Monday, July 13, 2015

House Mothers

I'm not sure if it was required, but back in the 60s fraternities and sororities in Potsdam had House Mothers.  In some cases these women lived at the house, while also providing cooking services.  In some cases the House had a cook, but she did not live at the house.  If anyone knows more details on this history please share!

Here are the details for some houses, are remembered by Greek alumni on the Potsdam Greeks United Facebook page.

Beta Tau
Mildred Mitchell (a.k.a. "Ma"), the cook for BT through the early 80's.
Her glasses were thick, but she was sharp...and her heart was soft, she would set stuff up mid day and then we usually didn't notice her leave, if we had some special dinner event, she might hang around...funny we were so busy with ourselves...wished i had the insight to have asked her more about BT life as she knew it.

When I saw that pic i could smell that same kitchen...bob rombaut was steward, i spent alot of time near ma, notice the can opener mounted on the table, those beige containers had sugar, flour and nuts kept below that big tabletop

Zeta Gamma Sigma

Mrs. Decker, started as our cook and is
special to all Zetas from 1970 onward.
Mrs. Perry, known to the older Zetas of the 60's
Mrs. D. is an active honorary and Zeta through and though. Her photo is from the 55th Alumnae Weekend, March 2010. Her Husband, the late Mr. D., a local Potsdam farmer, was also an active honorary and is a special part of our tradition. His tractor pulled many a Zeta Ice Carnival float!  We also had Lois Passino Ames who was our last house mother, who DID live at the house a number of days per week and was with us in the early days of Mrs. D. I can't find a good picture of her. She died a couple of years ago.

Mrs. D's mac and cheese is great, but to me, Heaven on a plate is her Pasta in a Pot, AKA - "bid night special." To non-Zeta's reading this, her M&C and others recipes are generally featured at nearly any alumnae gathering, esp. Alumnae Weekend and the shamrock cake she "invented" for us is made by the actives and served at every Final Tea.

Alpha Chi Rho
AXP brothers at the July 2015 reunion with Mary Marino,
their House Mother for the past 34 years
Delta Upsilon
Anna Mae Hughes at 30 Elm Street
The alumni members of Delta Upsilon are installing a plaque in the kitchen of their new on-campus house in honor of "Ma Hughes." You can read more about this here.
"Looking back, Anna Mae taught me as much as the Tech Professors, perhaps even more. While I was attending classes trying to learn something that would land me a job someday, Ma was there in the work-a-day world, getting a job done to support her family. Her presence was a stark contrast to the lifestyle of going to class, cramming for tests, having a few beers at the Vernon, and letting loose at Vic parties. It subtly was a reminder that one day I would leave the college scene and have to do what Ma did 6 days a week: Collaborate with a myriad of personalities to do a difficult job." - George Gaylo ’66
Omega Delta Phi
Omega had one, Lena Cyrus, through the late 60's...someone named Hattie thru '77. Lena lived at the house, Hattie did not. In the early 80s we hired someone to cook, but she didn't live in the house. At some point in the 80s we switched to paying members to cook.

Alpha Delta Kappa
Our cook at Alpha Delta in the early 80's was Aunt Bea. Oddly enough she had no sense of smell but she was a pretty darn good cook!

Alpha Kappa Phi (Ago)
Ago had one. Eunice "Brownie" Badger. According to the Alum in the 80s, she was incredible! One of them could probably tell you more about Brownie 

Tau Epsilon Phi
TEP had a cook until Spring 1996. The women that held that position were more than just cooks though... they were often our mothers away from home.

Delta Sigma Phi
Betty Lunderman was the cook at DSP for a while.

Phi Kappa Pi
During the July 2015 Reunion the sisters of Phi K held a dedication ceremony for the new kitchen in memory of the late Esther Dominy "Mrs. D" the former “house mother.”
Phi K had Mrs. D as our cook. I believe her daughter had been a sister at one time, thus her affiliation with our house. She lived in nearby Colton and was retired. She cooked most nights for us. We ate together in our dining room. If you had a late class, you let her know and she put your dinner covered with foil in the oven. One year for Christmas, she wrote out by hand, all of her favorite recipes and gave them to each house member. Wish I could find that cookbook. I still remember Chicken "Diven" and Seaton's casserole by heart. Mrs. D was much loved until her recent passing. 

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