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Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967

The Western Party - another ΚΦΔ story

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The Western Party


Kappa Phi Delta was known for parties.


After all, we were the best known and most successful fraternity at San Francisco State College. (The “University” part would come later).


Now, I’m not going to say that all the stereotypical images of Greek life didn’t apply to us. To outsiders, I’m sure we met the classic image – a wonderful four-story Edwardian “mansion,” brothers with fun nicknames, pledges for apparent slave labor (a misconception, honest!), fun and serious traditions, and yep, those parties.  And we only set the place on fire once!


I have to say up front that during my tenure we never hosted nor did I ever attend a Toga Party. I’d heard of ‘em, and some older members claimed they’d been to ‘em, but by the time I arrived they were quite passé. As were the “Yard-and-a-Half” parties, thankfully! With the Yard-and-a-Half party, a frat guy and his date were to construct their party outfits using only one and a half yards of material. As I reflect, the very thought of such can still elicit a minor shiver. Fortunately, back then the guys – and their girlfriends – were in much better shape, so it might have worked. Also, I strongly suspect some of ‘em cheated, maybe by as much as an additional yard or two!


So during my time, we had basic parties. Usually on a Saturday night, usually with a hired band, lots of dancing, plenty of beer (kegs stolen from the Burgermeister Brewery) and other libations, adequate snacks, forty to eighty people, sometimes more.


We also had “Joints.” These were parties hosted jointly by Kappa Phi Delta and a sorority, nursing school (which for some odd reason were ALL girls back in the day!), or other girl’s clubs or organizations. We provided the venue, and the girls would either bring or share the cost of food and pay us half the cost of the stolen beer. Quite profitable!


And we had “theme” parties. These were always a ton o’ fun, sometimes pulled off as a Joint or hosted by the Frat. These parties could range from something seasonal, like Christmas, Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and so on, to something more imaginative.


We once held a “Roaring 20’s” party. The idea was that we’d decorate the house like a “speakeasy,” brewery, and gin joint. The guys were to dress as gangsters, and our dates as gun molls. But then something happened. One of the girlfriends came up with the wacky idea of having the GIRLS dress as gangsters, and the GUYS as the gun molls. I don’t remember for sure which gal this was, but I have an idea. And she was pretty and well-liked enough to have had no opposition. 


So we did it. And I can assure you, this was the ONLY time in my life I ever appeared in drag!  It was bad enough for me, but the memory of all those football players in dresses and wigs is still somewhat unnerving.  Somewhere, someone has the pictures. Hopefully in a wall safe behind a portrait of Whistler’s Mother.  I do believe I had bad dreams the night I saw “To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar.”  Actually, it WAS a good time. Even the part where one of the girls (one of the REAL girls, that is!) decided gee… what fun, moseying through the dance floor armed with a pin popping guys balloon bosoms.  Two quick pops and Hank went from a 62 triple D to a 49 A.


But I do believe, without a doubt, that the funnest of our gigs was the annual Western Party. For some odd reason, a number of us were the original “Urban Cowpokes.” But we were more of the real deal than those characters in that future movie. Many of us had grown up in the country, were familiar with horses and old-west stuff, and – even in that most urbane setting – commonly wore cowboy boots and cowboy hats. I think I even had a Ten-Gallon model. Heck… some of us even had spurs, and real civil war era cap ‘n’ ball six-shooters. After all, we’d grown up on Roy Rogers, Tom Mix, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and others of that genre – we knew what to do... and four of us were future SASS'ers.


Typically, we’d hang a bunch of old country looking items to give the house a bit of an old west atmosphere, and the band would be encouraged to mix some appropriate music with the contemporary stuff, and attire was to be somewhat western.  For the most part, though, it was a typical frat gig.  There was one quirky happening in ’70, though… Half-Breed Pete decided to do something to impress Sweet Amy, the young lady he’d finally gotten up the nerve to invite as his date.  So, he had hung a rope from the staircase, and some time later in the evening set out to do a dramatic swing from upstairs across the back parlour.  I think he’d seen too many “Destry Rides Again” movies; it didn’t work.  I remember looking up just as he let out a whoop and launched himself with a result that was somewhat less than spectacular.  Now, Pete was somewhat of a large lad.  Instead of swinging in an impressive swoop across the room, he slid straight down.  I swear I saw smoke puff out of his paws.  When he landed, his embarrassment rivaled the pain from his hands.  He hung his head, then climbed back up the stairs and locked himself in his room.  Someone else had to drive Sweet Amy home that night.


