Just about everybody has a time in their life--maybe high school, college, the military--that they shared with a select group of friends. And when they think about that time, which for most people is only rarely, they remember those friends. Crazy, they say, and yet they find themselves feeling kind of good inside as they wonder whatever became of old so-and-so.
Occasionally, of course, there are the reunions--when one actually gets to see some of the old crowd. Everyone makes sure they're looking good and they go and, if they're lucky, they have a good time. Actually, they have a sentimental time. They remember the bond that brought them together. They allow themselves to get caught up in some of the corny stuff, the shared rituals and memories, and tell themselves they really ought to get together with this group more often.
The funny thing is that on the face of it, these reunions, homecomings, Founder's Day get-togethers are always the same: pretty much the same program year after year; pretty much the same faces, though always a few new ones. Indeed, as one woman said Saturday at the 134th anniversary luncheon of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, "You go along year after year, seeing your friends, maybe meeting some of the new young members and all of a sudden, it's 50 years and they give you a special award and you realize you've gotten old."
The young ones don't see it that way, of course. Alpha Delta Pi, which just happens to be the nation's oldest secret society for college women, has chapters on six California college campuses: UCLA, USC, University of San Diego, Cal State Fullerton, UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley. Almost 400 collegiate members from every chapter but Berkeley came to the luncheon at the Castaway restaurant in Burbank. It wasn't an obligation, something the sorority requires you to do in the same manner your parents expect you to come home for certain holidays.
No, declared Lucy Rector, a senior at UCLA, "it's a great day. It's a day when we all get together and it just reinforces my feelings about ADPi. You come here and you really get the feeling of sisterhood."
Will Rector want to come to these Founder's Day events when she's an alumna? A vigorous nod, yes. "I will. Coming here today just reinforced my feeling that I'd want to."
Saturday was a grim, gloomy day and as people got out of their cars and walked across the parking lot to the banquet room, they hunched up, holding their arms against themselves to ward off the wind. Even if you hadn't seen their faces, you could pick out the collegiate members in trendy, but lightweight silks or cottons with at best a raincoat. The alumnae, 200 of them from 36 chapters, wore either suits or a smart jacket over their silk or wool dresses.
Once inside the reception area, however, immediate warmth and a din of voices. Grab a name tag, aim for the bar and a Bloody Mary or some white wine; and "Could you believe that wedding as we came in? They must have been freezing. Did the guy ever kiss the bride?"; and "Isn't this fun? I haven't seen you in so long. You look wonderful"; and "Did you guys come up by bus? We drove and I can't believe we're even here."
Co-chairman Mary Mason said they always hoped collegiates would mix a lot with the alumnae, but it never seemed to work that way. The alums who'd spent a lot of time around the chapter house visited with the college members. But let's face it, the feeling seemed to be, alums are different--sort of--from the members now living in the chapter house. They always have been and they always will be. It's the alumnae who perpetuate the traditions, values and standards of a sorority, while it's the college members who live it every day. "It's the trickle-down effect," said Amy Querman, new president of the UCLA chapter. "The alums are there, but we don't always know what they do, except that they're really important to us."
This particular Founder's Day had a certain momentousness. Besides being the 134th anniversary of the sorority, which was founded as a women's literary society named Adelphians at Wesleyan College at Macon, Ga., it was the 60th anniversary of the UCLA and USC chapters. So Friday night there had been alumnae bashes at both chapter houses and wow, it was amazing, the alums were giggling, how you found yourself doing things just the way you did in college. Like DeAnn Saliba Hayes, who'd gotten together with a bunch from her pledge class (UCLA, '55) and they'd piled off together in two cars, and when they arrived at her house there was her husband saying hadn't they forgotten someone? No, No. But they had--though it was OK. The lost member was still back at the chapter house, doing something in the kitchen.