Last week I attended my 50th BETA pledge class reunion in Oklahoma. It was a great weekend and provided a wonderful opportunity to see many old friends. While we all have had challenges over the last 50 years, my gosh, it was sooo good to catch up with the brothers, many I haven’t seen in 48 years. My absence was my own fault as I started moving around chasing a career that took me away from Norman and many friends that I shared memorable moments with as BETA pledges and later as members.
To my friends and contacts outside of Oklahoma, the fraternity life may be of little interest and I promise to come back with more meaningful stories and charities to highlight in the months to come. However, I am sure everyone reading this blog agrees old friends are special and should be appreciated for their years of love and support that have kept us grounded in this crazy world.
To my brothers in Oklahoma, I am so proud of all of us that made the journey to get together to hopefully rekindle old friendships. Twenty-five of our pledge class members got together thanks to the unrelenting efforts of my dear friend, Tony Bumpas, who spearheaded the reunion. He left no stone unturned in chasing down brothers, encouraging participation from all corners of Oklahoma, Texas, Montana, and even Michigan. I also want to thank Mark Lisle and Vicki Bumpas for keeping Tony energized on the reunion details. It was great to hear weekly updates from Tony about a pledge brother he tracked down but Mark and Vicki were real champs to hear countless conversations multiple times a day as the reunion neared.
I also want to thank Larry LeBarre and David Rainbolt for hosting us at the Warehouse in OKC to kick off Friday’s get-together and share their hideaway with our pledge class where drinks and cigars allowed the conversations to flow easily. It was also great to see Scott Rayburn and Frank Thompson who rushed many of us to join this group of misfit freshmen at the Gamma Phi chapter, allowing us the awesome opportunity to spend many nights cleaning the BETA house, learning Beta Theta Pi lore, and personal facts about each pledge brother while Bandy and Sadberry were screaming in our ears.
It was fun telling my family upon my return about how Scott and Kevin got their nicknames BG (Butt God) and LD (Living Dead). Of course, I was reminded why Pat Campbell got the nickname Nasty at Friday’s reception. It had more to do with Campbell’s economical use of his boxers that supposedly were worn multiple days, reversing sides to keep the stench down.
Stories of walkouts to Dallas and visions of TCU coeds that would make Animal House fans proud were prevalent along with fuzzy memories of many memorable summer job experiences that got more revealing as the reunion got going late in the evening. All you had to do to get the full unedited story from beginning to end was to ask one question to Bumpas or Campbell like “remember the time we pushed Georgia buggies on the construction site” and they were off for a good 20 minutes without catching a breath.
It was a great time with a lot of laughs and forgotten stories everyone seemed to experience such as scrambling for good grades to graduate on time. And, maybe a few old stories about old girlfriends and road trips might have been mentioned as the weekend progressed.
I also have to mention that I heard a great story of the perfect hobby/job after retirement from my old apartment mate Gary Bond. He is a professional photographer in Stillwater, Oklahoma, who takes magazine-featured photographs of models ages 20 to 40 at his home in Stillwater. Sheila, his wife, apparently approves of his new passion. Probably has something to do with his shoots in Jamaica and other tropical locations. Not a bad gig for a 68-year-old bald guy from Duncan.
Importantly, I also want to provide my blessings to the families of our brothers - George, Paul, Troy, and Kenny that left us for a better resting place. May they rest in peace and be remembered for their character as great men that share the BETA bond.
For some reason I thought it was right to provide a link to an album and single I played constantly during those years. This is the album I remember Carl Holiday blasting from the best stereo system in the BETA house. While many will think of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” as a group favorite, my favorite album was “Eat A Peach,” by the Allman Brother Band, released in 1972. Remember ‘Blue Sky’. If I play this song it puts me right back in a comfortable chair, possibly drinking a beer, somewhere in Norman, Oklahoma. Enjoy!
Until we meet again,
Roger N. Steed