Snaking and shaking at Knox: It’s Pumphandle!

From the Register-Mail:

The students, faculty and staff of Knox College have been shaking one another’s hands in the annual Pumphandle event for about a century — give or take a decade.

Some say it began in the 1920s, others say the late 1800s. The origins of the tradition are unclear to many, but everyone knows why people turn out in droves the day before classes start to shake hands with hundreds.

“We’ve been doing it for over 100 years,” said senior Rachel Perez at this year’s Pumphandle on Thursday. “It’s where everybody gets together, and it’s a show of solidarity.”

President Roger Taylor starts the line and students, faculty and staff shake his hand in a line, then shake the hands of those who have gone before them in the line. Soon the line snakes around the campus quad, sometimes moving quickly, sometimes slowing to a standstill, until each and every person has greeted one another.

Taylor’s been Pumphandling since he was a student.

“It’s a big deal because it’s uniquely Knox,” he said between handshakes and friendly greetings as the line slowly spirals around him. “Who else does this? It’s a symbol of Knox as a community. And it shows the creativity of the students as it winds.”