Moments in Acacia History
As Acacia celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2004, we reflected on some of the moments that have shaped the fraternity. Some focus on the big issues: dual membership, Masonic requirements, and restrictive clauses. There are some short biographies on Acacians with whom you might not be familiar. There are many lighter moments, as well, including answers to the burning question, "What were the most popular mascot names?" I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I have enjoyed researching them.
And the short of it...
Can You Afford This?
As reported at the first Conclave held June 26-30, 1905, in Ann Arbor, Michigan:
"Each active member pay through his chapter 25 cents per month, as national dues...each Acacia Alumni be assessed three dollars per year."
Human Service at its Best
As reported in the Journal in 1907 by the University of California:
"A few days after the chapter birthday (April 15, 1906) we had to face the events of the San Francisco fire and earthquake. The homes of several members were destroyed by fire. The members took active part in the relief work or were on military duty as the University Cadets were called upon for guard duty in San Francisco and Berkeley."
(Ed. Note: "The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire" caused $500 million in damages and killed 3,000 people.)
The first honorary member of Acacia was Louis Cass Goodrich. Goodrich was in part responsible for coming up with the name Acacia and in preparing the first Ritual of Acacia. He was made an honorary member on June 27, 1905, and died suddenly on August 7, 1905.
Young at Heart
In the 1908 Journal the Kansas Chapter reported that:
"The average age of the now active members is just slightly under 29 years, which may, in part at least, account for the gratifying tendency towards development in the more essential things for which Acacia stands."
William Jennings Bryan, future presidential candidate and a masterful speaker, appears on the Nebraska Chapter's pledge list in the 1908 Journal.
Homecoming and a Whistle
In 1909, future Acacia National President W. Elmer Eckblaw, along with C.F. "Dab" Williams were brainstorming ideas in the Shield and Trident Senior Honor Society at Illinois University. They wanted to do something constructive for the university and they finally hit upon the idea of a "super-reunion" for alumni and friends to relive their college days. This nostalgic "Homecoming" idea was brought up to another honor society, Phoenix, and to President Edmund James and Dean Thomas Arkle Clark, and was met with approval. Eckblaw worked on the details and made the first-ever Homecoming a success, setting the bar for the modern-day celebration. Not to be outdone with creating one of America's best-loved collegiate events, Eckblaw sounded the first "whistle of Acacia" — the first four notes of the adjutant's call of the White-Throated Sparrow — at the Sixth Annual Conclave in Columbia, MO on September 10, 1910. It was adopted thereafter.
In 1910, at the Sixth Annual Conclave at Columbia, MO the offices of President and Vice President were officially changed to Venerable Dean and Senior Dean, respectively.
On December 31, 1910, the Michigan Chapter house burns down. No one was killed or injured but the house, along with many historic artifacts, was a total loss. Michigan bounced back and by the 10th Anniversary of Acacia, it would build the first true Acacia fraternity house, built specifically for the fraternity on the same spot where the original building once stood.
According to records listed in the Journal and in Conclave minutes, on March 31, 1906, Dartmouth became the Zayin Chapter of Acacia. However, aside from the fact that Zayin paid its chartering fee, no other records remain about who was in the chapter or anything that happened with it. Subsequently, Dartmouth is the first Acacia chapter to be closed in 1908.
The Dual Membership Debate
From its inception, the Constitution of the Michigan Chapter of Acacia stated that Master Masons would be eligible for membership, provided that they "are not members of any other organization which will interfere with any of [their] duties or obligations [to] this fraternity."
At the first Conclave it was determined that "If any member of this Fraternity join any Greek-letter Fraternity other than an honorary Fraternity, it shall be deemed cause for expulsion." This did not mean, however, that members of another fraternity could not later join Acacia.
At the time when the first question was raised about dual membership, Acacia was still getting the majority of its members from the faculty or graduate students. This meant older members, many of whom had joined Greek-letter Fraternities in their undergraduate days. Several chapters claimed that if dual membership were not allowed, they would collapse due to low numbers.
After 16 years of deliberation, the 1921 Conclave pronounced that no member of a Greek-letter general, national, social college fraternity would be eligible for membership in Acacia. In the end, 22 out of 25 chapters voted for the amendment, and National President Harry L. Brown proclaimed it law on March 21, 1921.
Quoted from the February 1912 Journal by Columbia University:
"As a chapter we also believe that the recognition of Acacia by the Inter-Fraternity Conference is of no vital importance to the life of Acacia."
First Interfraternity Conference
Despite some reluctance to accept the Interfraternity Conference, especially on the local level, Acacia was one of the charter members of the national organization in 1910. In the May 1912 Journal is the first published account of an Interfraternity Conference.
First Council Meeting
The first called meeting of the "Grand Council of Acacia" took place April 12-13, 1913, in Champaign, Illinois.
Acacian in The White House
The nation's 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft, was initiated as an honorary member by the Yale Chapter of Acacia on June 4, 1913.
At the second meeting of the Council in Manhattan, Kansas on December 6, 1913, the badge of Acacia as it appears today was unanimously adopted.
You Are Here
The first directory of Acacia was printed in 1914. More directories would follow over the years and the same conclusion would usually be reached — by the time the directory was published, it was already out of date due to the fact that people moved often.
After many years of gathering songs from chapters, the first Songbook of Acacia was printed in 1915. The cost was $1.25 for cloth or $1.00 for paper binding.
Who Are You?
The first listing of Who's Who in Acacia was published in the February 1915 Journal.
Acacia's Own Indiana Jones
On January 30, 1915, Yale initiated Hiram Bingham III. This explorer/archeologist uncovered the fabled Machu Pichu — the Lost City of the Incas — along with many other Incan wonders.
At the 10th Annual Conclave held in San Francisco, Harry L. Brown of Michigan becomes Acacia's first Traveling Counselor. His job description was to inspect individual chapters and make sure all was running smoothly.
Arthur Capper became an honorary member of the Kansas State Chapter of Acacia on April 26, 1916. At the time he was the Governor of Kansas. He would go on to Congress, where he would represent the State of Kansas for 50 years. He also started the Capper Foundation, still in operation today, as well as the 4-H movement.
Bang the Drum
The Journal changed its name to The Acacia Spirit in September of 1917. The format changed to a much shorter news bulletin, and was mailed to Acacians in the armed services for free. This monthly publication covered news and Acacians during WWI.
In the midst of World War I, Acacia held a War Conference in Chicago on May 31, 1918. Fifteen chapters were represented by 29 men, most of whom were alumni. Nine chapters failed to send anyone. The Conference promised "to keep the home fires burning" while many Acacians were at war.
Chapter Advisors were made a part of Conclave in 1919 in Champaign, Illinois. Like many newly-created positions, that of Chapter Advisor also took some fine-tuning before it became viable. Today, advisors are an integral part of every Acacia chapter.
After dealing with the dual membership question, an even bigger debate would arise in Acacia history. Following World War I, there was a time of prosperity for Masons and Acacia as returning Veterans quickly filled houses. Yet as the 1920s went along this surge lessened and pledging numbers started to decline.
By the late 1920s some chapters resorted to pledging the sons and brothers of Masons in order to keep their houses running. This was against Acacia law and some chapters were suspended because of their actions. At the 1931 Conclave in Estes Park, CO it was decided that in order to survive on a national level, the fraternity had to start admitting more undergraduate members. According to records, the discussion of this matter took up 100 pages in the minutes, but ultimately passed. The referendum vote to the chapters also passed, 21-7.
The pledging of sons and brothers of Masons was the first step towards the elimination of Masonic requirements altogether, which came at the 1933 Conclave, signifying a necessary change that allowed Acacia to more ably compete with other fraternities on a national level.
