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Sigma Delta Pi & Excelsior Social Clubs at Weber Junior College, 1954-63 “Rivalries, Revelries & Reunions”

By Lawrence G. “Larry” German
Weber Junior, 1957-60 ... AA
Weber State, 1964-66 ... BS
President of Excelsior Social Club, 1959-60

In the spirit of “sharedmemories” and the pending 125th Anniversary Celebration of Weber, in all of its academic forms ... from an Academy to a University, it seems only fitting ... something should be written, about what it was kind-of-like between 1954 & 1963 ...when Weber was a Junior College and Social Clubs played a big part in Campus activities and Student development.

It is safe to say, we were all friends and few Students were denied access to one of the dozen or so Social Clubs ... male or female. As I recall, the Full-time Student population was about 300 and in order to Pledge and/or remain Active in a Social Club, one's GPA had to be 2.0 or better. Tuition was less than $50 per Quarter.

On the male side of Weber's social life, there were four Social Clubs: Alpha Rho, Excelsior, Phoenix & Sigma Delta Pi. I chose Excelsior and can, unequivocally, give that experience a 4.0, while my academic GPA struggled to maintain a 2.6.

Although there was friendly Rivalry, between Excels and Phoenix, our primary adversary, be it on the “lower quad” ... where Intramural Sports were played, or who was taking whose future wife ... to the Flamingo Dance, the Sweetheart Ball, the Malific and/or the Phoenix Snowball ... were the guys from Sigma Delta Pi.

Both Clubs had members, ages 18 to 28. Some were right out of High School. Some were Veterans on the GI Bill and some were RMs. There were members of all colors, sizes, races & religions. Some came from the farm and some from the city. Some were from ... below Washington and others from ... above Harrison. We had “different temperaments, talents & convictions,” which made us strong.

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Some were from out-of-State. Some joined and had to go to work ... only to rejoin later. Some required more than the requisite six Quarters to graduate and stayed as long as societal mores would allow. Several got married in the middle of the year ... remaining semi-active, going-on to upper division Colleges & Universities, and graduating ... to become respected professionals and, yes, remain married.

It is safe to say ... we, collectively, have more Higher-Ed Degrees than a protractor!

Some members were from wealthy families and, yes, others worked two jobs ... to stay in school. Many drove from home ... as far away as Davis & Box Elder Counties, while other members shared basement apartments. One even found board and room in the Porters & Waiters Club.

Many were elected to Student Government, while others became Homecoming King, Most Preferred Man, Mr. Collegiate, Fire Chief and Lil Abner. Both Clubs had members, who were on Athletic as well as Academic Scholarships. There wasn't a dummy in the bunch.

Dare I mention the Temporary Union Building aka TUB, which ... Heaven forbid, witnessed real nickles, dimes & quarters exchanged ... in games of chance. All,
of which, fostered similar off-campus gatherings ... adding to the Revelry and,
of course, our youthful preparation ... to go out and meet the real world.

Besides the TUB, the Technical Building ... to the North, and the four Classroom/ Administration Buildings ... to the West, the Lower (original) Campus was still utilized. The Moench Building & Auditorium attracted large audiences ... for our Talent Shows and Songfests, which were commonly Directed and/or Conducted, by members ... who excelled in Classroom Music, Drama and the Humanities.

Since the Upper Campus did not have what could serve as a dance pavilion the Student Government Sponsored Dances or, as they liked to say ... “Mixers,” were held ... on the third floor of the Moench Building. Many a fledgling romance was kindled there. The guys always wore a suit & tie or a sports coat & tie ... with leather shoes. The ladies were always in their best and looking great !!!

In addition, the Swimming Pool was another important Lower Campus venue, as many a Noon-Hour water polo match was waged ... allowing an opportune window or door to be propped open ... for late-night unauthorized dips.

As I recall, the infamous “Fourth Team” sweatshirt acquisition was a consequence of one of those late-night soirees ... to the Lower-Campus Athletic Department.

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In spite of the almost wall-to-wall gymnasium floor (very little seating) Weber Junior was able to field competitive Basketball Teams, which included more than a few athletes ... who found time to be stellar members of the Campus social scene. Members of both Sigma & Excels composed a majority of the 1958 and 1959 teams, as our Wildcats went to Hutchinson, KS, for the National JUCO Tournaments ... bringing back Second Place in '58 & the Championship in '59. It was a big deal !

