Why am I an Odd Fellow?
This is a question that people either ask me that we as members should look deep inside and ask ourselves from time to time so that we can honestly answer why we are so invested in fighting for our beloved Order.
I have written about a variety of all things Odd Fellow on this blog but have failed to write about my own experience with the Order. Although, my time as an Odd Fellow compared to most is relatively short, I have experienced and learned a lot in that time that may hopefully be of value to another member. This will be a multi-part series on my journey to Odd Fellowship.
I am an Odd Fellow quite by accident. I don’t have a proud multi-generational lineage that many members have. In fact, I don’t know if any of my ancestors were Odd Fellows. It wasn’t until 2011 that I even knew the Odd Fellows existed. That was when my best friend and business partner and I purchased a building in a small Midwest downtown.
Unremarkable from any of the thousands of other small towns in this part of the world. We knew from the real estate listing that the upstairs apartment and “ballroom” was once the old Odd Fellows hall. Wanting to know more about the history of my new residence and business storefront, I started researching.
That was when a chance encounter with someone who had lived in the apartment in the early 1990s told us about a cache of old stuff in the crawl space.
The treasure hunt was on!
We removed some of the 1970s acoustic tiles from the drop ceiling in the laundry room and found the access to the crawl space. The plaster had fallen in from some long ago roof leak and left the lathe exploded. This is when we really started to get excited. Through the lathe we could see different colored fabric peeking back at us.
So up a ladder I go and through the dusty hatch in the ceiling I went. And once I got a flashlight on and my eyes adjusted to the dark. Piles of thin pieces of fabric began to appear. And some other things too.
I rounded up and tossed down every item I found and we cleaned them up as best as we could.
There was a number on the “less fancy” collars…316. We now knew the number of the Lodge that had once resided in my new home.
I found the email of the Illinois Grand Secretary and asked if he had any information on the Lodge. His reply:
“Dear Sir: The lodge you were referring to was Tuscola Lodge #316. The lodge was opened on June 6, 1865 and was closed on April 9, 1953.”
This was another small piece of the puzzle. I was so curious as to why the regalia had been tossed up in the crawl space but now had some dates to go by.
As some time went by we made a post online about the found regalia and a retired Judge in town got wind that we were interested in the history of our building. So he came by the tattoo shop and brought us a surprise. It was a plaster shelf that was original to our Lodge. It had been given to him by a previous owner of the building when they were selling off all the lodge items in the 1970s. To this day I have never seen another like it.
Stay tuned for Part 2!