Posted by: ktzefr | June 14, 2013

Father’s Day, Memories, and Odd Fellows

Dad and Mom in the 30s

Dad and Mom in the 30s

Memories hide in old trunks, bookshelves, and photo albums waiting to be re-discovered.  One memento I came across recently was my dad’s Odd Fellows lodge manual.  The book states that it “must at all times be in possession of, or under control of, The Noble Grand.”  For 30 years, however, this copy has been in my possession.  My dad was a Noble Grand at the local lodge and progressed over the years through all of the “degrees” to be a Deputy Grand Master of Kentucky.  He was very proud of this accomplishment.

The manual gives instructions for holding meetings with passwords and signs and hymns and handshakes.  Stories from the Bible are an integral part of the ceremonies and there are specific meanings attached to a whole bunch of symbols.

A letter from the Grand Master for the State of Kentucky provides the latest “password” for the term beginning July 1, 1958; it was “?? 1/40 ?? 1/4.”  The “odd” fellows who sat in the state office must have had a grand old time coming up with mysterious passwords that folks outside the order could not possibly guess.  It seems unnecessary since all the men knew each other and everyone else in town, and no stranger was ever likely to crash an odd fellows meeting.  Still, my dad (and probably all the other men, too) loved the secrecy and mystery of it all.  (The Independent Order of Odd Fellows began in 18th Century England.)

I discovered photographs stuck in the little book.  One of my mom, dad, and me was taken when I was in high school.  I’m wearing the blue coat with fake silver fox collar that my dad picked out at Montgomery Ward.  It wasn’t my first choice and was way too expensive, but he wanted me to have it, so I wore it out of the store and he spent the next six months paying for it.  There’s another picture of my dad with the four oldest grandkids.  It’s summer and the grownups are in the background sitting at the picnic table under the maple tree.  Dad is holding my new cousin Billy, a Potawatomi Indian baby my Aunt and Uncle had just adopted.  Billy was the sixth adopted cousin in the family.  Also tucked between the pages is half a ticket to the Redskins game with Buffalo that Dad had gone to with my husband when they came for a visit to DC.  Dad loved professional football and his favorite team for many years was the Baltimore Colts, but for various reasons he disliked the Dallas Cowboys as well as any sports team that hailed from New York.

Every year he looked forward to the beginning of hunting and fishing season.

L to R: Uncle George, Dad, two friends, Uncle Chester

L to R: Uncle George, Dad, two friends, Uncle Chester

In later years, crabbing with Mom in Ocean City, Maryland…


In this photo I was in the middle of packing my car to go to a month-long training session for my first real job.  I had never driven on the interstate so Mom and Dad followed me the 20 miles to I-75 to make sure I knew what I was doing.  I was waving to them in the rear view mirror and feeling full of confidence when I saw the I-75 sign, turned too quickly, and sped off down the wrong side of the traffic island!  I was grateful there was no oncoming traffic and was able to back up and head in the right direction.  I was more cautious, and humble, the rest of the trip and made sure to call when I arrived safely.

me and dad

I can put the Odd Fellows “Rituals” manual away, satisfied that I haven’t given away any of their secrets, and happy to have stirred up a few memories of my own.  Sometimes I wonder about this:  if we continue to rely more and more on technology to store our books and photos and mementos, future generations will have no use for old trunks and dusty bookshelves from which to uncover memories.  Sad.

A cardboard flyer that was stuck in the back of the book details the Odd Fellows lodge funeral services, the proper verses and hymns to be said and sung.  One verse caught my attention.  From “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” by Isaac Watts:

“Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;

They fly, forgotten as a dream

Dies at the opening day.”


Happy Father’s Day…and Happy Memories!


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