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”.It’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”.