Tuesday, March 21, 2006

EHHS Social Order - Cliques or Clicks Article

Click or Clique: Positive and Negative Teen Social Groups

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

It’s perfectly normal: Preteens and teens group together and often hang on tight. As they push for increasing independence from their parents, they turn to their peers for guidance, acceptance, and security. Safety, for those whose self-esteem and self-confidence is still shaky, lies in fitting in and having a place to belong. Most kids find a group with whom they “click” in a healthy way. Others get swept up in a “clique” that does give them some security but at the price of their individuality and maybe even their values.



Friend groups made up of kids who “click” are usually healthy. Kids who find each other through a common interest and positive shared values can offer each other a “home base” during the teen years. Healthy friend groups don’t need everyone to be exactly the same. People in healthy friend groups are there for each other, go to each other’s special events, support each other through hard times, and let people be individuals.

Ariel has been part of the same friend group since third grade when she and four others were assigned a special project. They immediately clicked. Hanging out at school expanded into hanging out after school and on weekends. Ariel and one of the other girls joined a local theater group. Two others are on the field hockey team. Three of the girls spend lots of time at the dance studio. They like the friends they meet at their other activities too. But in the school halls, they like to touch base with each other. “The best part of my group,” says Ari, “is that I don’t have to feel like I’m being disloyal if I want to spend time with my theater buddies or if I want to bring someone along if we’re meeting up after school. But the friends in my group are the people who know me best. They’re the people I look for when I’m having a crisis.”

Shari agrees. “If we were all doing the same thing all the time, we wouldn’t have as much to talk about.” This group is open to new experiences and new people. They don’t need to cling together to feel okay but they are really glad that they have a place where they can be totally themselves.



Cliques aren’t necessarily made up of people who click. These groups aren’t brought together by a genuine interest in each other. Instead, they are organized around power and popularity. Leaders of such groups often are charismatic and controlling. Members of the group rely on exclusivity and very strict internal codes to establish and maintain the idea that they are something special. They do everything together and have no tolerance for any member branching out to friends outside the group.

The secret that these groups don’t want anyone else to discover is that most of the members are terribly insecure. Lacking the self-esteem and confidence to be their own person, each instead relies on the membership in an exclusive club for her or his identity.

The problem with this strategy is that the group can easily take that identity away. It’s not unusual for a clique to turn on a member for some real or imagined challenge to either the values or the leadership of the group. No one wants to be that girl or that guy who is evicted from the group. Conformity to the whims of the leaders is the price paid for membership.

Sam is a girl who is used to being one of the popular kids. For the past two years, she’s hung out with the most popular girls in school. Everyone knows who they are. They all have the same “look,” a kind of studied casualness: name-brand jeans, sleek tops, cropped jackets. They sit together in the lunchroom and hang out together in the halls. They’re known for making critical comments about other people’s dress, hair styles, or even their jobs. (Working retail is cool; waitressing definitely is not.) This is the stuff that makes for mean girls or mean guys. By picking on or bullying others who look different, who like different things, or have different values, the clique maintains their exclusivity and the illusion of their superiority.

Life changed for Sam when she fell for a guy the group decided wasn’t “cool.” Paired up in biology lab, the two found that they liked the same music and had the same cynical humor. It was like at first sight. “The last couple of months has been wonderful and awful,” says Sam. “The relationship with my boyfriend is something special. But the group isn’t even interested in knowing what he’s like. He’s really, really sweet and they just rode him and me. I finally had enough but it’s been hell. I thought those girls were my friends but I just have to get away from them now. I’m a senior and and everyone’s got their friends. If it weren’t for my boyfriend, I’d have nobody.”

Sam has had to rethink all of her ideas about who her real friends are. She was already getting impatient with the conformity required of her clique but she thought they liked her enough to be happy for her new relationship. She wasn’t prepared for the insults that came with asserting herself. “I went home crying for weeks, ” she says. “But I finally figured out that I have a right to be myself, not just what the group wants me to be. My boyfriend and his friends are really funny and laid back. I never realized how much pressure it was to be in with my clique.”

What are the essential differences between a healthy friend group that clicks and the group that is a clique? Take a look at this comparison:

People who are drawn together by a mutual interest or value system
People who are drawn together by the need to be special and popular.
Members are encouraged to have other friends too and to introduce new members into the group
Members may only be friends with each other and are discouraged from bringing new members into the group – unless the new person adds to the groups "coolness" factor
Individual members are supported in their individual interests by the group. Group members celebrate each other’s individual successes.
Members are discouraged from being involved in anything that takes time and attention away from the group.
Members are valued for their individuality.
Members must conform to the group’s idea of what is cool dress and cool behavior
Natural leaders may emerge but the leaders don’t need to be in charge to feel good about themselves. They are happy to have others take on leadership as well.
The leader(s) hold on tight to their leadership role and exclude anyone from the group who might threaten that position.
If people are sometimes crabby or mean, it’s just because they are having a bad day.
If people are mean, it’s meant to reinforce the idea that the group is exclusive and superior.

Teens who find a friend group that “clicks” grow into adults with a healthy self-esteem. They know how to make solid relationships with people who can be there for each other through good times and bad. Teens whose only social group is a clique are often insecure in their relationships and lack the self-confidence to assert their creativity or individuality. Fortunately, many do grow out of the need for superiority and artificial popularity once they get out of high school. Others continue to hang their identity on being better than the next person and are mystified that they can’t find mutually trusting relationships.


How a parent can help

How can a parent help kids find other kids who “click” and stay away from the “cliques”? It starts way before the teen years. As with most things, helping kids develop the social skills and self-confidence needed to find a healthy friend group takes some parental effort. Good modeling, opportunities to develop healthy interests and relationships, and good values are the keys.
  • Model diversity in your own friendships. Talk about how knowing different kinds of people enriches your life in different ways.
  • Help your child develop good social skills. Kids who know how to be a good friend are kids who attract healthy friendships.
  • Foster empathy skills. Kids who can walk in another’s shoes are not likely to participate in hurting or bullying others. (See: Manners to Empathy: Faking it is a place to Start.)
  • Follow your kid’s lead in finding the activity or sport that they are passionate about. Good friendships often develop from participating in a shared interest.
  • Help your child develop a mind of his or her own. Kids who have confidence in their own values are less likely to fall in with the crowd. Encourage assertiveness about the things that matter.
  • If your child does fall into a clique, don’t be critical of the “friends.” Do be critical of any mean behavior. Go to the root of the problem and talk to your young person about what she or he is getting out of being in a group that won’t let people be who they are and whose popularity depends on putting other people down.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Susan Begley & Carol Reeder

“When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.” --Albert Einstein

I was digging through the EHHS website not long ago and found a section about school history and traditions. There were some pictures of the school as it was being built and some other pages describing the school’s history. It’s kind of sobering to be considered a part of history on a website, yet interesting in a way—you are still here to see if they are getting it right. I remember going to that school when it looked like it did in those old historic pictures! To tell you the truth, it doesn’t seem that long ago.

One of the “history” pages outlined the tradition of the Miss “Big E” beauty pageant. There is long list of the winners since 1961 when 62 Highlander, Darla Houlihan won the first title. I don’t think we called the winner, “Miss Big E” though. She might have taken offense at the use of "big" in conjunction with being named the winner. Our class yearbooks simply refer to the winners as the Big “E” pageant winner. There is a difference, don't you agree?

The Big “E” winners I recall most clearly were Carol Reeder and Susan Begley who won the pageant in 1962 and 1963, respectively. It’s a bit of a shock to see a list of 40 or more Big “E” winners following Carol and Susan’s names. I knew them both and to this day would be pressed to name two more beautiful ladies. They were gracious, soft spoken, very intelligent, and any lad would have been considered lucky to date them. I think there were only a couple of lads that did date them. They were lucky lads.

After we left EHHS, the wider world opened up and there were other attractive girls to appreciate, but I never forgot Carol and Susan. They were really beautiful girls who, I believe set a very high standard for those that followed them at EHHS.

In addition to winning the Big “E” beauty pageant, each of them was elected Football Queen during their senior years. That was probably a purer vote than the Big “E” judges’ tally since only members of the football teams cast those votes. Evening gown and talent competitions were not required for that honor.

Remerciez heaven de jolies filles.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Ex-CBI Roundup
March 1969 Issue
By Joseph N. Mackrell, Jr.

Responding to your request concerning information covering units stationed in the CBI Theater, I have gathered together some facts, pictures and a lot of memory searching about the 6th Squadron, 1st Ferry Group, India-China Wing of the Air Transport Command (ATC).

It covers the period of time from March 8, 1942, at Fort Bragg, N.C., to February 1944 when I returned to the States.

To the best of my knowledge the 1st Ferry Group was formed at a field in the state of New York. The nucleus of this organization, consisting of three squadrons-the 1st, 3rd and 6th-was sent to Pope Field at Fort Bragg, N.C., for overseas briefing, there to be joined by a complement of men from various fields throughout the county.

At this juncture in history, the usual Army "snafu" was working in high gear. Among those men joining the command at Fort Bragg was a large contingent from Lowry Field, Denver, Colo.  Most of these men were trained in bombsight maintenance, power operated turrets and aircraft armament. There being little for men trained in these skills in a transport outfit, many were assigned to other duties. A large number of armament men were later trained as radio operators by the Signal Corps, at Karachi, India.

We were at Pope Field for about 10 days and were then transported by train to Charleston, S. C., our port of embarkation.

Our voyage was on the Brazil, which was one of the most active troopships of World War II. This ship made more than 30 overseas voyages from United States ports between early 1942 and early 1946. The food on our voyage generally was terrible and a great amount of yellow jaundice broke out among the troops. Two men were buried at sea.

Upon arrival at Karachi, we were transported to the Malir cantonment, about 25 miles out of Karachi. The quarters at this camp were quite comfortable, being of an adobe type construction. One of the drawbacks to this place was that all working parties had to be transported daily to Karachi Air Field.

After a few months at Malir, the 6th Squadron was moved to a tent camp on the edge of Karachi Air Field. Living conditions were quite dusty here and the mess personnel did a good job of their makeshift quarters. The mess hall and kitchen were constructed out of aircraft packing cases. There were advantages to this camp, however, including the nearness to the field and occasional passes into Karachi.

While at this location, the squadron was reinforced by a large contingent of men who had arrived from the States, including another large group of armament men from Lowry Field. I believe this group came over on the Mariposa.

After several months at Karachi, an advance contingent of our squadron consisting of pilots, radio men, ground crew personnel, communications personnel, etc., were sent ahead to our advanced base at Mohanbari, near Dibrugarh in Assam. A short time later a small guard contingent was assigned to a freight train carrying the squadron's equipment to the advanced base. The freight was soon followed by a troop train carrying the main body of the 6th Squadron.

To the best of my failing memory the trip across India took about 10 days and was quite an experience. The equipment had to be unloaded and reloaded several times in order to cross rivers and due to the change in the railroad gauges.

