Chimes Continue Late Founder's Legacy
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013 21:01
Peacock first met Jones at a 1986 Chimes reunion in Fire Island, N.Y. Peacock said that he made the mistake of bringing his girlfriend at the time to the reunion.
“The moment we walked into the lunch room, out of nowhere came [Jones] and his wife, Erika,” he said. “She was playing the accordion, the chicken dance. And he quickly grabbed my girlfriend and took her out in the middle of the floor, where she knew no one, and made her do the chicken dance for about a minute. And I thought, ‘Oh well, that’s Jones.’”
But while yodelling and dressing in a leprechaun’s outfit, Jones was able to see his dream flourish throughout his lifetime.
“Someone once asked at reunion a few years back, ‘Did you ever think it would come to this? That you’d have 240 people at the reunion, across all generations?’” Lyons said. “And [Jones] said, ‘Absolutely. That was my dream.’”
History and Traditions
Although the Georgetown Chimes are named after the university and its famous clock tower, the group is not officially affiliated with the university.
“We’re technically not a Georgetown group, where we don’t get money from the university, [and] we’re technically not affiliated with the university,” Luckey said. “But I think it is very, very accurate to say we are the Georgetown Chimes.”
The Georgetown Chimes separated from the university in the 1950s.
“[Jones] wanted the group to be very closely tied to Georgetown University, yet he didn’t just want to form a singing group, he wanted to form a collegiate a cappella group,” Steve Alleva (COL ’05), Chime #195, said.
Alleva wrote his senior thesis on the Georgetown Chimes. He credits the Chimes’ initial affiliation with Georgetown for the longevity of the university’s oldest a cappella group.
“The Chimes actually started as a featured quartet of the Georgetown Glee Club,” Alleva said. “After the quartet gained success and notoriety, [Jones] decided to expand the group from four to nine. The university is kind of an anchored rock to tie your boat to.”
The Chimes expanded, the group separated from the Glee Club and eventually completely from the university.
The Chimes maintains its history and traditions with its extensive acceptance procedures, called the neophyte process. To become a neophyte, members must first audition.
“The neophyte process is kind of a combination of a bunch of things,” Jack Sheridan (COL ’14), Chime #236, said. “It’s a preparation for your Chime-dom to see if you can fit into the group, can handle yourself musically and really understand the concept of the tradition we’re trying to uphold. Tradition and history play a big part of our group, and all Chimes — past, present and future — have and will buy into the conception of the group that we have been upholding.”
In addition to learning about the history and traditions of the group, a neophyte must learn more than 120 songs in order to become a Chime. That process can take eight months to several years. Sheridan’s neophyte process took two years.
“[The neophyte process] is basically to test if you are going to fit in with the group, if you can handle yourself musically and if you can kind of keep up the tradition since the Chimes started with Frank Jones,” neophyte Connor Joseph (SFS ’16) said. Joseph was accepted as a neophyte Jan. 13.
Some neophytes never complete the training process and do not end up becoming Chimes.
“It’s a really personal process, and it depends on the character and drive of the individual to push themselves,” Chime #239 Peter Fanone (COL ’15) said. “Some people just haven’t organized their time effectively, and they find themselves junior, senior year still a neophyte, and they decide that it’s best for themselves just not to continue.”
As part of the process, neophytes are required to call and meet alumni. In his years as a neophyte, Lyons called approximately 50 alumni, including Jones, to ask about the traditions and history of the Chimes. Lyons called Jones to ask about the story behind the term “Ephus,” the elected leader of the Chimes.
In February 2010, the Georgetown Voice reported that in Latin, Ephus means “leader among equals.” According to current and former Chimes, however, this is not actually the case. Nevertheless, even within the Chimes, there seems to be confusion regarding the term’s origin. Some of this confusion originates from Jones.
When Lyons called Jones, he told the then-neophyte that the term was from the game of craps.
“There is something when you play craps where you call out ‘ephus iphus ophus,’ and he just liked the sound of ephus, and he decided to coin that as the name of the leader,” Lyons said. “Of course, he’s told some other people some other stories for where he came up with it.”
Current Ephus Luckey and Alleva, who researched the origin of the term as part of his senior thesis, both said that the term was based in baseball.