Posts Tagged ‘fraternities’

Pajama Parade

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Photograph of the 1915 students who marched in the Pajama Parade. This photograph belonged to Irene McCall Baldwin, '18.

In the spring of 1914, members of the Inter-fraternity council donned in their pajamas, paraded through town around midnight.  The reason?  A free movie at the Bohm Theater, then located at 106 W. Porter Ave.  This event began a tradition that lasted a over a decade.  We know of no photo of the first event, but thanks to a recent donation of Irene McCall Baldwin’s photographs, we now have a copy of the 1915 group of students.  Prior to this donation, it was assumed the tradition began shortly after WWI, but now we have evidence that it began when George Bohm opened his first theater in Albion.

The students began on the athletic field, and paraded down East Erie Street to the local theater, owned by George Bohm.  Bohm’s first theater was located at 106 West Porter until 1917, when he acquired the Censor Theater at 223 E. Superior Street.  The Bohm Theater most of us know today was not purchased by Bohm until 1929.  Although the event began as an inter-fraternity event, it quickly grew to encompass all male students.

Photograph of Pajama Parade participants, 1923. The band in front accompanied the movie.

An article of the May 10, 1922 edition of the Pleiad, disucced that year’s event (See Pleiad Pajama Parade 5-10-1922 to read the full article):

After a meeting at Robinson hall about 11 p.m., the “night hawks” first paraded to the home of Dean Robert Williams where the Dean, aroused from his slumbers, managed to say a few works of greeting.  Thence, off to howl around the domicile of their “Prexy” John W. Laird, who also sent them on their way with a short “pajama” address.  From President Emeritus Samuel Dickie, who usually “hits the hay” around 8 p.m., the men got but a few sleepy words of salutation from his chamber window.

After the movie, the students held a huge bonfire near the river, where the students joined in college song and yells.  The night ended around 2:30 a.m.

The last photograph we have of the event is from 1925.  It’s not known how long the event continued, but it certainly provides a fun look at student life in the 1910s-1920s.

Do you know more about the Pajama Parades?  Please leave your comments below!

“The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” at Albion College

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Sheet music cover from the 1923 edition

One of the most popular fraternity songs of all time, “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi”, was written in 1911 by two Albion College freshmen.  While in class, Byron D. Stokes penned the words for “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi”.  After class, he walked to the Chapel (now the Kellogg Center) and interrupted his friend F. Dudleigh Vernor, who was practicing the organ at the time.  Stokes showed Vernor the lyrics and Vernor, a music conservatory student, immediately wrote the melody.  The song was written as a pledge chore for the 25th Anniversary of their Alpha Pi Chapter.  It began to gain popularity locally and so Vernor’s brother, Richard Vernor, began publishing the sheet music.  One year later, it was topping charts across the county.

Contrary to popular belief, the song was actually written for the fraternity, not a particular “sweetheart.”  In a 1966 interview, Stokes said “the old tear-starting, love inducing, nostalgia-making song was not written about a girl at all, but as a love song to his fraternity”.  The “blue of her eyes and the gold of her hair” referred to the fraternity’s colors.

Since 1911, the song’s popularity has spread across the world.  It has been performed by such well-known artists as Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was also the title of two movies in 1933 and 1946.  This year, Sigma Chi is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the song at its birthplace, Albion College.

This past fall, the college celebrated the 100th anniversary of “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi”.  In honor of the anniversary, archives student, Chelsea Denault, ’12, put together a photo montage.  View it here:

Sweetheart of Sigma Chi Photo Montage