Our first camp at Mohanbari was on a site that had been abandoned by Indian forces a short time before, and was on the primitive side. It consisted of long barrack-type bashas surrounded by deep drainage ditches. All the other buildings in the area were of similar construction. The area was pockmarked with slit trenches and there were several antiaircraft machine gun emplacements, which were manned by squadron personnel. Yankee ingenuity soon provided us with a fine hot water bath house that was not only a luxury but a real necessity. At this time the officers were stationed at various cottages throughout the area. These cottages were the homes of the managers of the tea plantations.

Operations and other necessary offices and shops were situated near the air strip. The communications building and the tower were a few hundred feet from the main group of buildings. There were several machine gun emplacements in this area and an Indian anti-aircraft battery had several guns near the field. Within the time covered in this report, I believe the field was under enemy attack twice, causing one casualty among the enlisted men and injuries to several natives.

After several months in this area the entire squadron was moved to a new camp on the far side of the air strip. Earlier the air strip was grass, making it necessary to move our flight operations to the Chabua area-which had a paved strip-during the monsoon season. At the time of this move, natives with the aid of a rather ancient rock crusher were paving the entire strip with crushed rock.

The new camp consisted of several rows of thatched bashas built to accommodate eight men and their belongings. There were also several large buildings on this base, including a mess hall and kitchen (manned by native personnel under the direction of our mess officers and enlisted personnel), a large day room and a fine theater.

The 6th Squadron's record of achievement was the envy of the Assam Valley. Much of the credit of our fine showing (leading in missions and tonnage over the Hump) was due to the work of our ground personnel. Our maintenance men worked night and day keeping the overworked and overburdened aircraft in the air.

During this period we lost many crews and aircraft, due to enemy action and weather. Many men were lost to duty for several weeks at a time due to malaria and other sickness. Those men rotated stateside were replaced by new personnel who were constantly being absorbed in the outfit. 

The India-China airlift delivered approximately 650,000 tons of materiel to China at great cost in men and aircraft during its 42-month history

594  aircrew lost

1694  planes lost

In the spring of 1943, we started getting the new C-46 cargo plane.  The transition of training pilots onto this plane was a real problem. We experienced difficulty at high altitudes with a de-icing screen on the engines.

We had another group of celebrities to visit our base at Chabua. William Gargan, actor; Paulette Goddard, actress; and Joe E. Brown, actor and comic, visited our base. William Gargan and Paulette Goddard had lunch with us at our mess hall. Joe E. Brown gave his performance at the polo grounds - our transit area. He could put four golf balls in his mouth at one time!

By the middle of 1943, we must have had 1,500 men stationed at Chabua. This went up to over 2,000 in the early part of 1944. We started night flights over to China, weather permitting.





"The Hump" was a high altitude military aerial supply route between the Assam Valley in northeastern India, across northern Burma, to Yunnan province in southwestern China, flown during World War II. This operation was the first sustained, long range, 24 hour around the clock, all weather, military aerial supply line in history. It was a start-from-scratch operation. There was no precedent for it.

In April, 1942, China lost the Burma Road, its last remaining supply line to the outside world, due to the invasion of Burma by Japanese troops. The Road extended 425 miles from Lashio, Burma to Kunming, China. China's eastern seaports had previously been closed by Japanese invasion troops and the Japanese Navy.

The United States determined a continuous flow of military supplies into China had to continue to enable the Chinese Army, and the U.S. Army 14th Air Force (formerly the American Volunteer Group (AVGs) and the China Air Task Force) in China, to remain effective and keep pressure on Japanese occupational troops, thereby denying their use as fighting forces in other parts of the CBI or south Pacific. The only means left for getting supplies to China was by air. Due to the presence of Japanese Army and Air Force in northern Burma, the only available air route to China was via the Hump route.

The Hump route was an unlikely route for regular flight operations due to high terrain and extremely severe weather. It crossed a north-south extension of the main Himalaya Mountains that ran south through northern Burma and western China. On the very north end of the extension terrain exceeded 20,000 MSL in height. Average elevations lowered to the south but did not fall below 12,000 MSL for approximately 140 miles. The routes flown fell between these two extremes.

Northern Burma was largely uninhabited except for wild native tribes. In addition to mountains, it was covered by tropical rain forest with trees reaching over 150 feet in height. River gorges of the Salween, Mekong and Yangtze Rivers exceeded 10,000 feet in depth. Uncivilized headhunter tribes existed on the southern rim of the main Himalayas in China. Severe weather existed on the Hump almost year around. The monsoon season, with heavy cloudiness, fierce rain and embedded severe thunderstorms with turbulence severe enough to damage aircraft, existed from around May into October of each year. The late fall and winter flying weather was better with many VFR days. However, heavy ground fogs, with ground visibilities down to zero/zero, occurred almost nightly during the early winter, and severe thunderstorms still occurred over the route on an irregular basis. Winter winds aloft were extreme, often exceeding 100 MPH. Most night flying had to be done by instruments from takeoff due to lack of any ground or horizon references, until well into western China.

Early flights were basically daylight operations that were often forced to the northern portion of the Hump due to the presence of Japanese fighter aircraft to the south flying out of Myitkyina, Burma. Terrain heights in this area generally averaged around 15,000 to 16,000 MSL. This was the high Hump.

The Hump initially contained few enroute navigational aids. Enroute communications were poor, and air traffic control, except for local control towers, did not exist. Aeronautical charts were very unreliable and weather reporting was very poor. These conditions slowly improved after the arrival of the U. S. Army Airways Communications Service (AACS) in August 1943. Homing beacons existed at each airfield in India and China. These homers were severely affected by weather, night effect, and static electricity that built up on aircraft. Airport instrument approaches were normally conducted to airports on homing beacons and were non-precision approaches.

Living conditions in the Assam Valley were primitive. Personnel generally lived in tents or bamboo bashas. A few lived in tea plantation bungalows or in bungalow outbuildings. During the monsoon season bases were seas of mud. Sidewalks and tent foundations had to be elevated to stay above standing water. Temperatures during the monsoon season were extremely hot with very high humidity. Clothes and shoes mildewed within days.
Food was government issued C-ration. Personnel did not eat off base for sanitary reasons. Malaria and dysentery were prevalent diseases. Water could be consumed only after purification by iodine.

Maintenance of aircraft was a serious problem due to a shortage of parts and poor working conditions. The need for maintenance was high due to the need to fly aircraft well above their normal operating limits. Work during the monsoon season mostly had to be done at night due to the heat. There were no hangers for aircraft maintenance. All maintenance work had to be done in the aircraft parking areas. Make shift covers had to be placed over engines to complete engine work during the rainy season.

The first supply mission over the Hump occurred in April 1942, when the U.S. Army 10th Air Force in India contracted with the African Division of Pan-American Airways to handle the transport of 30,000 gallons of gasoline and 500 gallons of lubricants to China for use by the B-25s of the Doolittle Raiders. The Raiders had expected to refuel in China after their April raid on Tokyo. These Pan-American aircraft were also involved in the evacuation of northern Burma in May 1942.

Regular Hump operations began in May, 1942, with 27 aircraft (converted U. S. airline DC-3s, C-39s & C-53s) and approximately 1,100 personnel from New Malir Air Base, a British base located in the Sind Desert about 20 miles east of Karachi in western India. The aircraft and personnel were members of the First Ferry Group, provided by the U.S. Army Air Forces Ferry Command. The Group was attached to the U.S. Army 10th Air Force, newly established in India and headquartered in New Delhi, for logistical support. Their first regular Hump operations crossed India and eventually jumped off for the Hump leg of their flights from Dinjan, a British Air Base located in the upper Assam Valley. During April and May approximately 96 tons of supplies were delivered to China.
The 1st Ferry Group moved to the Assam Valley in August of 1942 where several bases were still under construction for the Hump operation. Initially these operations were conducted on sod and steel mat airstrips. On December 1, 1942, the Air Transport Command (ATC), formed on 7/1/1942 from the Ferry Command, established an India-China Wing, also headquartered in New Delhi. This ATC Wing was then assigned the primary mission of flying supplies over the Hump route to China. The first Wing commander was Colonel (later Brigadier General) Edward H. Alexander. The aircraft and support personnel of the 1st Ferry Group were transferred to this Wing.

The ATC was a world wide Command that reported directly to the War Department in Washington, DC rather than to Theater Commanders. The Wing assigned the immediate responsibility of flying the Hump to the Assam-China Group, headquartered at Chabua Air Base in the Assam Valley, under the command of Colonel Tom Rafferty, former commander of the 1st Ferry Group. In the fall of 1943 the Wing was divided into Sectors with the East Sector, based at Chabua under the command of Colonel Thomas O. Hardin, continuing with the responsibility for the Hump operation. Colonel Hardin shortly afterward implemented an all-weather, around the clock Hump operation. On October 15, 1943, command of the Wing was transferred to Brigadier General Earl S. Hoag. On January 21, 1944, Colonel Hardin was promoted to Brigadier General and on March 15, 1944, assumed command of the India-China Wing. At this time the Wing became the ATC India-China Division and the Sectors became Wings. Concurrently the Division Headquarters office was moved to the Hastings Mills complex in Calcutta. On September 3, 1944, Major General William H. Tunner became the fourth and final commander of the India-China Division.

Initially the Hump was flown with converted Douglas DC-3, C-39, C-53 and military Douglas C-47 aircraft. Loads over the Hump grew slowly until the arrival of Consolidated C-87s (converted B-24s) in December 1942 and the Curtiss C-46 in April 1943. The C-46 was a large super-charged twin-engine aircraft capable of flying faster, higher and carrying heavier loads than the C-47. The C-87, and its C-109 tanker modification, was a supercharged four engine aircraft capable of flying higher and faster but with smaller loads than the C-46. With these aircraft loads over the Hump reached 12,594 tons in December, 1943. Loads continued to increase in 1944 and 1945, reaching its maximum capacity in July 1945.

A military offensive against the Japanese Army began in February, 1944. By August, 1944, this offensive had forced the Japanese Army south far enough to enable the Hump operation to move south over the lower Hump with elevations generally not over 12,000 MSL. This move increased the efficiency of the operation. Douglas C-54 aircraft were added to the operation in the fall of 1944 for further efficiency. The C-54s were based in the Calcutta area and crossed the Hump on the south end. This reduced the need to haul materials by rail to the Assam Valley for transport.

In July, 1945, 77,306 tons of supplies were flown over the Hump to China. At that time the ATC was operating 622 aircraft, supported by 34,000 U. S. military personnel and 47,000 civilian personnel.

Loads carried over the Hump were many and verified. The primary load was gasoline, carried in 55 gallon drums and added to by siphoning from tanks of the carrying aircraft. Also carried were: small arms and ammunition, small vehicles, heavy equipment cut up and carried in pieces, truck and aircraft engines, bombs and aircraft machine gun ammunition, mortar shells, hospital equipment, personnel, 20' lengths of 4" pipe, etc.
All operations over the hump required use of oxygen. Oxygen was provided to crewmembers by a demand system which provided oxygen on inhale. It also had a constant flow and an emergency forced flow capability. Oxygen masks were very uncomfortable. Regulations required that oxygen be used above 12,000 MSL during daytime and above 10,000 MSL at night.