For another time and from a different contributing writer, it should be told ... how our Athletic Director, Dr. Reed Swenson, was able to negotiate a very delicate ... yet integral, relationship with a not-to-be-revealed-by-me member of Ogden's Colored Community ... in order to attract and keep talented athletes.

No recollection would be complete ... without acknowledging the Annual Sigma- Excels Stag Parties at the Old Mill. It was there ... where Sigma regularly fell to the superior forces of the Excels beer drinking teams. It was, also, there ... while under the influence, we further bonded and managed to find our ways home ... with our bodies & vehicles in tact ... no known accidents, traffic tickets or jail time.

One of the fondest memories, of before and after my time, was the filming of the Great American Bank Robbery I and II. Both filmings required a Model A and the old Bank of Utah ... on 2nd St. & Washington Blvd. Sadly, the whereabouts of both 16 mm films are not, of late, to be found.

Suffice it to say, the 1959 Bicycle Relay Race ... at Half-Time of a home football game, when the Excels Pledges entered ... for the expressed purpose of running interference for the Excels team, our friendly Rivalry, with Sigma, was tested!!

You guessed it ... one of the Sigma riders was broadsided and what followed was not pretty. It is kind of funny ... now !!

Speaking of home football games, it was a number of Phoenix Band Members, who brought vodka-laced oranges into the stadium ... hidden in their horn cases. They were really a lot like us ... just tried to be more discreet, but not the night, when a dozen of their oranges fell-out and rolled-down the stairs.

Although Phoenix was not our primary rival, they represented themselves ... as an easy target. So easy ... it prompted several mischievous Excels guys to stealthily enter the old Berthana Ballroom, while carrying a dozen or so white mice, and let them lose ... in the middle of the floor. That occasion can be given credit ... for the introduction of a new dance ... not seen before or since

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Our favorite “home away from home,” was the Troc, where Rivalry was left at the door and “Revelry was King.” Sigma and Excels became one and what was said there, stayed there ... when we left there!!

Did I mention, we rented the Old Mill from Mayor Harm Perry ... for $75 cash.

The Ritual of Springtime welcomed the Sadie Hawkins' Day greased pig race,
cow milking contests & girls in polka-dot blouses. One year, the Excels guys stole a VERY BIG PIG ... under the cover of darkness, from the State Reform School. After it had benefited the occasion and alluded a serious captor, the still-greased pig was intised back into the get-away truck. Instead of being returned to the Reform School, it was discretely dumped ... into the backyard of a most deserving Sigma Member's Wilson Lane family home.

I would be remiss ... if I did not mention the wonderfully patient and thoughtful Faculty Members, who served as our Club Advisors. Dr. Earl Smart, who taught Life Sciences, was with Sigma ... until he retired. He, like Marvin Peterson ... who served Excels, was held in high regard. I would rather have been in trouble with the Law or my Dad ... than have either one of them mad at me.

“Up the (Ogden) Canyon” meant more than dreaming of when we would be old enough to play El Monte Golf Course everyday. It meant Pine View Damn in the Summer, Snow Basin in the Winter and the Herm ... year-a-round. Needless to say, the ride could be scary, but it was always worth it, as the Lodge Parties ... following a day of skiing and/or snow sculpturing, beckoned ... with baited breath. I didn't ski, but a great strap-on cast and crutches gained sympathy ... from the fairer gender.

It is hard to say, which Club had the most hardened and skillful skiers, but I give my nod to Sigma. I think they, too, may have an edge on negotiating the narrow one-lane road home. The Herm introduced another Rivalry ... the fine art of shooting pool. Again, it seems Sigma took home those Honors, but ... not without a challenge.

Rivalry & Revelry, with time, were replaced with Reunion ... five so far !!!!!
It all began in a 1972 West Texas windstorm, as there is nothing like being miles from nowhere ... to arouse maudlin moments of homesickness great enough to find a pay phone, pull-over and call Utah ... with the idea that the guy answering the phone would ... with the help of others ... plan, prepare and “throw” a 1973 Sigma-Excels Reunion. But, he and they did !!!

