Somehow we found a fire engine for sale in Minnesota and we wanted it! There was some spirited discussion at the chapter meeting as the more conservative members made the point that it was a frivolous expense and would be costly to maintain. Fortunately, those of us who were crazy prevailed and we were off to Minnesota to get the beast!
We bought it from a fire company somewhere and began the slow trip home. It did not go very fast as it was seriously old. It had no roof and of course it rained during much of the trip! I remember we had “blast jackets” (remember those) to shield us against the wind and rain. The wipers were manual and I remember driving while brother Bell operated the manual wipers. It was insane and I’m so glad we did it.
It was great to be young and impractical! I don’t remember the others who made the trip but they are true heroes!
The fire engine became a real symbol on campus and delighted many a gathering. I remember delighting in blasting the Betas with the strong blast of water. The pump worked great! One of the brothers was a good mechanic and kept the old beast running.
I think there many have been other such fire engines but I believe this was the first for the House.
- Bill Kellstrom '60 (Aero engineering)
Bill and his brothers' fire truck inspired our Alpha Phi Fire Truck Cabernet!
The 1960 pledge walkout: our pledge class decided to quietly, and with no warning, leave Ames and go to Chicago! We had a brother from there who would house us. The weather was typical Midwest stuff and we had a real blizzard. There was four or five of us in the car and sometimes it was everyone pushing except the driver. I had chains on my old Mercury and it would go through anything. We took off east on highway 30 (no interstate yet) and it was a mess! I remember getting off the highway and getting around the mess on a side road. We got to Chicago but it was a scary trip. We were too young to realize how crazy we were.
I’m sure there was a lineup and lots of yelling when we got back, but what a great adventure! - - Bill Kellstrom '60
Throughout the year - 1968- the Pikes have been active! The got a homecoming display worked up in time for the judges to award it second place. And, even though it didn't make sweepstakes, Pikes and Tri-Delts put in a lot of time on their skit that depicted the psychedelic world of Alice in Wonderland, an errie and spooky production. The pledges went Roman for the fall house party and staged a Bachanalia. The winter house party was, as per usual, an Hawaiin affair.
The Four Sequins. Four-part harmony in sexy 70s jumpsuits! Alpha Phi’s one of a kind quartet! Led by Jon Haut as the guy who actually knew how to read music, brothers Don Johnson, Gene White, Jack Kennison and Jon Haut were a hit at Varieties '73!
The Pikes of Alpha Phi were always looking for more ways to perform during Varieties, so the Four Sequins were born. I think it was either Don’s or Jack’s idea to sing and they recruited Jon and I to complete the Four Sequins.
We practiced for a couple months before the competition in the Great Hall in the Student Union. We also practiced sometimes in the 3rd floor bathroom (NO NOT NAKED) because the acoustics in there were really great! At first we were average at best but after Jon helped us with our pitch, our harmonies all sounded amazing!
A Little Sister of the Pike House, I think she was a Pi Phi, volunteered to make our outfits that were stretchy nylon outfits. Who’s idea was that I don’t know but on stage they looked pretty good! She did a great job!
The night of the competition the hall was sold out and jammed with music fans. Our performance could not have gone better! One of the songs we sang was “Jesus is Just Alright” by the Doobie Brothers. And we nailed it! We actually got a standing ovation after we were done! The Four Sequins were the WINNERS of the 1973 Varieties music group competition! Not to mention the hearts of a few young coeds... (must have been the jumpsuits)
For years after, the Four Sequins were asked to sing at parties the Pikes had with sororities. We were always a HIT! Don (Little Jew) is no longer with us but if the other Four Sequins ever get together for one last performance I know we'll all be thinking about our brother! - Geno '71
9 brave Pikes battle white-out blizzard to get to class! (Actually the liquor store.) Spring Blizzard comes to the Pike House! It was a beautiful spring day in May at Alpha Phi at Iowa State. We were actually sunning ourselves on the roof like we did during the spring for many years! It was an awesome place to catch some rays!
Well that was Monday, but Monday night came and the snow started light at first and then it increased overnight and when we got up Tuesday morning it was a blizzard! Yep, May when the day before was 68 degrees we had a blizzard going on at Iowa State and the Pike House!
Of course, classes were all cancelled, so like any great group of Pikes we started to party! I mean it was May and it was snowing so hard you could not see to drive to where we were partying. Well we ran out of beer so we decided since we couldn’t drive to the store for more suds, we would form an exhibition and walk to the store a mile away towing our toboggan.
