MYSTERY by Michael J. Price
It's a long way from an Alfred Hitchcock thriller . . . but, to keen observers of Alpha lore, it's a most interesting question. In researching materials to accompany the article, "Why I Built the House of Alpha" — we turned up two, distinct versions of the popular poem. The two versions differ primarily in "person." The first version — the one we all memorized down to the punctuation marks — is the one included in The History of Alpha Phi Alpha. It's written in the "first person." The second, cast in the third person, has turned up on a number of occasions; it's been nicely framed and hanging on the wall of the General Office in Chicago for as long as we can remember. Our primary search was for the original printed version — which the author noted appeared in a 1923 issue of The Sphinx. Since this search was not successful, the mystery remains.
OF THE HOUSE
Editor-in-Chief of The Sphinx when The earliest printed version that we the poem first appeared — sent us a could confirm was, of course, the one copy of this "second" version when asked in a 1948 edition of the History. It was a new addition to the volume, appear- for a copy of the "original" poem. ing in the very last chapter of the Fifth Obviously, at least one of the renderEdition. Further, that version was sent ings is a transposition — or paraphrase, to Dr. Wesley and described as a "dedi- as it were. And after a lot of digging, catory statement" for the Theta-Xi our "educated guess" is that the "first Lambda House in Chicago, where version" is the original. With its firstBrother Sydney Brown was then in person approach, it seems more in line residence. Brother Brown, in the with the "House" — the network of accompanying article, dates his author- Brothers, not a structure — that Brother ship some twenty years before that Brown cites as his inspiration. The time. Could he have revamped his second version was probably re-written original poem for the occasion? We when the drive to purchase a national confirmed a printed sample of the headquarters was launched — with second version dated some five years appropriate changes to direct the later, in 1953. It was prominently dis- sentiment of the Brothers toward the played (with artwork showing men importance of a physical home for the entering a door) on a brochure solicit- Fraternity. ing funds for a new Alpha House — a Still, it would be nice to solve the General Office building in Chicago. To mystery with certainty. Do you have a add to the mystery, Brother Oscar copy of the 1923 Sphinx in which the Brown, Sr. — the author's Brother and original House of Alpha appeared?
THE HOUSE OF ALPHA
THE HOUSE OF ALPHA
GOODWILL is the monarch of this house. Men, unacquainted, enter, shake hands, exchange greetings, and depart friends. Cordiality exists among all who abide within. I am the eminent expression of friendship. Character and temperament change under my dominant power. Lives once touched by me become tuned and are thereafter amiable, kindly, fraternal. I inspire the musician to play noble sentiments and assist the chemist to convert ungenerous personalities into individuals of great worth. I destroy all ignoble impulses. I constantly invoke principles which make for common brotherhood and the echo resounds in all communities and princely men are thereby recognized. Education, health, music, encouragement, sympathy, laughter — all these are species of interest given on selfinvested capital. Tired moments find me a delightful treat, hours of sorrow, a shrine of understanding — at all times, I am faithful to the creed of companionship. To a few, I am the castle of dreams — ambitious, successful, hopeful dreams. To many, I am the poetic palace where human feeling is rhymed to celestial motives; to the great majority, I am the treasury of good fellowship. In fact, I am the college of friendship; the university of brotherly love; the school for the better making of men.
GOODWILL is the monarch of this house. Men, unacquainted, enter, shake hands, exchange greetings and depart friends. Cordiality exists among all who abide within. HERE IS the eminent expression of friendship. Character and temperament change under its dominant power. Lives once touched within become tuned and are thereafter amiable, kindly, fraternal. The musician is inspired to play noble sentiments and the chemist is helped to convert ungenerous personalities into individuals of great worth. Ignoble impulses are destroyed and, in their stead, are born exalted principles which make for common brotherhood whose impulses resound in all communities and princely men are thereby recognized. EDUCATION, health, music, laughter, encouragement, sympathy — all of these are species of interest given on self-invested capital. Tired moments find it a delightful retreat; hours of sorrow, a shrine of understanding. At all times it is faithful to the creed of companionship. TO A FEW, this is a castle of dreams — ambitious, hopeful, successful dreams. To many, it is a poetic palace where human feeling is rhymed to celestial motives. To the great majority, it is a treasury of good fellowship. THE SCHOOL of friendship; the college of brotherly love; the university for the better making of the man,
I Am Alpha Phi Alpha!
This Is Alpha Phi Alpha! The Sphinx / Winter 1982