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The Initiation at Andernach

Editor’s Note: Below is an excerpt from Billy Levere’s book, “SAE in the World War.” Published in 1928, it regales the important role SAE had in the first World War. Of the 18,250 SAE members at the time, 7,500 fought in that great conflict more than 100 years ago. Through adversity, they emerged victoriously and erected the Levere Memorial Temple in 1930 in honor of the brothers who died in all the armed conflicts of the United States.

After the Armistice, the Army of Occupation moved to the Rhine and the other troops began their movement home. With the Army of Occupation went the Eminent Supreme Recorder in YMCA work. He was stationed at Andernach, near Coblenz. And during his work, there many SAE’s came to visit.

One day a motorcycle with a sidecar came to the door of his hut, and a fellow townsman from Evanston, Norman Taylor, came in to “Billy.” Although not an SAE himself, Taylor knew much about the fraternity. In the course of his visit he said, “Billy, the captain of our company is an S.A.E., Lloyd Posey of New Orleans. Our Lieutenant is John Dart, another SAE from New Orleans. And my chum is Lloyd Brown, a pledge from the University of Wisconsin.”

A pledge of Wisconsin Alpha on the Rhine! Pledge Brown was eager to be initiated, for he had no way of knowing how soon he would return to the United States and to his university studies. Consultation with Captain Posey and Lieutenant Dart disclosed their high regard for Brown. They wished him to be initiated. And consultation with other members of the Army of Occupation Alumni Association of Sigma Alpha Epsilon disclosed a unanimous opinion that an initiation should be held.

A formal petition for the initiation was filed with the ESR, and, through the authority entrusted to him by the Supreme Council, the ESR authorized the initiation.

The town major, as it happened, was a member of Sigma Chi. To him went the ESR for permission to conduct the initiation in the tower room of the “Kurfürstliches Schloss” of Andernach. It appealed to the major as something well worthwhile. The fellowship of Greeks made sure of that. So he gave permission and turned over the key to the round tower. Lieutenant George V. Moore, Michigan Alpha, was a railroad and communication officer for the Third Division. Using the telephone, he got in touch with a number of SAEs all through the area. They were eager to attend the initiation and agreed that if the initiation could be arranged they would be present. Letters were written to other brothers who could not be reached by telephone, and so the word was spread throughout the ranks of Sigma Alpha Epsilon on the Rhine.

Through Captain Lloyd Posey arrangements were made to bring over Brown from Ehrenbreitstein-on-the-Rhine at noon of the initiation. Leg-work and string-pulling obtained especially fine food for dinner. By 12 o’clock noon—the scheduled time—a number of brothers gathered at “Billy’s Attic,” No. 25 Hochstrasse, Andernach, for the dinner.

But the neophyte and his companions had not arrived. There was a long wait, so long that everyone gave up hope that the initiation could take place. Soldiers get used to having their plans upset. “Let’s eat anyhow,” was the consensus. So, a little crestfallen at the miscarriage of their plan but nevertheless elated by the comradeship of the brothers, the little group sat down to dinner.

The dining room was the old garret of a non too fine German house. The meal was cooked by enlisted men assigned to the YMCA hut to help the secretary. Old copies of the “Stars and Stripes,” the American Expeditionary Force newspaper published in Paris, were spread for tablecloths.

There was good fellowship and reminiscence over that board, as well as talk of everyone’s plans for the time-not too far away, it was hoped!-when those present would be back in the United States and returned to their peace-time occupations.

But any hour of fellowship must end. Regretful the brothers gave up their last remaining hopes of holding the initiation that day. A few less busy than the rest, remained to visit. But most of the group, after having a picture taken, returned to their respective duties.

A few minutes after these busiest of the brothers had departed, a muddy Ford drew up before the building. Out of it piled Brothers Dart, Posey, and Edward Mack of Kentucky Kappa. With them was Brown. The vagaries of an army Ford had proved too much for them en route. The flivver had broken down, and it had taken over an hour and a half for them to repair it. That was why they were late. Plenty of the dinner was left; it had been cooked for the entire group. Cold though it was then, a meal was scraped together for these late arrivals, and they ate it hastily. Before they had finished eating, a few more SAEs had drifted in, looking for the initiation – latecomers had been unable to arrange their plans so they could arrive in time for the dinner. So there was a goodly group for the initiation. After the second meal had been polished off, the party adjourned to the castle.

What a setting for an initiation into Sigma Alpha Epsilon, these great stone ruins of the Franco-Merovingian Castle of the Electors, with the Rhine flowing peacefully past! Andernach is the second oldest city in Germany. It is the oldest city on the Rhine. It lies at the north end of the Neuwied basin and at the foot of the high Krahnenberg mountain. Here the Rhine leaves behind it the level lands and once more enters the mountains.

The ancient Theintor of Andernach, a few hundred yards away from the ruined castle, is connected to a historical legend that is commemorated by the two figures above the massive arched gateway.

One figure represents the daughter of a mayor of Andernach back in the middle ages. The other represents a baker boy she loved. Forbidden to marry him because of their difference in stations, she dressed as a boy in order to visit him. At one of these meetings, they heard an enemy invader secretly stealing into the town. With quick wit, they seized several hives of bees and threw them down on the army of the enemy.

Even the modern accouterments of a soldier, including his tin hat and his gas mask, could not render him immune to the attack of these stinging enemies. Routed by the bees, the invaders fled. In the excitement, the lovers were discovered. But as their reward for the services they had rendered their city, they were married and lived happily ever after!

The initiation of Lloyd Brown, pledged to Wisconsin Alpha, took place in the stately old ruins of the castle on the Rhine on the afternoon of a gray February day, the date being February 18, 1919. No more romantic or picturesque scene was ever enacted in the history of our fraternity. The old tower room of the castle was indeed an ideal spot for the purpose.

Here was an old stone altar, which served in these rites of Minerva as well as it had served in other rites centuries before. All of the atmosphere, all of the glamour of the best-arranged initiation was present here as a heritage of the centuries gone by. And in this round tower room, Lloyd Brown made his vows and became a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

The officers conducting the initiation were:
-Eminent Archon, William C. Levere (Northwestern 1898)
-Eminent Deputy Archon, Captain Frederick G. Apt (Kansas 1900)
-Eminent Chaplain, Lieutenant Dewey A. Teachout (Adrian 1917)
-Eminent Chronicler, Captain E. Lloyd Posey (Tulane 1911)
-Eminent Herald, Edwin W. Ely (Bard 1914)
-Military Guard, Captain Edward Mack (Centre 1910)

The other members present were:
-Sergeant Lloyd J. Brown (Wisconsin-Madison 1921)
-Captain W.E. Chickering (Pennsylvania 1916)
-Lieutenant John Dart (Tulane 1911)
-Lieutenant George V. Moore (Adrian 1910)
-Colonel Benjamin R. Williams (Allegheny 1900)

Lloyd Brown has made good as a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. After he was returned to the United States and discharged as sergeant of Truck Company 4, First corp Artillery, Army of Occupation, he returned to the University of Wisconsin. And there, in a year or two, his chapter recognized both his services to the fraternity and his ability by electing him Eminent Archon.

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