Initially search and rescue efforts to find downed aircraft were informal and spasmodic. About August, 1943, search and rescue took a more formal approach with the establishment of a Search and Rescue group by the ATC. Equipped initially with C-47 aircraft and later with B-25 aircraft, this group swept the mountains and jungles of Burma and the mountains of western China at low altitudes in search of downed aircraft. This group proved very successful in finding and helping downed crews return to safety. PT-17s, L-4s and L-5s of the group flew out many downed airman.

Operations ended over 3 ½ years later on November 15, 1945, when the Hump was officially closed down. The last full month of war-time operations was July, 1945. Military supply operations were discontinued in August, 1945. The final months of operations provided for the closing of China Hump bases and the moving of support personnel from China to India for transportation home.

The success of this operation did not come lightly. Official records of Search and Rescue were closed at the end of 1945. Their final records showed 509 crashed aircraft records "closed", and 81 lost aircraft still classified as "open". Three hundred twenty-eight (328) of the lost aircraft were ATC. Thirteen hundred fourteen (1,314) crew members were known dead, 1,171 walked out to safety, and 345 were declared still missing.

Aircraft from other Air Force Commands also operated over the Hump routes during this time period. The China National Airways Corporation (CNAC), a civilian Chinese-American airline, owned jointly by the Chinese government and Pan-American Airways, flew the route primarily in DC-3s, C-47s and late added C-46s during the entire period and were a very prominent part of the Hump operation.

Troop Carrier Command Squadrons, assigned to the U.S. Army 10th Air Force and flying C-47s, entered the theater in January 1943. Their primary mission was to support combat and supply operations in the Theater. They flew the Hump routes irregularly as required by their primary mission. Some of their squadrons flew the Hump regularly during the last few months of the war following the cessation of ground activities in Burma.

The 1st Air Commando Group (initially the 5318th Provisional Unit (Air)) was a special Air Force unit initially developed for action in Burma to support the British Chindit expeditions into Burma. The Group was comprised of Douglas C-47s, CG-41 Waco gliders, Noorduyn C-64 Norseman cargo aircraft, Vultee L-1 liaison aircraft, Stinson L-5 Sentinels, the Sikorsky Helicopter, the YR-4, the first helicopter to be used under combat conditions, P-51A Mustangs for fighter cover and B-25 medium bombers. This unit first saw action in March 1944. The Group was under the joint command of Lt. Col. Philip G. Cochran, a fighter pilot from North Africa, and Lt. Colonel John R. Alison, formerly with the 23d Fighter Group of the U.S. 14th Air Force in China.

The 20th Bomber Command, of the 20th Air Force, arrived in the theater in April, 1944, flying B-29s, very heavy bombers. Their home bases were located at Kharagphur and 4 other air bases about 75 miles west of Calcutta, India. They were accompanied by three Air Transport Squadrons that flew C-46s in logistic support of this Command. The 20th departed the theater in March, 1945. During this period these B-29s and C-46s regularly flew the Hump in support of their primary mission, which was to bomb the southern islands of Japan from their forward bases in Chengtu, China.

Four squadrons of the 1st Combat Cargo Group, also assigned to the 10th Air Force and flying C-47s, arrived in the theater beginning in May 1944. Additional Groups soon followed. Together with the Troop Carrier Squadrons their primary mission was to support American and Chinese Ground Forces in the 1944-45 Burma offensive. Supplies delivered included those necessary to keep the fighting forces on the ground operating effectively. Reluctant mules were often included among these supplies. Supplies were delivered by aerial drops where no landing fields were available. These aircraft also provided troop replacements and aerial evacuation of the sick and wounded, often operating out of fields in close proximity to enemy forces. Near the end of this offensive some of their units were also assigned to fly the Hump regularly. Also flying the Hump on an irregular basis were aircraft of the U.S. 14th Air Force, the British Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.

An additional significant aerial supply operation also took place in the theater during this time. Aircraft of the Troop Carrier Command, flying C-47s, provided aerial supply support to American and British stealth forces operating in Burma during 1943.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Flying the Hump

Flying the Hump
By Col. C.V. Glines 
March 1991, Air Force Magazine

When the Japanese closed the Burma Road, the route to China was over the Himalayas by air.

In mid-December 1941, in the wake of Japan's massive land, sea, and air offensive in the Far East and its attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allies had no doubts about the need to support China fully to keep it in the war. China's forces would tie down Japan on the mainland. China would provide bases for attacks on Japan. In any event, Gen. Claire Chennault's China Air Task Force, the "Flying Tigers," had to be supplied.

Suddenly, in March 1942, supplying China became immeasurably harder. Japanese forces cut the Burma Road--the only overland path to China--and all land supply ceased.

The Allies came back with a response unprecedented in scope and magnitude: They began to muster planes and pilots to fly over the world's highest mountain range. The route over the Himalayas from India to Yunnanyi, Kunming, and other locations in China was immediately dubbed "the Hump" by those who flew it.

Though relatively short, the route is considered the most dangerous ever assigned to air transport. The reason is apparent from this description contained in the official Air Force history:

"The distance from Dinjan to Kunming is some 500 miles. The Brahmaputra valley floor lies ninety feet above sea level at Chabua, a spot near Dinjan where the principal American valley base was constructed. From this level, the mountain wall surrounding the valley rises quickly to 10,000 feet and higher.

"Flying eastward out of the valley, the pilot first topped the Patkai Range, then passed over the upper Chindwin River valley, bounded on the east by a 14,000- foot ridge, the Kumon Mountains. He then crossed a series of 14,000-16,000-foot ridges separated by the valleys of the West Irrawaddy, East Irrawaddy, Salween, and Mekong Rivers. The main 'Hump,' which gave its name to the whole awesome mountainous mass and to the air route which crossed it, was the Santsung Range, often 15,000 feet high, between the Salween and Mekong Rivers."

Pilots had to struggle to get their heavily laden planes to safe altitudes; there was always extreme turbulence, thunderstorms, and icing. On the ground, there was the heat and humidity and a monsoon season that, during a six-month period, poured 200 inches of rain on the bases in India and Burma.

Fifty Years Ago

If the US was to conquer such obstacles, it would have to build an organization to ensure the smooth flow of planes, people, and supplies. The seeds of such an organization already existed. On May 29, 1941--fifty years ago this spring--the US Army had created the Air Corps Ferrying Command. Out of this small organization grew the US Air Transport Command, under the command of Maj. Gen. Harold L. George.

"It seems almost incredible," Gen. William H. Tunner remarked in his memoirs, "that up until three o'clock in the afternoon of May 29,1941, there was no organization of any kind in American military aviation to provide for either delivery of planes or air transport of materiel."

When the Japanese closed the Burma Road, the US devised an initial plan that called for sending 5,000 tons of supplies each month over the Hump into China as soon as possible. American C-47s delivered the first, small load of supplies in July 1942. It was a meager beginning. If the resupply effort was to be greatly expanded, airfields would have to be built, pilots would have to be trained, and transports would have to be manufactured and ferried to the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater.

The air transport task in the CBI fell first to Maj. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, commander of Tenth Air Force. The Ferrying Command was to deliver seventy-five C-47s to the CBI, but some were diverted to support British forces in North Africa. Of the sixty-two that finally reached the theater, about fifteen were destroyed or lost, and many of the rest were out of service for long periods due to a shortage of parts and engines.

It was obvious that the theater air commander should not be responsible for a supply route reaching from factories in the US to destinations in China. On October 21, 1942, Air Transport Command (ATC) officially took over the task.

Operations under ATC began in India on December 1. The original small air transport unit was established as ATC's India-China Wing. As air transport activity increased, it became the India-China Division, comprising several wings. "Every drop of fuel, every weapon, and every round of ammunition, and 100 percent of such diverse supplies as carbon paper and C rations, every such item used by American forces in China was flown in by airlift," General Tunner said later.

Tonnage flown across the Hump increased slowly. Thirteen bases were established in India and six in China. Curtiss C-46s gradually replaced the Douglas C-47s and C-53s. Consolidated C-87s, the cargo version of the B-24, and some war-weary B-24s were added. In December 1942, 800 net tons were delivered to China. In July 1943, 3,000 tons were delivered. The target was 5,000 tons per month, but Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese leader, wanted more. President Franklin D. Roosevelt personally ordered the target increased to 10,000 tons a month.

"Safer to Bomb Germany"

Increases in tonnage came at great cost. In the last six months of 1943, there were 155 accidents and 168 fatalities. General Tunner commented in his memoirs, perhaps somewhat facetiously, "It was safer to take a bomber deep into Germany than to fly a transport plane over the Rockpile from one friendly nation to another."

Aircrews were in short supply. Those on hand were flying more than 100 hours per month. Pilots, most of whom had never before flown a twin-engine aircraft, were quickly recruited from among basic flying training school instructors in the Air Training Command. They were sent to bases at Assam, Karachi, and later Gaya, India, for checkout in the C-46 Commando.

Accidents mounted. Spare parts soon were in short supply. Maintenance personnel were inexperienced and worked under severe handicaps. Col. Edward H. Alexander, commander of the India-China Wing, reported, "Except on rainy days, maintenance work cannot be accomplished because shade temperatures of from 100 degrees to 130 degrees Fahrenheit render all metal exposed to the sun so hot that it cannot be touched by the human hand without causing second-degree burns."

In November 1943, the ATC Ferrying Division opened the "Fireball" run from Florida to India. C-87s and, later, C-54s were put to work flying high-priority parts from the Air Service Command depot at Patterson Field, Ohio, to India. The aircraft were based at Miami, and crews were stationed at key points along the routes to Brazil, central Africa, and India.

Emergency shipments from the States could arrive in the CBI in as little as four and a half days after order placement.

In the organization of the complex Hump operation, a key player was Brig. Gen. Cyrus R. Smith, president of American Airlines, who served as chief of staff to General George. General Smith acted as a troubleshooter. In the fall of 1943, after the operation suffered many air accidents, he visited the theater to report on conditions.

"We are paying for it in men and airplanes," General Smith reported. "The kids here are flying over their head--at night and in daytime--and they bust [the aircraft] up for reasons that sometimes seem silly. They are not silly, however, for we are asking boys to do what would be most difficult for men to accomplish; with the experience level here, we are going to pay dearly for the tonnage moved across the Hump. . . . With the men available, there is nothing else to do."

One of the unforeseen requirements was for the establishment of a search-and-rescue organization. Many crews, forced to bailout or crash-land, struggled for weeks, despite injuries, burns, and disease, to find safety. Terrain was so rugged that survivors would spend an entire day traveling one or two miles.

In the beginning weeks, when a plane was down, the first available transport crew went in the first available aircraft to conduct the search. This quickly proved unsatisfactory.

At Chabua, Capt. John L. "Blackie" Porter, a former stunt pilot, started "Blackie's Gang" with two C-47s. His gang carried Bren .30-caliber machine guns. The copilot carried one in his lap, while the other was kept in the cargo area. They sometimes carried Thompson machine guns and hand grenades. In 1943, virtually every rescue of crew members was due primarily to the efforts of Blackie's Gang.

