Potsdam Sorority: My mom joins the Agonians

P is for Potsdam Sorority: Mom joins the Agonians. Sixteenth of 26 posts in the April 2024 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme, My Life: The Prequel (in Snapshots) — adding my parents’ story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

When my mom Peg Laurence left her home in Gloversville, N.Y., in 1944 to attend the Crane School of Music at Potsdam State Teachers College, she sought out young women who could become her new family on campus.

She found them in Alpha Kappa Phi, the Agonian Sorority — popularly known as Ago.

In the group, she formed lifelong friendships with talented young women who planned on a musical career apart from their personal lives.

My mom Peg Laurence, at left in dark sweater with light medallion, at dinner with her Ago sorority sisters (1945). In front of Mom, at the end of the table, is Grace Louise (Frink) Reinman, known as GL. The second woman to mom’s left is Sophia (Constantikes) Guidi, who everyone called Connie. GL, Connnie, and Mom remained friends for life. Scan by Molly Charboneau

Home away from home

Not only did sororities offer a point of connection for students far from home — they often provided housing, too. The Agonians had a sorority house at 11 Pierrepont Ave. in Potsdam, N.Y., and my mother lived there for at least part of her time at college.

Also residing there were two young women from New York’s North Country who became Mom’s best college friends: Grace Louise (Frink) Reinman, from Clayton, N.Y., (known as GL) and Sophia (Constantikes) Guidi from Gouverneur, N.Y., (known as Connie).

Aunt Connie, who eventually became my godmother, told me about life in the sorority house when I visited her in 2014.

The Alpha Kappa Phi (Agonian) sorority house in Potsdam, N.Y. (2023). Source: Google maps.

“There was a house mother, and the rules of the house were strict,” she said. “There was a curfew, and any young man taking one of the girls out had to wait for her on the main floor or the porch.”

I chuckled envisioning my dad pacing about waiting for my mom to descend the stairs.

Strength in sisterhood

The Agos ate meals together, too (as shown above) and shared “dorm” rooms in the house as they applied themselves to all manner of musical study — often collaborating in the college’s Blackfriars theater group, the chorus, or the orchestra.

Alpha Kappa Phi/Agonian sorority pin. Source: Potsdam Greeks United.

They also held parties and dances and pitched in to create on a snow sculpture for the annual Ice Carnival.

And in 1947 — the year Mom, GL, and Connie graduated — the Agos were finally able to buy their sorority house!

Upon graduation, Mom and her friends entered a challenging work world. Jobs were expected to go to young men returning from war, while young women were urged back into homemaking.

Yet they each found ways to use their advanced musical training to help others flourish — from teaching, performing, and leading performances to patronizing music and the arts.

The sisterhood they formed as Agonians during college surely helped them along that path.

Up next, Q is for Question is Popped: My parents get engaged. Please stop back!

© 2024 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “Potsdam Sorority: My mom joins the Agonians”

  1. My mom was in a sorority at Vermont Junior College and made lifelong friends, like yours did. What a wonderful photo to find and to be able to identify so many of them.

    1. Thanks, Jenny. Glad to hear your mom made sorority friends, too. It was so much a part of college life back then.

  2. Friends for life–a special bond formed among these Agos! TY for sharing these photos and insight into your Mom’s life.

    1. It was a time for career-oriented young women to stick together, forming a bond of friendship that indeed lasted a lifetime.

  3. What a fun story! It’s wonderful that you have a photo of her time with her “Sisters”, what a treasure! Since you credited the sorority pin, does that mean that your mom lost it?

    1. Yes, I was so happy to find this photo of my mom’s sorority group — they all look so happy and forward-looking. I think one of my sisters inherited the pin, so during the hectic A to Z blogging, it was easiest to include a photo from the Internet.

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