…”Many members of the entering class will receive invitations to join one of the secret societies in college…
They all contain good men…..and that he is making a choice which he will not regret during his
college course or after his graduation.”
(The Cadet Paper, University of Maine, 1885)
Summer is a great time to do so many things, as we all know. Several days ago, I started thinking about my bicycle trip across the United States in the summer of 1980. Without any pretense or bragging, I did it, and I am really proud that I did it. I kept smiling at each memory: a 145 mile ride through Mound Saint Helen’s ash and rain to get to Corvallis, waking up one night in Big Hole National Battlefield to see a herd of mustangs sniffing and looking in our tent, the extreme kindness of the people in Kansas, and many other vivid memories that kept me smiling as I thought about them with authentic pride and how I did it. I thought it was a superb thing to do, and I would gladly do it again, but I would go from Cape Breton to Vancouver, and I can assure you I will succeed if I do decide to do it. Unfortunately, I have yet to find the pictures of the 1980, but I will find them.
Besides thinking about my bike journey across the United States, I have thought about the pictures I finally received from the Special Collections Department at the University of Maine that I found this past April, on Pig Dinner Day, (See photos below) and I smiled at the knowledge that we are not a run-of-the-mill fraternity at the university and how the things that we do show what we have stood for 145 years when those brothers’ first lived in a rented house on Maine Street in Orono: honor, true friendship, loyalty, will power, and purpose. These things always matter, and in historic breadth and depth, we are inextricably linked with them in fraternal pride. Their patience and tact took them from the rented house on Main Street to our first fraternal home where Coburn Hall is now, and to all the succeeding homes after that, and they were durably committed to each transition and change. Their collective talents, abilities, and pride showed that nothing comes easy. They went on to shape, influence, and guide, with their individual energy and creative vision, the world around them in local, state, national, and international arenas. These men were good fraternal citizens and they became good, effective leaders in many different fields of endeavors: economics, architecture, psychology, engineering, ministry, teaching, medicine, law, and government. In some instances, they established legendary reputations with their unprecedented accomplishments, pioneering even. With authentic power, they had impact, and they are honorably remembered. They created a better world at the local and state level, national, and international levels, and they remain models to us of the correct and noble use of will power and purpose, individually and collectively, for the good. They are remembered and recognized today for the simple things they did with integrity and forthright honesty. They kept at it; they always found a way to care and to be involved. They did not sway.
But they always knew, I believe, that what was most important was the brotherly friendships, and they showed it by the brotherly grace of their continued commitment to each other after they graduated. That’s what makes for a good, sound, healthy brotherhood. What really matters endures, always! Old fashioned, maybe. But I will take a good friend over the junkyard of technology any day, any hour, any second: cell phone, I-Pad, and whatever else that is coming along to supposedly connect you with others. By that measure, we remain strong as a brotherhood, and we continue to attract good men to our historic brotherhood. And so it goes for our illustrious brotherhood and our beautiful fraternal home. For us, it has always been about the long haul in everything we have envisioned since those QTV brothers were sitting in their rented rooms in Orono smiling at their fraternal present, and their next fraternal move to the Maine State campus, and in the whirlpool of history and chance, we continue to thrive at the University of Maine.
Taken altogether, my memories about my bike trip in the summer of 1980 and the pictures of the QTV brothers’ studying and relaxing and enjoying made me feel simply grateful for the choices I have made with life to be a teacher and minister, my beautiful wife, Sandy, and my children, and being a Fiji in our deep-souled and deep-rooted Omega Mu brotherhood at the University of Maine. That deep-long souled fraternal character is on display now as the restorative work continues on our beloved fraternal home, The Castle. Clearly and thoughtfully, step-by-step, with unbound fraternal enthusiasm and commitment, our fraternal home is being architecturally redeemed from the accrued layers of dirt, grime, and damage. Last summer work was completed in the living room, dining room, library, and the basement, and it was an unqualified success. Many brothers’ were at a loss for words when you saw the completed restoration work last October, or at Pig Dinner. It is breathtaking and powerful, and now the RAM is being restored, and as with the work that was completed last summer, the work in the RAM is not being done casually. Taking things lightly is simply not our style.
“Ethan “Ike” Eisenhaur and his team, along with ACE Construction, have attend to every matter with scrupulous detail. With great care, the floors have been sanded and revarnished, new partitions have been installed, new drawers have been made, new curtains will be put in, and there are thirty new frames and mattresses. And, I can assure you, it looks equally fabulous to the work that was completed last summer. In doing this work we continue to embrace, as our QTV brothers did in 1873, and our Phi Gam brothers’ did in 1924, our fraternal future with pride because we embrace the long-view in cherishing our rich historic past and embracing our ongoing future, a great journey to travel, and I can state without any romantic-adjective excess, which I am easily prone to do, but we are the historically richest and finest brotherhood at the University of Maine since those young men packed up their suitcases to move into the house on Main Street to start our fledgling fraternal beginning with energy, resourcefulness, and vision. They started our extraordinary life-enhancing and life-enriching fraternal experience, in human structure and fraternal tradition, 145 years ago, and we are the beneficiaries of their work and determination. Both perfectly cohere now in what we continue to do, with the same driving force, for the generational good for all future Omega Mu brothers’. Simply carrying the gift of all it forward. Life rolls on like climbing a steep grade or letting it totally rip on the downhill descent on a touring bike.
The willingness to do both, a difficult virtue in anything and everything, transcends all problems, and that defines our 145 year history, and it will continue to define, shape, inform, and guide our brotherhood into our future at the University of Maine. This is our proud historic narrative that has, in work and spirit, in fraternal character and outlook, sustained the positive and visionary beliefs of our QTV and Phi Gamma Delta heritage. They are clear, reliable, practical, perseverant, and determined principles that all good ideas, ideals, goals, adventures, and things are built upon.
"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost: that is where they should be. Now put the
foundations under them.”
“What if the space be long and wide,
That parts us from our brother’s side
A soul-joined chain unites our band,
And memory links us hand in hand.”
(Phi Gamma Delta fraternity song)
Chip Chapman, 1982