The Search for Sevareid

One of the first of Blackie's rescue missions was a search for the twenty crew members and passengers, including CBS correspondent Eric Sevareid, who had bailed out of a C-46 in the Naga hill country of northern Burma. The area was populated not only by Japanese, but also by headhunters [see "America's Headhunter Allies," June 1988 issue, p. 84]. The men were found, and supplies were dropped. Lt. Col. Don Flickinger, the wing flight surgeon, and two medics parachuted to assist the survivors. A ground party walked in and took them to safety.

After many such successes, the US created a special search-and-rescue organization with Captain Porter as its commander. He was lost in action in December 1943 while on a search mission.

In early 1944, tonnage to China reached the presidential goal of 10,000 tons per month. Soon, however, more was requested, and more was delivered. Brig. Gen. Earl S. Hoag, in charge of the India-China Wing at the beginning of that year, predicted that his men would deliver 77,000 tons during the last six months of 1944. His estimate was too conservative; more than twice that much was delivered. The rapid rise stemmed from a sharp increase in the number of aircraft and men, assigned to back up decisions made by President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the Combined (UK-US) Chiefs of Staff at a June 1944 strategy meeting.

General Tunner took command of the India-China Division of ATC in August 1944. A 1928 West Point graduate and strict disciplinarian, he made many changes in the interest of efficiency. One significant innovation was the introduction of production line maintenance, the brainchild of Lt. Col. Bruce White, a former executive with Standard Oil of New Jersey in China.

Planes brought in for maintenance would pass through three to ten stations as if on a factory production line. At each station, a plane would go through different maintenance functions. A rigorous inspection completed the procedure. If approved, each aircraft would be test-flown before being sent back to the line.

The concept became standard practice throughout the Army Air Forces on bases with large numbers of a single type of aircraft.

When General Tunner arrived, pilots rotated out after 650 hours of flying time. Many pilots were flying as much as 165 hours a month in order to pile up the time and go home quickly. General Tunner's ,flight surgeon reported that fully half of the men were suffering from operational fatigue. Several accidents stemmed directly from such fatigue.

General Tunner immediately increased to one year the time a pilot would remain in the theater. He also increased the number of flying hours to 750. "It didn't make the pilots happy," the General wrote later, "but . . . it kept quite a few of them alive."

The Accident Rate Declines

He appointed Col. Robert D. "Red" Forman as chief pilot, and, as training improved, the accident rate began to decline. When General Tunner took over the India-China Division, four-engine Douglas C-54s were being introduced. They could carry three times the load of the C-47s and would eventually replace them and the C-46s. As the Air Force history states, the operation brought airlift into "the age of big business."

General Tunner felt that his hard-nosed management approach would result in improved efficiency and performance. "I had been sent to this command to direct American soldiers, and while I was their commander, by God, they were going to live like Americans and be proud they were Americans."

General Tunner inaugurated malaria-prevention spraying operations, using stripped-down B-25 "Skeeter Beaters." According to Tunner, this, combined with the use of repellents and mosquito nets, drove down the incidence of disease.

In 1944, General Tunner changed the route of the C-54 flights, creating a more direct flight to China. This placed the transports over 150 miles of Japanese-held territory and within range of Japanese fighters. To defend his aircraft, he requested and received fighter protection. "Enemy action was of little consequence" afterward, he reported.

Another area that needed improvement, as far as General Tunner was concerned, was the search-and-rescue capability, which he called "a cowboy operation." He appointed Maj. Donald C. Pricer, a Hump pilot, as commander of the unit and assigned to the job four B-25s, a C-47, and an L-5, all painted yellow. One of the first tasks was to pinpoint all known aircraft wrecks in the theater, the better to eliminate "duplication of work, for, after all, aluminum was scattered the length and breadth of the route."

It was during this period, moreover, that the helicopter was introduced into the theater and began to prove its potential as a rescue vehicle [see "The Skyhook," July 1988 issue, p. 104].

General Tunner ordered each base to establish a jungle indoctrination camp, with mandatory attendance for all new arrivals in the theater. Newcomers had to spend time in the jungle under the supervision of trained guides.

The General encouraged the introduction of competition into the operation and challenged each unit to beat its own records and those of other units. He authorized the publication of a newspaper, with prominent display given to tonnages carried over the Hump by individual units. He also encouraged the creation of press releases. One told of training elephants to load drums of gasoline quickly aboard aircraft. The photo that accompanied this story reached hundreds of newspapers.

The success of the Hump operation under ATC became apparent from statistics released on August 1, 1945. On that day, the command had flown 1,118 round trips, with a payload of 5,327 tons. A plane crossed the Hump every minute and twelve seconds; a ton of materiel was landed in China four times every minute. All of this was accomplished without a single accident.

When the war was over, Air Force historians added up the figures. The peak month was July 1945, when 71,000 tons of cargo were carried. Some 650,000 tons of gasoline, munitions, other materiel, and men had been flown over the Hump during the airlift, more than half of the tonnage delivered in the first nine months of 1945.

Besides helping to defeat Japan, the Hump operation was the proving ground for mass strategic airlift. The official Air Force history comments: "Here, the AAF demonstrated conclusively that a vast quantity of cargo could be delivered by air, even under the most unfavorable circumstances, if only the men who controlled the aircraft, the terminals, and the needed materiel were willing to pay the price in money and in men."

C. V. Glines is a regular contributor to this magazine. A retired Air Force colonel, he is a free-lance writer and the author of many books. His most recent article for AIR FORCE Magazine.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Some guy actually "crowdsourced" this: 

262 Names For Boobs 

Astries Bazookas, Bazooms, Beacons, Beanbags, Bebops, Betty Boops, Big Boppers, Bikini Stuffers, Billibongs, Blinkers, Bombers, Bombshells, Bon Bons, Bongos, Bonkers, Boobers, Boobies, Boobs, Boops, Bops, Bosom, Boulders, Bouncers, Bra Buddies, Bra Stuffers, Breasts, Bronskis, Bubbas, Bubbies, Buds, Bulbs, Bulges, Bullets, Bumpers, Bumps, Bust, Busters, Busties, Butterballs, Buttons, Caboodles, Cams, Cannon Balls, Cantaloupes, Carumbas, Cha-chas, Charlies, Chihuahuas, Chimichongas, Chiquitas, Coconuts, Congas, Corkers, Cream Pies, Cuhuangas, Cupcakes, Dingers, Dinghies, Dingos, Dirigibles, Doodads, Doorknobs, Doozies, Double-Whammies, Dueling Banjos, Dumplings, Dunes, Ear Muffs, Eclairs, Eggplants, Enchiladas, Flapjacks, Flappers, Flesh Bulbs, Fog Lights, Fried Eggs, Fun Bags, Gagas, Garbos, Gazingas, Gazongas, Glands, Globes, Globlets, Gob Stoppers, Gongas, Goombas, Grapefruits, Grillwork, Guavas, Gum Drops, Hand Warmers, Handsets, Head Lamps, Headers, Headlights, Headphones, Headsets, Hefties, Heifers, Hemispheres, Hills, Hindenburgs, Honeydews, Honkers, Hood-Ornaments, Hoohas, Hooters, Hot Cakes, Hottentots, Howitzers, Hubcaps, Huffies, Humdingers, Hush Puppies, ICBMS, Jawbreakers, Jemimas, Jibs, Jobbers, Jugs, Jukes, Jumbos, Kabukis, Kalamazoos, Kazongas, Kazoos, Knobbers, Knockers, Kongas, Kumquats, Lactoids, Lip Fodder, Llamas, Loaves, LobLollies, Love Mellons, Love Muffins, LuLus, Macaroons, Mammaries, Mammies, Mams, Mangos, Marangos, Maraschinos, Marimbas, Mau Maus, Mausers, Meat Loaves, Meatballs, Melons, Milk Cans, Milk Fountains, Milk Shakes, Mambos, Molehills, Mommas, Mondos, Montain Peaks, Montezumas, Moo Moos, Mother Lodes, Mounds, Muchachas, Muffins, Mulligans, Mushmellons, Nancies, Nectarines, Niblets, Nibs, Nippers, Nippies, Nippleoons, Nippleos, Nips, Nodes, Nodules, Noogies, Nose Cones, Oboes, Oompas, Orbs Apples, Ottomans Balboas, Padding Balloons, Pagodas Bangers, Pair Bangles, Palookas Bassoons, Peaches, Peaks, Pears, Pects, Peepers, Pillows, Pips, Plums, Pointer-Sisters, Points, Pokers, Polygons, Pompoms, Pontoons, Potatoes, PT Boats, Pumpkins, Rangoons, Rib Cushions, Sandbags, Satellites, Scones, Scoops, Set, Shakers, Shebas, Shermans, Shimmies, Silos, Skin Sacks, Skooners, Smoothies, Snuggle Pups, Spark Plugs, Specials, Spheres, Spongecakes, Spuds, Stacks, Stuffing Casabas, Sugar Plums, Sweater Meat, Sweater Puffs, Sweet Rolls, Tahitis, Tamales, Tartugas, Tatas, Tattlers, Teats, Tetons, Thangs, Thingumajigs, Tidbits, Titbits, Tits, Titters Domes, Titties, Tom-Toms, Tomatoes, Torpedoes, Tortillas, Totos Dugs, Twangers, Tweakers, Tweeters, Twin Peaks, Twofers, Tympanies, U-Boats, Umlauts, Wahwahs, Zeppelins, Zingers.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

50th Reunion Name Tags

First try.  Color & texture are our '63 CLAN colors.  Name is a light gray from stock colors.  Lower line is white for comparison.  Small CLAN cover included for consideration.

Decisions needed:
  • Colors.
  • Font style and size.
  • information to be included on tag.
  • desired size of tag.
Once colors, size and layout are fixed, adding pictures and text can be done using a standard template. 

2nd try.  Background is a game used jersey from the 1962 Ft. Worth City championship football team.  I understand that the Class of 1964 voted the famous 8-7 Paschal upset as the most memorable event of their EHHS school years.

Final Cut.  Background is a genuine period Highlandette kilt generously contributed by '65, Kim Kathleen Terry...all our '63s either threw theirs out or in fits of looming senility couldn't find them.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Clan Highlander Genealogy

Until a few years ago, if someone had suggested that I would become deeply interested in my family genealogy, I would have brushed them off. We 63 Highlanders are elders in the vaunted “Baby Boom” generation and are well educated, sophisticated, well read, well traveled, and widely experienced, or at least we have had remarkable opportunities to avail ourselves of all that.

Our parents, mostly members of the “Greatest Generation,” lacked many of the opportunities we had. From our presumed worldly and certainly adolescent perspectives, they often seemed embarrassingly unsophisticated, un-cool, and sometimes just plain difficult. We didn’t cut them much slack in our dismissive appraisals of them. Of course, their first 25-years of life was lived before we were born, and thus qualified as history. For many of us and for most people, anything that occurred before our time was history and thus, of limited interest to us. We had places to go, mountains to climb, and dragons to slay.

Before getting around to starting their lives in earnest, our parents first had to grow up during the Depression and then mature during the second World War. Many, if not most of our fathers served in the military during WWII. In that, we as a generation, have had a shared and unique experience—we were parented by the “Greatest Generation,” who had mashed Hitler and his Nazis, then decisively thumped Tojo.

