100 Years of the Cross & Crescent
By Mike Raymond (Miami-OH)
The story of the Cross & Crescent magazine is well documented in the various publications of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. Articles about its origin can be found in the Expositor (1929); in various issues of the magazine (1940, 1965, and 1995); and in the two history books produced by our Fraternity. The magazine has contributed much to the rich traditions of Lambda Chi Alpha. Its story is closely intertwined with the stories of our most important fraternal leaders.
The intention of this story is to present some information that will contribute to an appreciation of the role that the Cross & Crescent has played in the growth and development of our Fraternity.
Our 2015 history book establishes the key role that the Cross & Crescent played in communicating information about initiations, marriages, deaths, war service, alumni activities, and more to our members. Other matters of general interest, such as cartoons, photographs of chapter houses, athletic accomplishments, columns by our executive leaders, and even recommended books for the chapter library appeared in the magazine.
In 1970 the magazine shifted focus from “a journal of record” to an “education and features” publication. Of course, the most significant change in the magazine’s format occurred in 2005 when it shifted from a printed product to an online enterprise.
What follows is a brief survey of the interesting history of the Cross & Crescent magazine through its various incarnations and formats.
THE PURPLE, GREEN, AND GOLD –
It was apparent to our early leaders that a publication was needed to bind our individual Zetas into a strong national organization. They sought closer fraternal relationships and greater national stability. That was very progressive thinking for a group of young men who were inexperienced but enthusiastic in their efforts to craft a new magazine.
John E. Mason, Albert Cross, Warren A. Cole, and other leaders spent a great amount of time planning for this new magazine, gathering information, and thinking about an appropriate name for its masthead. It was originally decided to name the magazine the Pi Gamma Gamma after our official colors. However, Mason thought that Purple, Green, and Gold would be a better choice. His suggestion was accepted by the group and the name was applied to the new magazine.
The George Banta Publishing Company, a major provider of fraternity and sorority products, printed the first edition of the magazine dated January, 1914.
The first issue of the Purple, Green, and Gold was labeled the “Omicron number” because it featured an article about our Cornell Zeta. Its content was typical of the fraternity magazines of its day. The magazine contained fifty-six pages of various items such as a communication from the Grand High Alpha, chapter letters, alumni notes, Interfraternity activities, a poem by Ray H. Ferris, and special subject articles. Future volumes of the Purple, Green, and Gold contained engraved illustrations of our insignia, articles on ritual, badges, and forms, and copies of our earliest fraternal songs.
Jack Mason was the first editor of the magazine and served in this capacity until he enlisted in the military to serve in World War I. During the war, Warren Cole assumed the job of editing the Purple, Green, and Gold.
Bruce H. McIntosh was the next editorial chief of the Purple, Green, and Gold having been elected to that position in 1918. McIntosh spent two years in this position and was succeeded by the legendary Linn C. Lightner in November, 1920.
Lightner was a newspaper man and had a well-defined notion of what the Purple, Green, and Gold should look like and contain. He began a transformation of the magazine by buying better paper and by using new type styles and page layouts. He also experimented with the magazine’s content by adding new features such as the annual football review. Starting with Volume XIII, Lightner incorporated a series of specially designed covers that included, for the most part, places and monuments, associated with the traditions of Lambda Chi Alpha’s mythical history.
THE CROSS & CRESCENT –
Mason, as a member of our Fraternity’s Publication Board, not only suggested that we have a second esoteric magazine but also gave it the name of Cross & Crescent. Jack Mason has the unique distinction, among many, of naming both of our early magazines.
Our most recent history book has this to say about the early years of the Cross & Crescent magazine:
The first publication to bear the title Cross & Crescent was published in January, 1915, one year after the establishment of The Purple, Green, and Gold magazine. The Purple, Green, and Gold was our public magazine, the Cross & Crescent was dubbed “The Official Esoteric Periodical” and was reserved for brothers in good standing. Though considered a secret magazine the Cross & Crescent rarely mentioned anything about our Ritual or even sensitive internal business. It would be more accurate to label the magazine a “private” publication. The earliest editions of the Cross & Crescent were small, plain, and lacked decoration.
The early editions of the Cross & Crescent did not attract much interest among the members of our Fraternity. The content of the magazine was very similar to that of the Purple, Green, and Gold. Even though the magazine was published until October of 1931, it never seemed to realize its potential as an important internal communications medium. After all, how important is our Official Whistle that it should be kept a secret from the rest of the world?
