As undergrads, we spent much of our time creating memories. As alumni, we take advantage of events like Homecoming and Pig Banquet to share those memories. To get you primed for Pig Banquet this year, I contacted alumni from various eras to share some of their memories from their college days. It was fun to see how some things have changed, but we’ve clearly done a good job passing down our core values as a brotherhood through the years.
The first question I asked was what guys did when they would hang out at the house. Technology has changed, but the spirit of OX pastimes spans generations. Substitute an Xbox console with a deck of cards, and a Tuesday afternoon at the house in 2010 might look a lot like a Tuesday afternoon at the house in 1970.
One of the best parts of living in the house is the fact that there is never a dull moment. Amidst all the pranks between brothers, the most popular activities were video games, playing Settlers of Catan (a board game), poker, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Sundays for the college night. -Cory Loveless ‘12
During the day it was a lot of hanging out and watching Giada or ESPN. Other than that we would have big Risk games or watch movies at night. There was also always a video game that everyone was playing in the house. Some would come and go but one that has always been there was Mario Kart. There was some pretty intense competition going on and I was never able to compete seeing as how I sucked but it was always fun to spectate. -James Clysdale ‘11
Lots of whist, lots of time spent feeding fish in my giant aquarium – a weekly “don’t miss” event! -Josh Scraper ‘06
We played a lot of Whist and Pinochle. Tiger Woods PGA golf just came out and was popular when I was an active. We played a lot of Volleyball, roller hockey, and softball for sports. I remember watching season one of Temptation Island in Prust and Proulx’s room when I was first active. Wild hockey playoffs brought a lot of actives over to the house to watch as a group too. -Lance Minnichsoffer ‘06
Eating Betty’s leftovers and cooking the largest, hottest batch of wings ever with Rook-dad every Saturday night at 2am! Working out at the BSA. Playing “Unreal tournament (original)” and getting fragged every 5 seconds so other brothers could feel good about their gaming skills. Planning and executing pranks and getting pranked. -Pat Miller ‘05
In between plotting the next raid on the KD’s (aka Operation Tenfold), watching my roommate go “Red Rooster,” or gathering many of Fargo’s couches/recliners for lawn lounging in the spring, house life was laid back. If you wanted to do something, someone else was probably up for it. -Randy Severance ‘04
At the time, that’s when Nintendo 64’s were just coming out so there was a lot of James Bond and Super Mario Cart played. Also, lots of pinochle games on 2nd landing. I can remember that we would set up a card table on 2nd landing, grab a couple beers, and play pinochle until all hours of the night. Lots of gathering in the TV room watching educational programs like VH1 Pop-up video!! In the TV room, 75% of what was talked about was lies but always made the group laugh. Remember, before the house was renovated due to the fire, the only cable TV was in the TV room! Way, way back in the day, we used to do things like Wednesday night jammy-jams, which consisted of basically inviting a whole bunch of people over to the house and the whole house turning into room parties. It was originally set up that everyone would show up in PJ’s but after a couple weeks, it just turned into a weekly Wednesday night party. -Dennis Agnew ‘99
Many things were done during the free time at the house. One activity that was always comical was pouring water out the front of the house onto some unsuspecting victim (douching). We would spend a lot of time watching Jeopardy and other shows on TV. One of my all-time favorite activities during the spring time was driving around in the ’81 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and hitting water puddles on campus, again wetting unsuspecting victims. Students on campus began to listen warily for the sound of the Cutlass Supreme! Playing pinochle in the house was always a treat as well. I remember one time where we obtained a stuffed
Canadian goose that had a broken leg. We set it up in the middle of University Drive and sat for hours watching as people were honking their horns trying to get the goose to move off the road. Finally, someone came back, opened their door and stole the Canadian goose. Fun times, always great memories! -Jerry Specht ‘99
There were a lot of poker games going on in the office on second floor. One of the other things that I remember was packing into Brian Larson (Jr) and Emery Jackson’s second floor room watching Smokey and the Bandit without the sound as we all knew every word. This was almost a weekly event. -Bryan Schulz ‘91
In the late 80’s, free time was spent watching MTV in the TV room, which was on main adjacent to the library. Aside from that, foosball, pinochle in the office, and playing ball in the yard were popular. But much of the time I remember was just sitting in various rooms visiting with other Brothers. We had over 100 actives and there were always so many guys around to visit with. It truly was a social Fraternity. -Paul Germolus ‘89
Cards… some even played when we were supposed to be at finals. -Rocky Bertch ‘75
During those years, we spent time watching TV mostly in the TV room on main (the current office), although a few of the brothers had TV sets in their rooms. Most of the brothers were avid card players. Pinochle was originally the game of choice, but Bridge took over in the 1970-71 school term. Card games occurred in the evenings and frequently before noon and evening meals. -Brad Westrum ‘73
There were always card games such as pinochle and an occasional poker game. I remember the TV room being crowded every afternoon for Star Trek. -Bob Stein ‘70
Ma Stock, Iris Gust, Betty Heuer, and Aaron Lockwood have kept us well fed over the years. For the next question, I asked what the most popular meal was in each era. I expected some consensus answers, but I got a variety of answers, particularly from guys in Betty’s era. I was sure that everyone from Betty’s era would say their favorite was taco Wednesdays with cinnamon rolls. But with each answer that came in, I found myself saying, “oh yeah, I forgot about that!”
