1939-40: New House, New Horizons
Garrett Loy, Sam Ridlen, and Bonard Wilson attended summer school in 1939 and kept alive the wishes of all the members for another house by watching for one to become available. Garrett was particularly active in the search, and his efforts paid off.
Garrett learned that the property at 811 W. Oregon, Urbana, was for sale. It was an excellent location and had a potential capacity of 19 or 20, double that of the house at 410 W. High. The price of the property was $7,500, and the owner wanted a down payment of $1,500. The Fraternity had no money, nor could the individual members provide any.
A Decision to Buy
The house was an old white frame house that had been built by one of the Busey family for his own family -- the Buseys were prominent in Champaign County. The property needed repair, particularly the exterior. Thus, the decision as to whether to buy it was made more difficult. But the indomitable spirit of Nabor House prevailed. The decision to buy was not made on the spur of the moment. It came only after considerable and deliberate consultation with responsible faculty members and others, who felt that with some help from friends in agriculture, the Fraternity would be able to finance the purchase. The purchase agreement was signed July 20, 1939.
Getting the Down Payment
There were many problems involved in buying the house, and some were quite difficult, not the least of which was how to find enough money to make the $1,500 down payment. The money for the down payment was secured partly by gifts and partly by personal loans. Garrett Loy, who fostered the idea of buying the property, spearheaded the fund raising effort for the down payment and, in fact, obtained most of it by himself. An initial payment of $150 was required to bind the agreement. Then, $300 was due at possession on Aug. 15, and the balance of $1,050 was to be paid on Sept. 1. The remaining $6,000 mortgage and six percent interest were to be paid in monthly payments of $60 each. When the money-raising effort fell short by about $300 for the down payment and related costs, Busey's State Bank renegotiated the loan principle to $6,300 and postponed the date of the first monthly mortgage to Nov. 1, 1939.
Suitability of the New Home
The new home was well suited for Nabor House's purpose. The rooms were large. It had five bedrooms that would serve well as study rooms, with one of those having a dressing room large enough for two men. In addition to the kitchen and living room, the house had a library-sitting room, large front hallway, and a dining room large enough to accommodate the group. its major disadvantage for a group was having only one bathroom. The attic was adequate for a dormitory. The interior wood trim, including two fireplaces, was finished with cherry from the Busey farm. One of the fireplaces was in the living room and the other in the dining room. The living room fireplace became a great favorite of the Nabors.
Preparing to Move In
Upon returning for the 1939-40 school year, the men not only found themselves proudly in a new home, but also very busy readying it for occupancy. In addition to the usual interior clean-up, the exterior was in poor condition. So, the men did minor renovation work and painted it. The garage and yard required considerable clean-up and renovation, too. Arrangements were made for the corporation to purchase some furniture from Burdette Lutz. The additional needed furniture was purchased from the Illini Union at a substantial reduction in price. When the dust had cleared that fall, the men of the Fraternity found that it was in debt about $1,800 in addition to the mortgage. However, at the close of the 1939-40 school year, that debt was down to $1,100. Then it was reduced to about $400 each of the following two years. The debt reduction had been accomplished by increasing the house bill from $15 a month in 1938-39 to $22 in 1939-40.
Men who gave advice and counsel and who felt the venture would succeed included:
It was due only to the generosity of a number of individuals who had a belief in Nabor House and what it stood for as well as a trusting lender that it was possible to consummate the purchase. Complete records are not available, but among those who so generously supported the organization financially were as follows:
First Formal Pledge Class
The fall of 1939 was an exhilarating and fun time for Nabors. There was much to do and for which to be thankful. During the summer and fall prior to classes beginning, the men of Nabor House succeeded in pledging nine men even though a planned rush program had not yet been put into place. The pledges included Leland Argenbright, '43; Paul Buchanan, '42; Sherwin Desens, '43; Howard Lanus, '41; Joseph Mills, '43; Donald Norris, '43; Thomas Peters, '43; Earl Swanson, '43; and Floyde Walker, '43. It was an exciting time. This first formal pledge class necessitated putting a pledge program in place. the program had to include helping the freshmen adjust to college, orienting all of the pledges in cooperative living, teaching them the principles and philosophies of Nabor House Fraternity, and teaching them and exemplifying Nabor morals and standards. It meant certain symbols were needed. The first initiation program and ceremony would be held, so an initiation ritual needed to be prepared and adopted.
