Stories, as we all know, are the life of Omega Mu, and they keep alive our Omega Mu spirit each time we see each other, and there is nothing wrong with feeling nostalgic and then saying to yourself: “Did I really say and do these interesting things while living in the house; did all those events occur in the RAM, and did I really look like that during my years in The Castle?” And the beautiful thing is that these events did occur, and you did look like that. The historic grit of reality, and our binding stories were framed within the distinctive walls of The Castle. They provide a clear, significant lens in appreciating our long history; second, they provide a broad generational spectrum of our brotherhood and our shared home, The Castle. That is the power of authentic storytelling.
These stories provide a unique lens to appreciate our storied brotherhood experience, and they cover a whole range of emotion, and a whole range of pleasure, and they are all relevant because they were carved indelibly within the fixed memory of our brotherhood history. Some stories are more serious, and some exhibit a light, irreverent sense of humor. Then, too, some have an element of fraternal spiritual fervor, and some are full of life and daring. Some are earthy, vivacious, warm, and poetic, while others are filled with the comic and the bizarre. In some cases, the stories are representative stories of an entire generation of our brothers and the mood of the nation, while others show the grace, elegance and courtesy of tradition in Omega Mu life. They are all vital, and they are the down-to-earth woven narrative fabric of Omega Mu. They all make our heart and mind listen in appreciation. And, most importantly, we all love the rhythmic play of telling, once again, our Omega Mu stories when we get together, and how stories beget stories. They connect us one-to-another, and they certainly bring to mind a very happy time in our life that is now behind us. They show the joy of the multifaceted life in our brotherhood, and these stories are the root memory of lasting friendships that were shaped by these Omega Mu stories. Our stories are a unique mosaic of our linked-life narrative, and they are heartening to read, and they are the permanent 120 year record of our fraternal life in the stately, beautiful Castle. They quality of our fraternal life holds true today as in 1874 and 1899, and that is why we tell these stories. Proud to be Fiji.
So, story-spinning, storytelling brothers, we need more stories from every Omega Mu generation, and all genres are acceptable, whether they be stories, brotherly reflections, historic time period pieces, songs, and poems. All of them are absolutely necessary because they are the tangible evidence of every brother who walked through the front door and became Omega Mu Fijis. Our stories are fun, insightful, and historical important, and we love hearing them ad infinitum, ad nauseam when we see each other. But, then, we all know that. The unabridged written pieces and author’s name will be in the anthology of stories chapter in our history book. Your stories are indispensable, and I appreciate your time, effort and willingness to contribute to this literary endeavor. Therefore, get carried away and write your Omega Mu story, or stories, in your own unique and personal writing styles, so I can compile all of our great Omega Mu stories so we can all take pleasure in reading them and feel fraternal kinship again and again and smile, laugh, shake your head in disbelief, feel nostalgic, or cry at the memory. And, finally, so we can pass on to future Omega Mu brothers our multi-generational fraternal history because our stories are our link to the future, and they provide a meaningful link to the past for brothers in the years ahead. It is the essential character of all stories: they unite. In sum, then: your stories are essential because life slips by too quickly with the narrowing reality each day, and they need to be written because they distill the essence of our generationally intertwined brotherhood. They are, in a real way, “The harmony of the spheres” of our 120 year Omega Mu life, a fraternal landscape on College Avenue that brothers will love as we do for the next 120 years.
As we are all superb storytellers, and as our historic story continues to build, please consider the following themes to write about: zobie life, mudbowl, Fiji Island, nickname history, a reflection on a brother, housemother, house chef; gatherings at Pat’s or the Oronoka; rafting trips down the rivers in Maine, fishing trips, lunch trips to Burr’s General Store, athlete-game stories, brotherly creativity like the great snow sculptures, road trips to Buddy’s Tattoo Shop, Greek Week, Winter Carnival, RAM shenanigans, rituals and traditions and Pig Dinner, our meals together, gathering on the front lawn in fall or spring, so forth. Your stories put the history of Omega Mu into coherent perspective to appreciate it and love it even more. Thank you.
Chip Chapman, ’82
“The voice of many waters.” First Story 1950
“The 1950’s were what I would call the insular years. There was very little interaction between classes and religions. So when I ended up at our State University, 120 miles from home as a raw 19 year old protestant boarded out in a dreary group of old World War II barracks behind the football bleachers and having to interact with this strange new world I was, in a word, overwhelmed.
Enter Dave Rand -I can’t even remember now how I met Dave – But he was my entry in to the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta and new living quarters in Omega MU. Always longing for a brother growing up (I had two sisters) I now had all the brothers I had wished for. One of whom, George Giostra a returned Army Vet from Barre, Vermont became the older brother I had always wished for. George died much too soon and I occasionally have paid his Fiji dues to keep his memory alive.
Of course it being the fifties one had to tolerate certain sometimes-painful experiences called Hell Week, and be called Zobies for a time. Our first clue of things to come was our instruction to have a paddle made for a brother and I dutifully had one made for Dave Rand. It should be noted at this time that Dave lettered in football and baseball and thus knew how to wield wooden instruments that might cause pain. I should have chosen someone else.”