Aaron apparently makes really good enchiladas. Betty gets rave reviews for chicken tortilla soup, everything at Monday night meal, Christmas ham with Betty’s special sauce, sausage McMuffins, and Italian dunkers. I don’t recall one thing in particular but I can tell you that everything she cooked, I thought was very tasty! You can tell that by the photos of my last 2 years in college. I had gained my junior and senior years 15 lbs! -Dennis Agnew ‘99
Iris served some more unconventional favorites:
Iris Gust was the cook at the house while I was there and I was always able to get her to make anything that I asked for and I wasn’t even the Steward. On Fridays she would make “Horny Burgers” – not really sure what was in it but it looked something like a BBQ. This didn’t sit well with many of the other guys in the house as they didn’t like them and I caught heck at many Sunday Night meetings. Iris also made Chicken Cordon Bleu almost every Monday night for Formal Meal. Horse [things] and Cheese was also a big favorite for lunch – they were these 8” sausages and mac and cheese. -Bryan Schulz ‘91
Horny Burger was LEGEND – not because of the taste, but more so because of its fearsome reputation for culling the weak, and laying waste to the intestinal tracts of the unwary. -Paul Germolus ‘89
Before Iris, Ma Stock was the cook:
I don’t remember a particular favorite meal, but I do remember Ma Stock was a great cook. Evening meals were also entertaining. I remember that the “head” of the table was a coveted position. The head started the dining and also had the power to levy fines (usually under protest) on others at his table. I was one of a number of bus boys in the house. If we bussed tables and washed dishes, our meal was free.
Each quarter (no semesters back then), we had a “scholarship” banquet. This was held on a Monday night. Of course, each Monday night meal was formal, as all the brothers wore coats and ties. At the scholarship banquet, everyone who earned a 3.5 or above the previous quarter ate at the “steak” table, and everyone between a 2.0 and a 3.49 ate roast beef, and those brothers who dropped below 2.0 ate at the “bean” table. I remember those at the bean table always commenting on how great their beans tasted. -Brad Westrum ‘73
What set OX apart from other fraternities when you were active?
