The 50's - A Time of Innocence & Complacency
The Brotherhood of the '50s
As the worldwide rubble is cleared and Europe and Japan are rebuilt, the Korean War flares up in Asia. Learning from the previous wartime experiences, Tau Phi Delta prepares for the possible bad times. A special Grand National Meeting was held in Philadelphia in January of 1951. "At this meeting several problems of the Fraternity were discussed; among them the effects of the present Korean War on our membership and the possible effects if that war became more widespread. "It was agreed at that meeting that a Membership Directory issue of' the CONES would serve a useful purpose in providing all Brothers with the best available addresses of our members. A Directory would, especially in times of dislocation such as during a war, enable the members to better maintain fraternal contacts." President Truman dismissed General Douglas MacArthur from his Asian Command. The Red Chinese are thrown into the conflict, the war takes a turn for the worse. It is assumed that some Tau Phi's served on the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces. But life on campus continued with a degree of complacency to world events. Life at State College during the early fifties is "more than sleepy eight o'clocks or the routine of homework assignments. "It is friendly greetings of classmates we meet on The Mall, talk about the date on Saturday night, endless sessions where answers to questions are never decided. "It is the quiet beauty of Old Main's chimes ringing across the Nittany Valley on a clear winter night. "It's a close decision on a wrestling match and the thrill of an end-zone pass on the gridiron. "It is the rhythm of a favorite band and the dance with the favorite one." Yet a level of preparation still remains on campus. The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) maintains an enrollment of nearly 5,000 at this growing Pennsylvania College. And a fair share of older students, veterans, who pay their way with G.I. bill monies, remind the student body of reality. The USSR explodes its first hydrogen bomb, they launch Sputnik I and II, the Rosenbergs are executed for spying, and the U.S. declares the Cold War on Communism.
Throughout the fifties, Penn State and Tau Phi Delta continue to rebuild from the war years, in spite of world events. Penn State explodes with student enrollment, the college maintains a 1 a.m. weekend curfew (for the opposite sex) in dormitories, college students are expelled for panty raids, and "State" dedicates a new Beaver Stadium.
After the war efforts, "Chapter expansion work is being relentlessly pushed ahead by the energetic efforts of Brother Harry F. Ivins. The prospective Chapter (started at) Syracuse is still in the embryonic state. Other prospects are developing slowly. The Minnesota Beta remains on the inactive list and her alums seem to be gradually losing contact with the fraternity." Each Spring the Inter-Fraternity Council sponsors the annual Ball. Tex Benelse and his Orchestra often performed, while Mr. and Mrs. Bartoo (house advisor) served as chaperons. But for many Brothers, their concentration is on the opening of trout season. "Artificial flies were to be seen about the House in droves for weeks before opening day - and then everyone used worms." So much for "the traditional hub-bub" of trout season. During the summer months, Brothers dispersed in all directions. "Some Brothers trek off to Blue Jay Camp near Marienville (Allegheny National Forest) to complete their forestry summer camp training. Somehow Tau Phi's always organized the picnics and were quite successful – numerous beers were had by all." During the summer of 1953, our lots on East Fairmount were sold, and the money thus obtained was used to finish the payment of the $14,000 mortgage. At the 1954 Homecoming, our thirtieth birthday, the mortgage was burned in the fireplace of the Chapter House.
Brother R. Bommer
According to Brother Bob Bommer, "By the late fifties, Tau Phi Delta was confronted with a new challenge. It became evident that the house on East Fairmount was in need of improvements to the point of total refurbishment. It was the decided that, rather than spend an exorbitant amount on an old house, to investigate the building of a new one." Mr. Robert DesMarais, a noted architect, drew extensive plans for a new house. (These "dream house" plans are still on file today at the Chapter House.)
The fifties brought about some interesting changes to America. The jitterbug and the sounds of big band were replaced with "At The Hop" and Rock-n-Roll at house jammies. Young college-age political activists were often heard saying "Give 'em Hell, Harry" and "I like Ike." A probable discussion at a House Meeting may have been whether to invest in a new television set or build a bomb shelter. Our Alma Mater is now called The Pennsylvania State University. Our popular fraternity publication, The CONES, disappears from print.