Mystery History

Sep 26, 2012

Where are we? And what’s happening?

Editor’s Note: Ann Erdman, newly retired Public Information Officer for the City of Pasadena, has kindly agreed to regularly share with Hometown Pasadena readers her love of local history,…and clear up some of its many pictorial mysteries.

In this 1940 photo, members of the Sorelle Club, a Pasadena City College sorority, look on as one of 14 prospective new members goes through the rite of initiation in a Pasadena barn.

The women were dressed in nightgowns. Molasses and raw eggs was smeared into the women’s hair, and they were made to smoke foul cigars and grovel on barn floor.

After the humiliating hazing was complete, they were officially welcomed into the sorority during a formal ceremony:

When I was a senior in high school, I was initiated into the Belle Filles, a community service organization/junior sorority. The other candidates and I were blindfolded, taken to a very dark spot on Proctor Valley Road in rural San Diego County, and made to kiss a severed cow’s head on the lips without realizing what it was until the blindfolds came off (I knew it was something horrifying). Turns out the father of one of the members owned a meat-packing plant.

Thankfully, hopefully, this kind of hazing doesn’t happen very often any more, if at all.

Many thanks to Pasadena City College.

More of Ann Erdman’s discoveries can be found on her blog at

Photo courtesy of Ann Erdman, who would like to thank Erica Rolufs who created her “Lady of Leisure” hat for her retirement.



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena