The Symposium of George Mason College

Submitted by George Berry, Scroll #14

This was written from unsupported memory on January 7, 2015 — 43 years after the event.

To be worthy of membership in the Symposium in 1969 each pledge had to demonstrate his worthiness to our brotherhood, to the college and to society.  The Symposium was dedicated to the brotherhood and the development of each member as we approached adulthood.  Usually, a major social function was not held until after a major Service Project.

The pledges of Fall 1969 had to maintain our requisite GPA, present a positive impression of the Symposium to the college and the community.

The pledge class had to complete its own Service project in addition to participating in the projects of the Symposium.  Our class Service project was two-fold.  Somehow we acquired a new television set, and we sold many raffle tickets for charity.  The drawing was held on a gray sky day in front of the new Library building.

Doug Joyner was one of our pledges.  This was good news on two fronts.  His father owned a local Schlitz beer distributing firm.  His father’s neighbor managed a large toy sales company (possibly a Toys-R-Us).

The funds from the TV raffle were used to purchase toys at a wholesale price from the toy store.  The employees of the store were inspired to wrap the toys.  Blue or pink paper was used to designate the appropriate gender for the recipient; the color of the ribbon indicated an appropriate age range.  The presents were placed in brown paper grocery bags.

I do not know which pledge contacted the D.C. Children’s Hospital, but arrangements were made to deliver the toys on the Saturday morning just before Christmas.

The pledge class rendezvoused in the campus parking lot.  Someone brought the presents.  Now, a potential problem arose.  Almost every member had to work that day.

My car was a 1968 Ford Falcon.  They were pretty big in 1968.  Imagine this in light blue.

We stacked the car fully with all of the toys.  The trunk was full.  The back seat was full from the floor almost to the ceiling.  Three pledges sat in the front seat.  I drove and the other two pledges each held a bag.

We drove into D.C. and found the Hospital.  There was no parking available directly in front of the Hospital, so my brother pledges got out; each carried two bags while I looked for a parking place.  They found me at the car, and we each toted two bags to the Volunteer room.  And, we went back for more.  Two middle aged ladies were working in the Volunteer room.

We kept delivering more packages.  I noticed that one of the ladies was weeping.  I was concerned and asked why she was crying.  She told us that before the Symposium men arrived, they were upset because they did not have enough presents for Santa to give every child a gift.  Now, they had two gifts for each child.

I don’t recall a word being spoken in the car as we drove back to the campus.

The newspaper (“The Washington Star”) had a short mention of the generosity of the Symposium of George Mason College.