Sisters of the Suitcase Pack Their Bags (Again)

May 14th, 2019
Filed Under: Leadership Consultants | Sisterhood

by Teresa Creech, Zeta Mu – Appalachian State University

Sisters of the Suitcase (SOTS) – 1985-’86. Our group first met in June of 1985. Traveling Collegiate Secretaries is what we were called back then – Carol Gibson Abell, Heather Brown Jenkins, Virginia Lindsay Luft, Martha Herring Melton, Barbie Dillon Squires and me! This was back in the days before cellphones, laptops, social media, or Uber. Our memories are carried in our minds and faded scrapbooks. A camera in a cell phone and social media would have been a game changer!

Fast forward 30+ years to Alpha Delta Pi Convention 2017. Someone had a brilliant idea to host a SOTS Reunion. Carol and I agreed that we should attend to represent our group. How wonderful it was to reconnect with so many who traveled before and after us. Luckily, we were able to meet up with our mentors who traveled the year before – Ellen Long Liston and Cindy Soloman Rose. Our “Grand Ladies”, Jane Madio and Beth Mannle, were in attendance. Rebecca Gentry, who was one of my first babysitters and also became a SOTS, was there as well. And several sisters from my chapter, Zeta Mu, who followed the SOTS path. All of these many connections inspired Carol and I to reach out to our group and begin planning a reunion.

Now keep in mind, not everyone is lucky enough to have a SOTS that lives in St. Croix, VI, but we do! Our dearest Martha, was quick to extend an invitation for us all to visit and stay in her home. Did I mention that her husband, Rodger, is the best “Pi Guy” ever? Martha was quick to have us nail down a time frame for the visit. It was agreed upon that April, 2019, would be our reunion. She provided us with the best route information from our various departure points. As the time drew nearer, she provided weekly photo reminders. Our chatter grew with those pictures of azure blue water, gorgeous sunsets, frosty drinks, and iguanas. Yes, iguanas. So April arrived, and it was time for these SOTS to pack our bags again! Crossing paths in airports, traveling in different shifts, it felt as if we were all headed back to Executive Office. But nothing could have prepared Barbie, Carol and me as we exited the St. Croix airport in search of Martha. There she was, right in front of us, holding a sign with the names “Eugenia, Octavia and Sophronia”. The best greeting ever as we waited to be joined later that day by Heather and then Virginia. At last, we were all together again after 30+ years.

We went on to have three full days together full of laughter but also full of sharing. Retelling silly stories that still make us laugh. Reminding each other of some of the things we had gotten ourselves into on our visits. We were even on the most eastern point of the island when we asked two young ladies to take our group picture. As we lined up and pulled out our ADPi flag, she looked at us and said, “I am an ADPi too”. Of course she was! So thank you to Sister Rachel Holcomb for laughing with us, and at us, I am sure.

I recently read an article called, “Don’t Put off Your Girls Weekend”. The theme was that time and geography take you away from your early, young adult life friends. Back when you were forming who you thought you would be when you grew older. It said, “What old friends know is the soul of the person underneath all of the daily details”. After thirty years, we understand that we all have lots of daily details. But despite our very different lives, backgrounds, struggles and joys, that we are more alike than different. We were accepting of our differences and giddy about our likenesses. We were able to pick up where we left off as if time had not marched on. Yet, we were keenly aware that it had. We marveled over the hashtags and phrases that did not exist when we were collegians, but are happy to use now as if they did. (#wlfeo – we live for each other, I came home to ADPi, and our personal fav – throw what ya know <>). We laughed about our less than state of the art luggage back then. And the leather briefcases we carried as we looked for the nearest Kinko’s to make copies, lots of copies of our paper reports. We also agreed that we had lots of fabulous support from family, friends, and the sisterhood.

So we left St. Croix and Martha’s fabulous hospitality with plans for our SOTS Reunion in 2021. But the memories and moments that we took home with us from this reunion are a true testament to our sisterhood’s bonds. We highly recommend a reunion reconnection for you too. #wlfeo 


  1. Emily Erkel says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of sisterhood! I laughed and it brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Dana Thornhill says:

    I love reading this! Barbie was my big sister, and although we haven’t seen each other except on Facebook in 30 plus years, I have many wonderful memories I cherish of our time together during college. Thanks for the inspiration on connecting!

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