I was recruited by a group of Theta Chi’s and I did not investigate many of the other chapters. After I joined, I was fortunate to find out that Theta Chi had a rich history at NDSU. I think that what set us apart from other fraternities at the time was the amount of involvement among the members and the size of our chapter. -Cory Loveless ‘12
Aside from being the biggest we were always the ones who seemed to be leading the pack. Whether it was Student Body President or President of Habit for Humanity there was always a T-chi in charge. -James Clysdale ‘11
The active chapter members and alumni, integrity, excellence, respect, basically the morals of the fraternity and the willingness to extend a helping hand. -Lance Minnichsoffer ‘06
We were the most well rounded group on all of campus, and had a bond that others couldn’t match. -Josh Scraper ‘06
Without a doubt, the dedication and passion that the Theta Chi’s had for the organization set them apart on campus. It was also the most diverse fraternity in many ways, but at the same time, it was a group of men with the same core values. -Randy Severance ’04
The positive, quality guys that got involved on campus and in the city. -Pat Miller ‘05
When I first joined the house, Theta Chi was by far the most active fraternity on campus. Student government, the Spectrum, Bison Ambassadors, Blue Key, IFC, etc. I was always impressed at how involved so many of the members were. The fact that Theta Chi was a social fraternity and not focused in one direction or the other appealed to me also. I don’t like to be pigeon holed and I think a social fraternity is a great way to diversify the interests of your group. -Dennis Agnew ‘99
I truly believe that the “brotherhood” of Theta Chi was the most influential on campus. Not only were we close as a fraternity, but there were many of us that were involved in Student government and other organizations on Campus. We were the largest (and best) fraternity on campus. –Jerry Specht ‘99
The Brotherhood! If you saw one Theta Chi walking or doing something on campus there were always three or more with them. We were very proud of wearing our letters or jackets. We were also very active on campus – be it Inter Fraternity Council; intramural – we were a force to reckoned with; Bison Ambassadors; and many other clubs and organizations on campus. We always had great Rush events – All Star Wrestling on the front lawn, the great drop from 4th Floor back fire escape – TV’s, furniture, water melons, blow-up dolls filled with Jell-O, and many others. –Bryan Schulz ‘91
As then, as I’m sure it is now, TC always conveyed the image of being the leader on campus. We were big, our men were extremely active in all manner of campus activities, and we earned the respect of our peers. That also made us a target. Whether it was fielding the student body president, homecoming king, Bison Brevities winner, or having the highest number of pledges for Rush week, we always knew that, to stay on top, we had to work harder than everyone else, and do so in a manner that extolled the virtues that we swore to live by. Whether we knew it or not, those lessons being learned helped pave our way after we left NDSU. –Paul Germolus ‘89
Dominance in intramural athletics (one year we got 1st in basketball, 1st in football and 1st and 2nd in softball), participation in Blue Key, campus government, campus commitees, Rahjahs, being able to use ladders to climb into second story windows of Morrill Hall and knowing various Deans and administrators on a first name basis. –Rocky Bertsch ‘75
Having gone to ND State College of Science and UND my first two years, I was astounded at the level of immediate acceptance by the brothers. This made me feel like I had “come home” even though I was a newcomer. –Bob Stein ‘70
What set us apart? Where do I begin? We were just cooler than all the other frat guys. Seriously, I think we felt that we were a closer knit group than others on campus. We stuck together. We took pride in being a Theta Chi. We were competitive about being the best. That competitive spirit came out in intramural activities. Most of the brothers were from small Class B North Dakota communities where they had a chance to compete for their local high school teams. We always had large sign ups for basketball (usually fielding at least three teams), flag football and softball. Our intramural teams were often led by some great athletes from the eastern part of North Dakota (Red River Valley Conference guys), but the “West River” brothers did pitch in and help. I remember we had some great bowling and billiard teams. We. also, had teams for broomball, hockey, wrestling, and archery. – Brad Westrum ‘73
What was your favorite tradition from your era?
It was very common for actives to visit sororities in the early hours of the morning to get nachos. I remember that one active, Dean Derfus, once visited every sorority on campus in a single night to get nachos. Some loyalties were betrayed, but brother Derfus came home a very happy man. –Cory Loveless ‘12
Thanksgiving dinner was huge. Our cook would make a huge meal with all the best things that Thanksgiving has to offer. We would all pack in the basement and have one last meal together before finals. After dinner we would all just spend the next hour not moving. –James Clysdale ‘11
Too many to count! The annual ice fishing tournament that Pat Tobkin started “The B.S.O.B.L.” (Biggest SOB on the Lake!) yielded some fantastic memories and hefty car repair bills. Our retreats never failed to amaze me. There was a new favorite memory at each one (Year of the Fratwich comes to mind). Trips back to each others’ homes – “Woogie’s Western Weekend”, “Lumberjack Days”, “Larson’s Turtle Mountain Tours”. -Josh Scraper ‘06
The basic tradition of pledging and initiation made a big impression on me. I also remember all of the guys sitting around, singing some of the most “interesting” songs I’d ever heard — that was one of my favorite traditions. –Randy Severance ‘04
I’m not sure where we get our pig from these days, but it used to come from an alumnus near Buxton. We would rent a van or two and head up there with a group of Alumni and Actives to “pick up the pig”. The pig would actually be already sent off to be cleaned, so it was purely a socializing activity between Alumni and Actives. He would at least show us his pigs. Sometimes, we’d stop at a small town bar outside Buxton before heading back. –Matt Olson ‘03
Other traditions mentioned from the 2000’s were initiation, weekends at cabins, road trips, bar crawl, serenading the bride at OX weddings, and casino trips to Mahnomen.