A pledge pin was needed right away. On Sept. 20, one was chosen in a chapter meeting. The same design continues in use today. In keeping with the Fraternity's colors, a green and gold pledge pin of triple hexagonal shape with a star on each of the hexagons representing education, cooperation, and recreation was chosen. In September, the first banquet honoring pledges was held and the formal pledging ceremony was conducted. The pledge pin was presented to each of the pledges at that time.
As the first semester progressed, plans for initiation began. The pledges first went through informal initiation organized as a fun thing without hazing or embarrassment and not physically demanding. Following the end of the informal initiation late Saturday afternoon, March 2, 1940, five pledges who had fulfilled all requirements were formally initiated into membership.
The custom of pinning a yellow rose, the Fraternity's flower, on each initiate prior to the ceremony began at this initation. Dr. Aretas W. Nolan, highly respected and admired by the men of Nabor House, wrote the Biblically based, Christian-oriented ritual. he conducted the ceremony after which he was presented with an engraved membership in as the first honorary member for his significant service and advice to the Fraternity.
The first five men to be formally initiated were Paul Buchanan, Howard Lanus, Don Norris, Earl Swanson, and Floyde Walker. Earlier in the school year, Nov. 20, 1939, E.E. Cockrum, faculty adviser, was accepted as the first associate member.
To round out their social lives and to move the organization toward its goals established by the founders, many activities were held throughout the school year. The most important ones were formal pledging, Dad's Day, annual pledge dance, Homecoming, Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas party, informal initiation, formal initiation, annual alumni dance, Easter Dinner, Founder's Day banquet, Mother's Day, senior breakfast, senior party and dance, exchange dinners, formal dinners with guests, and house picnics. Many became traditions with which today's members can identify. Homecoming and Founder's Day were started as in-house functions that set precedents for the future.
On Sept. 24, 1939, the group decided to return thanks at the evening meals, starting a tradition that has endured, and to attend church regularly.
Another tradition was that all of the members and pledges participated in various extracurricular activities with 100 percent membership in the Agricultural Club. Most were also members of the YMCA. In addition to attending church regularly, all of the men were active in their church foundations.
A Class Graduates
Graduation at the University of Illinois on June 10, 1940, marked the end of their undergraduate careers for four Nabors. Lindell L. Cummins, Walter D. Parks, Samuel F. Ridlen, and Bonard S. Wilson were now Nabor House Fraternity's first alumni. Garrett W. Loy and Burdette B. Lutz had delayed their graduation and took another semester to finish their degrees.
Organizational Development and Activities
The men in Nabor House in 1939-40 were a busy lot. In addition to developing the pledge program and initation and adapting as a larger group in a new house, the men spent a great deal of time with other organizational developments.
The constitution was under review for improvements and revision. Previously, membership qualifications had been completed. A set of pledge qualifications compatible with those already approved for membership were defined, adopted, and included in the constitutional revision adopted April 8, 1940.
A host of house operation procedures were put into use and fine tuned throughout the year. Plans to locate and pledge new men for the coming school year were started, and a committee to conduct rush was appointed during the spring semester.
In that era, non-resident members were common in fraternities and other organized houses. Frequently, they were men who had live=in job commitments or some other reason that kept them from living in the house. There were indications that a few men who wanted to be a part of Nabor House were in that situation, and Nabor House members wanted to make them a part of the organization.
So, in October 1939, discussions began on requirements for non-residents. Those requirements were approved Oct. 24 in included in the constitution. Since it was common practice in many houses for non-resident members to eat in the house, the men of Nabor House worked out a meal-cost schedule to accommodate their non-resident members. That initial schedule was quite interesting compared to today's values. Breakfast was to cost 10 cents, lunch 20, and dinner 25. In addition, each non-resident member was to be charged monthly dues of $2. Nabor House had no non-resident members in 1939-40, but did have some, starting the next year.
A new group with its structural organization pretty well in place is usually in position to score a number of firsts. And, Nabor House did just that in 1939-40. It had brought its first home and had its first pledge class, pledge banquet and formal pledge ceremony, informal and formal initiations, associate member, honorary member, Founder's Day celebration, graduating class, alumni, rush committee, and open house.
The men of Nabor House were proud of their new home and invited friends, faculty, and others to see it at an Open House, Sunday, Feb. 25, 1940. More than 130 guests attended.