Sunday, May 13, 2018

Bits & Pieces of Greek Life at the University of Kentucky in the Early 1930s

Before I launch into stories of student life at the University of Kentucky in the 1930s, let me add new information to last week's post about the Salyers family's time in Richmond (1927-1929). It's true that the scrapbooks don't tell us much about the Madison High senior year of twins Mary Alice and Jim. I commented that, because they were new in the school, maybe they just focused on their classwork. Wrong!  I recently received new info by mail. Mary Alice's son sent materials about his mother's senior year. She was on the school's debate team, which made the final round in state competition in1927-28. She also was elected treasurer of the senior class. She must have made quite an impression on her new classmates, most of whom hadn't met her until school started. In fact, her son recalls that she considered her senior year "a special time in her life."

Also, I learned that Jim was on the high school basketball team. The Madison High Royal Purples won the 25th district championship that year and advanced to a regional tournament but did not advance to state-level competition.

Now on to their time at UK. Mary Alice and Jim were sophomores when they transferred from Eastern to the University of Kentucky in the fall of 1929. Much of the memorabilia they saved in scrapbooks during their UK years pertain to their fraternity/sorority activities. One of the first surprises was a picture of Jim behind bars! A clipping from a Kappa Sigma magazine explained: On Jan. 11, 1930, UK's Beta Nu chapter hosted a "Jail-House Dance" at the Lafayette Hotel in downtown Lexington. The band dressed in prison garb, and couples rode to the dance in Lexington Police Department  patrol wagons.

Mary Alice's sorority, Kappa Delta, hosted dances at the Phoenix. This article, publication unidentified, describes a Valentine-themed formal event on February 14, 1930 or 1931. Mary Alice is listed as by the surname "Sawyer." Those of us with the Salyers surname have learned to live with misinterpretations and misspellings of the name.
On the scrapbook page with the article is the invitation:

The scrapbooks have many printed invitations and other ephemera about formal dances, teas, initiations, and ceremonies. I speculate that this image shows Mary Alice dressed up for one of those sorority events – or maybe for a fraternity dance. I did see at least one Lambda Chi Alpha dance invitation in her scrapbooks.

I'm surprised and disappointed that so far the scrapbooks haven't yielded more memories about their time in college. It could be that everybody was too busy with classes, fraternity/sorority, and part-time jobs to keep scrapbooks! Sarah created a few scrapbooks during that time, so they may provide some stories I can share in the future.

In the meantime, please scroll down for a few tidbits pertaining to Jim's fraternity. We'll get back to early 1930s Greek life if and when I come across more information. I'm finding that the scrapbooks are becoming less year-specific, so details about their time at UK could pop up anywhere!

Last, a bit of humor. I don't know what newspaper published this story (probably a campus or fraternity paper), and I don't know why the address above differs from the story's mention of the Kappa Sigma house being on Maxwell Street.

Coming soon: A look at high school life in the early 1930s as the youngest Salyers makes a name for himself at Henry Clay High.

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