Weekend before last was homecoming at my alma mater, Huntingdon College.
Huntingdon is a small, liberal arts school in Montgomery, Alabama. When I was there back in the 70’s we had basketball, baseball, tennis, golf and maybe soccer — I’m not sure. Now, they have a football team, complete with band, majorettes, flag corps, the works.
When I started at Huntingdon, there was no Greek system, but my middle year they decided to slowly try implementing one with one sorority and one fraternity. An aside: I busted my butt and graduated in three years–what was I thinking???
Anyway, Alpha Omicron Pi, Chi Omega, Phi Mu and one other (can’t remember who — Delta Zeta, I think) did presentations and the women interested in Greek life ranked the groups. AOII edged out XO and colonized first with the understanding XO would colonize as soon as AOII was installed as a chapter–it took a year.
We knew nothing about Greek systems. Luckily, we had a strong alumnae advisory committee and one of the administrators was an AOII. She later became the Executive Director of the organization. Anyway, if we could do it wrong, we did. But after a lot of attrition and finding members who were better fits we were finally installed in January, 1976. I was the president of the colony when we became a chapter. Then I graduated the following May so, in reality, I had little Greek experience as an initiate.
The college provided for us (and later for XO) a suite of rooms on the top floor of one of the dorms. We had a chapter room, a study room, a Ritual closet, an entry foyer, an office, and a multi-purpose room. We were on one end of the hall and XO was on the other. Later Phi Mu joined the Greek system. I suppose they got the rooms in the middle, but I’m not sure.
All this to say for thirty-five plus years the chapter of about fifty women operated out of this suite on the fourth floor (no elevator) of a dorm. The suite was renovated several times, but it was pretty old and decrepit. Last spring the chapter found out they were getting a house. The other two chapters will get houses eventually but for now a beautiful Tudor style two story home right off campus is being remodeled and each group will have an entire floor. They will have the capacity to sleep some of their members in their new quarters,. The may even have as many square feet as the AOII house. I’m just guessing.
NEW AOII HOUSE
Circling back to homecoming–AOII decided to formally dedicate their house that weekend and invited alumnae to celebrate with them. They registered at Bed Bath and Beyond (brilliant!) so as not to compete with the college in fundraising, and had their new abode in top notch shape by the weekend. I arrived on Friday before the festivities on Saturday. Of course I couldn’t wait to see it so, under the guise of delivering some housewarming gifts, my sorority little sister and I trekked over Friday afternoon for a pre-open-house tour.
The two story house is in a cul-de-sac on a street across from the college. It is a quiet neighborhood, and the neighbors I talked to on Saturday were delighted to have the young women close by. It is a nice shade of yellow and has a full front porch with two entrances. One goes upstairs to four bedrooms, the other to the main floor where there is a living room, dining room, kitchen, den, etc. It has beautiful paneling and georgious hardwood floors.
There are no Greek letters on the front, which puzzled me, but they said being in a neighborhood they didn’t want to advertise they were different from the other homes. They did put up a banner on Homecoming Day. They park in the back, so we were sure we had the right house because all of the cars had AOII bumper stickers. It is a historical home, so the renovation had to follow strict guidelines. For example, they could replace the back windows and doors, but not the front.
Satisfied with our pre-tour, my “little sister” from the sorority and I went back to the hotel to meet some of the other charter members we were expecting for the festivities.
The next day we went to the football game–well, we stayed under the giant alumni tent behind the guest bleachers. We could see the game and visit with friends at the same time. I saw people I hadn’t seen in close to forty years. Some of “the girls” and I visited the AOII exhibit for photo ops, but mostly we caught up on each other’s lives. My good natured husband had four or five cameras in his possession most of the day.
PLAYING AT THE GAME
AT THE ALUMNI TENT — friends from the 70’s
At the appropriate time we moseyed down to the new AOII house. I don’t know why, but I was surprised to see a representative from the International Executive Board (from Vermont), the International Properties Board (from Arizona), and the chapter’s Network Director (from Tennessee) join college dignitaries at the event. Before the ceremony began, the chapter president and chapter adviser recognized these ladies as special guests. They also acknowledged the charter members were in the crowd, including me, the first chapter president. (A surprise, but a nice, touch). Then they did something unexpected–they invited us to join them on the porch for the ceremony and ribbon cutting. And guess what! They asked ME to cut the ribbon! Hubby said he’d had a handful of cameras all day, but this was so unexpected, we all took our cameras with us, so he had to scramble to get some photos with his own iPhone. What an unexpected honor!
Looking out at the crowd
CUTTING THE RIBBON
I met several of the chapter members and they were delightful. Two, Anna and Farrah, sought me out and told me when they were freshmen they’d read something I’d written to the chapter as a senior and that it had been meaningful to them. I’d actually met Anna the afternoon before and she’d declared me “cool” which doesn’t happen often these days. They even wanted to have a picture made with me. Regretfully, I don’t have a copy, but I do have a copy of the charter members who stayed for the ceremony.
After the open house a handful of us went out for a nice dinner.
We tried to stay up reliving our college days, but we can’t party like we used to. I think we were all in bed by 10 o’clock. Regardless, a good time was had by all, and we’ve pledged to make it an annual affair. We hope more will join us next year.
I had a great time. Thanks for indulging me with my reminiscing.
UPDATE: I got a copy of a photo of Anna and Farrah’s photo with me. They are so cute and precious — great representatives of the women of the chapter.