Prehistory of the Pythagoras
At the 13th Annual Conclave in Minneapolis, MN the Conclave voted to adopt a uniform catechism for chapters in order to impart the history of Acacia to all pledges. Before this time, there was no system and some chapters had little knowledge of Acacia outside of their own chapter. This was the first step in creating a pledge manual, which ultimately resulted in the creation of the Pythagoras. In 1933 the Pythagoras handbook appeared in the December Triad and was later published as a separate manual.
Some Things Never Change
From the Journal of May 1921 in the Michigan Chapter news:
"The golf bug has found over half a dozen boys in the house not immune. They daily pilgrimage to the course to the battle cry of 'fore.' Their most notable improvement is in the gentle art of swearing."
First Chapter Newsletter
The first chapter publication to receive mention in the Journal was the Heth Hello of the Illinois Chapter.
The first Acacia chapter to be rechartered was the Northwestern Chapter on May 12, 1921. One of the men responsible for this was Francis H. Case, who would go on to become a prominent Senator from South Dakota.
A Triad is Born
At the 1922 Conclave in Lawrence, Kansas, The Triad was born. Despite a few ups and downs, editorial changes, and a disappearance for a time, it still remains Acacia's national publication.
Prints of an Idea
From a letter written by G.P. Lawrence (Ohio '07) published in the January 1923 Journal:
"The other day, while visiting at the Ohio State Chapter house, Brother Harley Banks told us of the disappearance of Brother Albert M. Smelker. We discussed the likelihood of his having been killed or his being in some hospital or asylum the victim of amnesia.
"It occurred to me at that time that if there were a national bureau of identification, where the finger prints of all the individuals in the country were recorded, it would be the custom to immediately identify all persons, guarded by the police or hospitals, by sending their fingerprints to this national bureau.
"I would like to see Acacia lead of in this movement by requiring that every brother shall have his fingerprints taken as a part of the record made at the time of his initiation. The present blank could be modified so as to use about one-half of the back of the sheet for the finger prints, the rest of the sheet still being available for future data, as now intended. I am enclosing a copy of the form used by the United States Army, and would suggest that we adopt something similar.
"Every one knows that a great number of our soldiers dead in the late war would never have been identified if it had not been for the universal finger printing.
"If we should identify one of our brothers who would otherwise be lost, as the unknown victim of amnesia, accident or foul play, it would surely be more than worth the effort of making all the fingerprints of our Fraternity the country over. I would suggest that each chapter and alumni organization be urged to cooperate in order to record the prints of all living alumni...."
Despite its merits, Brother Lawrence's idea to fingerprint all Acacians never came to fruition.
Up until the 1923 Conclave in Wisconsin, Acacia held Annual Conclaves — with a few exceptions such as the War Conference during WWI — but switched to the current system of a Biennial Conclave, both to save money and to give National Officers more clearly defined terms.
In 1924, Acacian Edwin Weir became the captain of the Nebraska football team. During Weir's time as tackle, Nebraska would be the only team in the nation to defeat Notre Dame — coached by Knute Rockne and led by the famed "four horsemen." Rockne called Weir "the greatest tackle I have ever seen."
Weir would go on to become a Walter Camp All-American and be inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame. He would also coach track and field at Nebraska and later have the track named after him. Weir remains one of the greatest athletes to come out of Nebraska to this day.
The First Passing
On December 30, 1923, James M. Cooper becomes the first Founder of Acacia to pass on to Chapter Eternal.
The Evolution of Gold Books
The Acacia Fraternity Chapter Manual first appears in rough form in the January 1925 issue of The Triad as a series of bulletins focusing on single topics — Venerable Dean, Treasurer, Secretary, Chapter Advisors, Rushing, etc. This was the first step in creating printed material to help chapter officers with fraternal duties. "Gold Books" were introduced at the 1960 Conclave at Bloomington, IN and have remained the official guide for chapter officers since then, albeit with many revisions along the way.
The Long Hard Road for a Subscription Fund
After five years of planning, writing and sheer hard work, Grand Editor T. Hawley Tapping introduced a Triad Life Subscription Fund at the 16th Biennial Conclave held in Ocean City, NJ in 1925. This fund provided a life subscription to The Triad for a $15 fee upon initiation. The plan had gone over well at Conclave, yet a referendum vote by the individual chapters defeated it.
Without this voluntary subscription, the fund languished, earning a scant $15,000 in 20 years. By the time the plan was put into action, World War II began. After the war, The Triad Fund rapidly increased. By the time the Acacia Educational Foundation was formed, the fund totaled approximately $150,000, and provided the bulk of Acacia's assets during the period of economic growth in the late 1950s and 60s.
A Founder's Ordeal
In July 1925, Founder Dr. Harvey J. Howard was kidnapped by a group of Chinese bandits. He spent 10 weeks in captivity before his escape/rescue. His book on the subject, Ten Weeks with Chinese Bandits, would go on to have eight printings in seven languages. Howard was in China serving as a physician to the Boy Emperor Pu Yi, the subject of the 1987 film The Last Emperor.
Acacia's First Big Hit
James B. Tharp, an Indiana Acacian, wrote "Sweetheart of Acacia" in 1924. It was first performed on November 16 of that year by a male quartet at the "Annual Musicale" at the Illinois Chapter. The Grand Council ordered 5,000 copies of the song, which was sung at the 1925 Conclave and soon became one of the most popular pieces of Acacia music.
But How Is It On Corn Flakes?
On a trip to Guatemala, Samuel J. Record, chapter advisor for Yale, discovered the first known "milk tree" or "cow tree" in the country. This unique species of tree, when cut or chopped, secrets a latex-like white substance. Far from being dangerous, the sweet substance was often gathered by natives to be put in coffee and tea. Later studies proved that the secretions were actually quite healthy.
Here Comes the Judge
The position of Judge Advocate was created at the 1922 Conclave held at Northwestern. David A. Embury was the first to hold this position. In 1938, the position would be eliminated and all responsibilities shifted to the chairman of the Jurisprudence committee. In 1960, Acacia would again bring back the Judge Advocate position and has retained it ever since.
No Longer Grand
At the 17th Conclave held at Estes Park, CO in September 1927, Acacia dropped the "Grand" title from officers and Conclaves, substituting "National" in its place.
Money Well Spent
As reported in the May 1928 Triad by the Chicago Chapter:
"One of the prominent advantages of sharing the physical details of life with 30 other men, as do the actives and pledges in a college fraternity, is the ability of the group to afford luxuries far beyond the power of the individual.
An instance of this is the splendid new musical instrument, combining an eight-tube RCA radio with an orthophonic victrola, which now graces the living room of the Chicago Chapter house. The list price was close to a thousand dollars, and most people who listen to the machine think that it is quite worth it."
Don't Trust Nature's Alarm Clock
Reprinted from the October 1928 Triad:
Northwestern: Frat Boys are Late to Class, and This, it Appears, is Why
"'Our alarm clock is sick,' explained some 25 members of the Acacia Fraternity yesterday morning when they were late to classes at Northwestern University.
"The professors smiled their incredulous smiles. To them it was just another novelty in collegiate excuses.
"'Indeed,' said one Acacian, 'he got a sliver in his throat.'
"'No,' said a second Acacian, 'he ate too many bugs.'
"'You're both wrong,' said a third Acacian. 'He was sick at heart because his date threw him over.'
"Then it developed that the Acacians' alarm clock is a redheaded woodpecker who for several weeks has come to wake them with his rat-tat-tat-tat on the tin eaves of the fraternity house promptly at 7 o'clock every morning. That is, until yesterday morning. And the Acacians, having thrown away their mechanical alarm clocks, were late."
