#ThrowbackThursday The Birth of The Sweetheart Song

Bob Harper, younger brother of my husband, Henry G. Harper, and my son, Henry III, were fellow participants on December 21, 1923, in what has become one of my fondest memories.

While in college at Salem, I became an auto­matic booster for Pi Kappa Phi when I began dating Henry, who was an alumnus of Kappa Chapter at the University of North Carolina. Bob had entered UNC and pledged Kappa Chapter also, moving later to Psi Chapter at Cornell University, where he graduated in architecture.

On that afternoon in 1923, Bob was still en­rolled at Chapel Hill and had come over to visit us during the Christmas holidays at our home at 13 Providence Road in Charlotte. The house has since been razed to make way for “prog­ress,” and, incidentally, was only two blocks away from the present National Headquarters of Pi Kappa Phi.

We began talking about the, fraternity, and our mutual interest in music led me to my piano to pick out notes, while Bob began rhyming with a pad and pencil. The late Wade Bolt, Sigma, had sent out an S.O.S. for a new song book from his post as editor of The Star and Lamp.

The inspiration for the song was interwoven with Pi Kappa Phi itself. The “stars of heaven” were suggested by the fraternity’s magazine, The Star and Lamp. The “gold of sunset” recalled the gold and white colors of the fraternity.

Henry III, now 44 (Heavens! Where does the time go?) was, as I have said a participant though not a particularly helpful one that afternoon. As I recall the chronology, he developed a coughing spell between “beautiful land” and “vision so bright”; a quick diaper change was engineered at about “lamp so bright”; and a resounding, red-faced cry for attention arose from his carriage when the “gold of sunset … fades in the Western sky.” By that time, The Rose of Pi Kappa Phi had achieved a momentum of its own, and was quickly concluded.

It is with a sense of genuine pride and gratitude that I see my name and that of my brother ­in-law as composers of this song. Pi Kappa Phi is today-as in our college days-an important part of our lives as my husband and I continue to share an interest in the fraternity through his current work with Kappa Alumni Chapter and as life trustee of the Pi Kappa Phi Memorial Foundation.