top of page

The 60's - The Wonder Years


Just what was life like in the '60s? One could view some popular movies such as Grease, American Graffiti, or Animal House and just imagine the wild and wonderful years of this decade. Where were you in '62?




















Drink and namecards...don't leave home without them!

During this time, fraternities and other Greek Societies boomed at Penn State. Freshmen still wore "dinks" and name cards during their early days on P.S.U. campuses. Tau Phi Delta met the inherited challenges head on. In order to raise money to build a new house, a building fund was started in 1960, but by 1963 only $7,500 was in the bank. Faculty advisor, Brother Dress, had been notified in the winter of 1960 by the State Department of Labor and Industry that substantial changes would be required in the existing residence to meet fire coding for fraternity structures. In the meantime, Governor David L. Lawrence commemorated the beginning roots of Penn State, the 100th Anniversary of the Land-Grant Act. The Commonwealth Campus System expanded, while building construction at the Main Campus flourished eastward. The music played at pledge class formals shifted from Elvis and the Everly Brothers to the Beatles and the Beach Boys. In a bold move, a new men's magazine, Playboy, appeared on the Chapter Room magazine rack.












Brother J. Byerly as Pledge

In an interview with John A. "Jack" Byerly, pledge class Fall 1965, he noted the challenges of' the '60s. "The biggest was staying off University Probation...once threatened when some Brothers, possibly while under the influence, stole some smudge pots from a local construction site. Of course the Brothers only drank off house property. Our pride and joy was the "skin room" located in the back of the basement. The "skin room" was a beautiful panel TV room adorned with a collection of furbearing animal pelts." Typical Tau Phi Delta!

However the "skin room" had another meaning. It seems that this was the place where Brothers took a young coed with expectations to neck. "It seems some Brothers always watched TV instead of studying. Also, Claudia the Eel was the most visible ghost of Tau Phi Delta in the 60s. Claudia was the guardian of the old sump pump in a remote corner of the house basement." (Today's Brothers visit the woodpile when affected by a sudden illness attributed to too much barley pop.) During this decade, the diversion from the tradition of recruiting forestry/agriculture Brothers began. Brother Byerly commented,"We used to send Brother (Steve) Gehringer to invite most of the women to our house parties. He was a business major and had classes with many of the college women. Can you imagine the looks on all the girls' faces when they saw the Brothers in plaid shirts and sporting suspenders?" Brother Byerly's once-held claim to fame was his self-appointment as chairman to the "Garden Committee" (mainly because he could not get elected to any other position). This involved the management of about 500 square feet of house property. His Tau Phi Delta experience paid off in life. Today he reigns over a larger territory. As Chief of Federal Aid Coordination and Public Access for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, he maintains 8,673,958 acres of public hunting property in the state. An era in Penn State football comes to an end in 1966. Coach Charles "Rip" Engle retires as the most successful coach in Nittany Lion history (104-48-3). A young assistant coach, Joseph V. Paterno, reluctantly accepts to become the replacement for a living legend. Beaver Stadium's 40,000 enthusiastic fans await the new coach with some uncertainty. The academic calendar converts from sixteen week semester to a ten week term. Student unrest follows. World and national events in this wonderful decade were far from happy ones. A President is elected and assassinated. A new military conflict turns into war. (Many Brothers eventually complete school and go on to Vietnam). Concern on campus grows to protest; complacency is replaced with concern of the military draft. Antiestablishment movements affect ROTC and fraternity enrollment. Fun and freedom evolve with long hair, miniskirts, and "drugs, sex, and (more) Rock-n-Roll." House Mothers leave while Little Sisters come to fraternities, including Tau Phi Delta.




















1967 Pledge Dance - 'South of the Border'

In regards to building a new house, nothing of any encouragement occurred until 1969, when the Grand Chapter split its treasury. Washington Alpha and Penn State Alpha both received $7,000.00. The building fund had now been raised to $20,000.00 plus a real estate appraisal on the aging fraternity house of $65,000.00. Brother Pierce, President of the Board of Trustees, made plans for a promotional drive directed at the alumni. Interest was soon shifted from building to buying when Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity (427 East Fairmount) was found to be available for sale ($200,000.00). An inspection of the premises found the statement on conditions of the house somewhat understated in that the current fraternity members were living in a state of' filth. A revised offer from Zeta Beta Tau to Tau Phi Delta on August 1 reduced the price to $175.000.00 and a principle payment of $10,000.00. Financial summaries for 1969-70 and projections based on the proposed 1970-71 operation of the property were drawn up by Brother Charles Strauss. By August 10, Brothers Wessel, Shriver, Young, and Strauss had gathered the necessary results to prompt an attempted purchase of the property. Among all the other difficulties in attaining the Zeta Beta Tau property, it should be noted that a decision to purchase Zeta Beta Tau would place Tau Phi Delta at a considerable risk of increase to the house bill and added income from room rentals. The house would only remain solvent if the property at 238 East Fairmount were sold within one year and if alumni would contribute an estimated $l0,000.00 over the next year. In an attempt to obtain approval of Tau Phi Delta assuming the existing mortgage, meetings were arranged in early September in York, Pennsylvania, between Mr. Stanley Glatfelter, President of the York Savings and Loan Corporation, and Brothers Pierce, Strauss, and Bommer. Discussion centered around the financial proposal of Tau Phi Delta. While formal negotiations were underway in Philadelphia between Brother Wessel (our attorney) and Zeta Beta Tau's attorney, the active Brothers and pledges returned from their summer employment to renovate a sadly neglected Zeta Beta Tau property. The Phi, Brother Shriver, had made urgent requests for every available Brother to return for the clean-up. The actives and a few alumni initiated the cleaning process, which lasted for one week solid. On September 29, the active Brothers and pledges officially moved into the house. The continued counsel and legal aid of Brother Wessel provided the final organization meeting on the purchase and/or lease between Zeta Beta Tau and Tau Phi Delta representatives. The lease was finalized and signed on Homecoming, October 11, 1969, thus completing the initial phase in the placement of Tau Phi Delta at 427 East Fairmount Avenue. In 1969 the decade ends and America and our Fraternity are on a rebound. Neil Armstrong walks on the moon, the Brotherhood abandons the "Crow's Nest" and for the last time, we sing an "After One" in the "Cellars of Old Tau Phi Delt."

bottom of page