Tradition of the Crook

Some of you non-Meredith people have requested information about the crook (read: my mom).
So here is the tradition copied from the archives website copied from Meghan’s blog:

The Crook Hunt was started in 1906 by Caroline Bury Phelps, a drama professor at Meredith. The Crook was brought in for Class Day, when there were nine members in the class of 1906, and eight parts. Ms. Phelps came to Meredith from Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan, where a similar tradition was in place. She presented the senior class with a large shepherd’s crook, and they in turn gave it to the rising senior class on Class Day with instructions to hide it from the juniors.

General Information:
Rules for hiding the Crook were first printed in the 1933-1934 Student Handbook. At the beginning of fall semester, the Crook was to be decorated with the senior class colors and hidden. The juniors did not start looking for it until March. To aid in the search, the seniors hid a series of clues around campus. If the juniors found the Crook, they added a black bow to the Crook’s decorations and hid it from the senior class. The hiding continued until Class Day. In 1982 a one week time limit was set for the juniors’ search, which since then has usually occurred in late April or early May. Some rules governing the hiding place have remained the same. For example, the Crook must be partly visible (one inch) at all times and must be hidden in a place where it can be removed; it cannot be locked up. The class in possession of the Crook at the end of the semester is allowed to display its class colors on the Crook during Class Day. If the juniors do not find it by midnight on the first Saturday in May, the Crook is declared neutral until the fall semester. According to Dr. Ione Knight (class of 1943) when she was a student at Meredith, the Crook Hunt was popular because it was an on-campus activity and the students rarely were allowed off campus. The clues were hidden in a chain fashion – each clue led to another. Students also had one month to find the Crook, unlike the week that the juniors have today.

Interesting Hiding Places:
Over the years, the Crook has been hidden in some unusual places. It has been sewn into a faculty member’s mattress, tied to a water pipe in the tunnel, placed on roofs, fastened behind a bulletin board, and hidden on a rafter in the first chapel building (no longer in existence)3. Dr. Jean Jackson, class of 1975 and Vice President for Student Development, is proud of the hiding place that her class used their senior year. They took down one of the short outdoor lighting lamps around the lake and had the paint matched at a hardware store. After wrapping the Crook in art paper, they painted it to match the lamp and buried it where the real lamp belonged, showing just enough of the Crook to be legal. The juniors never found it. Dr. Jackson has heard of the Crook being duct taped to the underside of one of the bridges at the lake. The tape broke loose, and the juniors discovered the Crook floating in the water. In 2002, the class of 2003 gridded the campus and divided themselves into groups. Each group was assigned to search thoroughly their section of campus. Unfortunately for them, the Crook was hidden in a section of campus near the President’s house that was not gridded or searched. Much earlier in the early 1910’s, the Crook was hidden so that a student had to hang out of a window to retrieve it. The danger of such hiding places led to a ban on the Crook hunts from 1913 until 1929 when the Crook was presented to the rising seniors on Class Day. The hunt was again stopped in 1948 due to lack of interest. According to Carolyn Robinson ’50 it was reinstated in her senior year, when her class hid it on the roof of the dining hall. Since then the Crook Hunt has seen times of both popularity and disinterest.

According to my pal Catie, “Looking for the Crook is like looking for a needle in a haystack. You know what you do? You burn down the haystack and get a magnet.” Burning down our Alma Mater does not seem like the correct strategy for finding the crook but we’ve got maps and plans and our first clue (lyrics to this song). We’re on the hunt and VERY excited. Something about this past week, I think doing interviews for next years Co-Chairs and getting pumped for Crook Hunt has totally rekindled my love for this place. There are so many times where I get so, so, so, so, so, so, annoyed and frustrated (and a billion other negative adjectives) but when it comes down to it, I truly love this school. I love the history and traditions and the way we all come together, all personal junk forgotten to enjoy it.

We get such a unique and special experience here and … it’s so fun.

Below is a picture of the class of 2009 when they found it last year! Rumor has it that they were the first class to find it in about 20 or so years. It was hidden on the underside of the breezeway between Vann and Stringfield. I already looked. It’s not there this time. Happy Hunting 2010!

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