Another Best Ever

Find out who was crowned 2012 Queen of Love and Beauty and the members of her court.

More about the Best Ever and its traditions …

The First Best Ever
In 1908, Missouri School of Mines (now S&T) senior George Menefee was chosen by students to be their first honorary St. Pat, the patron saint of engineers. The annual celebration has continued ever since, and each year is proclaimed to be better than the last.

Being St. Pat
Ronald Huseman was St. Pat during the 50th celebration in 1958. He recalled a practice that tested his mother’s trust in him. “My mother, who was very short, came down from Jennings, Mo., to see her son in the parade,” Huseman told S&T’s alumni magazine a few years ago. “She overheard a student standing nearby comment that St. Pat seemed to have been given quite a few drinks during the procession. My mother earnestly told him, ‘Young man, that is my son and my son does not drink.”‘

Keith Bailey, St. Pat in 1964, has a tattoo featuring artwork from a St. Pat’s button he got in 1963.

Ray Beezley presided over the 99th ceremony as St. Pat. “Members of the board (the student group that organizes the celebration) are overlooked for their responsibility and innovation because of some of the stereotypes we are identified with,” Beezly says. “Being St. Pat might not mean much on a resume, but that doesn’t change how proud I am of being a part of this organization.”

Painting Pine Street

Every year at dawn on this special day, a procession of figures wearing green jackets (some of them showing quite a bit of wear) makes its way toward Pine Street.

This is a gang of street painters. Their bellies are full of biscuits and gravy by now, and they are on a mission.
The annual tradition starts to take shape about 3 a.m. on the morning of the St. Pat’s Parade. Officially, only alumni reps of the St. Pat’s Committee are invited to participate. But there is an open invitation for any of these reps to show up and everyone is welcome to watch when the real action begins.

Lance Haynes, faculty advisor to the St. Pat’s Committee, always checks on the paint at an undisclosed location. Meanwhile, the alumni reps congregate around a big fire at someone’s house in Rolla and drink tea. Afterwards they go out for breakfast before heading toward Pine Street.

“Most of these guys only see each other once a year for the annual street painting,” says Haynes, chair of the arts, languages and philosophy department and a professor of speech and media studies at S&T. “One year, a guy flew in from Japan just to paint the street.”

The green paint is mixed in big garbage barrels and trucked downtown by baby reps (students who are in their first year on the committee). They park at the south end of Pine Street and begin distributing mops — about 100 of them — to the alumni reps. “One year they tried cement mix trucks,” Haynes says. “That was very effective, but not as much fun.”

The paint is a fast-drying formulation and it’s thinned with water so that it will wash off without too much trouble. Armed with the mops, the painters work their way toward the north end of the street, turning almost everything they see green.

Alice in Gross Land

For more than four decades, students chosen to become knights of St. Patrick underwent a baptism into a pool of soupy, slimy concoction that came to be known as “Alice.”

A mix of stale beer, leftovers from fraternities and eating clubs, the occasional road kill, and other ingredients too bizarre or sickening to mention, the substance fit well with the raucous St. Pat’s traditions of celebrating excess and satirizing pomp and ceremony.

Although the exact ingredients were a mystery known only to St. Pat’s Board members (if even they knew, or recalled), the fact that Alice was a repugnant mixture was no secret to anyone who gained the honor of being tossed into it.

More of a mystery, perhaps, is how this slop came to be known as Alice. Was it a reference to the Lewis Carroll children’s book, Alice in Wonderland? Nobody, it seems, remembers. If you have any information, please let us know!

P.S. This particular public practice/tradition has since been stopped.

Other weird traditions
Every year in the weeks leading up to the celebration, students carry shillelaghs around and club rubber or plastic snakes during the Snake Invasion on campus. By the way, St. Pat was never an engineer and there haven’t been snakes in Ireland since before the last ice age. Sorry to break that news to you, if you didn’t know.

When St. Pat and his court arrive in Rolla to officially start the celebration, they still show up in a manure spreader. (Yes, we think that’s awesome, and we’re going to mention it every year.)

Story by Lance Feyh

Videos by Terry Barner