After graduation from The Ohio State University in 1966, I was attending the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Everyone there was diligently ‘hitting the books.’ Studying 24/7 was a new and exhausting experience, yet I felt I was always behind. There was so much to learn and so little time!
One day in October I got a phone call from Mom asking me if I had joined a fraternity while I was at The OSU. I answered her “No.” She said, we received a letter from some fraternity asking for $50. I told her I didn’t owe anyone anything so go ahead and throw that letter in the garbage.
Later in mid-November Mom reported that another letter had arrived; but this one was certified, requiring a signature as receipt. It again requested $50 for the price of a key to some Greek fraternity. I told Mom that I’d come home for Thanksgiving and I’d get that straightened out.
The letter was from Phi Beta Kappa. I was now placed in the class of 1967 since I had not remitted the required $50 for the ‘key’ in time for the 1966 class. If I wish not to accept the membership, (though they’ve not had refusals before,) I should notify Phi Beta Kappa personally and my name could be removed. If the $50 fee posed a hardship, they had scholarship to help and I can/should apply.
I explained to Mom that this was not a Greek fraternity at The OSU. This was a national honored scholarship organization. It was renowned and deemed a privilege to be selected. For example, everyone in my Hopkins’s class was a member.
We remitted the $50 promptly.
p.s. my step-son Marco Simons is Phi Beta Kappa 1997 from Harvard and my daughter Catherine Chu (Kramer) is Phi Beta Kappa 1998 from the University of Washington.