Admittedly, I have not been to a college fraternity reunion since the late 70s. But as we have all aged, I figured it was time to go, and see the fraternity brothers one more time. But no more flag football games!
I lived in our fraternity house on the University of Pacific campus for 2.5 years, including my last semester before graduating. And I will be the first to tell you that whatever success I had in school was due to the fraternity. Why? My fraternity is a professional fraternity but had a big social element back in the late 60s. The plethora of test files (a vast collection of previous exams) and lecture notes pretty much ensured a passing grade or better on almost all exams.
Our fraternity was founded back in 1883 at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Our chapter, Alpha Psi was founded in 1956, one year after the School of Pharmacy was established.
We always had the best parties on campus. Maybe it was our access to pure ethanol? I learned to really enjoy beer, a necessary element to survival back then. But I don’t want you to think we were a drunken bunch of frat brothers, only on weekends! How appropriate we are having this big event in Fe-BREW-ary!!!
What precipitated my involvement in this reunion was quite simple. One of my fraternity brothers, two years older, passed on recently. Though I was unable to attend (since I was in Europe), the brothers who were present made the wise decision to have a reunion before we all passed on to that great pharmacy in the sky.
True to form, we have a two hour and fifteen-minute happy hour before dinner. I doubt any of us can consume alcohol like we did back in the day. But I am sure we will try and have lots of laughs at someone’s expense. Maybe I will take Uber to and from the dinner?
A few memories stand out for me in my four years as an active fraternity member:
Midnight panty raids on the girls’ dorm across the street
Becoming the “poet laureate” of Phi Delta Chi
Winning several intramural sports championships
Initiating a student strike (Vietnam War) at the pharmacy school after the Kent State shootings
Establishing a lifelong bond with my fraternity brothers
Drinking beer at “The Rock” after our Wednesday night meetings
Participating in several pranks at sorority houses
Appointed to the tip of the testing “pyramid” (I was a good student!)
Making midnight snacks in my rice cooker and watching Johnny Carson.
I am as guilty as anyone for not staying in touch with my brothers. One brother who was instrumental in inviting me to pledge, lives in our hometown. Over the years, I have met or run into several others: Bill playing tennis at Seascape, Tony at Asian affairs events, Cal at his workplace, Jerry at breakfast. I even sent a case of persimmons to one brother in Asheville last year.
Having changed careers midstream, spending about twenty years outside of pharmacy, my focus has been on my grad school classmates, and general health care career. After all, when two grad school classmates reach the heights of the profession, it is difficult to ignore. My good friend, Ken became the Surgeon General of the US, and another, Eugene (Tex) is now Chancellor for Health Affairs at Duke University.
But Saturday is all about Phi Delta Chi, a professional fraternity with a big social agenda, at least when I was an active member. I look forward to seeing the brothers, and particularly my pledge class, and my graduating class (1970). Some have passed on, some have not responded, maybe some choose not to participate. I need to see these guys before we move on.
So, our fraternity motto is “Alterum Alterius Auxilio Eget” meaning “Each needs the help of the other.” And I think that is exactly how we got through 4 years together. graduated, passed the Boards, and became decent contributors to health care and society.
Now, if I can only remember the Phi Delt drinking song, “Throughout the land, across the sea, no matter where we be………..you’ll find us there with no despair……….” I am certain the words and memories will return!