I’m not going to beat this subject up too much because I know that for anyone not sharing the interest, there are few things that are more boring than to hear someone rattle on about their ancestors. However, as most of us lost our parents during the 1980’s and 1990’s, to some of us came the responsibility of keeping the family story together—the story that had been preserved by our parents after it had been entrusted to them by their parents when we were kids.

Most of my life, all I knew of my ancestors was that they were farmers from Arkansas, Texas, and Mississippi. What could possibly be interesting about a bunch of farmers? I can recall my grandmothers, a grandfather, a number of old great aunts, and few old friends of the family about whom I had no idea whatsoever how they fit into the group. For the most part, they left us during the 1950's and 1960's. Those great aunts and old friends were always a little too effusive for my taste. I would love to be able to talk to them now.

The rise of the Internet coincided with the decline and passing of my parents. Before they died, I made sure to learn as much as I could from them about my ancestors. I hope you have or will take time to do the same. Genealogists have been some of the earliest and most prolific users of the Internet. They have been posting their knowledge to the net for over 10-years now. I have seen a tremendous growth in the scope and depth of useful information they have been being posting during the 5 or 6 years I have had the interest.

The amazing thing about the Internet is that it can enable us to connect with those very few others that share a common interest in some specific something. A few distant cousins were very gracious in sharing their family information with me. With their help and the help of useful research information posted by others, I was able to make discoveries about those farmer ancestors of mine that no one in my immediate family had known for well over a century. Among those farmers were 2 Confederate soldiers, 2 War of 1812 soldiers, about 7 (so far) soldiers of the Revolution, and 1 very early Jamestown settler.

As Texans, many of us can trace our early ancestry back to Virginia and the Carolinas. Our immigrant ancestors entered the country mostly through Philadelphia and Charleston. And unless we are the offspring of more recent immigrants, most of us can likely find ancestors who served the country during the American Revolution.

What do you think? The tools are out there now. We don't have to crawl through old dusty courthouse records and I'll bet that Mr. Sills would have gotten a kick out it. That’s not a bad project to consider undertaking as we move on toward 70. Seventy, good grief.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

That Certain Look

An informal guide to the Big Six UT sororities.

September 1976 - By Judy Benson


Pi Beta Phi

Some women are born knowing gold from gold-fill. Because of this genetic characteristic, a Pi Phi is usually at home wearing gold dinner rings at the age of eighteen, a gold bangle bracelet, a pair of simple solid gold hoop earrings, and a sporty but chic stainless and gold Rolex. But gold—and lots of it. After all, Pi Phi beads go with everything, even a tortoiseshell hair band, blue jean skirt, and rugby shirt. Gold is so flexible. Pi Phis don’t have to flaunt what they’ve got. When you’ve got everything—money, a good name, good looks, and status—what’s the point? As a result of their confidence and contentment with their lot in life, Pi Phis are actually a pretty down-to-earth bunch. They’re studious, having the highest overall grade point as of January 1976, and they’re practical, usually dating law or medical students in hopes of keeping an unbroken line of prosperity in the family. If the guy happens to be a Phi Delt, so much the better.


Kappa Kappa Gamma

For most women, looking “grubby” comes as naturally as breathing. It’s a condition accomplished by not trying to look any better than you appear at waking. It’s easy. You just put on whatever’s handy and—voila—you’ve got the grubby look. But for a Kappa, grubby is a fine art, a studied effort that rivals putting out a fall designer collection. You can’t have just any grubby look; it has to be the one sanctioned by your Kappa sisters. Soon the unlikely combination of painter’s pants ($7) with an Izod knit shirt ($16.50) and topsider shoes is born—worn with gold and sterling accessories and simple but stylish haircut, of course. Almost like the basic black dress, grubby—such as it is—is obligatory for street parties, strolling down the Drag to class, and browsing through The Cadeau. Like the Pi Phi’s look, the Kappa’s casual appearance belies an underlying self-assurance. She too is from an old, established family; she was probably a debutante from San Antonio, Dallas, or Houston; and the points she racks up in her sorority prepare her for the point system she’ll labor under to make Junior League.


Kappa Alpha Theta

Being a Theta isn’t like being a Pi Phi or a Kappa, and that’s the problem: a Theta isn’t a Pi Phi or a Kappa. Still, it has its consolations. Thetas get to be a little more demonstrative—what you might call kissy-huggy—than the Pi Phis or the Kappas, whose monied backgrounds (or aspirations thereto) give them a bit of aloofness, an elitist reserve, that the more democratic Thetas lack. Extroverted, exuberant, and not exactly willowy of figure, your average Theta will dress casually—even wear men’s $6 khakis—for a party. You wouldn’t want to get all that beer on an expen­sive “original” original. Don’t think a Theta can’t stand up to a Pi Phi or a Kappa; she’s got a slightly better grade point, on average, than a Kappa. She did, after all, go to Camp Waldemar with the best of them and she traveled in Europe before coming to UT. She’s still in the running.


Delta Delta Delta

When you look at Farrah Fawcett-Majors on the screen, you get a rough—no, a very refined—idea of what it’s like to be a Tri Delt, which she was. The standards of physical perfection that Farrah represents so well are hard to meet every day. It’s a safe bet the Tri Delt you find at a fraternity party with her perfect makeup, perfect hair, and a perfect outfit to clothe her perfect figure invested approximately three hours’ work in all that perfection. Behind the con­trived exterior, however, burns the soul of an inveterate partygoer. The girl that’s gesturing wildly at you from across the dance floor, singing and making some kind of esoteric sym­bol with thumbs and forefingers, has not lost her mind. She’s making the triangle sign of the Delta. If she seems to be hav­ing trouble following the party conversation, it’s probably because she’s wondering whether her mascara is smeared. A Tri Delt makes an ambitious man a decorous wife. He may not be a Phi Delta Theta from a prominent Houston or Dallas family (they usually stick with the Pi Phis, Kappas, and Thetas), but he’ll most likely make a lot of money.


Chi Omega

The ladies of Chi O are very sweet and a little reserved, but they are closet dazzlers. Who else would conceive of an unofficial dress uniform that combines the subtlest shades of peach in a tailored Ultrasuede dress with a gaudy mass of gold-filled jewelry and a flurry of ultra-bleached hair? It’s a paradox. The Chi O house shelters fewer true beauties than the Tri Delt residence, and, though they may both aspire to academic heights, neither sorority currently ranks in the top three for grade averages. (The ADP is, of alt people, are now second behind the Pi Phis, with Thetas and Kappas in third and fourth places—though averages do tend to vary from semester to semester.) The Chi Omegas can play just as rough as the next girl in the status game, but a glimpse at their parking lot will show you that they are not among the top contenders in this field either. You’ll find a gaggle of Cutlasses and Monte Carlos there—all with cruise control and quadraphonic tape decks. They don’t cost Chi Omega daddies as much as the Pi Phis’ BMWs, but they’re not bad.

Zeta Tau Alpha

Zetas do try harder. Lack of effort is not why a Zeta isn’t a Pi Phi. God knows they try. They put their more outgoing, aggressive natures to work for them to make up for this imagined deficiency. But there are some things in this world that are not easily duplicated, and being a Pi Phi is one of them. You either are or you aren’t. No matter how many gold-plated dinner rings and shiny, gold-plated bangles you wear, a little of the plating always rubs off and lets the truth show through. Let no one say, however, that the Zetas don’t have a look of their own. They do. Does this girl exude satisfaction with her position in life? Does she shun heavy makeup, secure in the knowledge she has enough going for her that she can afford a perfectly natural look? Does this woman look like a Pi Phi? To her everlasting credit, she does not, and—bless her heart for trying—she never will. 


Sisterhood is Powerful

One of the most important decisions in a girl’s life may be made in her first week of college—at sorority rush.

September 1976 - By Prudence Mackintosh

Of all the trappings of my four years at the University of Texas, only one followed me to Dallas and appears destined to be with me the rest of my life: my sorority. Maligned and revered, the butt of jokes and jibes and the goal of countless anxious mothers for their daughters, sororities have kept their place in the rites of passage of a whole segment of Texas society that moves from summer camp to sorority to Junior League, with the same basic rituals serving at each level to strengthen the bond of women together. When I returned to Austin last fall to witness sorority rush, I had expected that the intervening years of the late sixties and the seventies would have changed things utterly. Instead, I found my memories going back to my own rush.

It was the fall of 1962, and I had just hobbled in ill-fitting stiletto-heeled shoes from the Chi Omega house on Wichita to the Tri Delt house on 27th Street in Austin. Word had not reached Texarkana that during rush week, regardless of the University policy which forbade freshmen to have cars, it was unseemly to walk from sorority house to sorority house. Socially astute and ambitious mothers from Houston and Dallas had willingly stranded themselves at the Villa Capri motel near campus, so that their daughters could drive the family car and arrive poised and oblivious to the beastly Austin September sun in their de rigueur dark cottons.

My dark cottons were severely circled under the armpits and the humidity made me regret the tight permanent wave that my mother had felt was necessary to keep my already naturally curly hair out of my eyes. The lengthy walk had made me late, and I half hoped that I could sit this one out. But before I could blot the sweat from my upper lip, a viva­cious girl costumed like Judy Garland’s dog Toto pinned a huge name tag on me and led me down a cardboard yellow brick road into the cool interior of her sorority house.

Like young Jay Gatsby, I had seldom been in such beautiful houses before. Although F. Scott Fitzgerald never mentioned Daisy’s sorority affiliation, these houses—particularly the Tri Delt and Pi Phi houses—could have been hers. Like Gatsby, I suspected that these houses held “ripe mystery . . . a hint of bedrooms upstairs more beautiful and cool than other bedrooms, of gay and radiant activities taking place through its corridors.” I was much too naive to recognize voices “full of money,” but I did marvel at the inexhaustible charm of these breathless beauties. I wrote to my parents after that first day of parties with Pi Phis, Tri Delts, Zetas, Chi Omegas, Kappas, and Thetas that I had never seen such a gathering of beautiful girls in my life. “High in a white palace, the king’s daughters, the golden girls”—in Pappagallo shoes.

Sororities at the University of Texas in 1962 were large by national standards. If all pledges remained active, a UT sorority could usually boast close to 350 active members. Even if only half of them were really beauties, the effect was overwhelming when you saw them—exquisitely groomed—in one large room.

After what seemed interminable non-conversation and punch which never really quenched one’s thirst, the lights dimmed at the Tri Delt house, and Toto gave me a quick squeeze, “You just sit right here on the front row. I’ll be back when the skit is over.” My naiveté once again kept me from being impressed by this privileged front-row position. Being squired around by a costumed sorority personality, I would later learn, also might indicate favoritism. The skits blur a little in my mind, but they were nothing less than major musical productions, often with professional lighting and costumes. We were the tail end of a generation raised on Broadway musicals and consequently were prime suckers for lyrics lifted from Carousel, Showboat, or South Pacific and altered for sorority purposes. I distinctly remember a green-eyed Tri Delt named Kay dressed as the carnival barker from Carousel sending shivers down my spine with “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high . . .” It was that unflinching eye contact that got me every time, and by the end of the week, if you were a desirable rushee, someone might be squeezing your elbow by the time Kay’s voice reached the final “You’ll never walk aaalone.” Although the songs varied, that was the pitch at most of the houses. The girls locked arms around the room and swayed gently as they sang, all to remind you that it was a big University and that joining these self-confident beauties meant not having to face it alone.