Editor Hershel L. Washington, in an editorial for the May 1931 Triad, used the universal acceptance of women who smoked as an analogy on progress. When considered in the context of today's views on smoking, it acquires an entirely new flavor. The following excerpt of Washington's editorial is from the May 5, 1891, Kansas City Times:
"The pernicious habit of cigarette smoking by the fair sex finally has obtained a foothold in some rich New York circles, but it is done rather timidly. The swell restaurants there strictly forbid such coarseness. 'What would you do if a young woman came into your restaurant smoking a cigarette?' was asked of Hugh Lynn, owner of the Delmonico, West Fifth Street. 'Why,' he replied. 'I'd send her back to Third Street where she belongs. This is a respectable place.'"
Washington's editorial continues:
"On May 5, 1931, smoking among women is not confined to harlots — respectable women do it everywhere without tarnishing their good reputations. Even out here in the heart of the Bible Belt, even out in Kansas, the New Promised Land where the reformers reign supreme, the good people have repealed the anti-cigarette laws. The Taboos of yesterday have become proper social usage today. Nor is this transformation confined to morals and dogma. Business, churches and every form of human relationship are affected by the onward march of humanity.... Fraternities must make scholastic attainments the first order of business. The college fraternity playboy is doomed. The robot of the machine age is as heartless as the material from which it is made — those who cannot keep pace with the march of progress must ruthlessly perish by the wayside. The best minds and the best men of all fraternities will be hard put to cope with the situation."
Worst Fad Ever
Chain email may be relatively new, but the concept isn't, as evidenced by this letter from the exchange department in the May 1931 Triad:
"Chain letters are abroad in the land. Although we have repeatedly called attention to the fact that chain letters are ridiculous, superstitious and a reflection on Masonic intelligence, the annual crop is pouring in. Not only have we received a number of chain letters at the Grand Secretary's office, but different brothers over the state have written in asking what they shall do....
"Our attitude was clearly shown in the Grand Lodge Bulletin of April 1930. 'It is the duty of every Mason to whom any of these letters shall come to break the chain and to denounce the practice to all brethren and others with whom they may come in contact. Moreover, they are contrary in spirit to the postal laws of the United States Government inasmuch as they convey a threat — if you break the chain you will meet with sad reverse. Masons are presumably light bearers. Let us cut out bunk and attack it wherever we may find it, and this is the most bunkistic of all propositions that are now going around.'"
Clutter on the Airwaves
Hershel L. Washington, Triad editor from 1927 to 1948, bemoaned the state of radio in an editorial that might well have been written about today's mass media:
"Just how long the American public is going to put up with the inane, puerile, insipid trash which is currently transmitted by radio seems to be beyond prediction but we venture that the time is not far distant when a drastic revision of radio programs will be made. That hearing silly outbursts like 'How deep is the ocean?' and 'Say it isn't so!' every few minutes will ultimately get the better of most of us is certainly true. The potential benefits of radio are too great to be wasted so wantonly by absurd advertising announcement and more absurd crooners. Some solace, however, may be derived from the fact that a recent analysis of the popularity of programs indicates increased popularity of programs restricting advertising blather."
Going for the Gold
Jack Van Bebber, an Acacian from the Oklahoma State Chapter, won a gold medal in the 158-pound wrestling divisio at the 10th Olympic games in Los Angeles. Van Bebber was a three-time national intercollegiate champion and a four-time Amateur Athletic Union champion and captained the 1931 undefeated Oklahoma State wrestling team.
In the March 1934 Triad an article appeared entitled "Roy Clark — Northwestern's Iron Man," written by Elgin Narrin, a Northwestern alum. Narrin says of Clark "Roy has been perennially in evidence — a jolly companion and friend to every member, ever ready to lend a sympathetic ear to individual problems; an indefatigable schemer and worker for its progress; an experienced and far-sighted advisor."
By this time Clark had been at Northwestern for 14 years and was well on his way to becoming one of Acacia's greatest icons.
Evolution of Leadership Training
The first regional conference was held October 26-28, 1934, in Lawrence, KS. Regional conferences soon took place in the northeast and on the west coast. In 1962, regional conferences were abolished. A province governor system, led by a group of alumni, took over to provide officer training for smaller groups of Acacians. In 1972, the name was changed to Regional Counselors, and they continued to assist chapters. RLA's made a comeback in 1984, but they were on-again, off-again. In 1995, the current process of holding Acacia Leadership Academies between Conclave years became the conduit for undergraduates to become fraternity leaders.
Autograph of a Tyrant
What beats starting the world's first school of journalism? How about starting the world's first school of journalism AND receiving an autographed portrait of one of the world's most infamous dictators?
Walter Williams founded the Missouri School of Journalism in 1908, and became a member of Acacia the following year. His school became world-renowned and attracted many foreign students, many from Asia.
Williams would go on to become president of the university. It was during this time that Williams received a portrait of Benito Mussolini with this inscription:
"To Walter Williams with cordial regards — Mussolini, Rome, December 21, 1934 — Thirteenth year of the Fascist regime."
How to Have Fun at Washington State (c. 1936)
Reprinted from the Washington update in the May 1936 Triad:
"Spring vacation had come and gone. Upon the return of the boys several cars were noticed. Some of the cars are nothing to brag about but they are potential picnic trips anyway and that's all that counts out here among the weeds. That and shooting gophers. That is one thing this school can brag about. We can sit on the steps of the fraternities and pick off varmints at random with our hog legs."
How Acacia Nearly Became Alfalfa
After a significant amount of debate at the 1935 Conclave in Chicago, it was voted to keep the name "Acacia" and not change it to a Greek-letter fraternity. The number one contender for a Greek name was "Alpha Alpha Alpha" — to keep it first among fraternities in Banta's Greek Exchange — shortened to "Tri-Alph," or as some might refer to it: "Alfalfa."
In keeping with traditions of providing Acacians with good advice, a portion of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People appeared in the May 1937 issue of The Triad.
Slacker's Best Friend
In the May 1938 Triad, the Nebraska Chapter lists under its initiates Cliff Hillegass, who would later become an idol to many a high school and college student when he created Cliffs Notes study guides.
Rumblings of War
As reported in the October 1939 Triad, Northwestern alumni Gus Anderson was on the cabin liner Athenia in Europe when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Anderson was rescued and sent to Britain. This occurred mere hours after the declaration of war was made in Europe.
Husk That Corn
By 1939, one of the most popular sporting events of the day was a competition conceived by an honorary Acacian. Arthur Capper started a corn-husking contest in 1923 to further his support for the agricultural well-being of Kansas. According to The Triad, the 1939 contest was broadcast by the NBC blue network and was attended by over 125,000 people, making it one of the era's most attended American sporting events.
Big Step Before the Big War
The 23rd Biennial Conclave at Purdue in 1941 was one of the most important Conclaves in Acacia history. Held just prior to the onset of World War II, it saw the birth of some of our most important legislation, including a compulsory life subscription plan for The Triad, the establishment of a central office for the fraternity, and the stipulation that membership in Acacia could only be terminated by death or expulsion. It was also the first Conclave to serve as an officers' training school.
In Spring 1941, Acacia adopts the position of Traveling Secretaries. The name has changed a few times over the years — to Field Secretary in 1964 and Chapter Consultants in 1971 — as has the number of men employed at any one time. However, their job has always been the same: to visit chapters and colonies around the nation and observe and advise them. As such, they have provided invaluable service over many years.
Bang the Drum, Part II
In the October 1941 Triad appears the first list of Acacians serving in the military. The total number: 70. By the time WWII ended, over 1,200 Acacians would be listed, not including those "lost alumni" or those from recently suspended chapters.
