Yes, it is a real place, a lovely city in western Michigan. The only reference I’d ever heard of it was in a very old Glenn Miller song “I’ve Got A Gal in Kalamazoo”.KalamazooIt’s the first thing I thought of when I saw Linda’s prompt, “zoo”.


It was my first adult “sleepover” weekend, attending a state convention for 1200 members of Beta Sigma Phi, a women’s social, service and cultural sorority founded in 1931 by a forward thinking man named Walter W. Ross in Kansas City, Missouri.

It started as a “what to read” club for women during the Great Depression and evolved into an international organization.

I was maybe the last person who would have joined a sorority, especially after losing a few female friends during college who joined to find the man of their dreams, rejecting people like myself who had no interest in pledging.

This group was different. Meetings involved public speaking, community service, cultural experiences, etc. I was introduced by a Salt Lake City friend, who knew of my husband’s career and warned I would be moving often. This might be a good way to connect with new friends in new cities.

She was right.

Just a month after moving to Michigan and connecting with a local chapter, I was headed to a weekend convention at the Radisson Plaza in Kalamazoo.

I don’t remember a lot of details. There were seminars, entertainment, gourmet meals, a bit of alcohol ( or so I’m told).

What I do remember is what happens when 1000 or more women get together and invade a city for a weekend. It was a joyful experience, and led to many others both in and outside of Michigan. Battle Creek, Escanaba, Detroit, Chicago, Grand Rapids, and maybe the most memorable of all, Mackinac Island at the Grand Hotel, home to the movie “Somewhere in Time”.

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47 Responses to Kalamazoo

  1. I never thought of that as a way of instantly connecting in new cities, Van. What a great idea. I always liked the name Kalamazoo. It’s straight out of Dr. Seuss 🙂

  2. AmyRose🌹 says:

    The “energy” of 1000 women I can only imagine! I’ve been on several retreats over my lifetime with women and the experiences were uplifting and so energizing. We women really need to do more together as women. At least I think we do. LOVED this post, Van! I did make it over hear as I am eating my breakfast. 🙂 ❤

    • They tried to keep most activities confined to the hotels, conference centers, etc. by planning a busy schedule. The free time…something else again.☺☺☺
      Always glad to see you here, Amy. 💝

  3. I always feel like it’s out of a cartoon, ‘ cos the name sounds like fun. Now those must have been wonderful times with the gals 😊

  4. That many women is not a convention…It’s a force to be reckoned with! And just for the record – The theme from “Somewhere In Time” – Best. Music. Ever!

    • We were there a year or 2 after the movie came out, and they had it showing on a loop all day, in the same theatre/stage where Jane Seymour performed. It was sweet. And yes…that music ! 💖

  5. Erica Herd says:

    I neve joined a sorority myself. Sounds like a fun weekend!

  6. I was never in a sorority, but I can appreciate the concept of having contacts all over the world, and the possibility of meeting other club members. Sort of like blogging meet-and-greets, except that those include both men and women. I think if I were ever to move to a different city, there would be a very good chance I would locate a blogger already there who could help me acclimate. as I would for any who would be foolish enough to move into my area.

    • It made the transition so much easier for me. I had to be talked into joining at first, but I’m so glad I did. And…I only spent 18 months in Lockport, but I connected with a chapter in East Amherst. ☺

  7. Wonderful part of the country…

  8. Sadie's Nest says:

    I’m a Michigan gal myself, and have personal experience in every one of those listed cities! Of course, Kalamazoo is particularly special, since I met my husband at WMU. 🙂

  9. George says:

    1000 women invading a town…that must have been a sight..:) I always heard good things about Mackinac Island. Did you enjoy it?

    • It’s a unique experience, George. No motorized vehicles on the island. You take a ferry to get there, then step back in time. The hotel and grounds…old school elegance. 💘

  10. BunKaryudo says:

    Don’t want to boast, but actually, I’ve got a gal in Kalamazoo… Okay, not really. I just like the song. Anyway, joining Beta Sigma Phi sounds like it worked out well for you. I’ll bet it was fun to get together with a bunch of friends and launch an invasion of an unsuspecting city. 🙂

  11. Joyful2bee says:

    I have actually been to Kalamazoo too, about 30 years ago! We went to the Great Lake nearby with huge dunes. It was amazing.

  12. It sounds like a real high point!

  13. Soul Gifts says:

    I remember that song! Probably because of the name- it sounds so… intriguing. Doing the party hop from Jacquie’s 🙂

  14. LaVagabonde says:

    Kalamazoo…such a funny name, isn’t it? I lived not far from there for a couple of years in Grand Rapids, but never made it there.

  15. When I began my full time working life at Lloyd’s (insurance) in 1960 we had a Kalamazoo filing system. Back then I would have been terrified of 1000 women 🙂

    • Interesting, I wonder what made that filing system “Kalamazoo”? And 1000 women, released from home and family for a long weekend…there was reason to fear. ☺

  16. Wow very interesting and different from what we think of as being sorority! But, my daughter was invited to belong to something like this!

  17. megdekorne says:

    How very wonderful Van ! …..( Michigan is my home state ) …..sending love and hugs , megxxx

  18. LindaGHill says:

    Sounds like a great time! And I remember the song!! 😀 Thanks so much for making this part of SoCS, Van. 😀

  19. My parents used to sing that song.

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