As I watched these sorority girls flash their perfect teeth and sing and dance, I surmised that they possessed secrets that they might share if I managed to get out of the foyer and into those upstairs rooms. They not only knew their way to class on the 150 acres that then composed the University, but they also knew appropriate retorts when drunk Kappa Sigs pulled their skirts up at parties and howled, “Look at the wheels on this woman!” I knew they could hold their beer and their cool when someone “dropped trou” or toga at a Fiji Island party. I was sure that they did not worry—as I did—about where one slept when one accepted an OU-Texas date to Dallas or when one made the bacchanalian pilgrimage to Laredo for George Washington’s Birthday.

But the week was not all costumed escorts, squeezes, and front-row seats. Sometimes the carefully concealed rushing machinery broke down and the party lost its air of graciousness. A survivor recalls that in the grand finale of the Car­ousel skit, performers tossed bags of popcorn to prize rushees on the front row. One player overshot the front row, but remedied her error by wrenching the popcorn bag from the second-row innocent’s hand and restoring it to its intended mark. More often the embarrassing moments were brought on by a provincial rushee. It’s probably apocryphal, but the story floated around for years that, on being passed a silver tray of cigarettes, a rushee at the Zeta house looked puzzled for a moment, then reached furtively into her purse, emptied her cigarette pack on the tray, and quickly passed it on.

At the Pi Phi house I once held four “floaters” (sorority members who moved in and out of many circles at each party to get an overall picture of the rushees) captive with a fifteen-minute maudlin tale about the day my dog died when I was eleven. They feigned intense interest, their eyes brimming at appropriate times, but doubtless they collapsed in spasms of laughter and goose calls when I made my exit. The next day, to my horror, I was repeatedly introduced at the Pi Phi house with, “This is Prudence. Get her to tell you that neat story about her dog.”

But despite our faux pas, my roommates and I had an easy time of it. We were under no parental pressure to pledge at all. Totally ignorant of the machinations of rush, we innocently perceived the whole rush week scene as one exhausting and bewildering but happy experience in which we were to decide whom we liked best. We had only the vaguest notions about sorority rankings on campus. Although there were twenty sororities on the UT campus in 1962, for many girls, accepting a bid from other than the “big six” was apparently unthinkable. We were aware of tears down the hall as first- and second-period “cuts” were made by the sororities, but we could not appreciate the pain of the “legacy” (the daughter of a sorority alum) whose mother responded to her daughter’s rejection with, “Pack your bags, honey, SMU has deferred rush.” Or the one who declared, “See, I told you you should have gone to Tech first”—where it was easier to make it into an elite sorority and then transfer to UT.

The third period of rush week consisted of two Saturday evening parties. It was tense, and girls on both sides were exhausted, Members had culled their rushee lists to approximately 100. Too many rushees at a final period party could scare top rushees away. (“There were ten Houston girls at that party; they won’t take us all.”) In 1962 rushees were required to wear “after-five” dresses to these parties. Members usually dressed in white or, in the case of the Kappas, in sepulchral black. Sidewalks were lined with hurricane lamps and the houses were candlelit. This was the party for sentimental tearjerkers. The Thetas were renowned for leaving no dry eyes. The Tri Delts put a string of pearls around your neck and instructed you to toss a wishing pearl in a shell fountain while an alumna with a haunting voice sang mysteriously from an upstairs window. The Kappas still croon in four-part harmony.

And when we tell you

How wonderful you are,

You’ll never believe it.

You’ll never believe it.

That girls so fine could ever be

united in fraternity

And they all wear the little golden key.

[descant: ah-ah-ah-ah]

And when you wear one,

And you’re certainly going to wear one.

[This is when the not so subtle elbow squeeze came.]

The proudest girl in this wide world you’ll be

You’ll never believe it.

You’ll never believe it.

That from this great wide world

We’ve chosen YOU.

[Really look ’em in the eye.]

After two such parties (a first and second preference), the rushees departed for Hogg Auditorium to sign preference cards, which would be sorted by computer. Needless to say, no one folded, spindled, or mutilated her card. Sorority members would be up in all-night final hash sessions to determine their top 50 choices. On Sunday afternoon, the computer would print out the results. Panhellenic representatives sat with boxes of alphabetized envelopes. For appearances’ sake, there was an envelope for every girl who had attended a final party, but some contained cards with the message, “You have received no sorority bid at this time. Please feel free to come by the Panhellenic office to register for open rush.” Amid the squealing and squeezing that went on as envelopes were ripped open, perhaps it was possible to run unnoticed from the room with such an envelope and back to a lonely dorm room for a bitter cry. We were among the shriekers and squeezers and we did not notice. My three roommates and I had received bids to the same sorority, and our course was set.

Although we were to become somewhat aberrant sorority members, we had unwittingly chosen our bridesmaids, the godmothers for our future children, and access to certain social circles. Others in our pledge class already had this social entree by virtue of their birth; numerous legacies re­call hearing Kappa songs as lullabies. I remember being fascinated by a framed family tree that hung in the study hall of the Kappa house. The genealogy was illustrated by linking Kappa keys (the sorority symbol) indicating that all of the women in this family had been Kappas for four gen­erations. I distinctly remember feeling sorry for these girls whose choices were made inevitable by long family tradition.

Still others had simply been born in the right neighborhoods and had distinguished themselves in the privileged big-city high schools—which then were Lamar (Houston), Alamo Heights (San Antonio), Highland Park (Dallas), and Ar­lington Heights (Fort Worth). Small-town sorority members might have already joined these elite circles at expensive summer camps. Only one of my new Kappa roommates had done any of these things. She was a product of Camp Mystic, had attended a boarding school, recognized prestige clothing labels, and generally knew her way around the social scene into which the other three of us had stumbled. She was appalled at our ignorance. We had blindly selected our sorority because we liked each other and because we agreed that the Kappas’ whole rush setup was pleasantly amateurish and not at all intimidating. Quite frankly, we felt like we might be able to help them out. In a small-town high school, where rivalry was not particularly fierce, one tended to get an inflated idea of one’s abilities and talents. In a com­petitive big-city high school, one might be a cheerleader or serve on the student council, but in a smaller pond like ours, it was entirely possible to be cheerleader, star in the senior play, editor of the school paper, and a member, and probably an officer, in every school organization and still do well scholastically.

When we expressed these reasons for pledging later in a rush evaluation questionnaire, our active “sisters,” knowing that our egos could obviously take it, were quick to inform us that our pledge class had been a tremendous disappointment.

There were other illusions destroyed that freshman year. Girls who had chastely sung of truth, beauty, and honor during rush and had even lectured our pledge class on ladylike behavior befitting a sorority member would be seen holding forth with sloshing beer cup atop the toilet seat in the powder room during a Sigma Chi match party, “Furthermore, remember, you can drink like a lady.”

But the scales would not really drop from our eyes until rush the following year. We had spent many summer hours rewriting and casting skits and painting new scenery, and though exhausted we looked forward to rush with the enthusiasm that only one who has not already endured it can possess. The business of UT rush was mind boggling. Every member was required to attend unless she was out of the country. On arrival in Austin the week before rush week, members were handed a schedule of workshop activities and a list of at least 300 names containing pertinent information about each rushee. Hours and hours were spent in the basement with a slide projector flashing pictures of rushees on a screen while we shouted names, hometowns, and other key in­formation. I was totally unprepared for the power blocs from the big cities. Houston might send twenty highly rec­ommended girls through our rush, but the actives from Houston already knew which ones were to be eliminated before the end of the week. Gradually, as the pictures became more familiar on the screen during workshop, someone would shout out in the darkened room, “Gotta get that girl!” or “Key to Hous­ton—get her, we get ’em all” or “Theta legacy-Theta pledge, forget her.” As the sessions got longer, girls became giddy and pictures of less than beautiful girls would be greeted with uncharitable mooing. I learned to become exceeding­ly wary of those air-brushed Gittings portraits of girls in their Hockaday graduation gowns.

Besides giving us some sight recognition of the rushees, I think “the flicks,” as we called the grueling picture ses­sions in the basement, served another purpose. When combined with song memorizing, skit practices, loss of sleep, and evangelical exhortations to “fire up!” they produced a certain single-mindedness that would enable almost-grown women to revert to what in retrospect seems incredibly childish behavior. Happenings in the outside world had no bearing on our lives that week. What really mattered was stealing Houston’s adorable Jo Frances Tyng away from the Pi Phis. By the end of rush week, when all but the die-hards had conceded loss, we dubbed her “Ring-ching-Tyng” (as in “Ring-Ching Pi Beta Phi,” a song sung to the jingle of gold charm brace­lets at the Pi Phi house).

“Silence rules” prescribed by Panhellenic to prevent undue pressure on any rushee only contributed to the un­reality of the whole experience. From the time they arrived in Austin until the end of rush week, rushees could asso­ciate only with other rushees. They could not have dates or talk to their parents. Sorority members were isolated in their respective houses with all tele­phones disconnected except one. Such isolation on both sides set the scene for considerable emotional buildup, hence the tears by third-period party, which were variously interpreted as “she loves us—we’ve got her” or “she loves us, but her mother was a Zeta and called her, crying.” In retrospect, I think all the tears were small nervous break­downs.

When rush week began that year, we poured through the front door clapping and yelling, “I’m a Kappa Gamma, awful glad I amma, a rootin-tootin’ K-K-G.” I remember being slightly em­barrassed by the peculiar stares we re­ceived from nonparticipants passing by, but nevertheless I sought out my as­signed rushee and did my best to “give her a good rush” (introduce her to as many people as I could). By the third party of the day, our mouths were so dry that we sometimes had trouble get­ting our lips down over our teeth when the perpetual rush smile was no longer required. I was chastised more than once by a rush captain who saw me monopolize a rushee by having some “meaningful conversation” with her away from the babbling crowds, thus spoiling her chances for maximum rec­ognition in the cut session that night.

The language of rush week almost requires a special lexicon. After the first round of parties, I was bewildered by the basement voting sessions. The rush captain had to keep things moving and be sure that sufficient people were dropped from our list each night to keep subsequent parties from being overcrowded. Certain signals developed for expedience. Members in agreement with a favorable comment being made on a rushee would begin to snap their fingers. Widespread finger snapping meant the rushee had sufficient support and that discussion could be curtailed. I also encountered that wonderful euphemism, “the courtesy cut.” The rush captain carefully explained that we owed it to legacies to cut them after first-period parties if we did not intend to pledge them. “That way they can go another direction,” she reasoned with us. We never allowed ourselves to consider that other houses were cutting the girl that night because she was our legacy—leaving her no “direc­tion” to go. To avoid gossipy invasions of a rushee’s past indiscretions, any doubts about a girl’s reputation were phrased, “I don’t believe she is Kappa material.” From a reasonably credible source, this phrase could utterly destroy the rushee’s chance—no further discus­sion needed. Another shorthand signal that either cut a rushee from the list or initiated a lengthy debate was, “Y’all, I just think she’d be happier elsewhere.” I remember one particularly stormy evening when this phrase was used on an active member’s sister.

