... Kappa Swap Shop's early years
Beatrice Flagg Wadland
One Melrose organization that has withstood the test of time is a Sorority known
as "Kappa." Its formal name ~ "Kappa Delta Psi." According to one of its Past
Presidents. Beatrice Flagg Wadland, remembers Kappa's earlier days and recalls
that she "became a member the day after I was a Junior in High School."
Initiation into the High School Sorority at that time consisted of
performing skits, holding grand ballroom dances at Memorial Hall and
hostessing social teas.
She and another sorority member once performed as Edgar Bergen and
Charlie McCarthy in a fundraising effort. Wadland alohas vivid memories of
another themed night that relates to Hawaii. She smiles as she pictures the
man who became her husband, Robert, building a volcano for the stage. She
also remembers that Venda Orchid corsages were presented "as everyone who
came got an orchid from Hawaii."
In further getting to know the woman behind Kappa's earliest years, Wadland
mentioned that her original intentions were to one day become a nurse. Instead
she found herself at BU (Boston University) taking courses that focused on
religion. She also worked at her father's insurance company in Melrose and there
are family ties to Flagg Acres in the city of Melrose. She and her husband,
Robert, raised four children, 2 boys, 2 girls. He spent 4 decades at General Electric (GE).
There are two parts to Kappa, one is of the organization's purpose to assist those
in need beginning in 1903, the second part is the a shop that had its beginning in
Melrose in 1951. Residents could donate clothing or buy clothing that had been donated.
THE KAPPA SWAP SHOP ITSELF
Wadland also mentioned another man who aided in Kappa's continued success.
It was a man by the name of "Charles Adams." He gave money in supporting the
group and also sold them a building on Upham Street (he was a realtor as well)
and gave advice to the group to donate proceeds to a "Children's Hospital."
Wadland also credits another woman and her efforts in the organization
Melissa Cook was considered the Superintendent of the (local) hospital
and had an apartment within it. At one time, the organization had 115
volunteers and its doors were open 5 days a week. Donations could be made
on consignment for a 50/50 split of proceeds if the clothing sold, or others.
Others preferred to just donate the clothing."
Francine Ricupero, another Past President of Kappa and current member of the
organization, fills in more of its history as she sits with Wadland and a reporter
during the interview. Adding to the conversation, Ricupero relates that Kappa's
"First President was Elizabeth Scott Pettingill. The shop started in 1951,
the first Chairperson was Euphemia McDonnell McBeth Past President.
Initiations were in many places, the grand ballroom dances were held at
Memorial Hall and the teas were always held in the members homes.
Kappa Delta Psi continues to function as a sorority even though the Swap Shop
closed in 2007. It continues to provide support to their charities in and
around Melrose. At least for now it continues to thrive."
Wadland, when asked about her favorite part of Kappa, responds with a smile
and a simple one - word answer - "friendship."
August 5, 2016