Alpha Chi Omega - Starting Conversations

The official blog of Alpha Chi Omega
6 comments

If Our Founders Were on Vacation…

Photo courtesy of travlingirl.com

Photo courtesy of travlingirl.com

By Susan B. Barnes
Zeta Sigma, Missouri State University

Inspiration to travel can be found nearly everywhere – through movies we watch, books we read, stories relayed by our friends, world music… the list goes on! We thought it might be fun to take a look at our founders – all adventurous in their own ways – and suggest destinations that they may have liked to visit in today’s day and age.

Anna Allen Smith, who graduated DePauw’s School of Music at the young age of 19, lived in Greencastle, Indiana her entire life, and rarely, if ever, left the Hoosier State. A day’s drive – a perfect introduction for a beginning traveler – could easily transport Anna to a wealth of musical destinations, including Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Louisville, Nashville and Memphis.

Olive Burnett Clark – but we’re all friends here, so let’s call her Ollie, as her friends did – studied the piano, violin, cello and double bass while at DePauw. With her love of stringed instruments, Ollie may have left her comfort zone and traveled to the Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy, which opened last year, or all the way to Australia to learn to play the didgeridoo!

An intense commitment to music led Bertha Deniston Cunningham to become an accomplished performer and teacher at DePauw’s School of Music, not to mention the envy of the school’s students due to her stellar composing skills. Bertha would probably enjoy the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, or the unaffiliated MIM (Musical Instrument Museum) in Brussels, Belgium; a quick hop from Brussels is the charming, picturesque town of Dinant, where Adolphe Sax, creator of the saxophone, was born.

As the “little girl with a big voice,” New York City’s Broadway would likely be high on Amy Dubois Reith list, especially to see prodigies just like her. Closer to home, she could take in stage productions in Chicago, where she could also see a few shows at Second City to appeal to her sense of humor; she had a tendency to pull pranks on her sorority sisters!

In addition to music, Nellie Gamble Childe was passionate about roses and loved to garden. What fun it would be for her to visit gardens around the country! Starting with the gardens at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC, she could easily travel west and make her way to the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Ore. And if Nellie wanted to hop the pond, I’d definitely suggest the gardens at Hampton Court outside of London, and Chateau de Versailles outside of Paris.

When Bessie Grooms Keenan had to give up her life’s ambition of being a pianist due to an injury, she threw herself into building AXO; her daughter Hannah followed her footsteps and eventually became director of what is now headquarters. This mother-daughter team deserve a getaway, don’t you think? For these two, I’m thinking of a summer at Tanglewood in the Massachusetts’ Berkshires, where the Boston Symphony Orchestra summers. The two could spread a blanket on the lawn and enjoy cool summer evening picnics under the twinkling stars and floating musical notes.

Of all of our founders, Estelle Leonard was the most like me – a travlin’ girl. Known to have a “developed independence, decision, and a rather bohemian attitude,” I could see Estelle hopping a plane for destinations unknown. Even more, she’d grab a bag and hop the Eurail, traveling Europe by train to whichever stop piqued her interest – perhaps Turkey, Finland, Croatia, or (maybe not surprisingly), Greece! She’d write about her travels, too – after all, she spent some time reporting for the local newspaper!

How about you? Where do you see our founders traveling to?

Susan B. Barnes (aka travlin’ girl) is a freelance travel writer based in Tampa. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since, graduating from (Southwest) Missouri State University (Zeta Sigma). Susan enjoys traveling to new destinations and inspiring readers to travel themselves – whether around the world or in their own backyards. Connect with Susan on TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

6 Comments

  1. Tiffany Hill |

    That was awesome. I’m so proud to be your Big Sis AXO style

  2. Marlene Kruelle |

    Susan, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog! It is apparent that you have a strong knowledge of each Founder and her musical talent. I hope to visit some of these musical venues this year.

  3. Liz |

    I’m so glad I got to work with Susan on this post! The most fun I’ve had creating a Coffee with Celia blog post!

  4. Virginia Elliott Fielder |

    I joined Chi Omega in 1944. At that time i thought it was Omicron Delta. Am I wrong? I,m 90 yrs. old and do make mistakes.