Dedicating the lodge

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What it is:

Photo measuring 10 x 8 inches.

What I know about it:

Written on the back in pencil is Dedication / June 3, 1967 / Waterbury- / Good Will Lodge.  And see below.


Earlier this week I saw a play in a theater that was once an Elks lodge.  The director showed me a door that still has a peephole in it from use in secret ceremonies.  I find it interesting how ordinary people get swept up in activities that are harmless, but which, to an outsider, can seem so bizarre (something to which I’m certainly not immune).  It made me feel like visiting my photos from the Baums again.  This is another photo from the estate of Dorothy Baum, who, with her husband William, were very active in fraternal organizations, she in the Daughters of Isis, he in the “Negro Elks”.  My albums of their photos relate entirely to those activities.  This is a photo from a ceremony of Elks dedicating a lodge in Waterbury, Connecticut.  (Though it’s labeled “Good Will Lodge”, I think it’s actually supposed to be “Goodwill Lodge”.  It seems to still be around.)  The people aren’t identified, but I recognize a couple.  The man at the table, second from left, with legs crossed and staring right into the camera, is William Baum.  And though I’m not a hundred percent certain, I believe the man standing and speaking is Hobson R. Reynolds, the Grand Exalted Ruler of the entire national organization.  He can be seen in one of the photos I posted here, but there’s an even better photo of him here, posing for a beer ad in an old Ebony magazine.  Also, I have to say I’m amused by the man standing in front of the “No Standing” sign.

2 comments on “Dedicating the lodge”

  1. Yes, I know what you mean about being swept up. My grandfather and his father and his father were all Masons. I know that there are many beneficial aspects to this organization but there are man odd things as well. I too, had an affiliation with a different group for thirty years. It all seemed normal until I was no longer in it. Only then was I able to see things from a different perspective and be able to separate out the good (valuable) vs. the bad. I think with anything, a group may have qualities that are appealing in some way…so you continue but in time, it is possible to lose the ability to see things from an exterior viewpoint…no longer questioning but accepting things. But all of this could be said about many of the church organizations that a lot of us grew up in as well.

    • Exactly. It’s not that there aren’t benefits to such organizations, or that they don’t do good works in their communities. It’s just that their internal rituals can seem odd to an outsider.

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