Brotherhood, Fraternity, Virtue, not just words to these Acacia Alumni

I was honored to attend a retirement party for one of my fraternity brothers this week at the Acacia Fraternity House at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. Christ Drossos was honored by 35 fellow brothers for his 4 decades of dedication to the frat house as the House Director and for keeping all of us informed as to the happenings at the house and IU over the years.

The brothers lived in the frat house in the early to mid 1970’s and through Christ’s efforts have kept in touch through a series of emails, alumni gatherings, homecoming events, Little 500 bike races, and initiations at the house, where any alumni are welcomed to not only attend, but also participate in the ritual.

I’m Facebook friends with some of my brothers and this helped me recognize most of my old frat bros, but there were a few men there that I just had not met before, either because they were already gone when I pledged, or they were younger. Four of us from my pledge class (fall of 1975) were there and we all looked like older versions of ourselves from ’75.

My relationship with the honoree was special as he was also from ‘da Region’, growing up in Gary. Our families knew each other, and my dad ran Gary Produce for years in downtown Gary and in those days, everyone seemed to know everyone anyway. The Drossos’ were Greek, and my family was Italian… both with immigrants coming over from the old country for the better life America offered.

Acacia Fraternity, when I started at IU, had a large continent of Region Rats (as we were called) living in the house at the time so when it was time for me to select a fraternity to pledge, Acacia was a perfect choice. In those days you had to have a sponsor to pledge… it was a way to allow brothers to invite people they knew into the brotherhood.

Christ was the envy of many of us since he never left Bloomington after he came down from NW Indiana. He stayed in Bloomington, working there and keeping involved with many IU activities including helping at the house. He was living all of our dreams for us as we all scattered into jobs across the nation. I went into the grocery business and ended up staying in the food business in a variety of ways for 35 years, along with my never-ending passion for photography which I have loved since the age of 10 playing around with my dad’s cameras.

My careers didn’t allow for weekends off and I never found the time to get back to the old house as often as I would have liked. The house held fond memories for me and I thought about it often and valued the time I had there with this great bunch of young men all trying to find our way into the world. I can say without any hesitation that I learned more about life inside the fraternity than in any classroom during my time at IU. Without a doubt!

 

Our goal was to keep the party a surprise to Christ, but some slipped up emails and comments about seeing folks gave the surprise away a bit. Christ didn’t know exactly who was coming or how many of us, and I could tell that he was truly honored to see so many of his brothers there for him to thank him for all that he had done over the decades for not only us, but for our beloved house, too. Acacia at IU will be turning 100 years old in 2020! So, Christ was happy to see so many of us there where he took the opportunity to start his “pitch” for the 2020 celebration and the need to do other repairs and remodeling to the house, which in my opinion, looked great. It was clean, in good shape, and certainly brought back memories to those of us who have not been visiting on a regular basis.

Brother Rusty did the main planning with great help from a variety of brothers. The sit-down dinner was great and prepared by the house chef and awesome staff. It was a little surreal having dinner on the very tables that we all used to eat on over 40 years ago! That is how great the quality of the solid, wood dining room tables are. These tables sat 70 to 90 men for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the academic year. 

Other brothers, that could not make the dinner, offered donations so we could purchase Christ some parting gifts and plagues as well as a monetary gift, so he can take a vacation break away from the house which recently went through some major remodeling that Christ organized and managed. It was a double bonus trip for me, as I got to stay with my best friend Jim who has been there for me since 4th grade! Yup, 52 years of friendship, same elementary school, middle school, high school, college, fraternity!

Acacia is a men’s college fraternity founded on May 12, 1904, at the University of Michigan. With dozens of chapters across North America, over 50,000 men have joined our ranks in pursuit of Virtue, Knowledge & Truth. Built upon these principles – our members serve their communities, pursue academic and professional success, and enjoy lifelong Acacia brotherhood. Acacia’s motto is “Human Service”.

Seeing many of my brothers together to honor one brother warmed my heart. Joe came from Naples, FL, two others came in from AZ, and others from assorted locations near and far from Bloomington. It had the feeling of getting the band back together, and we were able to thank a brother for keeping us all a little closer, a little more informed, and a little more humbled. 

“Herein is that saying true, one soweth and another reapeth.” – Acacia Founder George A. Malcolm

Rick Bella for Bella Photography, Indiana Acacia Alumi #1162