In the last few months, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of talking with many of the people whom I lived with in the house back in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  That may have been the best thing about being involved with the current capital campaign.  As we have reminisced about “the old days” one theme seemed to keep popping up in our conversations.  It went something like this: “You know, I just haven’t stayed connected with the house all these years.”  As I heard that, I would think “That was me not too long ago.”  As with many of us, I was anxious to graduate and start my career and adult life.  And as many of us do, I took a job which was a distance from Ames and many of the brothers.  Between teaching, my family, new friends and colleagues, time just seems to have evaporated.

“You know, I just didn’t stay connected to the house all those years.”

As a matter of fact, I may have visited the house once between my graduation in 1971 and my retirement in 2004.  Sure, I kept in contact with a few of my really close friends from the house, but even that was sporadic.

Then a lucky thing happened to me, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Mike Murphy.  Mike didn’t know me, other than that I was a Phi Kap form Iowa Xi, that we both lived in Omaha, and that he needed some help with a rush function.  At that time, Mike was the chairman of the alumni board, and he was helping with recruiting some Omaha men for the house. He saw my name on the alumni list, and called to asked if I would care to help.  Yes, I was shocked to get the call, let alone be asked to help.   Newly retired, time on my hands, why not?  Besides, I had really been thinking about taking a trip up to Ames just to look around and see what things were like. Nostalgia.

In short, I got the chance to meet a couple of alums and two of the current actives.  We got the chance to swap stories of what the house was like when we were there, and how they felt about being Phi Kaps.  Mike invited me to the annual golf tournament, and out of respect for those who play the game, I declined to play.  I did, however, decide that since I was thinking about going back up for a look, it would be a good opportunity to head up to Ames for the day.  I took a self tour of the campus while golfing was in progress, and then went over to the course after they were done to enjoy a bite to eat.  This gave me a chance to meet several more of the alumni who were there to golf.  More story swapping, more tales told.

Most of the golfers went to get ready for the dinner that night, which I wasn’t going to.  I decided it was time to go look at the house.  I got the lock numbers so I could go in.  It was comforting and a shock at the same time.  Many things were just as I remembered them. Yes, “the hole” is just as we left it.  Other things like the dining room and house mother’s quarters have been changed.  The house looked a little tired…all those college men have put her to the test through the years.  But it renewed me. It gave me a new connection. I knew that if I wanted to, I could walk into that door anytime and be welcomed.

I had planned on coming back up to help with work week that fall, but I ended up taking another job and it didn’t work out.  What I did do was buy season football tickets a couple of years later. That year when I got the info about homecoming and an invitation to stop by the house, I called up Mike Lustig, one of the brothers I had stayed in contact with.  I invited him to go to the game with me and to stop by the house before to meet some of the other alums and current members.  We both had a great time.  The alumni board was there, and so were some of the people I had met at the golf outing,.  Mike and I will be making that trip again this year.

Last November, I got a call from Andy Kowal, our consultant from Pennington.  I knew Andy from when he was a full time employee of the national fraternity.  He asked me if I would consider being a member of the campaign board.  I had “reconnected with the house”.  I will always contend that I was selected by default as I was the only ‘Old Guy” that they knew.  Whatever the reason, I was happy to do it, if for no other reason that I would have the perfect excuse to reconnect with a lot of the brothers from my era whom I hadn’t talked to it over 40 years.  I’ve done exactly that, and it has been a blast.  Sure, it takes people a minute of two to get over the shock of hearing a name from the past identify themselves on the line…sometimes it takes a little connecting the dots to help them remember who I am.  But, invariably, we spend some times swapping memories and updating each other on our current lives.  I got reconnected because someone gave me an invitation to do so, and I had the good fortune to accept.

So here is my invitation to you, not that you or I or any of the brothers need one, this is our house, as it was once our home.  Stop by the house on just about any football Saturday, and you’ll find a group of us alums on the side yard, enjoying some food and refreshments and good conversation.  Better yet, stop by our tent during Homecoming and we’ll feed you and slay your thirst. Or come to the golf outing in August. Call a couple of the brothers you’ve been meaning to get in touch with again and put together a foursome, a good time will be had.  And if that doesn’t work, call some of the guys you were in the house with and just talk.  You’d be surprised how much fun it is.  It can be as complicated or simple as you want to make it, but do yourself a favor and “reconnect” with your fraternity and brothers.  There was a reason you chose to become a Phi Kap in the beginning.

My final invitation to you is to reconnect with me if you are in the Omaha area.  I would enjoy seeing you and visiting about old and new times.  It is and can be just that simple.

In the Bonds,

Frank Kock

Iowa Xi ‘71

Omaha, NE

(402) 453-2069

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