As you can see, the expedition was made of 9 brave Pikes: Gary Compton, Todd Emerine, Jac Coverdale, Big Jew, Gene White and on the bottom, Jim Mulvihill, Dick Harrell (Barney), Jeff Stone and possibly John Fleihler?
We marched thru the storm for about an hour to get to the store and then back. We were frozen but very happy we had succeeded in our mission to keep the party going! The rest of the day was spent just having an incredibly great time running around sorority circle and stopping to say hi to all the great ladies who were in the sorority houses! They were happy to see us and came out to play in the snow with us and make snow men and snow angles all over the lawn! Wow it was a great and very memorable day! - Gene White '70
Pledge class project was, ahem, a real Triumph. After a late night of intense studying, we decided Brother Highberger's Triumph Spitfire would fit perfectly in the beautiful new fire pit we had built in the backyard as our '72 pledge class project. At 1568 lbs. it was no problem for 8 of us pledges to carry to its new parking spot.
The fire pit was 14' X 8', 30 inches deep with railroad tie sides. At that time, the Pike house parking lot was pretty full of small Anglo-sportscars: Triumph Spitfire, MG Midget, MGB, Fiat Spider. Brother Gene White even had a sweet Jaquar (XK?). Of course, they were generally kept running with duct tape and a prayer.
Next morning, with anticipation, some of us listened for Brother Highberger to walk out to get his car. It went something like this: "Hmm... where did I park my car? Wait, what the #*@$%!? (Expletive, expletive, etc.) Oh, I'm gonna kill those pledges. - class of '72
In 1974, with the beautiful and talented Pi Phi's, our Varieties Sweepstakes winner was "This is the answer for you!" - a spoof about the introduction of a new wonder product, and it's influence on people. This is the Alpha Phi Varieties and Tom Norris Story. In my time there, the Alpha Phi Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha competed in everything there was at ISU - intramural sports, Veisha Float Building, Yell Like Hell, Homecoming Display and something called Varieties.
Varieties was the University-sponsored show in which houses composed short skits involving a theme, music, and individual talent. Varieties had been performed since 1931. The participants that gave their time, effort, creativity, and expertise did so not only to compete, but to share a positive message that would connect with the audience. The performances were held in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union to standing room only crowds. It was huge!
In the early 70’s, we did Varieties with the Pi Beta Phi sorority a few times and won two out of the three years. Creating and executing a short musical was an enormous effort. You had to come up with a theme and a story line, songs where you had changed the lyrics to support the story, costumes, backdrops. You had to practice with the Pi Phi’s, teach everyone the songs, show people where they would stand on stage, the effort went on and on.
We were blessed to have brother Tom Norris as our director. Tom remains the most gifted theatre creative genius I have ever met. We would sit in his room at the house and brainstorm and before long Tom would have it all figured out. I mean, literally, all figured out… the songs, the words, it was amazing.
Tom Norris with Mary Peterson, Pi Beta Phi Director
Tom and Brother Denny Harding won best MC’s for keeping the crowd laughing throughout the evening.
Tom was my pledge brother. He graduated from Dowling High School in 1971 and from Iowa State University in 1975. His passions were raising his four sons and producing, directing and performing in community theater in Ames. He was the executive director for four years of Searching for Shakespeare, a non-profit group that produces the works of William Shakespeare in Ames parks and other venues. He was a member and past president of the Ames Community Arts Council and was assistant director of the Ames Middle School Drama Club in 2005.
Sadly, in 2007 Tom was diagnosed with terminal non-Hodgkins lymphoma. We arranged a Tom Norris Roast conference call. Forty Pikes attended, as did his four sons and wife, Sue Norris. We took that opportunity to tell all the many stories of years gone by. Tom told his share of the stories. We laughed long and told him we loved him to the bone. No doubt, today Tom is leading the Chapter Eternal chorus in something fun. - Swede '72
My nestling Great horned owl Creech lived in second-floor rack room and at night would hop from bed to bed inspecting each snoring man closely. A pledge brother awoke to find the big owlet standing on his chest staring into his face. All the guys in the house had been eagerly anticipating the day for his first flight. At lunch one Friday I announced it and immediately the backyard was filled with the jostling bros.
