In 1962, a small group of suit-clad students stood shamefaced before Fr. Ratterman, the dean of men, waiting for him to pass sentence. The boys, founders of an unsanctioned club called the Golden Grainers, often hosted parties—some attracting upward of 500 partygoers who paid a dollar or two for admission. The most recent, held in the downstairs hall of Sts. Peter and Paul parish in Norwood, netted members about $1,000.
Unfortunately, a couple of students had too much to drink and were picked up by the police, and Ratterman had to bail them out. “What’s this Golden Grainers thing?” Ratterman asked. The boys, fearing expulsion, remained quiet, the silence filling the North Hall office with a sense of dread. Finally, one member piped up, explaining that the club was a charitable organization that raised money for the St. Aloysius Orphanage.
While Ratterman didn’t buy the excuse, he didn’t dismiss it, either. Instead of expelling them, he insisted on cosigning the checks the club was supposedly sending to the orphanage. True to their story, the Golden Grainers, whose membership numbered more than 60 students, started volunteering at the orphanage. They took the children to Xavier basketball games, rented buses for field trips, attended movies and even coached their athletic teams. Lawrence Bliss, a 1965 graduate and the club’s treasurer, says some of the children, now adults, still visit his home in Chicago.
“We got tied to the kids and they got tied to us,” he says. “Maybe we needed that because you get a little self-centered being students.”
As for the Golden Grainers, the club still exists today. Instead of college parties, however, members plan three annual events that include a Xavier men’s basketball game, a golf outing at different places around the country and a Notre Dame football game.
“This year we had people come in from Hawaii, Seattle, Boise and Charlotte,” says Bliss. “It’s really growing.”