Monday, March 25, 2013

Fifty years? Really?

zo 50th

Today’s mail included this postcard inviting me to return to Terre Haute next month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the chartering of the Zeta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Seeing this photo of the founding members on the steps of the former Tirey Memorial Union Building triggered a series of flashbacks to my years at Indiana State.

I was in the first ATO pledge class after the chartering, accepting my white and gold pledge pin the evening of Dec. 9, 1963. That means the guys in this photo were my mentors and tormentors during pledgeship.

I have particularly fond memories of Reed McCormick, the guy in the top right corner of the picture with his hand on the stone railing. Reed was from my hometown of Delphi, Ind. and we became close friends. Reed died a year ago this Thursday of a heart attack in Arizona.

I can still conjure up the names of many of the guys in this photo – Otto Berlin on the right of the charter, Chuck Cerny on the right end of the first row and Dan Fitzgerald over his left shoulder, Larry Thompson in front of Reed, Marty Aimone in front of him, Don Prior at the left end of the second row, and so on…

It’s astonishing to realize this was a half-century ago. It seems like only a few years. Now we’re all in our late 60s and early 70s – old men whose memories of fraternity life harken back to the Animal House days.

I don’t plan to return for the 50th anniversary celebration next month. I went back in the fall of 2005 for the dedication of the new ATO Fraternity house and felt oddly disconnected, probably because none of my pledge brothers showed up.

I can’t see driving 900 miles to experience that feeling again.

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