A Brief History of Lambda Boulé
1921 - 1954
In the Spring of 1921, rumors began to spread among a select group of men in Columbus, Ohio. These rumors were to the effect that one of our recent citizens, T.K. Gibson, who had recently come from Atlanta to pioneer in the insurance field, was preparing a list of eligible men to form a local group as members of an organization known as the “BOULÉ”.
The idea of the“BOULÉ” was shrouded in a sort of mystical aura. However, certain fundamental objectives of the organization began to emerge. These objectives connoted membership in a nationwide group of men of kindred spirits. A degree from a recognized institution of learning, it appeared, was the minimum qualification for membership. In addition, the men to be selected must give promise of creative, effective work in their respective fields. They were to have the capacity for fellowship. Without the beating of drums they were to stand shoulder to shoulder in making their unique contribution to the art of living.
Such were the high concepts. Finally, the list was complete, and on June 21, 1921, Grand Sire Archon Harry W. Pace, with the assistance of W.H. Bentley and A.L. Thompson of Delta, and T.K. Gibson of Kappa arrived in Columbus to set the Boulé apart.
The Spring Street YMCA was the site for the occasion. It was indeed an occasion! What jollity! What an undercurrent of fear as each candidate saw his predecessor pass over the threshold of the sacred portal! After being prepared to travel, the neophyte was finally to emerge into the sacred circle binding him indissolubly while life shall last.
A sumptuous repast followed. The group was named“Lambda”, and thus was formed the first Boulé in the sovereign State of Ohio. Charter members were as follows: Arthur Wesley Hardy, Sire Archon; Albon Langston Foster, Grammateus; George Wade Mosby, Thesauristes; William Arthur Method, Agogos; Archon Roy Craig Carter, Rhetoricos; Archon John A. Bailey, John P. Bowles, Langston Brown, and G.A. Steward.
This roster represented the following fields: business– 2, dentistry – 2, social work – 2; medicine – 2.
The Grand Officers ribbed the new Archons quite a bit as to their youthful appearance. But time and change - - as is inexorably the case - - has rectified this. In a period of three decades, three of these charter members have gone to join the greater circle; four are inactive, while only two, John A. Bailey and Roy C. Carter, remain.
The writer was the first candidate to be taken into the sacred circle after Lambda was set apart.
As has been the case with other Boulé’s, membership in Lambda has never been easy to achieve. Writing in the BOULÉ’ JOURNAL OF 1939 the Grapter states, “We’re still in the place where it seems difficult for new members to break into the circle. However, we are looking forward to the time when there will be additions to our group.”
Those early days are still considered by some of the Archons as the “golden age of Lambda”. This may be because, as someone has said, “No age is considered golden until is past”. But, admittedly, that was the period when the spirit of the fraternity was being molded through the fellowship of our monthly meetings, of the pleasures of our picnics, and the get-togethers with our families. It was a period when the mere breaking of bread together each month brought men of widely diversified fields into a new common union in which the entire gamut of human experiences were expressed and shared.
On New Year’s Day, 1922, the Archons and Archousae held their first annual social observance. Festivities started about ten o’clock in the morning. Then began a motorcade visit to the home of every Archon. Finally, the group ended up at the home of the late Archon George W. Mosby and his now departed wife; where, with the late John P. Bowles doing a professional job at carving, the group dined in epicurean style. That, of course, is one of the high spots of Lambda history.
This New Year’s Day observance has followed through the years in an unbroken tradition. Sometimes it has been celebrated with a theater party; sometimes at the home of some Archon; sometimes in informal get-togethers, and in recent years the occasions have given way to sumptuous formal affairs.
The early days were marked by the presence at our meetings of distinguished visiting Archons. As a by-product Lambda was grounded in the real purpose and objectives of Sigma Pi Phi. During the twenties, also, Lambda inaugurated a plan of exchange speakers between Boulé’s located in this area. The record shows that visiting Archons came from Sigma, Tau, Rho and Upsilon. Discussions were lively, sometimes general on things of then current interest; sometimes representing a field of specialization. This inter-visiting project seemed to offer a rich and significant contribution, but somehow it was discontinued.
