You Never Know Who You'll Meet at Convention!
Posted On: Monday, June 18, 2012 03:05 AM, by Noraleen DuVall Young
Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker
For Grand Convention this year, we will have two of our Theta notables (Dr. Nancy Lusk Zimpher, Alpha Gamma/Ohio State, currently serving as Chancellor of the State University of New York and Julie Moran, Gamma Delta/Georgia, television host/reporter) speaking to the attendees. Past conventions have had their share of Theta notables and even attendees who later went onto greater things. Some of the ones we know about include the following.
Genevieve Forbes Herrick, Tau/Northwestern, was dubbed “Girl Reporter” during the early 1920. She wrote for the Chicago Tribune, interviewing Al Capone, and in 1921 traveled undercover on an Irish immigrant ship to investigate deplorable conditions. She later testified before a Congressional committee. Herrick served as one the first presidents of the Washington Women’s Press Club (later becoming the National Press Club), and was among the circle of reporters and friends of Eleanor Roosevelt. She attended many conventions – as alumnae delegate at the 1919 Convention, as district president in the early 1920s, and then as a speaker at several conventions.
Adelaide MacDonald Sinclair, Sigma/Toronto, attended many conventions: first as an officer of the Fraternity, serving as grand president from 1938-1942, and then later as a speaker, sharing her experiences as deputy executive director for UNICEF in the late 1950s/early 1960s.
Marlo Thomas, Omicron/USC, along with several of her fellow chapter members, presented a skit at fun night at the 1958 Grand Convention. Of course, this was before she made a name for herself and more attention was given to the appearance of her father, comedian Danny Thomas. He talked to the convention about his new project – St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
U.S. Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker, Kappa/Kansas, spoke at the 1980 Grand Convention in Miami, Florida.
Amy Grant Gill, Alpha Eta/Vanderbilt, performed at the 1984 Grand Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.
Enjoy all of our convention speakers, but as you look around at your fellow attendees at Convention, who knows who might be a future notable Theta – we may be writing about you some day.
P.S. – While not a Theta, we did have a future famous musician provide entertainment during the 1932 Grand Convention at Estes Park, Colorado. Lawrence Welk and five-piece band played the tunes of the day. (He later was known for his accordion playing and long-running television show that still appears on public television stations.) Described as “handsome,” the band was well received by the attendees.
Plane, Train, Boat... Camel?
Posted On: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 12:50 PM, by Noraleen DuVall Young
The trip to Portsmouth with 1962 conventioneers and "Camel."
Throughout the 140 years that Kappa Alpha Theta has been holding conventions, delegates and visitors have utilized a variety of ways to get to their destination. In those early days, it was horse and buggy. In 1911, the first west coast convention was held in Pasadena, California, with a dedicated special train for Theta members. By the 1946 Convention, attendees were flying.
Attendees sometimes found more interesting ways to get to convention. Back in 1962, five members of Gamma Nu/North Dakota State decided to join their delegate. By pooling resources, they figured they could afford it – driving and staying in campgrounds along the way. Using a relative’s station wagon, dubbed “Camel,” they departed from Fargo, North Dakota.
They brought along sleeping bags and a camp stove, eating along the way. They each were limited to one large suitcase, a sleeping bag, and a purse. They stayed in campgrounds and tourist cabins but included stops in Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec. What made the experience even more special is that none of them had ever camped before. Except for some “mosquitoes about their size” and a camp stove that proved challenging, the group arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a week later with great experiences to share.
We hope you have safe and fun travels on your way to Convention, and do share your stories of Convention travel!
The First Convention
Posted On: Friday, April 20, 2012 10:59 AM, by Noraleen DuVall Young
Mary Stevenson Buchtel
On November 14, 1872, 12 members met in Bloomington, Indiana, representing two of the three existing chapters – Alpha/DePauw, Beta/Indiana and Indiana Gamma/Moore's Hill College. Indiana Gamma did not send any delegates. During the convention, they decided to issue charters written on parchment, established that new chapters would be charged a $5 charter fee, discussed Beta’s suggested additions to ritual, and agreed “that chapters in female colleges do not prosper.” So began the tradition of Kappa Alpha Theta meeting as a whole to conduct fraternity business.
We only know a few things about this convention besides the business mentioned above. Mary Stevenson Buchtel, the fifth initiate of Alpha Chapter, recalled:
“We had a grand time socially, I remember. I was entertained at the house of the Misses Hughes [both members of Beta Chapter], where we were in continuous reception while in the house. We gave one morning to business. The evening was given to a party much like any other party of fine young folk. The weather was cold and we got home late. I shall not forget the warm iron the motherly Mrs. Hughes had placed in the foot of my bed. It saved my life.”
No photographs survive of this meeting; we are not even sure any were taken. Hannah Fitch was still a collegian and attended as one of Alpha’s delegates along with Mary Stevenson. The rest of the delegates were from Beta Chapter.
Could they have even imagined that 140 years later more than 600 delegates and visitors will come from all over the United States and Canada to make decisions about the future of the Fraternity? This year’s attendees will celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. However, I do not think that the attendees of the 2012 Convention will have to worry about having their bed warmed in Tucson.
We are collecting stories of conventions past and present. Please share your story with us!