8 Webster Avenue Hanover New Hampshire

Norris Nims '35

John T. Bird '77 contributed the following interview of Norris Nims '35, our eldest brother:

April 9th, 2006

Call me Norrie.
That was my official Zete bro nickname, given me in the fall of 1932. My full name is Norris Nims; I'm Dartmouth '35, still getting around pretty good down here in sunny Florida. This young brother John T. Bird '77 called me out of the blue today and we had a good chat. Much more enjoyable than getting my accordion shutters fixed up for the hurricane season in June. I'm 94 and still my memories of my time at the Zete are as clear as a bell. I'm happy to share a few of them with you in cyberspace.

After four years at Exeter I arrived in Hanover from Keene, New Hampshire, joining fellow pea green freshmen sporting beanies on our heads. At matriculation we were all in awe of President Ernest Martin Hopkins. He told us the next four years would fly by. "Hoppy" hit the bulls-eye on that one.

Freshman year was a blur. Soon sophomore year began with fraternity rush. My buddy and I got invitations to Zeta Psi. We were proud to join 18 others and made up a fine class. The focal point of the place was our basement complete with pool table - kind of funny because outside, the Zete was a beautiful new red brick building. The living room was a grand place, too. You couldn't beat the jazz bands we'd bring up from Boston.

I played a lot of touch football for the Zete. Different size ball, fatter, than they use today. Our favorite ruse was the "Lonely End" play where I'd be split out far wide for a few plays and the other team would forget about me. Then... touchdown. The Zete had the top fraternity and intramural team at the College. I was pretty fast. I ran track for the house too.

And our brothers always showed up rocking the football stands whenever Harvard or Yale or Princeton came to Hanover. Our favorite song was As the Backs go Tearing By (on Their Way to Do or Die)'. We took supporting our varsity teams seriously. Don't know what's goin' on up there now but there's too many empty seats for my taste.

FDR took office my first year as a Zete. We'd all crowd around the crackling radio by the crackling fire in the Zete living room fireplace and listen to his Fireside Chats. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself". Well, when I graduated with a degree in sociology in the middle of the depression I admit I wasn't too sure how things were going to work out. My very first job out of Dartmouth was working in a factory. They gave me a stopwatch and told me to monitor workers' efficiency. I was glad to do it.

We spent a lot of hours at Zeta Psi deeply involved in bull sessions. Always the same topic: girls. Those young Smith girls especially liked to take the train up to White River Junction to see us. We called it White Liver Junction. Spent a lot of time there making pick-ups and de-liber-ees. I worked a part-time job the whole time I was a student in Hanover. You had to, if you wanted to have a spare quarter to take a lady friend to a picture show or dinner.

In my spare time I loved to play bridge with the brothers; we'd all read Eli Culberson's best-seller on bridge and played for hours on end. Hearts, too. You might get the impression we made our own fun at the Zete - well we did. Just a crackerjack group of guys; I guess I'm about the only one left of the bunch.

It might not seem like it today but I usually don't talk about myself too much. I will let you know I served under General George Patton in Europe in World War II. I was in the infantry when V-E Day was declared May 7, 1945. Was I happy to see that.

Now that you got me going I want to let off a little steam about Wal-Mart. They're gonna destroy small business in this country. I worked in small business and they're just getting eaten up. I think about this sometimes when I'm gardening. Today bougainvillea; tomorrow, hibiscus. Keeps you young.

I made so many good friends at the Zete. I didn't live in the house, but the place was always hoppin', and I always knew I had somewhere to go to meet my brothers. And you know, back in the fall of 1931, "Hoppy was right - time did fly by so fast.

Today I always try to give a little something back money-wise every year to the Zete. It's my way of saying thanks. It's the least I can do!

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