Hanging out at Chubs (still do), spring time in the front yard with couches and all sorts of antics, singing to the sororities after Monday night meals, chapter meeting critic, semester opening Johnny Holm concert, initiation week, “Risk Management” parties with 800 of your closest friends! I’m sure there are many more I’m missing but I can’t think of them right now. –Dennis Agnew ‘99
My favorite tradition was going to the various Sorority houses and stealing composites. Of course, this always worked against us as well. Another favorite is Theta Chi members being a bus-boy at one of the sorority houses for their formal night meal. I did this with Andy Rogers at the Alpha Gamma Delta and it was always a great time! -Jerry Specht ‘99
I think the singing to the Sororities was always a big hit. We would have most of the house together and travel from house to house singing and if by chance we could get a composite while we were there that was always a plus. Also sitting around with other Brothers just BS’ing was always fun. -Bryan Schulz ‘91
No single tradition can claim that spot in my mind. The University and the house were steeped in so many rich traditions. The best part of them all – they were usually an annual event, so you got to live it 4 or 5 times during your college career. Some that stand out in my mind are: every football game in the old Bison stadium, the fall dance with Johnny Holm, Bison Brevs practice and competition with a sorority, Homecoming, every term party, Monday night meal with the dream girl, Fall woodcutting, Rush week, Initiation, and the Active Chapter meetings. –Paul Germolus ‘89
I thought it was going to be painting the cannon. But then I found out that simply meant drinking a lot of beer and then running across the street and dumping a pail of paint on the cannon, and that wasn’t nearly so meaningful. Actually, I was (and still am) impressed with the level of pride and discussion that revolves around the activation number. I think that is unique to this chapter. –Bob Stein ‘70
Lots of wonderful traditions… from pinnings to engagements to singing at weddings. I don’t know if you would call “scumming” a tradition, but it certainly was noteworthy. In hindsight, most actives looked back on scumming and laughed about the crazy things they were “asked” to do. –Brad Westrum ‘73
Community service and philanthropy have been very consistent from generation to generation. Fargo’s flood problems are apparently not a recent development, as most guys mentioned flood fighting together. We got a lot of years out of the fall kickoff dance with the Johnny Holm Band, and we’ve had a long relationship with the YWCA, Children’s Miracle Network, PBS, meals on wheels, and the Highway Cleanup program. the active chapter has added open gym for kids, the Week of Giving, and the Special Olympics to the list ways OX extends the helping hand.
I put together several events with the Big Brother/Big Sister program where we would go together with a Sorority and take all of the little brothers and sisters that hadn’t been matched yet out for a day of fun. We did Christmas parties where Brother Mike Barsness played Barney Claus and gave each of the kids a gift, played games and had lots of food. We also took the kids to the Shrine Circus and other events. I think that several of the Brothers ended up joining the Big Brother program and adopted a little brother. – Bryan Schulz ‘91
I hope you enjoyed reading these trips down memory lane as much as I enjoyed compiling them. These anecdotes only scratch the surface, but they illustrate how much Theta Chi has meant to all of us. In conclusion, I think Brothers Schulz and Severance said it well:
To this day, I see how many opportunities and connections Theta Chi helped create in my life. I see it not only within our fraternity, but also extending to the entire Greek community. I hope the traditions and values of Theta Chi continue to offer a great experience to our young men at NDSU. –Randy Severance ‘04
I seriously think that I am where I am today because of the GREAT OPPORTUNITIES that Theta Chi gave me the fortune to EXPERIENCE! I made so many great lifelong friends that I still keep in touch with today! -Bryan Schulz ‘91