It took me until the second year of rush to perceive the battle lines that inevitably were drawn within chapters during rush. We dubbed it “the flowers versus the flower pots.” One ludicrous evening the debate in the basement had gone hot and heavy over a girl who had outstanding recommendations, scholas­tic average, activity record, and family background. She simply wasn’t “beau­tiful, adorable, or precious.” Just as the fingers began to snap favorably, a member whom I recall as being par­ticularly nonproductive except during rush, gained the floor and whined, as only Texas girls can, “But yew-all, would you ask your boyfriend to get her a date?” The strongest proponent of the girl rose to her feet and shouted, “We’ve got enough flowers in this chapter! What we need are some pots to put them in.” My sentiments were usually with the pots, the solid citizens who kept the chapter machinery rolling by doing the undesirable jobs, kept the grade-point average high, and gen­erally provided the diversity and good humor that flowers who rose at 5:30 a.m. to begin teasing and spraying their hair so often lacked. Flowers, of course, performed the essential function of keeping the sorority’s reputation with fraternities high enough to insure a steady stream of eligible males in and out the front door.

Although alumnae money and time kept the sorority houses well furnished, alumnae pressure varied from house to house. During rush week only one alum adviser was allowed at voting sessions, but alumnae could attend the parties. Aside from the pressure they exerted in the cities as to who received recommendations, alums had little influence in our rush. This was not the case at other houses. Friends from other sororities say that they were constantly plagued with alumnae who could not resist offering unauthorized “oral bids” at their parties. The Thetas, in those days, were traditionally beset by alumnae, not only from Austin but also from Hous­ton and Dallas. 

Making an impression on Mrs. Alum at a party might be just as important as being labeled “precious” by the entire Houston active contingent. One former rush captain recalled a very persistent alum who as a last resort threatened to keep all the active mem­bers from her hometown out of the Junior League if they didn’t see to it that a certain legacy was pledged. The girl was pledged, but regrettably her pledge pin was jerked before the year was out for swimming nude with a dozen boys at their fraternity house after curfew.

At the end of the week the final vote was taken. The final usually included about three-fourths flowers and one-fourth pots, with legacies who had survived the courtesy cut securely listed at the top. Other names could be shifted around in the last-minute voting session held after the tearful final preference party. This was the party where oral bids, strictly prohibited by Panhellenic, slipped out. Rushees hoping for some assurance or just overcome by emotion would weep and hug their active friends at the end of the party and say, “Oh, I just wish I could stay here forever.” Statements like these would cause an uproar in the downstairs sessions. A cynic would rise and say, “Yeah, she said the same thing to the Pi Phis an hour ago.” But a believer would re­spond, “Y’all, I know she has a Pi Phi mother and two active sisters, but she wants us … I know she does. We’ve got to move her up the list.” The computer had its final say, and by Sunday afternoon, since several sororities were fiercely competing for the same 50 girls, everyone’s list had been altered somewhat. New pledges were greeted once again with hugging and squealing and after a quick supper were lined up like so many prize cattle in an auction to be inspected by the ultimate judges—the fraternity men. One of my favorite flowerpots recalled it this way. “If you were a beauty, you were immediately asked for a date and taken out of the gruesome inspection line. Because we were arranged alpha­betically, I got to stand next to someone named Taney, five-feet-two, curvy, giggly . . . well, precious. Ten minutes after we lined up, she was surrounded with guys elbowing and shoving to get closer. I was ignored unless someone needed to know Taney’s name. I vividly remember standing there, awkward and skinny, alternately wishing painful and exotic diseases on Taney and at the same time cursing my parents for spending all that money on my ‘intellec­tual development’ instead of taking me to a good plastic surgeon in Dallas. I felt a little guilty when cute little Taney was pregnant by December and had to depledge.”

Pledges were guaranteed a date every night during University registration week, thanks to the efforts of fraternity and sorority social chairmen who labor­iously matched girl pledge class with boy pledge class and posted the lists at the respective houses. At least two of my “match” dates took one look at my name and were suddenly called away to their grandmothers’ funerals. It was just as well; I could never drink enough beer to get into the swing of fraternity parties anyway. Even after I became an active member, no one ever shared the secrets of the cool retort, and sure enough tears came to my eyes when a drunk Kappa Sig pulled my dress up in the middle of the dance floor. I often wonder if some of my contempo­raries who married their fraternity boy­friends, and have since divorced, per­haps mistook three years of standing arm-in-arm with sloshing beer cups in front of blaring bands as real intimacy. Could it be that when the keg stopped flowing and the music quit playing, they found they hardly knew each other?

Within the sorority system, however, good friendships did develop. Perhaps we would have experienced the same bonding in a dorm or co-op; however, I doubt that I would have known 150 women on the University campus as well as I did these without such a formal structure.

My sorority sisters and I did serve at each other’s weddings, and my children do have a Kappa godmother. We still exchange the Christmas cards with the long notes attached. Although we were frequently stereotyped as “look-alike-think-alikes” by our critics, within a group of 150 girls there was inevitable diversity. These were the days when the Bored Martyrs (a notorious women’s drinking society) were witty girls who truly could have been Mortar Boards (an honor society) if they hadn’t become cynical so young. We also had our share of philosophy majors, musicians, artists whose rooms were boycotted by the maids and labeled fire hazards by the fire marshal, campus politicians, professional bridge players, and party girls who frequently majored in elemen­tary education or jumped from college to college fleeing scholastic probation. Most were, of course, from wealthy families, and for me, who had attended a high school where only 15 per cent went to college, it was an education in how the other half lived. I’ll never for­get my father’s first visit to the Kappa house. He stood in the foyer gazing at the lovely furnishings and curved stair­way. “Honey,” he said, “why do you bother to come home?” The sorority parking lot was filled with the latest model automobiles; one sister drove a classy vintage Mercedes. When a fire damaged the Dallas Neiman-Marcus one fall, there was genuine distress over whether Christmas would come that year. Being a part of the Greek com­munity in the early sixties was a way of feeling rooted in a big University and eventually rooted in the state. These were privileged little girls, and their daddies and some of their mothers were powerful people—University regents, renowned doctors, influential lawyers, judges, king makers, or politicians them­selves. The young fraternity men we dated became lawyers, doctors, bankers, went into “investments” or joined their fathers’ successful businesses. In the course of an afternoon spent doing volunteer work in Parkland Hospital’s emergency room recently, I heard the names of three blind dates from my freshman year being paged as resident doctors. Texas Law Review banquets and Bar conventions are like homecom­ings where the men still greet the women with the standard fraternity embrace. Even after fourteen years, the wives, especially the Houston flowers, are still quite glamorous. Flowerpots are more scattered as they frequently pursued ca­reers that took them out of the South. One writes from New York as an assistant editor of a magazine, “Re­member, I may have been a late bloom­er—but I bloomed!” Others have be­come artists, lawyers, biologists, or academicians at universities where so­rorities are once again on the upswing. “I was invited with five other faculty members to a sorority house recently for what I think we called apple-polish­ing night,” writes one who is now an English professor. “After dinner the girls sang to us. The four male profs looked delighted, but I couldn’t resist searching the crowd to discern the pots from the flowers.”

With such continuity of friendship, social education, and broad acquain­tance across the state, I can hardly dis­miss my sorority experience. However, by the time we reached our junior year in college, many of us had begun to sense that something was amiss. There were strong conflicts between belonging to a sorority and trying to pursue an education. Why did we volunteer our time to help the Phi Delts gather wood for the Aggie bonfire when I could have been with my English class bud­dies hearing Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote? I missed Igor Stravinsky’s visit to campus because I was the song lead­er at chapter dinner. In retrospect, the conflict was most apparent when the sorority pretended to serve academic purposes. The poet John Crowe Ran­som joined us for dinner one evening, and the only sustained conversation we could handle was “How are your grandchildren?”

Even worse was the night William Sloane Coffin, the activist chap­lain from Yale, came for dinner. If I led the chapter in singing “Kayappa, Kayappa, Kayappa, Gayamma, I am so hayuppy tha-ut I yamma . . .” that night I have thankfully blocked it from my memory. Coffin, of course, was already condemning the escalating war in Viet Nam and generally taking a few cracks at lifestyles like ours. We, who had spent the previous weekend parad­ing around in initiation sheets and per­forming the solemn Victorian rituals required to initiate our pledges, were ill-equipped to defend ourselves. The chaplain so easily trapped us that we could hardly say no when he chal­lenged us to follow him to the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) meeting he was scheduled to address when he left our house. Slipping our pearl-encrusted Kappa keys into our pockets, we followed him with great trepidation down the alley to the Uni­versity Christian Church where the meeting was to be held. We had seen these humorless campus radicals on the Union steps. Some of us had given token support to slightly suspect Uni­versity “Y” activities; others had at least signed the petition to integrate Roy’s Lounge on the Drag, but we had never sat in the midst of such a group, and we shivered that our opinion on the Gulf of Tonkin might be sought. Fortunately the SDS was much too taken with Coffin even to notice us, much less explore our ignorance.

Besides the educational conflicts, the sorority could also be indicted for providing a womblike environment in which one could avoid practically all contact with the unfamiliar or unknown. Many of my sorority sisters now freely admit that they never even knew how to get to the Main Library, nor did they ever darken the door of the Chuck Wagon in the Student Union where my roommates and I frequently drank dishwater-colored iced tea with foreign students or “rat-running” psychology lab instructors. This same narrow environment also kept the haves from developing much sensitivity for the have-nots. Sorority alumnae groups are generous philanthropists, but in college our philanthropy was usually limited to a Christmas party for blind children or an Easter egg hunt for the retarded. The only have-nots sorority girls encountered on a regular basis were the servants in the house. I often wondered how the cook felt when the KAs rode up on horseback and sent a small black boy to the door with “Old South Ball” invitations on a silver tray.

Perhaps the worst indictment of the sorority system, however, is the damage done to the self-esteem of many girls either by the selection process or the values that may predominate after pledging. The same friend who recalled the gruesome pledge line insists that flowerpots dwindled after my class graduated and the standards of beauty, money, and cheerleader rah-rah became entrenched. “It was an unhappy time for me,” she writes. “I wasn’t like the rest and yet I didn’t know what else to be. Half the time I hated myself for not being able to fill the sorority mold I had been raised to believe was what a girl should be; half the time I hated myself for even considering becoming like them. Ultimately I led a double life, holding minor service offices and doing those daring ‘radical’ things, like in­troducing motions to allow Jewish girls to go through our rush. Graduate school was my lifesaver. My experience there was so good that it tends to block out the mindlessness, the social superiority, and the hypocrisy of those undergradu­ate days. Looking back, I see my two years in the house as most men regard their Army duty—only mine was serv­ice to my family and their values in­stead of my country. It was such a waste of potential and time. My life goes so fast now, when I compare it with those hours spent on phone duty as a pledge at the sorority house.”

