Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Convention Transportation Over the Years

In its National Conventions lies the governing power of Phi Mu Fraternity. On these occasions, delegates of the Fraternity’s collegiate and alumnae chapters gather with National, Area and District officers to conduct business and determine the future course of Phi Mu.

The first National Convention took place in 1907, three years after the Philomathean Society at Wesleyan College became Phi Mu Fraternity in 1904. Attending a National Convention can be one of the most exciting experiences a Phi Mu can have – an event that brings sisters together in fellowship and attends to the crucial business of determining new directions for the Fraternity.

In earlier days, perhaps one of the most memorable parts of going to a National Convention was boarding the “Phi Mu Special” — railroad cars loaded with laughing, chatting, singing Phi Mus anticipating a week of good times and fellowship. The trains originated from certain large cities and made frequent stops along the way to pick up additional gatherings of delegates. The first Phi Mu Special took Phi Mus to the 1916 National Convention in Waupaca, Wisconsin.

As an example, the 1923 convention Special rolled out of the Chicago yards with two carloads of “irrepressible, hilarious girls,” made a stop at Galesburg, Illinois, to pick up the Sigma delegates, then left for Kansas City. As they awaited the train, Phi Mus from the Midwest congregated in Kansas City and were entertained by alumnae and collegiate chapter members there.

“A wild reunion was held in the station when the train

finally pulled in, another car was added, and the

whole special was made up as a new section of No. 9,”

the Phi Mu Star reported.

There was another stop at Albuquerque, where the Phi Mus aboard the train were taken to the Tamarisk Inn for breakfast as guests of their Albuquerque sisters. Another car was added for those boarding at Albuquerque, and the train rolled on to the Grand Canyon for a stopover before the final journey into Los Angeles. There, Eta Beta Chapter gathered en masse at the station, greeted the carloads of girls and “packed them off to the Beverly Hills Hotel.”

Although there was still a Phi Mu Special train for the 1956 National Convention, trains were used less frequently and schedules were difficult to arrange by the mid-fifties.

Each collegiate and alumnae chapter had received railroad and Pullman fares paid from the national treasury for one delegate, and that remained as the policy for many years. By1960, convention transportation reimbursement was based on air fares and auto mileage, replacing train fares. Paid transportation for alumnae delegates was eliminated entirely in 1962.

In this matter, as in other phases of Fraternity life and function, Phi Mu had moved into another age by the 1970s. Chapter Consultants, local alumnae and travel agent representatives are dispatched to the nearest airport to greet incoming flights bringing Phi Mus to the convention site. Airport limousines or taxis shuttle them to the hotel, or buses are chartered to bring large numbers at a time to descend upon too few hotel registration clerks. Delegates – chatty but apprehensive – standing in line amid a sea of assorted luggage is an expected beginning to a Phi Mu National Convention.

Source: Lamb, Annadell. C. The History of Phi Mu: The First 150 Years. The Grace Group, 2002. Print.