The Correlation Between Sorority Conventions and Shoe Choices

Thirty years ago, I left three young children, ages four and under, with my husband and travelled to New Orleans for my first Pi Beta Phi convention. I was apprehensive about sharing a room with a complete stranger, but she was and remains delightful and I treasure her friendship all these decades later.

My first Pi Phi Convention roommate and I pose in the early 1990s at a Pi Beta Phi Indiana State Day.

It’s difficult to describe a sorority convention. Old friends greeting one another. The quick spark of new friendships being made. The laughter. The tears. The excitement of so many women in one place.

The shoes! Why a sorority convention is the perfect opportunity to change shoes two or three times a day is an unstudied question. It just is. This morning, my roommate at last summer’s Leadership Institute remarked that she had to bring a carry on with nothing but shoes in it. Her husband did not understand how five days away necessitated a full carry on of shoes. I remarked that she was in contention for the Olivia Smith Moore Award for Shoe Choices at Convention.

Olivia Smith Moore served Pi Beta Phi as an officer for more than three decades. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Missouri. From 1936-46, she served as a Province Vice-President. She then served as Treasurer of the Settlement School Committee until 1951. The Committee was charged with overseeing the work of the Pi Beta Phi Settlement School in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In 1952, she was elected Grand Treasurer and served in that position until 1967. At the 1967 Centennial Convention, she was named Grand Treasurer Emerita. She often began her Grand Treasurer’s convention reports with the phrase, “We took in scads and we spent oodles.” Despite the joking, “Miss Olivia,” as she was known in the fraternity, kept a very careful eye on the organization’s funds. During her years of service, her Neiman Marcus shoe collection became legendary. Pi Beta Phi convention delegates considered it a treat to see the more than three dozen pairs of shoes she usually took to convention lined up on a chest of drawers in her hotel room.

The shoes Olivia Smith Moore took to a Pi Phi convention.

Miss Olivia’s shoe collection is on display at the Ace of Clubs House in Texarkana, Texas. See

In the summer of 1867, the founders attended the first convention at Fannie Thomson’s home in Oquawka, Illinois. The organization began on April 28 so the membership during that summer was about 15 or so. The convention was really more of a get together, but matters were decided upon and so it begins our list of conventions. The Mississippi River was visible to the attendees at that first convention and it is visible to those who attend this special convention.

Each summer there are sorority conventions and I encourage further study of the shoe question.

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Monday GLO Mailbag

A friend who attended the AAUW convention sent me a note about Julia T. Brown, the newly-installed Chairman of the AAUW Board (no longer President). Brown in a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


I also realize that I never acknowledged the installation of Kay Ivey as Governor of the Alabama on April 10, 2017. She is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and an Auburn University alumna.


Congratulations to Sigma Nu Charlie Trantanella. He just published BROWN and BLUE and Greek: A history of fraternities, sororities and early student organizations at Tufts University.  The book was a labor of love for him. He did extensive research and documentation and he left no stone unturned. It is dissertation worthy. An excerpt from his research appeared on this blog several years ago ( If you’d like info about purchasing a copy, use the contact form below and I forward the inquiries on.


Over the weekend several additional sorority women won state contests and will be competing in Miss America 2018. See the list, which will be updated as additional contests are decided.  See

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Fraternity Connections to the Alexandria Shooting

Although I feel somewhat like an ambulance chaser, I think this information might be of interest to the readers of this blog.

My thoughts and prayers are with those who were injured on June 14 while practicing for the Congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Virginia. Several of the injured, as well as one of the special agents, have fraternity connections.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is a member of Acacia. Zack Barth, a Congressional Aide, is a Sigma Nu. Matt Mika, a Lobbyist for Tyson Foods, is a Phi Kappa Sigma.

Two of the three members of the Capitol Police Force who are came to the aid of the players are fraternity men. Special Agent David Bailey is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  Henry Cabrera is a Kappa Sigma.

**My apologies for the incorrect headline when this was posted. I typed Arlington when it should have been Alexandria.

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A P.E.O. Founder, Kansas State Convention, and a Sigma Chi

My daughter became a P.E.O. during her senior college of college. She was initiated as a member of my chapter. She’d attend a meeting once a year, usually the holiday auction where her salted caramel sauce is a highly prized item. Earlier this year she accepted an invitation from a Kansas chapter to transfer her membership, then she quickly volunteered to attend the Kansas State Chapter meeting as a Convention guard, along with several other of her chapter sisters.

She sent me this picture after she arrived at the convention site in Wichita. The quote in the typewriter is of my favorites. It was written by Franc Roads Elliott* and it applies to the organization as much today as it did when she first delivered it in the early 1900s, “P.E.O.s should ever keep their eyes forward, to note the possibilities of the future rather than to dwell on the achievements of the past.”