Shortly after our graduation in 1966, a very different generation appeared, provoking many changes at the University—the Drag vendors, the use of drugs, massive demonstrations against the war, the no-bra look, the pass-fail grading system, bicycles as an accept­able mode of transportation, beer in the Student Union, the lifting of curfews in women’s housing, and courses called “Women’s Studies.” The whole Greek system suddenly was viewed as an an­achronism surely doomed to extinction. Indeed, the Panhellenic Council re­moved itself in 1967 as a recognized campus organization, hence no longer subject to University regulation or eligible to use University facilities. Some say this became necessary when the University discontinued supervision of student housing except that which it actually owned and operated. Sorority alums were not yet ready to abandon curfews and needed an independent body to govern such regulations. Others insist that sororities with racial and religious discriminatory clauses in their bylaws felt threatened. In truth most sororities had purged their charters of such clauses long before civil rights un­rest became a reality on campus. Num­bers going through rush dropped dras­tically then; several fraternities and sororities folded, and living space in sorority houses went begging as girls moved to apartments.

The hypocrisy of the “standards committee,” which served as a self-policing morals squad within most sororities, finally crumbled in many houses. In our day, the standards committee had served without much question. Headed by the sorority vice presi­dent and assisted by an alum adviser, the committee was usually composed of girls of good character who ideally were imbued with discretion and com­passion for the weaker sisters in their midst. They were charged with preserv­ing the sorority’s reputation, which occasionally involved admonishing, dis­ciplining, or expelling those who strayed. One contemporary of mine recalled that “nymphomania” was the big scare word in standards committee. “Pledge an ugly girl, but for God’s sake, don’t let a nymphomaniac slip through!” The fact was most standards committee members were intimidated by candidly rebellious behavior, and those girls who openly marched to a different moral drummer often escaped unpunished. It was the poor timid soul who, after two cups of spiked punch, vomited in the stall next to the alum chaperone at the spring formal that got called on the carpet. Apparently when birth con­trol pills and drugs became readily available in the late sixties, it became difficult in many houses to assemble enough straight arrows to form such a committee. Rebellion widened the gulf that already existed between so­rority members and what they regarded as “interfering” alumnae. University curfews were lifted, but sorority girls were still required to be in their houses at 11:30 on weeknights. Repeated vio­lations of the curfew threatened to ex­pel even the officers in some of the sororities. Pappagallo shoes were being exchanged for bare feet and Army fa­tigues. Housemothers resigned, and alumnae wrung their hands.

So I went back to rush week in 1975. I had heard that the number of girls going through rush was rising again, but I was skeptical. I still expected to see a tired old dinosaur ready for the last rites—or a vastly revolutionized sorority system. I found neither. There I was again in the Tri Delts’ front yard wiping the sweat off my upper lip. Well, a few things had changed. Panhellenic no longer lobbies for dark cot­tons. Dallas and Houston rushees were classy in their cool summer dresses worn fashionably three inches below the knee with rope wedges and bangle bracelets. My counterparts—girls from Edinburg and Fort Stockton—were most often represented by polyester church dresses worn three inches above the knee with pumps. Nervous conversation was un­changed. “Sounds like a mob scene in there. I’m not sure I wanta go in . . .” “I didn’t even know she was an A Chi O, y’all, I hope I don’t get in trouble.” In the minutes before the doors burst open, there was much flopping of long hair behind ears and finally, nail biting. The yellow brick road was gone, but the gushing enthusiasm was unchanged. The rush captain, or maybe she was the president, looked like Margaux Hemingway. In fourteen years, the beauty standards had been upgraded. I wasn’t permitted inside the houses—not even my own sorority house (alum pressure is out)—but from the curb I spotted the same machinery still in motion. I overheard a frantic active begging another, “Please take my sec­ond girl; I’ve just got to give Sally a good rush.” I watched as they unself­consciously clapped, squealed, or ran out for a second goodbye hug even though a Panhellenic representative had signaled the end of the party.

In talking with active members later, I was amazed to learn how little rush really had changed. The songs, the finger snapping, and even the language were essentially the same. “She’s the key to Houston” had become “She’s the ticket,” just as a much admired fraternity man had gone from “stud” to “stallion.” Fatigue and giddiness still prevailed in the late-night voting ses­sions with a few cynical seniors some­times tossing panties in the air and yelling, “We really rushed her pants off!” Skits are no longer the major productions they once were, but the si­lence rules, the maudlin sentimentality, and the weeping are still an integral part of the rush week scene. I asked about the tears. “Aren’t girls just too sophisticated now for that sort of gimmickry?”

“Well,” the innocents replied, “they really are a lot smarter these days and they know if you’re not really sincere. But that last night, well, you just look around the room and know how glad you are to be a Kappa—well, it’s just like the last night at camp, you just can’t keep from crying.”

“But what about the changes?” I asked. I was relieved to learn that girls receiving no bids are now called by a Panhellenic representative to spare them the public humiliation of the old no-bid envelope. I was not surprised to learn that sorority pins are never worn on campus, since they were beginning to fade from the scene even while I was in school. “Dressing” to go on campus has returned. I doubt seriously if the gold earrings were ever abandoned even when revolutionary garb was in fashion. Jewish girls are no longer restricted to Jewish sororities, but I saw no Spanish surnames other than Valley aristocracy. Black sororities still exist and since 1967 have participated in Panhellenic activ­ities with the white sororities.

But I also wanted to know whether the outside world had forced many changes on the sororities. “What impact has the women’s movement had on sororities?” I asked.

“Not much,” they shrugged. “Oh, almost everybody majors in business or communications or elementary education, but it’s not because they really want careers. They just know that they’ve got to get a job when they graduate.” I suppose I should have anticipated this response. The women’s liberation movement had begun with an intellectual appeal, but most Texas woman have been brought up to trust their charm more than their intellect.

“What about marriage? Do you still pass the lighted candle at chapter meetings while singing,

I found my ma-an.

He’s my Kappa ma-an.

He’s my sweetheart for evermore.

I’ll leave him never,

I’ll follow wherever he goes.”

“We still pass the candle, but it hardly ever gets blown out. Not many of us are getting married after graduation, but it’s not because we wouldn’t like to,” they giggled.

“What about no curfew?” I asked, recalling how many of my sisters had sustained injuries while sneaking out of the house. One of my contemporaries had actually broken a foot in a fall from the fire escape and had to be hauled back up through a window. She awakened the housemother with a lame story about falling down the carpeted stairway.

“Well, everybody is usually in by two a.m. and usually earlier on the weeknights,” they assured me. Their parents, I learned, pay an extra $50 per semester for a security guard to let the girls in and out at night.

There was so much more that I wanted to know, but they were eager to hear about my bygone era. “Oooooh, you were here when they had Ten Most Beautiful and Bluebonnet Belles and Round Up Revue.” I could tell from their curiosity that ’ they felt cheated.

Because I sensed that I had been talking to the straight-arrow public relations team of the sorority, I deliberately sought out one of the two acknowledged scholars within their membership, a law-school-bound Plan II student. Plan II (a liberal arts honors program), the college of humanities, and the college of natural sciences were poorly represented in the sorority houses I investigated. This young lady was indeed very bright, and I pressed her to justify her Greek affiliation.

“Plan II is really a tough academic program,” she said, “and I study so hard during the week that if someone didn’t plan some mindless social activity for me on the weekend, I’d probably crack. My friends who came here from the same private high school and didn’t pledge are beginning to drop out. They just can’t face four years of college without ever going to a big party.”

I had called her away from an SAE street dance. She freely admitted that none of her dates on the weekend were intellectual types. “I talk about Kant and Hegel all week. I don’t want any more on Saturday.” She doesn’t live in the house because she needs the silence of her own apartment to carry such an academic load. “I sometimes wish I’d pledged a fraternity,” she grinned, “They have such a good time, dropping by their fraternity houses to shoot a game of pool, play cards, or just shoot the breeze. We only go to our sorority houses for some organized meeting—never just for the fun of it.”

The Greek system died out on many campuses across the country during the late sixties. The president of UT’s Interfraternity Council, noting that pledge classes and houses are full again, says, “The Greek system is definitely thriving.” Of course the 5000 people who participated in rush last year are still quite a minority on a campus of more than 40,000, even more of a minority than in the sixties when the 5000 Greeks made up about a fifth of the campus population of 27,000. However, after several years during which rush was totally ignored by the Daily Texan, the irate September letters have begun to crop up again in the “Firing Line” letters column: “Only a moron would pay someone to impose rules upon them of the ‘don’t speak to boys during rush week’ variety.” “Big sisters and study buddies, indeed!” “They re­mind me of swine at auction.” “The Greek system is composed of people with Pat Boone/Ann Landers mentality who insist on segregating themselves socially, sexually, and racially.” “I often wanted to become friends with one of those beautiful chicks with the long, flowing hair, but most of them are such conceited social climbers that I just stay away from them.”


Sorority members continue to domi­nate certain campus activities, such as Student Union committees, simply be­cause they are joiners and organizers by nature. The University Sweetheart is invariably a sorority girl principally because no one else is interested and because the Greeks have the organiza­tional power to get out the vote.

Certainly, the intimidating size of the University of Texas student body and physical plant had something to do with the returning strength of the Greek system. As one Highland Park mother put it, “When these affluent high school kids around here visit the University, they visit the sorority and fraternity people. That is the University to them. Not to pledge is to step into an unfathomable void.” Another mother admitted that her daughter was not a particularly independent spirit. “If she’s going to be a follower, we’d just as soon she be in a group where she’ll at least keep up her appearance.”

The nostalgia craze is certainly another factor in sorority revival in the seventies. When I visited the campus briefly in the spring of 1976, I saw freshmen spending hours stuffing crepe paper in chicken-wire floats for the Round Up parade, a spectacular pheno­menon discontinued during the sixties at UT. Sigma Chi Derby Day, with its sorority relays and “tug o’ war” over mud-pits, has reappeared, and Greek-sponsored dance marathons for charity have been held in Gregory Gym. Indeed the current self-described absurdist student body president and vice president, Jay Adkins and Skip Slyfield, make the absurdities of Greek life seem quite in tune with the times.

And perhaps it’s more than just nostalgia. Some have suggested that it’s a longing for tradition. You’re supposed to feel something for your alma mater, aren’t you? At the University of Texas, if you don’t “feel it” for the Longhorns and Darrell’s winning tradition, the Orange Tower, and the “Eyes,” you have little else to come back for. UT has no ivied halls or picturesque chapels and few legendary professors. Most students graduate by mail rather than attend the massive impersonal graduation ceremonies. There are no formal homecomings or reunions unless you “belonged” to something while you were there—the Texas Cowboys, the Friars, the Longhorn Band, or even a sorority or fraternity, each with its own rituals and traditions.

I suppose the wisest answer to the survival question came from another sorority sister of mine. “Well, why do girls still make their debut in Dallas?” she asked. “Because people long for exclusivity, because their parents want them to, because they are only nineteen years old and are not asking the same questions that we ask at thirty-two.”

I think she’s right. I was recently perusing a copy of the Kappa Key, my sorority’s national magazine that finds me no matter where I hide. An interview with a bright-eyed blonde coed caught my eye. She had been Miss Everything on her campus, and, when questioned about the value of being cheerleader, homecoming queen, and sorority president, she replied, “I don’t think it’s always nice to question the relevance of things that are fun.”

You can always wait to do that when you’re thirty-two.