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Decline of the Adels

As told by Glenn Johnson (Class of '83) and Thomas Morris ('77)

It had been coming for a long time (or was it just breathing hard). Eventually the blue-haired administration would be have to enforce its own rules. Eventually every student would have to live on campus. Eventually every fraternity would have to abandon its heretical traditions and become "Christinized". Eventually things would have to change.

Some of this was brought on by the fraternities themselves. Some of it was treachery on the part of the later administrations (Thank God we were there when Red Fred reigned supreme!) But what really is out there is the kind of conformity imposed by groups (left, right,center) who place higher value on images and behavior than on the rights and freedoms of the individual. (Take that, oh ye publishers of "Vision and Values"!)

The Adels had lost their charter and had been placed on probation at least once during the early 1960's. But during the rest of the decade and stretching into the early 1970's, the Adels were something of a model fraternity. Sure there were parties and a certain amount of hazing. But the brothers managed to move about the hippocritical college rules adroitly. Lots of us lived off campus. Some of us lived in the house on Kring's farm. (I remember the first time we brought a keg to the Farm. It turned out Fred and Hilda left us alone. We had roundups out there and lots of parties. One night, we even had to push Dr. Sisler's car out of a rut after he got stuck when leaving a party at the Kring's house.) Life was beautiful.

But I digress.

The decline really began with the retirement of J. Stanley Harker (our beloved "Stosh"), the ousting of Fred Kring from Dean of Students to Associate Professor, and the death of several pledges during a walk back to campus in 1974. This coupled with the neanderthal administration headed by McKenzie would lead to a decade of persecution and repression.

Tom Morris writes, " Because of grades problems, I did not pledge until JAN 75 as a sophmore vice JAN 74 as a freshman. As a consequence, I was not killed. The driver was asleep at the wheel. Otherwise, he would have been indicted for vehicular manslaughter vice a couple of traffic tickets."

"Nevertheless, the ensuing law suits against the Frat, the Frat Pres., Dale Smock (Adel '42 and advisor), MacKensie, and the College changed everything. Pledging went from three weeks to two weeks and a service project week... there was a serious crackdown on all fraternal activities as well as anything even remotely risky. The death knell had sounded."

"We resisted the attempts by the college and I fear we paid a price although the Chi Delts were the first to go under.

"1983 was the last year for off campus housing. That ended parties off campus for all practical purposes. The College then put the squeeze to Senholtz, Paul Faire, and several other landlord Profs to make sure students/Townies were not renting places, and they had moles watching Pardoe, the Sportmans Club etc. for combiners. Meanwhile, Ed & Babe Herrons out by Sandy Lake was being watched as well for underage drinking and I think the school had a hand in it as well. The big senior graduation bash became a thing of the past. God, they (Ed and Babe)had the best sandwiches on home made bread that I ever ate." (Here, here!)

In other words, make way for the era of political correctness.

"They partied too much in 85 or 86 and lost it," Glenn Johnson writes. "They had rented an apartment off campus for parties only. No one lived there. They had it for a year or two years. When week, non-stop partying finally caught up with them. A few years later, they lost it again during the pledge scavenger hunt; while looking for Mrs. McKenzies left nipple or her ashes or something. She had died of cancer about 10 years earlier. Pres. McKenzie was not too thrilled to see her name on a list of items. They had a few secret pledge classes over the years."

By the mid-90's the Adels had fallen to just two active members, shrouded in secrecy.

"Another little known fact. In the fall of 82, when the houses were closed, we cut plywood sheets into lengths small enough to fit through the trap door into the Lincoln dorm attic. We cut a signs table in half lengthwise and played signs in the attic with one small light until we graduated in the spring of 83. We left that summer, hiding the wood under the thin layer of insulation. I think a few years later, the college filled the attic with another few feet of insulation and the secret party spot was buried forever."

As on alternate to Signs, we used to play cards on the floor. A favorite introduced around 1981-82 was Crush(also known as "Oh Hell", Bill Clinton's favorite game. He'd make an interesting 5th player). We played quite a bit my senior year 82-'83 and still get together to play cards on occasion.Losers would chug, in typical Adel tradition. The Pittsburgh guys play more often. Some of the emails were play by play from a laptop in PA to others who happen to be logged on somewhere else. One year, I had 5 Adels at my place in RI for New Year's eve...probably '86. We played the last game of 1986 and the first game of 1987. Simple things keep everyone amused. In 1988, 4 of us went on a cruise and played everyday on deck. I tried to plan a 10 year cruise for our class for 1993. No one was interested. So I got married instead and went on my own cruise."

And so, the Adels faded into oblivion, casualties of a changing campus society, representing all the values of an earlier time, erased by the onslought of reactionary forces charging forward under the banner of protecting the morals of the campus youth, and obliterating the hedonism of those self-indulgent 60's and 70's. (Right on, Reverend Falwell!)

Of late there is a rumor that the Adels will be "resurrected' (pun intended) as a Christian fellowship group. (Maybe reincarnated is a better word.)

So it goes.

I wonder if anyone at Grove City College today really understands what fellowship is. What does it say when a bunch of buys who belonged to this organization as long as 40 years ago still are close, still communicate, still look forward to seeing each other at reunions, and still regret the disappearance of a fraternity that mean so much to them?

"Don't it always seem as though
You don't know what you got 'til it's gone...
Pave paradise, put up a parking lot.."