Second Story 1960
“Sunday dinner at 79 College Avenue in 1960 followed a "well established" order of business. The dinner gong which hung on the dining room wall to the left of the door, was sounded by a white-coated waiter at exactly twelve noon. He then closed the door. At the sound, brothers in coat and tie from all over the house raced to the living room. They formed two lines with a lane from the dining room to the house mother's room at the left of the fireplace. The boys, then, with a lot of pissing and moaning', chose the "hero " to escort Ma Tate down the lane and be her companion for dinner. No doubt she could hear the goings on about the selection process but she never let on. She always came out with a smile and a hearty "Good Morning Fijis". She was a kindly, chubby old girl who put up with a lot of crap from the guys. But, she made it clear that she was happier living with us than her daughter in Orono. As Ma and her host moved down the line with nods and comments back and forth the dining room doors were pushed open. Ma was seated at her place at one end of the center table. The brothers took their places standing at their chairs and benches. And yes, we had places! Changing from ones usual seat or table was certain to generate looks and smart aleck remarks. With Ma seated, the standing Fijis would break into a loud and enthusiastic singing of the Doxology.” The meal was plated in the kitchen and the waiters served the tables (center first, East windows second and the "Pig table" at the West windows last). One of the standard Sunday dinners featured roast pork followed by apple crisp topped with whipped cream....really good eating.”
Third Story 1969
On the evening of Dec. 1, 1969, lottery draft numbers were drawn to establish the sequence of men to be drafted for the war in Vietnam. Briefly, random birthdays were selected and the sequence in which they were picked established the sequence of draftees. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia that describes some of the process: The days of the year, including February 29, were represented by the numbers 1 through 366 written on slips of paper.The slips were placed in separate plastic capsules that were mixed in a shoebox and then dumped into a deep glass jar. Capsules were drawn from the jar one at a time.
“The first number drawn was 258 (September 14), so all registrants with that birthday were assigned lottery number 1. The second number drawn corresponded to April 24, and so forth. All men of draft age (born 1944 to 1950) who shared a birth date would be called to serve at once.
The drawing of the numbers was televised but we (being typical Omega Mu Fijis) forgot to turn on the TV in the library in time to catch the first 5-10 birthdays drawn. So, a bunch of us were watching the drawing together. If your number was drawn early, you were going to be drafted for sure, so these guys would immediately head down to Pat’s to drown their sorrows. If your number was somewhere in the middle (no-man’s-land) and you didn’t know whether you were going to be drafted or not, you headed down to Pat’s to drown your uncertainty. If your number came up over 200 or so, it was highly unlikely you would be drafted, so you immediately went to Pat’s to celebrate. If you were still sitting in front of the TV as the last few numbers were drawn, you didn’t know whether you were lucky or not. Remember, we had missed the first few birthdays drawn. As the last few numbers were drawn, the guys sitting in front of that TV knew they were either 1) really lucky to be way at the end of the list and not likely to be drafted, or 2) in the first 5-10 numbers drawn and would be the first to go. After the last number was drawn, a few guys were still sitting there. We all had a reason to be at Pat’s that night.”
Fourth Story 1980
“For those of us who came of age in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Deliverance was an iconic movie. So, it was no surprise that we would give our end of school year canoe trips that name. The trips were typically three to four day affairs on the West Branch of the Union River out by the Airline Road.
On the first trip was Jeff Brinch, Matt Smith, and myself. Matt, or Scud, as we call him, canoed solo in a cut down canoe, while Brinchy and I used my old, keeled, aluminum canoe. Not the best river canoe on the planet!
One of the highlights of this trip, besides the three pound brown trout that Scud landed, was the beginning of a tradition: SPAM Stew. Brinchy’s dad had served overseas in WW II, and it seems, one of the most ubiquitous foods served, was SPAM, which is rumored, stands for “Something Posing As Meat.”
It wasn’t just the stew, it was how it had to be made. Sure, the ingredients were the same as beef stew, with the substitution of SPAM. It was a very thick stew, as we would cook it down over the fire, then, the key was to mash it all together with, at first, a Mountain Nectar bottle, but, on later trips, a Bourbon bottle.
“Another Deliverance trip comes to mind. On this trip, were myself, Scud, Joel “Sluggo” Gardner, and Jeff “Mr. Wizard” Farnsworth. There were a few highlights to this trip. One was waking up covered with 2-3 inches of snow. Since it was before bug season, we had just covered ourselves in a tarp over our sleeping bags. We were expecting just a heavy dew. We got a little more than that. Another highlight, was one morning, Scud and I got up extra early, and went out fishing. We had a glorious morning, and kept a few trout for breakfast. Wizard and Sluggo had slept in, so we got the fire going. They didn’t stir until the bacon was cooking. All of a sudden, we noticed Sluggo’s nose begin to wiggle as the scent of bacon wafted over our campsite. Next, we heard him say, “Wooo, Bacon!” Then, he and Wizard were up and ready to eat!”
Fifth Story 1990
“The night I got pinned I went to the house dressed like I thought a college fraternity guy should be dressed. I wore the basic uniform of my prep school. A blue blazer, a blue buttoned down shirt, a rep tie with green whales on it but instead of the typical khaki pants and boat shoes, I wore green plaid pants and dress shoes with a buckle. The shoes were a hand me down from my brother who told me once that they were a hand me down to him from either Brad Gould or Bob McDougal. I must have looked like I was dressed by Judge Smails from Caddyshack. The pants caught everyone's attention. I had to use the bathroom and I could hear guys talking about my pants. I was thinking "What have I done? This can't be good." Then it was the traditional routine. They got us together downstairs (we were a big class, 17 guys) and then they put us in order alphabetically, had us close our eyes, and took us up to the foyer to begin. The living room was stone quiet with the brothers waiting. The candles were lit, Al Douville was the chapter president and sat behind the table. He takes one look at my pants and starts shaking his head and grinning. I could hear guys commenting about my pants. "Nice ralph attire." and "Where's he going,a mock wedding?" Guys hissed and things got quiet again. Then out of the darkness, someone (Pete Saganski I think) yelled ‘Holy shit, he has shoes like a pilgrim too!’……”
“The imprint of our days…the tales… they whisper yet.”