24 - Valentine’s Day and Sweet Sentiments

Valentine’s Day and Sweet Sentiments

The archives are overflowing with sweet sentiments from over the years! 

The Chi Omega and Kappa Sigma Badge

National Archivist Lyn Harris had a blast solving the mystery of this sweet badge. She found it through an auction and, although she almost didn’t buy it because as she notes; combining badges is against policy, she explained that it was so unique that she just had to have it!

She had no idea who it might have belonged to, and the bar pin was soldered on, so she could only see part of the engraving. Lyn knew the badge was from the era when the name, not initials, were still being inscribed on Chi Omega badges. On one side of the back of the Omega, she could see a name ending in “BY,” but the first part of the word was completely covered. Even with very little information to begin with, Lyn was eventually able to track down the details of the pin with some help from Muffin Dixon, former Chi Omega Foundation employee, and Beth Dixon, current Fraternity employee.

The pin belonged to Cecil & Grace Irby Garrett who were sweethearts in the 1940s and shared a marriage of over 50 years together! Cecil was a Kappa Sigma at Davidson College, and Grace was an initiate of Sigma/Randolph-Macon who transferred to Epsilon Beta/UNC Chapel Hill where she served as G.T.B. 

“Notice the heart-shape holding the pin – sometimes the Archivist loves the box which holds the treasure as much as the item itself!” says Lyn.

The First Chi Omega Wedding

The first Chi Omega wedding took place on November 6, 1898. Founder Allie Simonds married Van Smith, a prominent Kappa Sigma. Chi Omega Sisters and Kappa Sigma brother were said to have “attended en masse.”

Jean Vincenheller and Fred Dengler

Fred Dengler was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon on campus at the same time Jean was attending University of Arkansas. Jean, like most women in this time period, wore long dresses with hose and high-collared tops that exposed very little skin. Attire was extremely modest, and the women often wore garters with those dresses to keep up their hose.

One day when Jean was walking on campus Fred Dengler and a few friends were behind her. As she was walking her garter slipped down around her ankle, and in this modest time this was extremely embarrassing! To save herself from having to stop and pull it back up, she swiftly kicked it off to the side of the road and kept walking in an attempt to subtly hide the trouble she was having with the defective garter from the boys behind her. But, Fred must have seen Jean do this, because the next day he walked into class with the the garter on his sleeve!

We’re not sure whether this sparked the relationship between Jean and Fred or if it was a loving banter between them after they were already together, but the two would later go on to be married and have two Chi Omega daughters together.

Dani Wolland, Xi Beta/University of Maine, and Divya Ramoo, Zeta Alpha/Ohio State, visited the grave site of Jean Vincenheller Dengler in Arlington National Cemetery this past December. Here, where Jean and her Sigma Alpha Epsilon sweetheart are buried together, our Sisters placed five carnations to celebrate her contributions to Chi Omega as well as Jean and Fred’s love for each other.

Cards and Tea Parties

Alpha Beta/Auburn Sisters at a tea party with their boyfriends in 1945
Card from the Edith Sternfeld scrapbook, 1921, courtesy of Northwestern University Archives

Sweetheart Songs

My Chi Omega Sweetheart was written by two men, Reed Vetterli & Max Prentice, who got together in 1921 and decided they wanted to make a Chi Omega song to which was an ode to a true love, a Sister of Chi Omega. Mary Love Collins did not like this at all because, as she noted, even though the song was a sweet sentiment, they were making money off of Chi Omega!

The first page of the sheet music reads, “As I sit dreaming a needing company, a longing for my college days comes stealing over me, Life is not so lonesome and as I reminisce, comes the cheer from my old girl, that Chi Omega Miss. My Chi Omega Sweetheart, you are the girl for…”

The first page of My Chi Omega Sweetheart that was auctioned off and described as, “perfect for framing!”

My Chi Omega Sweetheart cover

A few years later a Sister from Xi Alpha/University of Utah wrote the The Sweetheart of Chi Omega, and this song was approved by Chi Omega and even shared at the 1928 Convention. More Chi Omega songs can be found here.