To brighten the mood during war, Guy Buchanan of the Kansas State Chapter had just the ticket. In the May 1942 Triad it was reported that Brother Buchanan had recently been announced as the winner of the essay, "Why I Would Like to be Marooned on a Desert Island With Betty Grable." The prize? A 3-by-5-foot picture of the pinup queen, which, the Kansas State Chapter reported, was going to be autographed and prominently displayed at the house.
George F. Patterson, Jr. was initiated on February 15, 1942, at the Cincinnati Chapter of Acacia. According to the October 1942 Triad, "George 'Glamorboy' Patterson was instrumental for rush." George would go on to bigger things in Acacia and the National Interfraternity Conference, but not even he could escape a fraternity nickname.
Acacia's Unsung Heroine
Edith A. May was appointed the first Office Manager of the National Headquarters in December 1942, and served Acacia faithfully until March 1958. During World War II many commented that Edith was the office due to the drafting of many of the top Acacians. It's estimated she handled over 100,000 letters during the war years.
The Story of "Sweet Sioux"
In 1945, Northwestern University began a search for a token "trophy" to be traded with the rival Illinois University football team. They chose a traditional cigar store Indian and 21 "teams" competed — including the Northwestern Chapter of Acacia — to find the perfect specimen. Acacia was proclaimed the winner after an intensive search, and Venerable Dean Don Dickinson and Bill Brown (who located the statue in Chicago), presented "Sweet Sioux" during halftime in November 1945.
It was soon realized that the Indian was just too big to haul around and it was retired, and today the "trophy" for the Northwestern/Illinois game is the "Sweet Sioux Tomahawk." The Northwestern Chapter regained possession of the Indian, where it remained in the house, gazing sternly down on chapter meetings. It is presumed "Sweet Sioux" was lost when the Illinois Chapter house was the victim of arson in 1985.
Step back for a moment to 1945. The USS Indianapolis had carried parts of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, and on its way back was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. Through a series of major foul-ups, the Indianapolis was never reported missing and for nearly five days the survivors of the ship battled against all odds to survive.
Adrian Marks, a Northwestern Acacian alum, was stationed at Pelilieu when a garbled message came across the line. He got a message for a rescue, but he thought he was delivering rations to one man in a boat. He took an amphibious plane, with a crew of nine, to the site specified.
When he got to the location, Marks instead was greeted by hundreds of men floating in a 50-square-mile area.
"When I saw the magnitude of the situation I said, 'to hell with this business of coded messages.' I broke standing orders and shot back a message in plain English."
Unfortunately a commander sat on the relay and the message didn't reach the base. Marks landed his plane in 12-foot swells and pulled 56 men aboard. Some were tied to the wings using parachute shroud.
Eventually a destroyer in the area came to rescue the remaining men. Out of the original 1,200 men, only 316 survived to be rescued. It was the worst naval disaster at sea for the United States. The initial attack, drowning and sharks took the others. Marks was made an honorary members of the "Indianapolis" for his rescue. The survivors, along with rescuers, started a reunion in the city of Indianapolis in 1960, meeting every five years.
Even though Acacia had been one of the original founders of the Interfraternity Conference in 1910, it wasn't until 1947 that an Acacian — David A. Embury — would be elected president of the organization.
Hell Week Hooligans
While a blind eye was turned to early Hell Week activities, as more and more "accidents" occurred in the fraternity world it became impossible to ignore. As early as the 1930s, articles by both Acacians and the Interfraternity Conference began to stress the importance of eliminating Hell Week traditions.
It wasn't until 1946, at the first Conclave held after the end of World War II, that Acacia officially amended its bylaws to provide for "the elimination of Hell Week, paddling and undignified activities." At the same time campuses around the country, spurred by the IFC, started "Greek Week" activities to provide a stable and safe atmosphere for fraternities.
In the 1950s a new idea arose called "Help Week." Instead of non-constructive activities, pledges were instead given community service events during the "Hell Week" period. This not only served to bring pledges closer together, it also helped better the image of fraternities in the eyes of the community and campus.
However, despite some the changes for the better, "Hell Week" was never entirely abandoned. By the mid-1970s, hazing was making an unwelcome comeback to fraternities. Many well-publicized incidents were front page news (thankfully none involving Acacia), putting the entire Greek system in a negative light.
In 1982, at the 44th Biennial Conclave, an amendment was made to the bylaws defining the term "hazing" and the actions that would be taken against chapters in accordance to Acacia's anti-hazing policy.
In the Spring 1947 Triad, National President Lloyd H. Ruppenthal wrote in a letter that is both a thank you to outgoing president Walter W. Kolbe and a welcome to newly-appointed Executive Secretary Roy Cecil Clark:
"I predict that Brother Clark's tenure of office will be marked by an improvement in our entire fraternity, both nationally and locally."
What a perfect introduction to the man who was "Mr. Acacia." After serving for the Northwestern Chapter through his early years as chapter advisor, Clark would go on to serve Acacia over the next 20 years as Executive Secretary — overseeing a period of impressive growth, both in size and prosperity.
In 1966 he was made Executive Secretary Emeritus at the Conclave in New Orleans. He would also be one of the elite Acacians to have an award named after him: The Roy C. Clark Outstanding Acacian Award. When Brother Clark died in May 1967, Acacia lost one of its greatest men.
All Three Channels
Franklin was the first Acacia chapter to report the purchase of a television in the spring 1948 Triad.
Don't Try This at Home
From the California update in the summer 1948 Triad:
"It seems that the pledges decided to take Senior Dean Jim Campbell on the "ride" customarily bestowed upon the occupant of that office each semester. Jim was taken from beneath our noses by the pledges, handcuffed, and spirited away in one of their cars.
"After some wanderings, stops for food, etc., Jim was dumped in the Carmel Mountains, some 150 miles south of the chapter. Uniquely, however, Campbell was attired...in a prisoner's uniform which was very authentic. After a walk of some few miles (20) Campbell was picked up by a deputy sheriff who took him to Monterey.
"After establishing his identity, Campbell was released to the custody of two alumni, Don Smith and Hiram Bishop. The unfortunate distortion by local newspapers, one whose owner is worldly famous for such, produced some wrath in the Dean's office. At this writing everything has been settled to the satisfaction of all concerned. The Dean felt some punishment was necessary and that was meted out accordingly, part of which was social restriction for the remainder of the semester."
The First of Many Moves
The National Headquarters makes its first move to Evanston, IL in 1950. It would move many times in the upcoming year within the Evanston/Chicago area.
At the 1950 26th Biennial Conclave in Colorado, the National Council appointed Acacia's first Scholarship Chairman, Raymond A. Morgan.
Bang the Drum, Part III
At the height of the Korean War, around 500 Acacians were in service.
In an eerily similar reflection of what befell the Michigan Chapter in 1910, the Kansas Chapter of Acacia lost its house to a fire on December 29, 1950. As was the case in Michigan, no one was killed or injured. The damage was estimated at $50,000, but more significant were the irreplaceable historical artifacts.
In July 1985, the Illinois Chapter house was the target of an arsonist. While the house and many possessions were lost, all lives were spared. Some might think this event would break a fraternity, but it actually served to bring the chapter closer together. After a hasty reorganization, the brothers managed a 34-man rush, an improvement in grade point average to 3.87, and an expansive role in campus leadership. By August 1986, a new house was opened to a united and strong brotherhood.
Frank Gibney, Venerable Dean of the Vermont Chapter, was the first Acacian to climb Mt. McKinley, North America's highest peak. It took Gibney and three friends 26 days to climb the western buttress, the more inaccessible route. They had no trouble aside from the usual 80 mph winds which resulted in a -95 °F wind chill, avalanches, snow blindness and frostbite.
