Alpha Phi’s Committee on Extension, having in mind the Fraternity’s lack of representation in the South and realizing that Florida would be an excellent point from which to start, considered Rollins College in Winter Park as a field for expansion ahead of all other colleges in the State, and had secured the very special interest of Mr. Fred Hanna, assistant to the president of the college, Dr. Hamilton Holt. Mr. Hanna, who is also alumni secretary, is a member of the Alpha Phi chapter of Kappa Alpha, Southern, at Rollins, and it is often wondered if his chapter name might not possibly have had something to do with his ever-ready willingness to help forward the plans for Alpha Phi’s establishing on campus. In late January of 1931, when Dr. Holt and Mr. Hanna were in Miami on business, they got in touch with Mrs. Bryan Hanks, Beta Gamma, president of the Alpha Phi Alumnae Chapter there, and invited her to visit Rollins during their Founders’ Week exercises as the guest of the college, and in special care of Anne Eldridge of Gamma Chapter, a senior who was more than excited at the thought of what it all might mean. Dr. Holt by this time was most anxious to have Alpha Phi at Rollins, and suggested that Anne and Mrs. Helen Sprague, Alpha, who was acting dean of women at Rollins for two years and most prominent on the campus and in Winter Park, get together to discuss all kinds of possibilities, eligible girls, and so forth and so on. Which they did, day after day, with wonderful success.
Therefore, the installation of Beta Lambda in such a short time is largely due to the early efforts of those two most happily determined, capable Alpha Phis. Founders’ Week, with its unusual feature of the Animated Magazine, proved a happy time for entertaining Virginia Hanks and “showing off” the school and its students to a fine advantage, since Virginia’s purpose in coming was to act as a delegate of the General Board and pass on Rollins. She arrived on February 21 and left three days later, sending a most favorable report to national headquarters. Anna Eldridge and two of the most necessary to-be-hoped-for-pledges were seniors and graduating in June, so no one imagined that installation would really take place during the term. Virginia Hanks had suggested that plans could go on secretly, somehow; Dr. Hold had another conference with Anne, telling her to proceed immediately in getting girls organized; and Mr. Hanna urged keeping the whole thing under cover so that, when the Board of Governors and District I passed on Rollins for a chapter, a group, established as an entity, would be ready to accept the chapter before the campus as a whole would have wind of it. March was a month of weekly and bi-weekly meetings in one of the rooms in the dormitories, mainly concerned with pouring over lists of eligible girls at first, talking to “rushees,” reading every word in all available Alpha Phi Quarterlies, and becoming insanely jubilant with the acceptances that steadily kept the group increasing.
From that time on, things happened fast and furiously. On April 3 came the most beautiful telegram—that Alpha Phi had accepted Rollins for a chapter. The news that his efforts had been realized was wired to Mr. Fred Hanna who was sailing that same day for Spain for a year of research. Eileen Kinnane, executive secretary, arrived in Winter Park one week and one day later, to “inspect” – and no inspection was ever nicer, nor any inspector more adored, than ours. Virginia Hanks and Bonita Finney, Omega, drove up from Miami at this time to give much needed assistance in additional rushing and advice. Other Alpha Phi alumnae who were very much on the scene of the action at this time were Carol Stone of Sanford, Florida, Beta Beta, Mrs. A. P. Phillips, Jr., Omicron, and Helen E. Crabbs, Beta Alpha, both of Orlando, Florida. The group had luncheons and dinners, at tea rooms and at the Rollins Commons (called the Beanery) where the entire student body ate; they all went to Daytona Beach on Sunday, trying to show Eileen a little bit of Florida in between all the work that was to be done; they attended the “Co-Ed Ball,” as on-lookers, the one event of the year at Rollins where the boys are not needed, and it was at the Ball that Bonita Finney, as a special feature, danced her Varsity Drag; they worked and they played and they worried; and finally the lease to a perfectly adorable little white cottage, that would be the Alpha Phi house at Rollins for the following year, was signed.