The quote can also apply to all Greek-Letter Organizations. It reminded me, too, that I recently discovered a connection between Elliott, one of the seven P.E.O. founders, and a Sigma Chi who grew up in Carbondale, Illinois.

At the end of her life, Elliott lived in the Hotel Windermere in Chicago. The hotel was built in 1892 in time for the 1893 Columbian Exposition. In 1924, the Rapp and Rapp firm in Chicago designed and led its rebuilding as Windermere East and Windermere West. The two hotels, the one built in 1892 (West) and the one designed by the Rapp brothers together had 482 guest rooms and 200 apartments. The buildings were connected by an underground tunnel. In 1959, Windermere West, was demolished and the space was used to construct a parking lot. Windermere East was converted to an apartment building in 1981. Today, it has undergone a renovation and is known as the Windermere House, a luxury apartment building.

George Leslie Rapp, a member of Sigma Chi’s Kappa Kappa Chapter at the University of Illinois, and his brother Cornelius Ward (“C.W.”) were proficient at all three styles of grand movie theaters (see

Cornelius Ward Rapp designed Altgeld Hall at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. It opened in 1896. The building was named in honor of Governor John Peter Altgeld.

Altgeld Hall on the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus

*Franc, whose given name was Frances, alternated between having an “h” in her maiden name. The Roads spelling is the one on her gravestone.

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Same Bat Channel, a Cat in a Hat, and a Chi Psi Shoutout

When he was a student at Whitman College, William West Anderson became a member of Beta Theta Pi. A 1951 initiate of the chapter, he followed in the footsteps of his father, Otto, a 1925 initiate of the Whitman chapter. When he began his acting career, he took the stage name of Adam West.

He is best known for his starring role in Batman where he played both Bruce Wayne and Batman. When it first aired in 1966 and only lasted until 1968. The episodes were shown on two consecutive nights, with the first night’s show always ending in a cliffhanger. “Same bat time, same bat channel” was the phrase of the day.

West died on June 9, 2017. His portrayal of a campy super hero for two short seasons added joy to the lives of those who grew up in the 1960s, when color televisions were replacing old black and white (and gray with snow) sets. Although Adam West is no longer with us, his Batman will always be available somewhere on the “same bat channel.” He also was the voice of the quirky Mayor (Adam) West of Quahog, Rhode Island, the setting of The Family Guy. 


Last week, “the sun did not shine, it was too wet to play” and a museum, The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, opened in Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s dedicated to hometown son and beloved children’s author and illustrator, Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. While at Dartmouth College, Geisel became a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. The museum is now officially on my bucket list.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1925, while a student at Dartmouth.


I missed wishing Chi Psi a Happy Founders’ Day on May 20. It was founded in 1841 by 10 Union College students. H. Fisk Johnson was initiated as a member of the Cornell University chapter. The picture below appeared in Ezra Magazine. It is a selfie Johnson took with his Chi Psi brothers at the reception ceremony honoring his gift to endow the new S.C. Johnson School of Business at Cornell. (Thanks Gabbie for passing it along!)

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Reaffirming My Faith in the Fraternity World

Despite belief to the contrary, it has never been easy to be a member of a Greek-letter organization. Anti-fraternity sentiment has been around since about the time of the founding of the first chapter of the first fraternity.

I like to tell the story about how amazing it is that Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi are part of the GLO landscape today because they were forced off the Monmouth campus in the infancy of both organizations. Luckily, each had established subsequent chapters and thus was able to survive the loss of the Alpha Chapter at a time when power was typically vested in that Alpha Chapter.

Document from Monmouth College students’ attempt in the late 1870s to keep on wearing GLO pins. The organizations were ultimately forced off campus until the 1920s when inter/national organizations were allowed on campus.

The fraternity system has been under scrutiny these past months; the scrutiny is justified and the actions of a few cannot be brushed asided. There are no excuses when a member dies. It is against every principal and belief we have. And we are all touched and damaged by the actions of a few.

That’s why it was so refreshing and so uplifting to read the bio of each and every winner of this year’s crop of NIC Awards. I suggest you go do the same. The undergraduate winners are outstanding and it warms my heart to see them honored for their service. I hope they will continue to make the fraternity world proud of their efforts. Be sure to check out the other winners, too. A special shout-out to my friend Mari Ann C allais, a Silver Medal Recipient!

Undergraduate Award of Distinction


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Hazing Has No Place on Fraternity Row

There is no universe in which I condone fraternity hazing. As a mother and as someone who believes deeply in the ideals of the fraternal world, I find hazing to be abhorrent to everything that should fraternity and sorority life. I am horrified by the recent hazing deaths and my heart breaks for the victims of these senseless tragedies.