THROUGH THE YEARS IN PRINT –
During its long history, the Cross & Crescent has featured many popular topics in its vast lineup of articles and features. One of the most popular topics was the work of Chester Gould (Oklahoma State 1921), creator of the Dick Tracy newspaper comic, which made ten appearances in the magazine beginning in December, 1926.
During World War II the Cross & Crescent focused attention on the war effort and Lambda Chi Alpha’s contribution to that effort. Many stories were posted about the heroic efforts of great Lambda Chis like Medal of Honor recipients Doolittle and Boyington and on lessor known but no less heroic brothers who served in our armed forces.
A sampling of article titles from past issues of the Cross & Crescent is an effective means of demonstrating the breadth and diversity of topics that have appeared in its pages over the past 100 years.
Here are a few of the article titles found in the pages of the Cross & Crescent: “Sigma Delta Chi’s New President A Lambda Chi” (July 1932); “Canadian Lambda Chi Participates in War Effort” (December 1938); “Fabulous Deeds with ‘Flying Tigers’ over Burma” (November/December 1940); “Two Georgia Lambda Chis Star in Rose Bowl” (July 1942); “Only House with a Television Set” (February/March 1950); “Facing up to…Drugs” (February 1968); “Thoughts on Initiation” (November 1970); “Alaska- Journey Through an Artic Wilderness” (March 1980); “Smoots” (2005); “The Lofgrens” (June 2012); “The Light of Lambda Chi Alpha – Remembering Joseph Chavez” (September 2013); and “Nu and Omega Zetas Celebrate 100 Years of Brotherhood” (June 2015).
What an amazing array of articles. And these articles are just a sample of the thousands of articles that make up the legacy of this successful magazine first 100 years.
Another outstanding feature of the Cross & Crescent magazine was the regular columns provided by our Fraternity’s executive leaders. All of our recent leaders have written for the magazine. Duke Flad wrote his “Comments,” George Spasyk contributed “Reflections,” Tom Helmbock provided “Insights,” and Bill Farkas crafted his column “From the Desk” for the Cross & Crescent.
Undoubtedly, the most influential and transformational columns was written by George Spasyk in his Reflections column in 1972. In this column he soundly condemned pledging and hazing and introduced the Associate Member program. His message, and our subsequent efforts to eliminate pledging and hazing, influenced the fraternity world and moved Lambda Chi to the next level of sound fraternal practices. His column helped to transform Lambda Chi Alpha from just another college fraternity to a fraternity of true Brothers. That is representative of the power of the Cross & Crescent magazine.
THE CROSS & CRESCENT MOVES ONLINE –
In the November, 2005 issue of the Cross & Crescent, Bill Farkas, Executive Vice-President, and Jason Pierce, Editor, wrote an article concerning the transformation of the magazine from a print medium to an online publication. They wrote that the move was based on the financial aspects of printing a magazine. At the time the cost of printing the Cross & Crescent was about $250,000 a year. The General Fraternity had an Annual Budget of about $3.1 million. The organization was in near financial collapse. One way to save money for the Fraternity was to move the magazine to various online platforms. Essentially, this change in production was part of a cost-cutting effort to bring our Fraternity back to a healthy financial condition.
Jason Pearce had this to say about this transition to an online publication:
Transitioning the magazine from print to electronic distribution wasn’t easy. We understood it meant members without internet access would be alienated, donors might stop giving, and busy alumni might permanently lose touch with the Fraternity.
Originally, the printed magazine was replaced by four electronic formats: web, RSS, podcast, and email. Today, four formats remain with only the podcast being abandoned. The Cross & Crescent remains a viable communications instrument.
The new online format has allowed for more content and greater feedback from our members. For a number of years the electronic Cross & Crescent came out on the second day of each month of the year. The page count was larger than the previous quarterly magazine and members could respond to individual articles almost instantly. Statistical information about reader demographics and reader usage information helped to improve the magazine.
Today the publication schedule of the magazine varies a bit each year but the information provided increases in its diversity and volume.
One hundred years of continuous publication is a milestone in the life of any magazine. Our Fraternity has been fortunate to have great people who created and nurtured a great Fraternity. The Cross & Crescent has played a major role in the story of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. May its story go on forever and ever.[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”C&C” color=”black”][/vc_column][/vc_row]