From the top of the fire escape I held Creech aloft and everybody held their breath. I tossed him into the air and he unfurled his great wings and flapped and glided unsteadily down over the VEISHA float under construction. He made a clutching awkward landing in that beautiful pink flowering crabapple tree.
A great cheer went up with congratulations and low fives all around. The low five was new at the time. All were overjoyed as if their child had graduated or a fresh keg had been tapped. The rest of that spring quarter he could be seen swooping or perching around the backyard. Sorority girls dug him. I did this portrait of him while residing in room 208:
- Andy "Crow" Peters '73
Drill Team beauty takes ride in Pike bathtub. (not what it sounds like.) The Bathtub. Yes that is what some of the Brothers called Gene White’s 1956 Jaguar XK140 Roadster, which he got as a graduation present from his folks in Waterloo.
As you can imagine driving that car around campus was a lot of fun. And on many occasions when we were rushing a good candidate to become a Pike, we would send Gene in his Jaguar to pick the gentleman up to bring him to the house for dinner. Yes it was an impressive way to show him what being a Pike was all about.
Gene also was lucky enough to be on campus when one of our Drill Team ladies was walking on crutches toward the student union. Being the gentleman Pikes are, he asked her if she needed a ride back to her dorm. The picture you see is of her and Gene outside her dorm. And yes those are bell bottoms he is wearing wow that really dates this pic to the 70’s!!
So, when we were sophomores, we had this great idea that we should go to the Playboy Club in Kansas City, MO for the Pike Spring Formal. We and our dates set out from Ames in a caravan of 5 rented Winnebagos, each carrying up to 20 of us partiers. Our route through Missouri had us going through the 90 most dangerous miles of highway in the US. Dangerous because there are 20 or so long, narrow bridges upon which two trucks cannot pass each other going opposite directions at the same time. Meanwhile, we're driving these giant party boxes full of guys and their dates going 60 miles/hr. What could possibly go wrong?
The good news is we all got there safely, except one of the girls was no where to be seen when we pulled up to the hotel. Damn! How far back did we lose her? Suddenly we hear a soft voice, "Are we there yet?" There was Rose, head sticking out of the overhead luggage compartment she had passed out in. Phew! All good.
Anyway, we all had a great time dancing, et al. at the Playboy Club, and made it back to Ames a couple days later. However, upon returning the Winnebagos a brief inspection revealed we had come within inches of disaster. 3 of the Winnebagos were missing at least one or both side view mirrors - knocked off by too-close brushes with a steel bridge ( or worse, a semi going the other direction.) On one, the cover for the gas was even missing! That's close. I guess you could say we dodged a bullet, er bridge. - jac coverdale '72
COVID-79. Forty years before Covid-19, a different pandemic swept through 2112 Lincoln Way. It was December 1979, Iowa State had just switched from quarters to semesters and Finals Week was about to start. Most of the house gathered in the dining room for our final formal Sunday dinner of the term. Ruth, our cook, had prepared her famous oven-fried chicken.
Early the next day, a couple of guys were complaining of stomach flu like symptoms. By supper time Monday, several more brothers had become afflicted by this mystery illness. Over the course of the next couple of days nearly everyone was spending more time in the head than studying. One innovative future engineer finally moved his study desk into 2nd floor head and used one of the toilets as a chair. It was not a good time to room on 4th floor or in the basement due to the limited facilities there.
By mid-week, a couple of our Pre-Vet/Animal Science upperclassmen used their epidemiology knowledge to trace this outbreak back to Sunday’s under-cooked chicken.
In the end, everyone recovered both physically and academically.
Fast forward to 1980, Larry Wooster announces at chapter that his brother in-law, a professor in the Ag College, was heading up a research project in the Meat Lab. The goal was to figure out how to extend the shelf life of raw hamburger so that it could be shipped worldwide. Professor Olson, after learning of our recent foodborne pathogen experience from Larry, suggested the Pikes would represent an excellent sample population for their research. All we had to do was show up at the Meat Lab once a week at supper time. We would taste and evaluate several different samples of irradiated hamburger. After which they’d bring out hamburgers, sides, desert and drinks for everyone. This was so popular, we decided to turn it into a Sorority function and first on our invite list was the Tri-Delts. You see, we had plans to invite them to do VEISHEA with us that coming spring and needed to redeem ourselves from an earlier Octoberfest themed tailgate which the steward forgot to order buns for the brats.
- Craig “Moose” Bauerle ‘79