The BOULÉ’JOURNAL (July 1927, p. 15) carried an interesting item to the effect that on Thanksgiving Day Lambda entertained visiting Archons on the occasion of the Wilberforce-West Virginia State football game. Visiting Archons were present from Pittsburgh, Dayton, Springfield, Wilberforce and Charleston. A soiree was held at the Crystal Slipper with dancing, brief speeches, delightful food – all contributing to an evening of fellowship. This was a typical Lambda experience.
In the meantime, Archons of Lambda were growing in influence and making significant contribution to various fields. Archon Method, for instance, was developing a private hospital. Archon T.K. Gibson, transferred to Lambda from Kappa, was expanding the services of the Supreme Life Insurance Company which in a later merger was to be known as the Supreme Liberty Life. Archons Mosby, Bowles and Carter were pioneering in the project of a Building and Loan Company. Archon
Mitchell was becoming more and more significantly identified with the field of public education.
Lambda reached a significant milestone October 30, 1924. On that date it assisted Grand Sire Archon and Grand Grammateus Allen Wesley in setting apart a new Boulé, Sigma, in Dayton, Ohio. The entire roster of Lambda participated in this occasion.
Afterward came Tau in Cleveland and later Alpha in Cincinnati. With four active Boulés in the Buckeye State thus became top-ranking in the nation.
The climatic experience of the 1920’s was Lambda’s entertainment of the Grand Boulé. From time to time the original group of local Archons had been increasing and enrich by men who met the high standards of Boulé objectives. The entire Lambda group, without exception, stood shoulder to shoulder in making the Grand Boulé what was generally conceded to be the high-water mark in its history. Housing facilities had never been surpassed; unusual provision was made for the transaction of business. Round after round of sumptuous repasts punctuated the entire session. Trips were made to various unique points including one to the airport where those who were daring enough enjoyed the novel experience of a flight over the city. Entertainment of the Archousae was a thing of beauty.
When goodbyes were said marking the end of the Grand Boulé session, Lambda had definitely come of age. The BOULÉ JOURNAL (December, 1929) concludes its summation of the Grand Boulé: “the Eleventh Convocation of the Grand Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi had become history, and along with it Lambda Boulé had impressed itself upon all who were there as the place of reconsecration of the Boulé to its highest ideals, and as the land of bountiful hospitality and brotherhood.”
No history of the group would be complete without specified mention of the Archousae. About a year before the Grand Session, the Archousae began to hold meetings preparing for the event. The feeling of closeness which came from this experience caused these Archousae to continue the informal organization which was later known as the “Ladies of Lambda”. This group has continued to meet monthly to the present. Without any direct affiliation with Lambda or ritual, these Archousae have formed a group which is as closely knot as that which binds their Archon husbands. The annual picnics of the Ladies of Lambda, and the social occasions which they give for their husbands have ranged from potluck dinners to exquisite formal banquets.
Fifteen years after the formation of Lambda the late George W. Mosby, in his capacity of Grammateus, wrote to the effect that the changing years had taken their toll, and despite the fact that new Archons were taken into the sacred circle, Lambda’s numerical membership was decreasing to an alarming degree. The feeling was accentuated with the passing years. At last Lambda decided to do something about the situation. In 1948 six new members, carefully chosen, were added to the roster: Edward J. Cox, Maceo Hill, Charles F. Jenkins, William W. Layton, Raglan Reid and Lucien C. Wright. This group gave new life. Later still, other men were initiated into the sacred circle: Ray E. Hughes, Robert Tribbitt, Jr., and James S. Wade.
In brief, this is the Lambda story. A backward look of its history gives confidence as to the future. Lambda membership is well balanced. Experience dovetails happily with more youthful attitudes. Lambda has had a memorable period of over thirty years – entirely unbroken. There is every reason to feel that it will carry high the banner in the years that are to come.
COMMITTEE ON HISTORY
*Roy C. Carter
R. M. Tribbitt, Sr.
J. Arnett Mitchell, Chairman