Whenever news reports include the words “hazing ritual” I cringe because our rituals, those deeply imbedded values and beliefs and the words and ceremonies which reflect them, do not include hazing of any kind.

I remembered something I read in The Palm of Alpha Tau Omega. It was written in 1977 by Craig Mousin, but it is as true today as it was 40 years ago. Although Mousin was speaking about ATO, it could have been any fraternity, and I am confident it applied to almost all of the NIC fraternities of 1977.  He stated that although hazing and fraternity were “in theory the antithesis of each other, this current attention to hazing can be seen as part of a circular pattern of the growth of hazing, the progress toward elimination of hazing, the renewed growth of hazing, and on and on.” Mousin had served for two years as a Chapter Services Consultant and was in his third year of law school. He went on to enumerate the steps ATO had taken to eliminate hazing starting with the 1924 constitutional amendment to eliminate hazing and rough play; violators would be fined $25 (about $350 in today’s funds). 

In 1977, a film about fraternity hazing debuted. It was the work of Charles Gary Allison. It was his first movie, and it was produced on a shoe-string as part of his doctoral dissertation at University of Southern California. He sought to tell about the problems faced by a producer making a film. He realized that the best way to do that was to actually make a film. He wrote On Brotherhood and then brought it to life using a handful of young professional actors, one seasoned actor who played a rich alumnus, and with Cliff Robertson as the narrator. Many of the actors and extras were USC students and members of its fraternities and sororities. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Delta Delta Delta houses were used in the filming which took place on the campus over summer break.

The story takes place at the fictional eastern Summit College in 1954. It centers on the pledges of the Gamma Nu Pi fraternity. Kappa Delta Alpha is the sorority featured in the film. It starred Peter Fox, Nancy Morgan, Gregory Harrison, Wendy Phillips, Scott Newman, and Robert Emhardt.

The story that Allison told was one that he knew well. It was based on a true story, the death of Richard Swanson, a Kappa Sigma pledge, who choked on a piece of liver while a student at USC in 1959. Allison graduated in 1960 from USC. I’ve also read accounts that Allison was a Kappa Sigma when that happened, although I do not have official confirmation of that.

The film, which became Fraternity Row, was shown at several fraternity gatherings that summer and on campuses throughout the country. Allison’s film was screened at the Alpha Tau Omega Congress and he followed the screening with a question and answer session.

From the March 1977 issue of The Palm of Alpha Tau Omega

The following year, another film about fraternity life debuted. Animal House stole Fraternity Row’s thunder and helped bring a renewed interest in fraternity life, but that is a story for another day.

My sincere thanks to Kappa Kappa Gamma Carolyn Hunter for bringing this film to my attention and sharing her collection of items about the movie with me.


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“A Happy Find in Champaign” on Alpha Gamma Delta’s Founding Day

Alpha Gamma Delta was founded on May 30, 1904 at Syracuse University, when Syracuse was still in session at the end of May. As academic calendars changed, it became difficult celebrating a Founders’ Day when school was not in session. In 1936, Alpha Gamma Delta made Founder’s Day an historic term. Founders’ Day was replaced with International Reunion Day (IRD), which is celebrated on the third Saturday of April.

The Alpha Gamma Delta Founders

Nonetheless, I went looking for something to write about as I try to commemorate Founders’ Days whenever possible. As usual, I fell into a rabbit hole. “A Happy Find in Champaign” on the contents page of the February 1917 Alpha Gamma Delta Quarterly caught my eye. I took a look at the entry by Marguerite Keck, an alumna of the Xi Chapter at Illinois Wesleyan University. It read:

The other night I was over at the University practising with the Choral Society and I had started to leave the hall when a young lady came up to me and began to talk about school work, etc. She said she was from Decatur, Illinois, so I (having my AΓΔ directory memorized) immediately asked if she knew Bertha Trautman there. She said ‘Why yes, she’s married and living here in Champaign.’ ‘Oh, she is surely not the girl I mean—this Miss Trautman is not married. Do you know if she is a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority?’ I said. The girl said ‘Well, really, I can’t say, but this Miss Trautman was here tonight playing in the orchestra. Why! there she is over there, now, talking to her husband.’ I was ‘all eyes’ and fate brought us together and surely enough, it was Beta’s own Bertha Trautman, now Mrs. W. H. Hyslop. Of course, we were very glad to meet and the fact that I remembered her name and address surprised her greatly. I said ‘You surely do not read your Quarterly or you’d have known that you had three sisters right here in Champaign.’ She said she got her Quarterly but confessed she didn’t read it from ‘back to back’ as I did. Then, she told me that she had not told any of the Alpha Gam girls that she was married and I said ‘Well, here’s where I announce it.’ She was married in Sheridan, Wyoming, a year ago last summer to Mr. Hyslop. He is now instructor of Physics at the U. of I. and also studying for his doctor’s degree. She informed me that Elizabeth Gaynor, B, was teaching here in the high school. My goodness, why are people so busy that they can’t even read their Quarterlies and find out about their sisters! If our ranks at U. of I. could be increased by one—whoop la! we’d have a Champaign Association. Bertha seems very enthusiastic and is thinking of going with me to Xi’s initiation services in January. I haven’t met Elizabeth yet, but hope to soon after holidays. I hope the five of us in Champaign can do something here.

