I was not the best of students in college. Frankly, I played too much and compounded that by changed majors and changed colleges. My grandfather, an educator and principal at East Jefferson High School where I attended, had mapped out a curriculum designed to prep me for architecture. But I hated math, even though I did well in it when I applied myself, so architecture (before computers doing all that calculating) did not have much appeal. I started out taking fine art, because I had no idea what I wanted to do.
And I minored in beer. Made good grades in that, but not so much in the more serious courses. I finally woke up and realized a career in fine art was not likely to be very profitable. Hearing about a great program in advertising design at the University of Southwest Louisiana that sounded like it might provide a living, I transferred and changed my major. It was a wise move professionally, because I did eventually manage to make a decent living in advertising after college.
Meanwhile, some new friends at USL (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette – ULL) recruited me to join a frat, Kappa Sigma. My roommates and I went though rush in the fall of ’65, and we all ended up pledging the Epsilon Chi Chapter of Kappa Sigma, one of the largest and oldest fraternities on America.
Ever see the movie Animal House? No, we weren’t that bad (were we?), but the Kappa Sigs were indeed called the “animals” long before the movie came out. We even got put on probation during my pledge semester—not “double secret probation” like in the movie, but probation none-the-less—hazing among other things… Hey, it helped prepare me for basic training in the military! The TI at Lackland AFB screaming in my face was a cakewalk after Hell Week as a pledge. (The pic is of me doing my Otter imitation years before Otter became famous in Animal House.)
Much to my surprise, I was recently contacted by an old (literally) frat brother, Chip Manion, to tell me about a gathering of some brothers living in New Orleans. We only managed to collect up five of us; three others were unable to attend, but we did gather for lunch and spend some time “reeking.” (No, I’m not going to explain that. It means different things to different brothers at different times, both good and bad.)
Not long after that I was notified that a brother, Bo Cooksey, was in the advanced stages of cancer, and an event was being put together for his benefit. In the spring, Janis and I journeyed back to Lafayette for a gathering of sixties era Kappa Sigmas from Epsilon Chi Chapter at the ULL Alumni house. My first thought upon walking into the gathering was who are all these OLD men? They were actually a rather distinguished looking bunch. Some dressed in suits, others more casually, many carrying a few extra pounds and a less hair than when I last saw them.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but September of 1965 was the beginning of a life-long friendship with many really fine gentlemen. Back then I never would have believed some of them would achieve what they did, but many went on to serve honorably in the military during the Viet Nam War, some became doctors, lawyers, financial bankers, politicians, builders of industry, and leaders of their communities. Yes, the “animals!” I saw people I haven’t seen since I graduated. Seeing these old friends and renewing friendships from college was something I will cherish forever. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed their company—and how much fun we had together.
Some I have kept up with, but alas, some I have lost touch with, because they have passed to that “Great Chapter House in the Sky,” or something like that. Some of my fondest memories of college are associated with my brothers in Kappa Sig.
Even though we may have been negligent, “trapped” in our lives of marriages, raising kids, making a living—growing old, it’s not too late to renew fellowship with old friends. We have pledged to gather again before too many more of us move on to that Great Chapter House in the Sky. I encourage you to do the same while you still can.
I found my old jersey from college. I am amazed at how much it shrunk just sitting a drawer all these years. 😉