In early June our church handbell choir has a gig in Jamestown, ND at a regional convention of the Eastern Star. Our director is active in the Eastern Star, hence our invitation to provide entertainment. My grandmother was a member of the Eastern Star, as my grandfather was a Shriner. I always thought of the Eastern Star as the old ladies who swept up behind the Shriners and Masons. Our handbell director insists that they are quite independent of the Shriners. I sometimes accompanied my grandmother when she cleaned and straightened up the Masonic Lodge in town. She didn’t seem too independent to me, but perhaps times have changed.
I note that today in history in 1819, the Oddfellows were founded. My grandfather belonged to the Oddfellows, too, as was my Uncle Harvey. I have my grandfather’s Oddfellow sword. It is very sharp and you could run someone through with it. My father was a Mason, but in late life left the Lodge because he thought some of his fellow Masons had been rude to my mother. The men in my mother’s family never joined fraternal groups, as that was frowned upon by the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church.
In our town we have the usual fraternal groups such as the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, the Rotary, and the Optimists. In Winnipeg I noticed a sign for an interesting group called the Zontas, I never figured out what they did. Fraternal groups are fading. We have a big Elks Club building here that sports a restaurant, bar, and space for parties and receptions, The Elks decided they couldn’t keep it going as it was, and leased out the entire top floor, including the restaurant and bar areas to the local Apostolic Pentecostal Church. I think it is a delightful combination. The Elks will carry on and drink and eat in the basement, while the Pentecostals will pray and repent upstairs.
Did you have family members who belonged to fraternal organizations? Make up a fraternal organization that you would be willing to join.