On a nice rainy Tuesday evening, April 14, the secret pledging took place, and when Eileen left the next day for a short rest in Miami, twelve prospective Alpha Phis were wearing their silver and bordeaux ribbons “underneath.” For the next month, new member meetings were held twice a week at the Woman’s Club in Winter Park. There seemed an enormous lot to learn in a short time; because, since Eileen’s visit, the possibility of something being done this school year seemed a little less remote, and everyone wanted to be more than ready. And all of a sudden, a telegram of confirmation from the General Board was received, the date of installation was set, the chapter roll was memorized, the campus began to hum with rumors, everyone took a big, deep breath, and the day arrived. On Friday, May 15, we met the train that brought Mrs. Margarette Lindsay, national president, from Baltimore, Maryland, and Miss Marion Davis, governor of District 1, from New York. They met the twelve girls for the first time at the formal pledging service that same evening. The Woman’s Club, where all the new member meetings had been held, had been secured for the entire week-end, and everything connected with Beta Lambda’s installation took place there. It proved to be a wonderfully convenient and wonderfully pretty place for such great events. Since the remainder of the evening and breakfast at the Beanery the following morning would be the only occasions for wearing the little silver ivy-leaf new member pins for the public to gaze upon, everyone, with special permission, scattered soon after pledging, to collect all the admiration possible. The fraternity examination the next morning proved what intensive studying and concentration can do; and initiation in the afternoon was a beautiful climax to everyone’s efforts and hopes.
The banquet that night was a gorgeous affair which we stretched out as long as possible. Flowers from other organizations on the campus were arriving; songs were sung between courses; Margaretta Lindsay, at the head of the table, became slightly submerged with the stacks of letters and telegrams of congratulations that had been pouring in for two days, every single one of which was read aloud during the dinner; and at some time or other, each alumna stood to identify herself by chapter, and any other interesting facts, and ended by trying to say how much it meant to be present at Alpha Phi’s formal entrance into Florida. The program was carried out in the conference-plan course of study idea, which is used at Rollins. Carol Stone, as toastmistress, called upon Margaretta Lindsay to conduct a conference in Astronomy, “Our Guiding Star,” followed by Marion Davis talking on Philosophy, “Ideals.” Virginia Bash, initiate, gave Beta Lambda’s response under the title of Sociology, and Anne Eldridge’s conference was on Botany, “The Flowers of Alpha Phi.” Anne was also given a lovely surprise when she was presented with a fountain pen on behalf of the initiates in appreciation of her efforts in making it possible for them to be members of Alpha Phi. The programs themselves, beautiful things of silver paper with the shield of Alpha Phi in bordeaux on the front cover, were designed and made by one of the initiates, Jerry Traill, who majored in Art. On Sunday afternoon from four to six, Beta Lambda of Alpha Phi held a reception at the Women’s Club for the faculty, student body, and friends of the college. The Rollins Student Trio furnished music throughout the afternoon, and two girls from each of the other organizations and dormitories of the campus served the refreshments. In the receiving line were Hilda Lignante, president of the chapter, Mrs. Margaretta Lindsay, National President of Alpha Phi, Mrs. Bingham, Dean of Women, Miss Marion Davis, Governor of District I, Mrs. Anderson, wife of the Dean, and Mrs. Helen Sprague, whom Beta Lambda was fortunate to have as house-mother for the next year. Beta Lambda was able to keep Margaretta Lindsay and “Dee” Davis with them an extra day or so, and, since neither had been in Florida before, some sight-seeing was fitted in with the program of necessary business. The Bok Tower at Mountain Lakes was visited, Tampa with its Spanish settlement at Ybor City was inspected, and a trip to Wekiwa Springs and down the river by boat was taken before they left.
Barbara Diller Hartsell - 1998 Michaelanean Award Winner