Retro RFH Graduation: The Daisy Chain Girl

RFH 1978 graduation in front of the high school, replete with daisy chain
Photo/Daryl Cooper Ley

The following was originally posted in May of 2017. It is being re-run in honor of graduation, time honored traditions past and this RFH Daisy Chain girl of ’78, who passed away in February of 2018 — Daryl Cooper Ley.

In high school social circles, it was considered a popularity status symbol to be chosen for the chain. Daryl wasn’t all too thrilled about it at the time. It had confirmed what her closest friends knew. That she was cool. It was often repeated to her. “I didn’t think so,” was always her answer. Sorry, Dar. We win. Got the last word. You were. RIP, Dar. You are remembered … in our hearts, souls and print, like it or not! Love you forever more. Oh, she would kill me

It was considered a privilege and honor. They were chosen from the junior class at RFH to serve as the debutante-like ushers for the graduating class. All dressed in white and supposedly gracefully toting a chain of daisies, the Daisy Chain girls were a fixture of high school finery at graduations in the 1970s.

The origins of the somewhat upper-crust tradition date back to the 1900s, but this Retro Pic of the Day was snapped in 1978.

At Vassar College, “the chain itself is carried on the day of Commencement by the female ‘daisies’ dressed in identical white dresses, functioning as a flower-lined corridor to guide the graduates to the ceremony. as far back as 1889 daisies were used to decorate the old chapel in Main for Class Day, the day before Commencement, when the senior class met together for the last time as Vassar students.

“The sophomore class, as the sister class to the seniors, would pick the daisies from around campus. a chain of daisies was fashioned to use as rope to mark off the section of chapel seating reserved for the seniors to sit while attending Class Day exercises.”

But if you get a gander of these girls carrying the chain, you’d be more inclined to think they were chosen for their superior strength. The size of the thing is monstrous and is more akin to a giant beanstalk with buds!

At RFH, it was a group of specially chosen junior girls. The reasons for being chosen were ideally that those girls picked were there because of their school spirit, etc. But, really, I tend to think the reasoning was a bit more random.

At Vassar, according to the college’s website, the tradition mostly signified a popularity and beauty contest with an elite crop of daisies chosen.

Then, when the school went co-ed, male ushers were incorporated into the tradition.

I’m not sure when the tradition ended at RFH, but I do remember that while my forever friend, Daryl Cooper Ley, who is featured in this photo, was chosen, she wasn’t exactly sure why. She reluctantly accepted, because you just didn’t say no to being on the Daisy Chain (and she can go ahead and strike me with Karmic lightning later for posting the pic). Hey, it was cool back in the day. And she looked great with that “Why the heck are you taking my picture and where do I take this chain of flowering weeds?” look on her face.

And, really, they had a solid purpose, those girls. I think we truly needed that chain to walk the line and guide us to our seats. We, in the RFH Class of ’78 were a little high energy and had a penchant for meandering not only figuratively out of the box, but literally out of the graduation line. I’ll just leave it at that.

Hey, we were special. Yes, special.

Got daisies, anyone?

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management