Across the Border
The first Conclave to be held outside of the United States took place in Toronto, Canada in 1992.
Friend to Philadelphia
After a 40-year effort, Acacian George W. Nietze (a Pennsylvania alum) finally convinced the government to dedicate the United States Independence National Park in Philadelphia on January 3, 1951. Nietze assured that many important historical landmarks in Philadelphia, including Independence Hall, would remain safely out of the hands of encroaching modern-day developers and retain their historical significance.
Human Service for Homecoming
The October 12, 1951 edition of Life magazine featured an article about fraternity men in Kansas who decided that — instead of spending hundreds of dollars and a lot of time decorating their houses for Homecoming — they would assist the victims of a recent flood. Six hundred men showed up, including a full force of Kansas Acacians, to help in the relief effort.
Run a Mile in His Shoes
In the Spring 1952 Triad, Kansas reported that a new pledge, Wes Santee, had won the Glen Cunningham Mile at the Big Seven Indoor Track Meet on March 1, 1952. Over the course of his college career, Santee became well-known not only amongst Acacians but throughout the nation. Santee had a world record-breaking career at Kansas, and also took part in a worldwide event to break the four-minute mile. Although was not the person to break that barrier, he still earned recognition for his fraternity, his college and his country, a great feat for any Acacian.
The Truth Is Out There
Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner was a great Acacian and a world-renowned physicist. He was responsible for the creation of the International Geophysical Year (IGY) — a comprehensive series of global geophysical activities spanning the period of July 1957 to December 1958. The IGY was timed to coincide with the high point of the 11-year cycle of sunspot activity, and contained correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, photographs, and other records documenting the programs and activities of the U.S. National Committee for the IGY. The collection covers the years 1953-1962, and spans approximately 152 linear feet.
Berkner also worked to launch the United State's first satellite with Project Vanguard in the 1960s. He received a NASA public service award, as well as the Acacia Award of Merit.
However, there is something else Dr. Berkner may be known for, if only among conspiracy theorists. According to allegedly Top Secret documents, Dr. Berkner was one of the members of the Majestic Twelve (MJ-12) — a group of top scientists under Presidents Truman and Eisenhower who studied extraterrestrial technology. The "documentation" that started the MJ-12 theory was subsequently proven to be a false; however, despite this fact, many people believe that this secret group did indeed exist.
Dr. Berkner died in 1967. Strangely, every other purported member of MJ-12 was also dead by the time the briefing was made public.
A True Trojan Artifact
On October 29, 1952, the University of Southern California (USC) received a 400 lb stone as a gift from the Republic of Turkey from the what is considered to be the Temple of Apollo in the ancient city of Troy.
USC would not have received this historic artifact if it wasn't for the hard work of USC Chapter Founding Father William D. James, who worked with the Turkish Embassy, the Turkish Information Office and the American Embassy in Turkey to get the stone to the university. Today the famous "Troy Stone" resides in front of Taper Hall at USC, linking modern USC traditions with that of the ancient Trojans.
Acacia's 50th Anniversary, held at Michigan (the fraternity's birthplace), was a treat for all involved. This monumental event in Acacia history was a veritable Who's Who in Acacia. Founders George A. Malcolm and Charles A. Sink were the two most notable participants, but plenty of past national presidents and officers, as well as contemporary well-respected Acacians, were also on hand to celebrate the Golden Anniversary.
This once-in-a-lifetime occasion included the presentation of Founders Rings, an original creation, to the five living founders; the presentation of Acacia's first Awards of Merit; and the unveiling of William S. Dye, Jr.'s book, Acacia Fraternity: The First Half Century.
In the Spring of 1956, the first scholarships offered by the National Fraternity were awarded.
In the Summer of 1956, pledge dues were adopted by the 29th Biennial Conclave in Oklahoma.
Starting in the late 1950s and pretty much sustaining itself until the 1980s recession, Acacia's housing growth spurt affected every chapter at some point in time. Whether it was a small project, such as painting, re-tiling or buying better equipment; completing a $200,000 addition; or building an entirely new house from the ground up, many chapters took part in this movement.
On a national level, Acacia, supplemented by the increasing worth of the Triad Life Subscription Fund, was able to help many chapters in their efforts. Between 1956 and 1961, fully 50 percent of Acacia chapters built new homes, had a major addition or acquired better housing. In 1960, Acacia housing was worth an estimated $4 million.
In the fall of 1956, Rensselaer Brother Harvey Moyses competed in an all-fraternity challenge at a local restaurant to eat the most hamburgers. In one hour, Moyses consumed 21 burgers while the closest competitor ate only 19. To show how far society has come, the current record holder for eating hamburgers is Ms. Sonya Thomas, who downed a whopping 25 burgers in just 12 minutes!
The Founders Achievement Award originated at the 29th Biennial Conclave in 1956. The first chapter to win the coveted prize was Oklahoma State in 1958. The award is more commonly referred to as the Malcolm Award after Founder George Malcolm.
Origin of the Acacia Fraternity Foundation
Acacia's first non-profit, tax exempt educational corporation was formed in Austin, TX in 1955. The group, the Acacia Educational Foundation of Texas, Inc., did not just benefit Acacians, but Masons as well.
On October 29, 1966 the Acacia Educational Foundation, Inc. (AEF) was formed. This was a purely Acacia foundation and served to provide scholarships and support as the Texas group had — but on a much larger scale. In its first year of existence, the foundation's assets increased by 40 percent. Through many alumni drives and continuing undergraduate support, the foundation continued to thrive.
During the term of National President W. Martin Wingren it was discovered that the AEF funds had been embezzled. Acting quickly and decisively, the Acacia Fraternity Foundation (AFF) was formed. Through the help of many loyal Acacia brothers, the AFF overcame the difficulties of this dark time and today operates and continues to support Acacians nationwide.
The tradition of pledge walkouts — or "sneaks" — began sometime in the mid-to-late 1940s, after the reorganization following WWII. Early "sneaks" seemed to have been to areas close by — usually a big city. It wasn't until the late 1950s that going to other Acacia chapters became the better option.
Characteristic of pledge walkouts from the beginning were the all-important pranks, hi-jinks and shenanigans done unto the active chapter by pledges. One favorite was the hiding or stealing of silverware, clothes and/or pillows, which were usually given to local sororities so that the Acacia men would have to sing to get the items back. Occasionally pledges would tell the cook to take a few days off and then proceed to take all the food with them — in the actives' cars no less!
At the 25th Anniversary of Acacia's founding, the University of Michigan broke long-standing precedent and granted permission to erect a memorial bench on the campus just behind the president's residence.
The Acacia Memorial Bench featured a plaque with the names of the Founders and other pertinent information. In the early days, pledge duties often included shining the plaque and cleaning the area around the limestone bench. In an attempt to help the pledges along, a chemistry major used an acid wash to quickly clean the plaque. Unfortunately, the acid permanently discolored the stone.
In 1954, a new bronze tablet was added to the bench, commemorating Acacia's 50th Anniversary and four more empty slots were added for the 75th, 100th, 125th, and 150th Anniversaries. Sadly, the eventual closing of the Michigan Chapter meant the tablets were never installed.
The bench still sits on the University of Michigan campus near a sidewalk southwest of Hatcher Library South.
Gimme a Hi-Fi
High fidelity isn't just a movie featuring John Cusack and Jack Black. Back in 1958, hi-fi was California's new $400 system that "realistically reproduced everything from fire sirens to the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra." It was also the first hi-fi set reported by any Acacia chapter.
Did Hef Attend?