 So it came to pass, that in 1971, we set out to set a new standard in Western Parties.  We were going to pull out all the stops; this was going to without a doubt be the most memorable of these bashes of all time!


Boy, did we decorate! 


The Front Parlour became a barn, just the thing for a barn dance!  From bales of straw for seating to old wagon wheels, kerosene lanterns, an old saddle or two, riatas, and so forth.


The Back Parlour was the saloon.  Bar, tables and chairs, wagon wheel chandelier, and more.  Being slow learners sometimes, a rope was hung from the stairs.  At the bottom of the stairwell, just beneath the dangling rope, a small table had been replaced by a settee. This was to turn out to have been a fortuitous thing – more in a bit.


The dining room was similarly laid out, with tables stacked high with good eats.


On to the back yard!  This was our piece de resistance!  Indeed, the pledge class had outdone themselves!  By San Francisco standards, it was a good sized yard, and the pledges had very cleverly converted part into a corral and the remainder a Boot Hill, complete with graves with clever “head stone” marker boards, and even a gallows sporting a hanged dummy.  Oh – and an additional bar.  Might seem a little odd, a bar in a graveyard, but oddly enough it worked.


Looking back, I’m not sure which was the more impressive – the graveyard or the corral.  For there, in the corral, were Frank and Marge – two horses that Pete had borrowed from his dad and hauled in to be “yard art.” 


Oh, it was swell!


Half-Breed Pete had even talked Sweet Amy into coming as his date!  Giving him “one more chance!”


We had over a hundred people in attendance, most dressed appropriately for the event and lending to the atmosphere.  Beer flowed, with multiple kegs being consumed.  Whiskey flasks seemed to pop up with regularity, along with a couple of jugs labeled “X X X.” Music was loud and dancing was raucous, and a good time was had by all. 




Two incidents of note occurred that evening – both very quick, missed by the crowd, but observed by me.


First – Remember that settee at the bottom of the stairwell?  Well!  There she was.  Some pretty young co-ed, perched demurely on one end, cradling a drink and looking about wide-eyed.  Not sure if she was in wallflower mode or predator mode, but there she was.  Alert, her eyes not missing any action or activity.  Meanwhile, unknown to her, Cyril B. had been upstairs and was headed down to join the party. At some point and for some unknown reason, Cyril bent over the rail to try to get a peek at the goings-on below.  Now, some said he had been on some sort of powerful medication; others said he was drunk – which would have been totally out-of-character for Cyrill – but at any rate, when he leaned over the bannister, he leaned a mite too far.  And when he leaned, he toppled.  Right over the rail.  Completely.  And in a totally relaxed manner, he fell.  And that totally relaxed condition might be what saved him – along with a large dash of Divine Intervention.  For, when Cyrill landed, it was in a perfect sitting position on the settee, right next to the astonished –and bounced - young lady.  Without missing a beat, he gave her a smile and a little salute and said “Howdy, Ma’am!  Just thought I’d drop in!” got to his feet, and staggered off.


Second – we should have seen it coming.  We never should have let someone hang that rope from the stairwell.  Sure ‘nuff, it had to happen.  Toward the end of the evening, by now well fortified with beer and whiskey, he did it.  Half-Breed Pete ascended the stairs.  Mustachios twitching, he leaned over the bannister, grasped the rope, and proceeded to make that extraordinary Destry swing across the saloon.  Unfortunately, however, the avoirdupois effect trumped the pendulum effect, and his proposed arc became linear.  Straight down.  Puffs of smoke emitting from his paws.


