How can I be old enough to be writing a synopsis (history) of Alpha Theta during the '44-'45 period?
In the years '44-'45 we had as our house, a private home located at 665 Spruce Street. The "lady owner" rented rooms, served meals to our brothers, permitted us to hold meetings and other functions there. She served as unofficial house-mother with Bob Burchnal, the alum adviser supreme.
I left for army service early in '45 but remember well these brothers: Leland Byrd, Jim Walthall, Hoxie Gay, Larry Fortney, Howard Dorsey, Fred Switalski, Bob Whittington, and fellow pledges and others whose faces I see, but can't recall names (even with Gingko). Also, Lincoln Cartledge, Mahlon Speicher, C F Dixon and others.
One of the true highlights of my life (I'm now over 75) came in New York City the year of 1945. I was at Camp Shanks, NY waiting for a troop ship (Liberty) to take me (an Infantry replacement) to Germany. Luckily, I was able to get a 24-hour pass to NYC. That same night WVU's basketball team was playing Top-Ten Long Island University in a sold-out Madison Square Garden. Brother Lee Hammer Byrd was the star on that years'
team. I got into the game by telling a sympathetic gateman that my "Brother" was playing for West Virginia. And I was able to watch Byrd, Bob Carrol, Ed Beech, Bob Dial, Fred Schaus and the Mountaineer team beat a highly regarded LIU.
After the game Brother Leland "the Hammer" invited me to join his teammates on their trip around Broadway. 'Legs' Hawley then Athletic Director had so generously given the team $20.00 to spend! It was a wonderful, very memorable night that I shall never forget!
After discharge from the service, I returned to WVU. With the influx of thousands of new G I Bill students it was a toally different university. Alpha Theta had also changed. By then we had moved to the house behind the stadium, on Campus Drive. One of the biggest events, I recall at our house was a visit by WV's Governor Clarence Meadows, a Pike as I recall from Washington and Lee. The governor was there to introduce Dwight Eisenhower at a huge Defense Day celebration. It was held in awful heat at old Mountaineer Field. Ike was still President of Columbia University; had not yet entered politics.
Returning GI's changed WVU in many ways. They were there strictly to go to school, get their education, and graduate ASAP. Almost all extracurricular activities were at least partially curtailed. Many fraternities suffered during that period, but Alpha Theta survived. Our Brother's Sunday night trips to Dallas Hall up Scott's Run helped in that survival. The place had a good band, cheap drinks, and lots of "coal-miner's" daughters, ala Patsy Cline.
Cecil Gates '45