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For the lack of a Database, Email and knowing ... the greater number of 1954 thru 1963 Sigma-Excels Members were scattered all over the planet, a successful campaign relied on faded physical addresses, forwarding of envelopes and mostly word-of-mouth. Sadly, not everyone was notified, but, without accurate records, 50 or more guys, as well as their families, attended what was advertised as the “13th Sigma-Excels Reunion,” using 1960 as a benchmark year.

Day one, of two, began with a White Barn Golf Tournament and ended with much more than a replication of our old Stag Parties ... on the third-floor, as well as the off-limits basement of the Elks Lodge and the Greyhound Depot parking lot.

The following day's Schedule of Events, was a Mount Ogden Park Family Picnic ... where we could, not only, commune with God & suffer repentance, we could meet new spouses and/or get reacquainted with old ones. Even children were invited.

Suffice it to say, it was so successful ... the same collection of Reunion Planners inked-in the “25th Sigma-Excels Reunion” ...on their 1985 calendars. This time, with the benefit of more planning time and greater opportunities, an equal or greater number of attendees ... came to Park City, for more Golf, a lot of Rain, a Coed Banquet and a lot of Fellowship.

With history on our side, the advent of Email, both Clubs beginning to meet for special occasions ... to include the aging process and the death of memorable members, the original Planning Committee sensed the situation, recruited some seasoned new blood ... and began to plan a Hotel-Style 2007 “50th Sigma-Excels Reunion.” When the time arrived, Lodging, Hospitality, Dining & Dancing were at/in the Ogden Hilton, but not before another White Barn Golf Tournament.

Sigma-Excels Alumni Members and their Ladies were greeted with all of the usual amenities, as the Planning Committee had prepared an Audio/Visual Presentation ... to bring tears to your eyes, and a take-home-bound collection of Acorn Yearbook photos as well as other memorabilia. Mighty oaks had emerged, since those Acorn Yearbook photos were taken. If that weren't enough, videos & stills were taken ... to photographically adorn a commemorative DVD.

Father Time's knock prompted the Planning Committee to, once again, do their good work and 2012 witnessed another successful Sigma-Excels Reunion ... with a little different twist. This time, as we gathered at the Comfort Inn, there were fewer attendees and it was more casual ... but great fun ! Guys and their Ladies traveled ... from as far away as Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming & Oregon.

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I would have mentioned New Mexico, in the previous paragraph, but there wasn't enough room.

The obligatory Golf Tournament got us started and more photos were taken ... before, during & after, to become part of a new electronic innovation ... a Website.

You may have noticed ... absent from this version of history, are the names of referenced Members, but ... due to the extraordinary amount of time & talent given to the cause as well as this unique opportunity to express our appreciation ... we would be deserving an F-Grade, if Sigma Member & Webmaster Earl Porter, 1955-58, were not recognized ... for what I call a monumental “Labor of Love.”

If you have not been, seen or visited it ... search “Sigma/Excels Classes of 1955-63.” While there ... if you have not, add your photo & profile to the already long list of old friends.

In closing, more melancholy was evidence, on the part of another Out-of-Stater, which inspired a very casual 2013 Mini-Reunion. This time ... a One-Nighter-Stag and, again, at the Comfort Inn. Not to be measured by quantity & fanfare, as there were fewer Attendees and no Band, but it brought-out guys ... who I hadn't seen in years. The evening seemed to exceeded everyone's expectations.

Hopefully, there will be another of these rare opportunities, as we approach the October of 2014 ... 125th Anniversary Celebration of Weber. Stay tuned ....

I am the first to realize ... there are other stories, which are worthy or more worthy of being part of any collection of memories and not part of this one. For that, I must apologize, specifically, to those guys ... who preceeded my time and followed, as I didn't have the experiences ... to do you proper honor. I am hopeful and sure there are some soulful guys, from both Clubs ... who will offer their version of what happened, between 1954 & 1957 as well as 1960 & 1963.

Another feel for what life was like on the Weber Jr College Campus ... relating to Social Clubs, see pages 71 and 72 of the 2007 “Of Timeless Memories” publication. I am told there is a more recent collection of tell-tale memories, in what is titled “Only at Weber.”

In the Spirit of All which is Memorable and, possibly, Commemorative ...