According the Colorado State University update in the summer of 1958 Triad, the chapter's Spring Formal theme, Playboy Goes Acacia, was going to be sponsored by Playboy magazine.
Acacia at the Bat
From the years 1922 to 1984, Calvin Griffith (a George Washington Acacian) lived, ate and slept baseball. As soon as he was old enough, he was a bat-boy for the Washington Senators — he would later come to own the team, which ultimately became the Minnesota Twins.
To his fans, he was an astute businessman — to his detractors, he was a penny-pincher. Regardless of how he was viewed, the fact remains that Griffith took the newly-formed Twins to the World Series in 1965.
Later in his career he lost many of his fans by making a series of questionable trades. Yet, one thing Griffith definitely got right was his prediction about the future of baseball — he saw the end of small market teams in an era of free trades and ever-increasing salaries.
Ultimately Griffith, along with his sister Thelma, sold their 52 percent ownership in the Twins for $32 million in a teary home plate ceremony on June 22, 1984. Griffith died in September 1999, his predictions on the state of baseball coming all too true. His life was ultimately immortalized in John Kerr's biography, Calvin: Baseball's Last Dinosaur.
A Founder Father of the Washington Chapter of Acacia, Hiram Conibear had never rowed a stroke in his life when he was hired as crew chief at Washington. Yet what he lacked in experience he made up for in ingenuity.
In his first year, Conibear borrowed a lab skeleton and a rowing seat. Utilizing an old broom handle for an oar, he set out to meticulously study each bone position as the skeleton "rowed." In another test — in which he used his hand as an oar and a bicycle wheel as the water — Conibear found that, unless the oar struck the water at a speed equal to or greater than the water's speed, there was a moment of unwanted drag.
This discovery led to "Conibear's Stroke." This short racing stroke was the reason that Washington, in 1913, became the first western crew to appear in the elite Intercollegiate Rowing Association regatta in Poughkeepsie. In fact, Washington led the event until a broken foot strap hindered crew member Elmer Leader. They ended up in third place, but returned to Washington as heroes.
Today, on the Washington campus, you can visit the Hiram Conibear Shellhouse, built in 1949 to honor this crew legend. Wait a few years and you can marvel at the $18 million renovation that will culminate in the state-of-the-art Conibear Shellhouse and Student-Athlete Life Center.
Over 300 people attended both the 30th and 31st Conclaves. However, the largest reported number of attendees at an Acacia Conclave was 357 at the 60th Anniversary Conclave held in Memphis, TN in 1964.
At the 1956 Conclave in Oklahoma, it was decided that Acacia's alcohol policy should be governed by the rules and/or practices of the institution in which a chapter exists. Despite some apprehension, Executive Secretary Roy C. Clark reported at the 1958 Conclave that Acacia had encountered "no problems whatsoever, large or small." In 1984, at the 43rd Biennial Conclave, Acacia took steps to curb alcohol abuse by making alcohol awareness programs a required part of chapter programming.
Acacia has always been at the forefront of campus fads. So what do you do when you want to fit a fraternity into a Volkswagen? You just call up 31 of your closest brothers and start cramming! That's just what the Ohio Chapter did in the summer of 1959, for what was (at the time) a record-setting "cram session."
A Gift for All Track-and-Fielders
Major John L. Griffith (an Illinois Acacian) was described as a "foresighted young athletic director" by the Autumn 1959 Triad. That's probably putting it lightly. When Griffith was at Drake University in 1910, he longed for a place where his Drake Bulldogs, as well as nearby colleges and high schools, could compete in Track and Field.
He worked diligently, and in the middle of a cold, snowy day, 82 athletes (watched by 100 shivering fans) participated in the first Drake Relays. From this auspicious beginning grew one of the nation's biggest Track and Field events. Over the years, the event has featured record-breaking athletes, including Acacian Wes Santee, Jim Ryun and Michael Johnson.
Today, the Drake Relays feature 6,000 athletes and nearly 40,000 spectators. And at37 consecutive sellouts and counting, the event has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1910. Griffith himself would go on to become a commissioner for the Western Conference and a prime mover in the formation of the NCAA.
The Last Hurdle
After much time-consuming legislative debate, starting back in the early 1950s, the 1968 Conclave removed the last membership requirement in Acacia's Constitution.
The First Order of Pythagoras
The first Order of Pythagoras awards — all 63 of them — were handed out at the 32nd Biennial Conclave in 1962 in Austin, TX.
Fraternity Father, City Father
In 1961, just months after his death, founder George Malcolm was honored by the city of Baguio in the Philippines (a city he chartered in 1909) with the Malcolm Square Memorial. Although a 1990 earthquake took its toll on the city, Malcolm Square survived, and Baguio still celebrates September 1 as its chartering holiday, although it is no longer referred to as "Malcolm's Day."
Acacia and Civil Rights
As with all major issues during the turbulent 1960s, the civil rights movement found its way onto college campuses. Fraternities were targeted as discriminatory because individual chapters could of course choose who and who not to rush. Acacia was targeted as well, even though our fraternity had no restrictive clause in its constitution and had pledged and initiated African American men as early as 1962.
At three colleges in particular — the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan and the University of California — fraternities were either told to change the way they selected members (often against their national policies) or face refusal of admission to the university. Although college officials were attempting to ensure that no fraternities were racially biased, the effect was to deny the organizations' right to freedom of association. Acacia argued that a fraternity should be able to choose its members based on its own ideals, not those of the college — especially given the fact that Acacia's pledging standards have never used race as a consideration.
Acacia, along with other groups, plead its case before Congressional committees in Washington, D.C., resulting in an amendment to the Civil Rights Bill which states that:
"...nothing in this or any other Acts shall be construed as authorizing the Commission, its Advisory Committees or any person under its supervision or control to inquire into or investigate any membership practices or internal operations of any fraternal organizations, any college or university fraternity or sorority, any private club or any religious organization."
Can You Say "Party?!"
In 1964, California State College at Long Beach hosted the largest party in the school's history when it invited 1,100 friends over for the night. Entertainment was provided by legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale, whose tune "Miserlou" would later become the title song for the film Pulp Fiction.
Good Things Come in Threes
The December 1964 Triad reported the appearance of the first third-generation Acacia Legacy — John Henderson Dye, grandson of Past National President William S. Dye, Jr. and son of William S. Dye III. The newest "Brother Dye" was initiated into the Penn State Chapter, where his grandfather had been a Founding Father.
In 2010, NASA plans to replace the Hubble Telescope with the James Webb Telescope, a technologically superior model named after an Acacian. As the second administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the 1960s, Acacian James Webb was largely responsible for the Apollo space program. It was Webb's ability to deal with a variety of political liaisons that kept the NASA program alive, especially after the assassination of President Kennedy.
It was also Webb who took the full assault of the media and investigators after the Apollo 1 tragedy on January 27, 1967 — in which Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee were all killed when an electrical fire broke out in the cockpit and the men were unable to open the hatch of the spacecraft. Webb, though himself a target, managed to keep NASA's image clean in the eyes of the American public.
Webb retired from NASA in October 1968, just as the Apollo program was nearing completion. Although he was no longer administrator during the famed lunar landing, without his vision that "one giant leap" might well have taken a lot longer to achieve.
Bang the Drum, Part IV
In May 1966, the first letter from Vietnam was published in The Triad. Lieutenant Jerry D. McKenney, an Arkansas Acacian, wrote, "...the entire country is beautiful. It is a shame that war must tear apart a county such as this."
Right Up His Alley
Bill Elmore — the Venerable Dean of the Luther A. Smith Chapter — set a world record for bowling in 1966, by playing 1,082 consecutive games over a 72-hour period. He bowled for 60 straight hours, took a three-hour nap and then finished setting the record.
