The Decade of the 1950s
As Nabor House entered the 1950s, the military was still calling some men. The Korean Conflict created a great deal of uncertainty. From time to time, a Nabor would be called up with the term of service usually one or occasionally two years. Men continued to be called into duty until the early 1960s.
Excellence in the scholastic arena continued. Individual achievement was high and a number of the men were accumulating excellent GPAs. The house ranked first academically in its housing group at least seven times and was cited frequently at the Honors Day Convocations for high scholastic achievement. Bonard S. Wilson'40, completed his doctorate in education (Ed.D.) and became the second Nabor to receive a doctor's degree. It is interesting that he and Gene Becker, who finished his Ph.D. just a few months before in late 1949, would both take their first jobs at the University of Tennessee.
Mortgage Paid Off
On April 13, 1954, a check for $1,157.97 completed the mortgage payment to Busey Bank. The house was now Nabor House Fraternity's, unencumbered with any indebtedness. On the evening of Nov. 13, 1954, following the Homecoming banquet, the actives and alums gathered in front of the fireplace in the living room of 811 W. Oregon and burned the house mortgage. (To help "Burn the Mortgage" of the new house, donate HERE.)
Basement Rooms Finished
To add to the capacity of the house and therefore to gain some economic strength, a study room was finished in the basement. This increased the capacity in the 1955-56 house by three men. Another three men were added in 1956-57 when a second basement study room was completed. This brought the capacity to 27. University Housing withheld further approval of the basement rooms effective July 1, 1958.
The loss of the basement study rooms was offset by renting the first floor of the house next door. The rental fee of $125 a month included water, heat, and part of the electricity, and the right to sublet it in the summer. The lease began July 1, 1958. To offset the added expense of renting the annex, the actives discontinued their voluntary $5-per-month contribution to the building fund. Originally, six men lived in the annex, but that increased later to eight or 10--the records are not clear about this.
The expense to rent the annex cut into the house's budget heavily. So at the end of 1959-60, the lease was terminated. Early in 1960, the Chapter requested the Fraternity's permission to again put seven men in the basement of 811 W. Oregon, provided adequate fire escapes could be built. With University Housing's approval, following some minor changes, the basement rooms were again in use for the 1960-61 school year and continued in use until 811 W. Oregon was vacated.
Odds and Ends
Cooperative housing was spreading in popularity, and Nabor House continued to draw rave reviews for its performance. The Daily Illini published several articles on Nabor House, calling it one of the truest and most effective coops on the campus. Handbooks for the offices of the Active Chapter were completed and put into use. The pledge manuals, which had been in use since the last 1940s, were revised, as were the Fraternity's constitution and bylaws. The Homecoming Banquet in 1955 was the first one to be served outside the house. With more alums, wives, and other attending, space in the house was no longer adequate. The term "Little A's" was applied to new initiates for the first time in the 1950s. And, the first pledge walkout occurred in the fall of 1957.
Following the tradition started by the house's first Mother's Day on May 4-5, 1940, the event has been held every year since except during the war years. After Mother's Day in 1957, an active wrote this tribute that appeared in the May 15, 1957 Nabor Hubbins:
Tribute to Tired Moms
Valued Member Lost
On Oct. 3, 1957, a tragic car accident took the life of Walter L. Fehrenbacher, '52, a highly respected, well-liked Nabor. Walt, as he was called by the Nabors who knew him, received his D.V.M. in 1954. he was in his own practice in Williamsfield, Ill. On a call, he apparently failed to see a stop sign obscured by a corn field and a high road bank and collided with another car. He was the first Nabor who was lost as a civilian. All Nabors who were privileged to know Walt will remember him as one who so ably displayed the character and principles on which Nabor House is based. He was quiet, sincere, and very thorough in his thoughts and actions. The lives of Nabors were enriched through associations with him as they walked the road of life together.
New Building Wanted
As early as 1951, talk about a larger and better building was heard. The house at 811 W. Oregon was showing the wear and tear of 20 active young men. Maintenance requirements and costs were mounting. The electrical wiring was not good. There were bees in a front porch pillar, termites in some of the walls, and squirrels in the kitchen attic. Trivial? Not really. Eliminating the "critters" was not easy and took time.
The men felt that with more capacity, they could gain some economies of scale. So, talk about another house increased as the 50s moved by. Some of the actives were too anxious. Some of the alums were too cautious, too indifferent. or, so each group thought on occasion.
The fact of the matter was that sufficient funds were not available to make a move. But both the alums and the actives took steps to accumulate funds. Also, formal discussions in both corporations were being held about another building, and intensified considerably in the last half of the 1950s.
In the Jan. 15, 1956, Nabor Nubbins, Fraternity President Ellery L. Knake, '49, reported that when he told the actives about a suggested raise in rent, they said, "Let's raise it more than that." That resulted in the actives making a voluntary monthly contribution of $5 each to a building fund. They continued making this contribution until 1958-59, when it was discontinued because of the rental costs on an annex building the chapter was using. In the meantime, after the mortgage was paid off, the Fraternity's Board of Directors started putting a pre-determined amount of rent received from the Chapter into a building fund.
A life membership plan was instituted in 1956. At first, it was rather loosely organized. Payment of the $100 fee terminated any further responsibility for annual dues payments. More details are in a special section on dues and life memberships.
Business Agent Position Created
In 1953, the Fraternity Board talked about the possibility of appointing an executive treasurer from among the alums who were on the campus. That person would be present to write checks in emergencies and, thus, avoid delays and complications resulting from the treasurer living out in the state. An executive treasurer could also make deposits and deal with other financial matters. Nothing definite came from the discussion, but the idea was kept alive with the additional discussion from time to time.
At the Fraternity's annual meeting on Oct. 17, 1959, a motion was passed to appoint a business agent for the Fraternity. With the organization's increased membership, a building program in the offing, and a need for efficient record keeping, the time for a business agent had arrived. A business agent would be available locally to care for most of the financial details and many of the odds and ends kinds of things. Sam Ridlen was named Business Agent on Nov. 8, 1959, and remained in that position until Sept. 30, 1981. Larry W. Dallas, '75, assumed the post on Oct. 10, 1981 and continues in it to this day.