Pledging the Club in the late 40s: by Ben Jackson, 1950
By November of 1946, everyone was pretty much acquainted by the time the fraternities had issued bids. The night before the bids were to be returned George Poulos held a meeting in the living room at Sayles Hall Annex. In addition to a dozen or more of our housemates who had received invitations to join fraternities, George had invited another five or so friends, mostly his fellow veterans, and some of them had brought their friends along. The small crowd sprawled about the room, sitting on the lumpy sofa, in the easy chairs or on the dining room chairs they had dragged in. Those who couldn't find seats leaned against the player piano or lounged against the walls.
As I recall, George had received bids from all the fraternities except Kappa Beta, the all-Jewish fraternity. I received bids from Sigma Lambda Sigma and Potter Club. I had met a good many of the returning members of Potter Club, such as Stan Gipp, Frank Woodworth (who was my Junior Class big brother), John Dooley, Red Evans, George Miller, to name a few. I had pretty much decided on Potter Club. Not unexpectedly I didn't get a bid from Kappa Delta Rho, or even an invitation to their rush party.
I wish I could remember the exact words of George's speech. I am certain he gave it the same passionate energy that he gave William Jennings Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold" speech that he recited in our room. George made it clear that the national fraternity had not pledged some of us because of restrictions against religion and race. He declared his intentions to join Potter Club because of its open membership.
When George finished, I seem to remember some of the other veterans expressed their agreement. Among them were Al Beninati, Walt Schick, and Len Skolnick all of who joined Potter. I don't recall any disagreement from anybody, not even those who ultimately joined one of the other fraternities. Although no one recorded George's speech for posterity, I recall it, if not in its words but by its theme. I include it among the speeches of other great Americans, such as Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and yes, William Jennings Bryan. It was the first time in my life that I had encountered at first hand someone to stand up for his beliefs in such a way. Because of my personal experiences with prejudices and segregation before I came to Albany. for me, the message of George's speech was all the more powerful.
After George's meeting, although I can't claim because of it, Potter Club garnered almost fifty percent of the men pledged the first year back, far more than any of the other fraternities. Among my college roommates from Sayles Annex, Dave Jack, Dick Feathers, and Tony Prochillo joined Potter Club that year, as well as my good friend from our rival class Joe Zanchelli. They and several others of my fraternity brothers became life long friends
As Potter men, we can't help but remember that part of our pledge ceremony derives from a poet's ideas of Friendship. "Your friend is your needs answered." Truly, the members of Potter Club showed me the meaning of friendship. Ben Jackson, April 29, 2008.
[Footnote: from Ben's letter to Paul Ward... "Sometime ago I read in an account of one of the luncheons that you were collecting recollections from the early years of Potter Club. I was interested, as I have recently taken a course in memoir writing. For this course, I called up some memories of the past, including many from my college years. One very strong memory was pledging Potter Club, my freshman year (1946). In particular, I recalled the meeting that George Poulos (class of 1948) called at Sayles Hall Annex the night before we were to return our bids. That year, the first year that the fraternities becam active after being disbanded during World War II, Potter Club got many more pledges than any of the other fraternities. I am enclosing a write up of that meeting. I think it is an important part of Potter Club History because it showed me what Potter Club was all about."]