The Chariot Race Of 1965
So we entered the race! We what? Us? Chi Phi compete in the Greek Week competition? All the other fraternities did what fraternities normally did... built their chariots from bicycle parts! Flimsy is a nice word! Chi Phi... nope! We went to a local studio prop rental company and arranged for an actual chariot used in Ben-Hur! This puppy was several hundred pounds as it was designed to be pulled be horses! We go a flat-bed truck (I forget how we got it) and brought the chariot to 28th street. The other fraternities laughed themselves silly! "You can't pull that" "Never win" Etc Etc.
So our ladies of the house decorated the chariot with chicken-wire and colored Kleenex so we had our symbol on the front! Joe Tracy (small in stature, large in heart and everything else) dresses the warrior part and mans the chariot... and the rest of us become horses.
We get started to the end of 28th street** near Figueroa... amidst hoots and howls from the competition! Tracy is ready, willing and able to guide - and let us pull him! US was, if my memory serves me, Ted Higgs, Joe Ranfeld, Bob Meyers, Gary Ashcraft, Pat ..... and ours truly!
Bang goes the starting gun and away we go! I a cloud of dust and a "Get a move on guys!".... The competition starts out quickly... Jock houses are the funniest... their little bicycles come apart all over the street! The brain houses are slow! But here comes Chi Phi... Can you images six of us pulling this thing as fast as we can... it now weighs about 400 pounds... and we only have about 50 feet to stop it!
We are in first place and everybody is yelling SLOW DOWN SLOW DOWN! We finally get the darned thing stopped!
We won! To celebrate, we pulled the chariot all the way over to campus (about 4 blocks), stop by the 32nd* street market and made the chariot even heavier... with a full keg of beer!
The (Fraternity) Row Circa 1966
As in Notrica's 32nd Street Market, located in University Village, and also endearingly known as the Third World Market. As a grocery store, the 32 has its charms and culture, but students who hail from a bubble in white suburbia may find the cleanliness and glossed-over appearance of corporately-owned Ralph's more familiar. It looks as if much hasn't changed here since the 1970s, including some of the items on the shelves. Regardless, a shopping experience at the 32 is an integral part of life at USC.
**As in 28th Street, otherwise known as the Row. This hallowed street has a fascinating history, dating back to 1920, when the brothers of the now-defunct Phi Alpha were among the first to inhabit 28th Street. Today, nearly all the buildings on the Row house fraternities and sororities. Whether or not one decides to pledge, the Greek culture is an inescapable element of the USC experience. "Animal House" isn't quite an accurate description, but going to frat parties is a key part of college life. Even if big parties aren't your scene, attending at least one of them should be on everyone's to-do list.