When he landed, his embarrassment once again rivaled the pain from his hands.  Once again, he hung his head, then climbed back up the stairs and locked himself in his room.  And once again, someone else had to drive Sweet Amy home that night.


But as Frat parties go, it was, all in all, a success – despite Hank having to learn the hard way that spurs and stairs are generally not compatible. 














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Most assuredly not trying to one-up you, but your story tweaked a memory.


I was fourteen, maybe, when my father decided we needed to go visit a friend of his who lived up on the lake. The friend had two boy-kids, and they showed us around.


They had this spot at the lake edge, where there was two trees. They had run a piece of heavy cable between the two trees. In the middle of that piece of cable there was a rope hanging down.


There was a third tree about equidistant between the first two, and they had built a platform in it maybe 10 feet off the ground.


You stand on the platform holding the rope. Jump out over the lake. As you fall the rope pulls the cable down which pulls the two trees together. Just before you hit the water the two trees snap back, snatching you up and flinging you out in the lake.


The two boys done it. Wow. That looked like fun. My brother done it. Still looked like fun. So I give it a try.


Just before I hit the water the two trees snap back, snatching the rope out of my hands, and I do a belly flop into 6 inches of water and two feet of mud.


Now this is proof positive how stupid teenage boys are. I tried it again. Same result.

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Love the story Hardpan. :D

I did not go to college but my girlfriend and her roommate (my future wife) did. So I would go to parties with them. I got to know all the guys at all the Fraternities and was welcomed to their parties. 


One party I attended had people climbing out onto the roof. It was below freezing but somehow we ended up on the roof and there was a couple of feet of snow on the ground. The roof was 4 stories up. This crazy dude decided to dive off the roof into a pile of snow at the corner of the house. They had pushed snow into a pile when clearing the small parking lot next to the house.

This dude walks past me to the edge of the roof and just jumps into a perfect swan dive. I thought he was kidding...we all thought he was kidding. He hit the snow pile dead center arms and legs splayed. The snow pile was at least 6’ high over the already 2’ of snow on the ground and he went into that pile about 5’.

Everyone ran down the stairs and out the door. We dug him out with our hands. We figured he would be out cold or maybe even dead. As we got to him someone grabbed his shirt and pulled his face up out of the snow and this guy was laughing like a crazy man and thanked us all and wanted to go back up and do it again. Crazy! His brothers wouldn’t let him and found something else to keep his attention.

I found out later he had been drinking Everclear and juice. The dude was hammered. I saw him a couple of days later and he was a hobblin’. Apparently he broke a few ribs and tweaked his back real good. 


I am pretty sure had I gone to college instead of joining the Navy I would have probably partied myself to death. At least in the Navy you went to sea. Mandatory party break. :D

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If I just wandered in and read these Kappa rememberances, I would normally say these are just good fishin' STORIES: heavy on the fun and light on the accuracy. 


'cept I KNOW some of this gang! I've hunted, shot CAS, and/or tipped toddys with 'em. (Usually in that order.) They independently relate the same events.  I've pictured much younger Halfbreed Pete twice smokin' to a hard landing from the top of stairs, or Hank cannon balling down same after catching spurs. (Nowdays, with enough toddys, they'd likely do it again.)


Glad you (and they) survived so as to keep us a grinnin'. 

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Hey, Palouse!


I spent yesterday with ol' Hank and his crew... they said to give you their best!  Trap shooting* at the Kingsburg Gun Club, then off to the ranch to tinker with Savage Model 20's. 

*I got beat by a girl ~ Hank's soon-to-be daughter-in-law.  Using MY shotgun!  :lol:


Talked to Half-Breed Pete earlier ~ he's still doin' well in Arizona.  Seems he's discovered early S&W's - his new passion - wants to build a modern version.  You know Pete...!  :rolleyes:





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I still want a book!  





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I'm gettin' there, J-Bar...!   :lol:



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Reminds me of the evening Fat Albert came back from a window peeping expedition with a pair of size 60 ladies undergarments that trapped him in a clothesline while being chased out of someones back yard. Our parties happened at a house 4 of our buddies rented. it is a miracle any of us graduated.



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