Rah Rah: How I Built My College Pennant Collection

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I have a little more than passing interest in the history of American colleges and collegiate style. I studied them, among other things, as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. I have a master’s degree in higher education, and have also done some work as an illustrator. All this translates into my liking to read books and also look at pictures. College campuses are the perfect home for me.

For a time I worked as a recruiter for a small but very selective graduate school in Claremont, CA. I visited universities and colleges, primarily on the East Coast, seeking out potential applicants. Not a bad gig if you like arches, ivy and pillars. As I travel, I like to collect items specific to the location — spoils of my adventures, if you will — and nothing says college more than a pennant.

In the course of one year I visited over 100 campuses. On each visit I would drop by the bookstore and pick up a pennant. Eventually I found myself in possession of a grab bag of felt triangles in various sizes, being limited to what the bookstore had on hand when I happened by, and I wanted some way to display my collection, rather than dooming it to a bin in the garage.

I could have attached each to a little dowel, as is done when waving the little flags at a football game, but I didn’t necessarily want my office to look like a parade of the United Nations. At one time I had a select group, the Ivies, hanging on a line along the ceiling, but all the other pennants felt left out (there’s pun in there). I began toying with ideas like tessellating the triangles, but the variations in the sizes provided a challenge.

I eventually settled on a circular rather than linear pattern, and laid everything out on a sheet of semi-heavy felt, the same material as the pennants themselves, just slightly heavier weight. Once in place they were pinned onto this backing and then sewn on with a zig zag stitch, creating a large quilt. Along the top seam I had installed a series of nylon loops, allowing me to run a curtain rod through the top to hang it behind my office chair.

I now amuse myself while watching people sit in front of my desk trying not to get hypnotized by the colorful collage behind my head. Mostly they just stare and search for their alma mater. — DALYN MONTGOMERY

Dalyn Montgomery works at the University of Redlands and operates the website Brohammas.

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2 Comments on "Rah Rah: How I Built My College Pennant Collection"

  1. Winsocki Alum | February 8, 2016 at 12:56 pm |

    I couldn’t see a pennant from Winsocki U.,
    successor to Winsocki Military Academy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCMLdg-WkEA

  2. Reminds me of an old joke. So old I guess, that no amount of googling has located it on the Web.
    Some readers of this blog might remember it:

    A Japanese football team and and American team are competing.

    The coach of the Japanese team promises each member of his team a bottle of sake if they win.

    Prepare to groan.

    “Buckle down, win sake”.

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