A Fitting Tribute
The Nebraska Chapter spearheaded the creation of the Roy C. Clark Outstanding Acacian Award, which was adopted at the 1966 Conclave held in New Orleans. This distinguished award is presented annually to the one undergraduate who most nearly exemplifies the outstanding attributes of Brother Clark — Perseverance, Integrity, Foresight, Loyalty, Devotion, Wisdom and Leadership. The first recipient, in 1967, was Brother Richard F. Allen of the Rensselaer Chapter.
Honored in The Big Easy
The 1966 Conclave in New Orleans was the first occurrence of the following individual chapter awards:
Secret societies — love 'em or hate 'em — have been around Acacia since the very beginning. The "Yellow Dogs" go back to the earliest days, and many Acacians who have attended a New Orleans Conclave can claim a place in "ROCA." Yet only one society can claim to have a former Playboy Playmate as a member.
Before the uprising against "little sister" programs, women's auxiliary groups were a big part of many fraternities. Acacia was no different. The order of "White Wabbits" started in 1965 at the Wyoming Chapter, and had its own pledging, initiation and ritual (which the chapter shared with any other chapters that requested them). In 1967, the White Wabbits initiated one Miss Astrid Schulz, a September 1964 Playboy Playmate.
A Chance Meeting at War
The October 1967 Triad featured an article about the Vietnam War rescue of Captain Edwin R. Maxson (an Arkansas Acacian). Unbeknownst to him at the time, Maxson's rescuer was a fellow Acacian from the Kansas Chapter, Major Burley O. Vandergriff II. Both soldiers had previously received the Distinguished Flying Cross. After his rescue Maxson received the Purple Heart.
At the 1968 Conclave in Kansas City, Marvin W. Logan of the Iowa Chapter was named Acacia's first Alumni Director.
First HQ Building
On September 13, 1969, the official dedication and cornerstone ceremony was held for Acacia's first National Headquarters in Boulder, CO.
In 1969, Alumni Director Marvin W. Logan launched the first big alumni donation drive, called Club 65. Past President George E. Frazer donated $10,000 with the stipulation that an additional $25,000 had to be raised by the Acacia Educational Foundation. Logan asked for donations of $65, a nod to Acacia's 65th Anniversary, and anyone who donated that amount or more would be memorialized on a plaque.
It was hoped that the money raised would help fund the archives for the new headquarters. By September 1969, the time of the dedication of the headquarters, the drive was halfway to its goal. A final push was made, and by the August 1970 Conclave in Estes Park, CO the archive section was funded through Club 65 donations and those of Brother Frazer, making the fraternity's first big fund drive an unqualified success for the fraternity.
The Acacia chapter at UCLA made headlines nationwide in the early 1970s with its coed living arrangements. Contrary to many reports, the UCLA Chapter did not have the approval of the National Council. In fact, the Council was very much against it. In an official statement made on February 3, 1970 they wrote:
"Recent reports imply that female students living in the fraternity's chapter house at UCLA were 'new brothers.' Such is not and cannot be the case. The girls living in the chapter house have not nor will be pledged or initiated into the fraternity."
A resolution passed during the March 1970 Council meeting gave clear indication that UCLA had initiated a proposal for coeducational living with intent to pledge and initiate females into Acacia in violation of the fraternity's Constitution. The Council stated that at the next Conclave, held later in the year at Estes Park, CO an amendment prohibiting coed living would be introduced and, if passed, would require UCLA to immediately suspend its practice.
In the next issue of The Triad strong liberal viewpoints were provided in the form of letters from the Venerable Dean of the Northwestern Chapter and the Secretary of the Minnesota Chapter. While the tone and length of the letters varied, the message was loud and clear: the National fraternity was out of touch with the "younger generation" and should allow coeducational living.
When the volatile topic came up for discussion at the 1970 Conclave, the debate against coeducational living was actively participated in by UCLA — yes, UCLA — who announced that "the experiment failed dismally."
Children's Television Pioneer
The main speaker at the 1970 Conclave banquet in Estes Park, CO was Northwestern Acacian George A. Heinemann. Heinemann was a pioneer in children's television at NBC. Among his most popular programs were Ding Dong School, Shari Lewis and Lambchop, NBC's Children's Theater, and Update — the first news program for teens.
He was also responsible for creating several educational programs, including the first course for college credit ever aired by a commercial television station. Heinemann went on to receive seven prestigious Peabody Awards, including a special award in 1972 for excellence in children's and youth programming.
The Father of Modern Technology
The next time you decided to log on, text message, check your PDA, or graph a bell curve, be grateful for Acacia Fraternity — because you owe these modern-day luxuries to one extraordinarily inventive Brother, Jack S. Kilby.
In 1970, Kilby, an Illinois Acacian, received one of six National Medal of Science Awards from President Nixon for his work (going back to 1958) on the integrated circuit. This breakthrough — better known as the microchip — paved the way for most modern-day devices, including computers, cell phones and graphic calculators.
Kilby went on to receive 60 patents on his path to induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1982. In 2000, he was awarded the Nobel Laureate in Physics.
A New View
In 1972, the magazine-style Triad was replaced by a tabloid newspaper with a familiar name: The Journal of Acacia: A Publication of The Triad. This new communications piece would carry on for the next eight years under editor Mary Gleason, who received many awards for her work.
Archival copies of this publication are a rarity at National Headquarters. The paper was published four times a year under the same annual volume number, starting with Volume 67, and continuing through Volume 74. Only one complete set (Volume 69) is on record. Issues missing from the archives include:
Volume 67, Issues 2, 3, 4
Volume 68, Issues 1, 2
Volume 70, Issues 1, 3
Volume 71, Issues 1, 3
Volume 72, Issue 4
Volume 73, Issues 3. 4
Volume 74, Issues 2, 3, 4
Any of these lost issues would be a great addition to the archives. If you can supply them — either temporarily for transcribing, or permanently — please contact Acacia headquarters.
Expand and Contract
At the 1970 Conclave, a new expansion plan instituted by Assistant Executive Secretary Tom Bolman (of the Miami of Ohio Chapter) sought to target smaller schools in hopes of combating the rising anti-Greek sentiment cropping up on most of the larger campuses. The plan was a success in that many colonies and chapters were started at these smaller schools. Unfortunately, the changing social climate that the fraternity sought to escape was not limited to the large schools and the prevailing anti-Greek sentiment caused the expansion effort to suffer greatly.
In an effort to bring the National Council and undergraduates members closer together, the first Council meeting to be held at a fraternity house took place at the Louisiana State University Chapter house in February 1971.
So You Think YOU Had a Big Pledge Class?
According to the 1972 Journal, Louisiana State reported the largest ever pledge class — 65 men.
Undergraduate Counselors were made a part of the National Council in 1972.
In 1972, Charles A. Sink passed on to Chapter Eternal. He was the last surviving member of Acacia's original Founding Fathers.
The Naked Truth
As reported in the March 1974 Journal:
"Acacia sent one streaker and a large cheering section to Northwestern's coed 'Greek Streak' the evening of March 6."
Started in 1966, by John Miller of the Illinois Wesleyan Chapter, the Acacia Midwest Basketball Tournament soon became a featured event for Midwest chapters. The name was later changed to the much funkier Intergalactic Basketball Tournament, and by its 10th anniversary it had drawn as many as 20 participating chapters. Illinois had bragging rights, winning fully half of the tournaments by that time, with Purdue slightly behind with three championships.
The "I-Can't-Believe-They-Printed-This" Moment
From the May 1975 Journal:
"The brothers from the University of New Hampshire have a new four-channel stereo receiver, turntable and cassette tape deck, which they received for winning first place in a semester-long beer drinking contest. The prize must have been for endurance."
