The following is an excerpt of a “From the Archives” article. You can read the full article in the fall 2017 issue of The Trident.
Early Founders’ Day Celebrations
Tri Deltas have gathered each Thanksgiving Eve in celebration of our founding since 1889. Early issues of The Trident are full of accounts of ways different chapters marked the occasion.
One of the earliest accounts of Founders’ Day events came from our founding chapter. Alpha Chapter held its 1897 banquet at the Bellevue Hotel on Beacon Street in Boston. Speakers included Emily Allen, charter member of Alpha and the first editor of The Trident. From the alliance chapter’s account:
“About thirty active members and alumnae sat down to the table, and a most daintily served banquet was enjoyed. . . A social hour, spent in conversation and the singing of fraternity songs, brought to a close an occasion, which will long be remembered by those who were present, and which it is hoped will be an event to be anticipated and enjoyed each year, the celebration of Founders’ Day.”
Tri Delta’s colors and emblems offered wonderful opportunities for creative members to decorate in imaginative ways, as they did at Lambda Chapter at Baker:
“On Thanksgiving Eve we celebrated the day of our founding with a banquet. We were fortunate to have about forty of our alumnae with us. Just before the banquet, we received a special delivery personal letter from Mrs. Hudson, our National President, a true Lambda Tri Delta.
Our table was beautifully and uniquely decorated. In the center was a large silver, gold and blue pyramid bearing on each of the three sides the date of founding. At each plate, a miniature chapter house of silver, gold and blue bearing the chapter letter, was placed. Each little chapter house was joined to the top of the pyramid with silver, gold and blue baby ribbon. The silver, gold and blue place cards and nut cups added to the beauty of the table.
We carried out the theme of the pansy — the Freshmen were the seed or root, the sophomores the leaves, the juniors the stem, the seniors the pansy flower and the alumnae the gardeners.”
Delta Iota Chapter
Of course, fall at many universities means football season. Some Founders’ Day events were celebrated over several days to include annual rival games. Delta Iota’s 1924 account included a trip to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where members were able to enjoy the last game of the year and afterward attended a football-themed banquet with Tri Delta touches.
“The girls awakened bright and early Thanksgiving morning, wild with enthusiasm for the important event of the day. The first white Thanksgiving Day in forty years was the feature of the town. At 7:30 a.m. a real exodus of Delta Iotas left the house for the special train to Ft. Smith.
We arrived in Ft. Smith at 10 a.m. The alumnae and the active Tri Deltas met us and took us to their respective homes where we were entertained until time for the last gridiron battle of the year, between the Razorbacks and Oklahoma A & M. We were treated to a thrilling game in the mud, and were excited that Arkansas won 12-0.
At 7 p.m. in the Blue room of the Goldman Hotel, forty Deltas were present. On the long banquet table was represented a miniature football field; yard lines marked off in silver, gold and blue ribbon. The silver football was placed in the center of the table. At either end of the table were gilded goal posts decorated with Fraternity colors.”
Alpha Kappa Chapter
The celebrations were as unique as the members who gathered in each location. Some came together in elegant formal dinners, some in more intimate and simple fashion such as this account from Maine:
“Snap, crackle, came the cheery welcome from the fireplace as the Tri Deltas of the University of Maine came into the reception hall on Founders’ night. The lights were turned off, but the soft glow from the fire gave light enough to show the cushions placed around the fire in a true Delta crescent. A wicker basket overflowing with luscious red apples and dishes of marshmallow and salted peanuts were placed conveniently near the cushions.
Long willowy sticks arranged for each Delta were soon vying with each other for the best place in the coals for crisping the marshmallows. Afterward, members played games, and sang Tri Delta songs.”
Today a Founders’ Day program customarily includes read the President’s Proclamation, singing, perhaps a speech, and the candle lighting and roll call service. Sarah Ida Shaw was amused at the idea that when Tri Deltas gathered each fall to commemorate our founding, that candles were lit in honor of our Founders. “Like we were ghosts,” she smiled. In a way, she was right — each year Tri Deltas remember the spirit of those two seniors who embraced in the shadow of Park Street Church on Thanksgiving Eve, and their two friends who helped to found our Fraternity 129 years ago.