This story doesn’t end there. Keck had been a driving force behind the establishment of her own chapter at Illinois Wesleyan University and she had a hand in the founding of the chapter at the University of Illinois.

According to a history of the chapter written for the Society for the Preservation of Greek Housing:

In February 1917, a conversation sparked by a piece of jewelry set in motion the process which would eventually lead to the founding of Sigma Chapter at the University of Illinois. Florence Downend, a sophomore music student, admired the pin worn by her classmate Marguerite Keck, who had recently transferred to the University of Illinois from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. Marguerite explained that the pin was a sign of her membership in Alpha Gamma Delta’s Xi Chapter, and her ensuing conversation with her classmate convinced her that Florence ‘had the desire and spirit to start a new organization,’ so she encouraged her to gather other friends, recruit new ones, and begin the process of founding a new chapter for Alpha Gamma Delta. An initially small but enthusiastic group of women met at the home of Viña Freitag and discussed ideas and plans for the organization, where Florence Downend served as moderator and passed on the knowledge about general fraternity life that she had gained from her conversation with Marguerite Keck.

The group began the process to become a local organization. At Keck’s suggestion, they chose Delta Epsilon Phi as the local’s name. Keck also designed a pin, a small arrow with the letters ∆ΕΦ superimposed on it. The first initiation ceremony of Delta Epsilon Phi took place on April 23, 1917. Keck also created the initiation ceremony and she was helped by several Alpha Gamma Delta alumnae in the Urbana-Campaign area including Bertha Trautman Hyslop.

Marguerite Keck (Koehler)

Alpha Gam’s 1917 Convention took place in Louisville in June and the Delta Epsilon Phi members wasted no time in getting a formal petition book together. The petition was accepted at the convention and the local organization began a one-year trial period before its formal installation as the Sigma Chapter on June 12, 1918.

In December 1920, when the Alpha Gamma Delta chapter initiated its pledges, Hyslop was one of the alumnae at the dinner which followed initiation. In 1922, Hyslop’s husband took at job University of Denver.  Bertha Trautman (also spelled Troutman) Hyslop was a teacher in the Denver schools and played viola in the Denver Civic Symphony Orchestra. She died in 1948.

Keck, who was also known as Marjorie, Margie and Marg, married Jesse Newton Koehler. An entry in a 1921 Quarterly noted “A delightful letter was received from Mrs. Newton Koehler formerly known as Margie Keck. Marg is living in Ashland, Ky., and is as happy as any bride could possibly be.” The couple had two daughters and Marguerite Koehler died in 1962.


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“Ye Are Not Dead” on Memorial Day 2017

Yesterday’s post about Dr. John McCrae’s poem is followed by a discovery of a poem written in response to it.

Frank Hering’s poem as it appeared in the Gold Star Honor Roll: A Record of Indiana Men and Women who died in the service of the United States and the Allied Nations in the World War.

The poem by Frank E. Hering appeared in the Gold Star Honor Roll: A Record of Indiana Men and Women who died in the service of the United States and the Allied Nations in the World War which was published in 1921.

This appeared in the Phi Gamma Delta magazine.


Hering was an initiate of the Phi Gamma Delta chapter at Bucknell University. In addition to being known as the “Father of Notre Dame football,” he had a hand in making Mother’s Day a holiday. The Fraternal Order of Eagles recognized him as the “Father of Mother’s Day.” He began giving speeches about the idea as early as 1904.

From the Phi Gamma Delta website

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On Memorial Day, “In Flanders Fields”

The haunting poem, In Flanders Fields, was written by John McCrae, M.D., a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army during World War I. He was a Zeta Psi from the University of Toronto chapter. Although it was written by a Canadian in response to the death of his friend and former student, the poem is a fitting one to print on Memorial Day, the day for remembering those Americans who have given the ultimate sacrifice and died during their service to the country.

McCrae wrote the poem after the May 2, 1915 death and burial of his friend and former student Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer. McCrae died of pneumonia on January 28, 1918, while commanding No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne.

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A memorial on the John McCrae Memorial Site, Boezinge, Ypres, West Flanders, Belgium.

Last fall, on the weekend of November 11, 2016, the Zeta Psi chapters gathered to honor McCrae’s legacy. They wore a poppy pin and McCrae’s poem. McCrae’s chapter and the Fraternity itself are partners.


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