenberg, Richmond, Sugarland, Stafford, Missouri City and Houston. Connecting in Houston for Huntsville, Buffalo, Corsicana, Dallas. . . . Connecting in Dallas for . . . Ardmore . . ." (23)

Paul's Valley . . . and Ada.

So began the Centennial Commencement address given by Jim Lehrer (see photo at left), anchor of the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. [The above passage was taken from his 1992 memoir, A Bus of My Own (New York: Putnam, 1992).] Lehrer memorized the bus call when he was a teenager and, as he explained, his ability to recite it from memory today proves that "If you learn something early, you learn it well; and if it's totally irrelevant, you'll never forget it."

Lehrer's address included recycled passages from his 1997 novel, The Sooner Spy (Tulsa: Council Oak Books), when he advised graduates "about the need not to consider yourself well educated. Ever. To always keep reading and listening and have your mind open to new ideas" (14).

The "ultimate recycled quote" (that's how Lehrer introduced it) taken from The Sooner Spy was originally written by Lehrer for a commencement speech he gave at his eldest's daughter's graduation from college: "As you search for your place in life I hereby advise you to take risks. Be willing to put your mind and your spirit, your time and your energy, your stomach and your emotions on the line. . . . It is unlikely that any of you will have occasion to remember either me or my commencement address. I don't blame you. But if by chance something does linger, I hope it's just that there was a one-eyed guy up here who kept saying, 'Risk. Risk. The way to happineess is to risk it'" (14-15).

Thirteen English majors were listed in the program as candidates for Bachelor's Degrees: Robin Desarae Baker, Megan A. Bateman, Kathleen Elizabeth Benson, Drew Ryan Butler, Tina A. Casey, Jeffrey B. Gaylor, McKae Michelle Goetzinger, S Caleb Holton, Rachel Celeste Warner McCready, Laurie Lea Schweinle, Jason Levi Tootle, Haley Michelle White, and Angela Hope Woods.