Dubious Acacian Cameo
The 1976 Conclave minutes reported (in a running-gag-kind-of-way) that traveling secretary Kenneth Harwood had made an unplanned appearance in the background of the adult film Linda Lovelace for President. Part of the movie was filmed at the University of Kansas (Harwood's alma mater), which he was visiting at the time. It was also reported that the KU Acacians asked Miss Lovelace if she would be their house sweetheart, and she accepted.
At the 1976 Conclave in New Orleans, colonies were given the right to send delegates to the Conclave. However, colony delegates were not given the right to vote.
Held at Snowmass Village near Aspen, Acacia's 75th Anniversary Celebration featured a number of milestones. The Drive for 75 capital fund campaign, culminating in the burning of the mortgage for the National Headquarters, reached its goal of $75,000. The final steps were taken to make the Shriners Burn Institute Acacia's National service project. For the first time in years the legislative sessions were short and sweet, with no changes made to the Laws of Acacia or the Ritual. And Delmer M. Goode was putting the finishing touches on his book, Acacia: The Third Quarter Century.
The first mention of purchasing a computer for the National Headquarters appears in the Council minutes for August 3, 1979.
Up for consideration was the IBM 5110 Computing System, which featured a desktop unit, keyboard and what appeared to be a four-inch diagonal display screen. Main memory held 16-64K of data, depending on the unit. And talk about high capacity storage! The computer could hold between 2K and 1.2 MB of data on its optional external storage units. If money was no object, you could even set up an external storage RAID totaling a whopping 4.8 MB!
The sticker price for the bare-bones 16K system was about $11,000, and the top-of-the-line model came in at almost $20,000. Suffice it say, the motion was tabled.
The first true computer system arrived at the headquarters in 1989, at an initial cost of $11,000. Subsequent Council minutes revealed trouble with the system, but the technology eventually prevailed, and the system was ultimately a boon to the fraternity.
Acacia's National Headquarters relocated to Indianapolis, IN in 1981. This move geographically centered the office in relation to Acacia chapters, and allowed the fraternity to take advantage of favorable Indiana tax laws. The state continues to be the home of Acacia and dozens of other national fraternity and sorority headquarters.
The Patterson Award
At the 1980 Conclave, the first George F. Patterson, Jr. Award was presented. The recipient? Brother Patterson himself. This award is only given once a year to an Acacian who has previously received the Award of Merit, thus making it the premier individual honor bestowed by the fraternity.
Not So Little
Of the many campus traditions and events across the country, only one can lay claim to the title of "World's Greatest College Weekend." This would be Indiana University's Little 500 bicycle race, started by Howdy Wilcox in 1951, and modeled after the Indianapolis 500.
Acacia has always been well-represented in the race, which regularly draws crowds in the thousands. For many years, Acacia was even a top five finisher, taking first place three times (1961, 1983 and 1991). Mention of the Acacia team can even be heard in the Academy Award winning film, Breaking Away.
According to the Indiana University website, the Acacia team ranked second in the 2003 fall cycling series, continuing the chapter's tradition in this major college event.
Seven Days of Service
Acacia started its National Human Service Project, Seven Days of Service, during the week of November 14-20, 1983 to benefit the Shriners Burn Institutes.
Adopted at the 43rd Conclave (Acacia's 80th Anniversary) held in Kansas City, MO in 1984, the Acacia Spirit of Excellence program was designed to help undergraduates achieve excellence in all areas of chapter operations.
As part of the 1985-86 Year of the Alumnus, an Alumnus Induction Ceremony was added to the Ritual of Acacia.
Steve From Jerry Springer's Got Nothin' On Us
During the October 8, 1984, taping of the Phil Donahue Show at St. Cloud State University, Acacia was chosen by the University Program Board to act as Mr. Donahue's security force.
Acacia's Music Man
Illinois Governor James R. Thompson proclaimed December 17, 1985, "Alexander M. Harley Day." Harley, a Northwestern Acacian, was honored for his advancements in field of music. In 1936, Harley and his wife, Francis, started the Maine Music Masters. In 1952, the name was changed to the Modern Music Masters and is known today as the 4,100-chapter strong Tri-M Music Honor Society.
Acacia could truly be called an international fraternity with the chartering of the Western Ontario Chapter on November 23, 1985.
The first Risk Management policy appeared at the August 1990 Council meeting. In accordance with the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group, the policy took a hard stance against alcohol. It also featured a strict policy against hazing and drugs, along with a section on fire safety. The Risk Management Task Force became a part of every Acacia chapter. Eventually Risk Management had its own award, its own Goldbook, and (in 1994) an official chapter officer.
Adios, Little Sister
Although women's auxiliary groups had been a fixture on the fraternity scene for years, by the late 1980s these groups had become increasingly problematic for a number of reasons. Their existence infringed on the single-sex status of fraternities and sororities by co-mingling the two groups; some believed they were demeaning to women; and, in worst-case scenarios, they led to the sexual abuse of women.
Due to these combined factors, the programs begain phasing out around 1990. Acacia was one of the groups at the leading edge of this cultural change, and by the 1992 47th Biennial Conclave in Toronto, it was decided that all little sister programs were to be stopped by all Acacia chapters. While some chapters were reluctant to let go, the practice eventually disappeared.
The Incredible Disappearing Triad
In 1992, The Triad made history by appearing for the first time in full color. Unfortunately, that issue was the last to be published for nearly a decade. The reason, quite simply, was an extremely tight financial period for Acacia.
The embezzlement scandal of the 1980s reverberated well into the 1990s, and accounts receivable from chapters grew throughout that period as well. Insurance issues were also causing financial constraints. Add in the cost of Conclaves and Acacia Leadership Academies, and publishing The Triad was just not a financially sound proposition.
Even though the Council discussed republishing The Triad at many of its meetings, it wasn't until 2002 that it was finally accomplished. Now back on track, look for The Triad to continue its regular publishing schedule.
The 1996 Conclave in St. Louis, MO directed the Council to prepare an international insurance program for Acacia. After much preparation and debate, the finalized plan was presented at the 1998 Conclave in Cleveland. It has served Acacia ever since.
On-ramp to the Information Superhighway
The idea of Acacia on the World Wide Web was first suggested in the July 1994 Council minutes. The main goal of the first proposal was to allow for greater communication between chapters, National Headquarters, and alumni utilizing a system of computers, electronic mail and fax machines.
By February 1996, the Internet was coming into its own. In a letter to the Council, Brother David C. Lemons (of the Indiana Chapter) makes his case for an Acacia website:
"I'm proposing that Acacia be one of the first fraternities to be established on the web, since the Internet is here to stay and only going to get bigger. Some sources say that surfing the net may surpass the television as the leading form of information technology and entertainment."
Acacia's website came into being in just before the St. Louis Conclave in 1996, thanks in part to the efforts of Brother Ron Handley. The website continues to evolve as a vibrant communications resource for all Acacians as well as other audiences.
In July 2000, the Council made a progressive step forward by passing legislation that required all new Acacia colonies and chapters to provide substance-free housing. This legislation also applies to rechartered chapters.
When Acacia was founded, the fraternity made clear its desire to differentiate itself from its peers by running an alcohol-free house. But over the years, the alcohol policy changed with the times. By the 1990s, alcohol-related incidents were on the rise throughout the Greek system. Whether it was related to hazing, parties getting out-of-hand, or injuries to guests, the situation had to be addressed. Consequently, fraternities began taking a closer look at their policies. Many initiated alcohol awareness programs. Still others, including Acacia, took steps to initiate substance-free housing.