The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share (MPSIMS)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 03-19-2010, 04:19 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Ask the Elk

No, silly, not the big antlered quadruped, but a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE).

I was asked over in the "Ask the Freemason" thread to do this, so here it is.

I am currently the "Exalted Ruler" (roughly equal to President) of my local Lodge. My term ends next week, and my replacement is being sworn in then. The BPOE is a (roughly) 150-year-old American fraternal/charitable organization, and I'll answer pretty much anything I can.
__________________
Everything in moderation!
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 03-19-2010, 04:41 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,571
Well, how did the Elks get started? (For some reason I thought they were older)

Are you guys into the handshakes and ceremonies like the masons, or not?

What do the Elks mainly do? (Yes, I know that will probably vary from Lodge to Lodge at least somewhat)
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:01 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 27,985
I was an Antler (the junior version of the Elks) when I was a kid. Not because I wanted to belong to something (I actually avoid all fraternal organizations), but because everybody else had joined. My stepfather was a lifetime member of the Elks and used to like going to the hall to play poker and have a few "snorts". Do the Antlers still exist for kids, or was that a local thing?

Last edited by Chefguy; 03-19-2010 at 05:01 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:04 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Do you have to be a free-born, God-fearing male to join? :P
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:12 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Well, how did the Elks get started? (For some reason I thought they were older)
A group of entertainers formed the "Jolly Corks" in 1867, and they renamed it and turned it into a fraternal organization the next year.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Are you guys into the handshakes and ceremonies like the masons, or not?
We don't have a handshake, but there is definitely ritual during the meetings. I don't know what Masonic ritual is like, but ours is pretty tame. No hoods or skulls or naked spankings or anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
What do the Elks mainly do? (Yes, I know that will probably vary from Lodge to Lodge at least somewhat)
Each Lodge has its own focus, and each state has its own special project. The parent organization (Grand Lodge) does a wide variety of charity work, but most of it focuses around patriotic work (mostly taking care of veterans) and supporting kids (mostly through scholarships, but we have a very active drug awareness program and a big national hoop shoot competition).

My Lodge gives out 15-18 scholarships each year, as well as things like distributing safety helmets to skiers. We do "behind the scenes" stuff, too. We have an endowment we use to help families that have high medical costs due to accidents or illnesses. Frankly, that's the most secretive thing about us--members are strictly forbidden to reveal the names of anyone asking or receiving aid from the Elks.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:20 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
I was an Antler (the junior version of the Elks) when I was a kid. Not because I wanted to belong to something (I actually avoid all fraternal organizations), but because everybody else had joined. My stepfather was a lifetime member of the Elks and used to like going to the hall to play poker and have a few "snorts". Do the Antlers still exist for kids, or was that a local thing?
I don't know. We don't have an Antlers program here, but that doesn't mean they don't exist elsewhere. We do still have poker and snorts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AClockworkMelon View Post
Do you have to be a free-born, God-fearing male to join? :P
Two requirements: you must be an American citizen (there is no foreign branch of the Elks) 18 years or older, and you must affirm that you believe in God. There is no requirement to be Christian (we're fine with Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, etc.), but the organization doesn't accept atheists.

Once upon a time, you had to be male to join, but that restriction was lifted quite a while ago. The auxiliary organization for women (called the DOES, not the cows) still exists, but it's become rather pointless since women can be Elks now.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:25 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
We do still have poker and snorts.
What is a snort?

Quote:
[T]he organization doesn't accept atheists.
Darn. There aren't any secret ritualistic fraternities for the atheists.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:34 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by AClockworkMelon View Post
What is a snort?
A drink. Most Elks clubs have bars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AClockworkMelon View Post
Darn. There aren't any secret ritualistic fraternities for the atheists.
What, Scientology doesn't count?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:40 PM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
What, Scientology doesn't count?
They believe in a higher power alright.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-19-2010, 05:46 PM
PatriotGrrrl PatriotGrrrl is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Do you have many young members? Not kids, I mean young adults. My impression of fraternal organizations is that they're mostly older folks.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:05 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatriotGrrrl View Post
Do you have many young members? Not kids, I mean young adults. My impression of fraternal organizations is that they're mostly older folks.
That was an issue in my Lodge when I took over. The average age was over 70. We did a huge membership drive among the younger folks, and we've pulled in a bunch of 20-somethings and 30-somethings. As an experiment, we did a punk rock concert there a few weeks ago (since we're a private club rather than a bar, we could make it an "all-ages" show), and that's got the younger crowd even more interested. We also redecorated, switched out the Bud and Bud Light on the beer taps for local microbrews and brought in bartenders in their 30s.

Probably the biggest thing we've done to attract younger folks is to actively court women as members. Most couples these days would rather go out somewhere together, and the woman often picks where they go.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:22 PM
MEBuckner MEBuckner is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Posts: 10,265
Are the Loyal Order of Moose y'all's bitter rivals? Do you have gang fights with them, maybe involving fake antlers strapped to your heads?
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:28 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,571
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
There is no requirement to be Christian (we're fine with Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, etc.), but the organization doesn't accept atheists.
How about NeoPagans?
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:36 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
Are the Loyal Order of Moose y'all's bitter rivals? Do you have gang fights with them, maybe involving fake antlers strapped to your heads?
Frankly, I've never met a Moose. I've met a bunch of moose, though. They come right into the back yard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
How about NeoPagans?
To the best of my knowledge, NeoPagans do not accept the concept of a God as such, so I'd guess no.

(I stated my personal opinion on this in the other thread, by the way. It bothers me that the Elks do so much good work, but won't allow people to help just because they are atheists, or Buddhists, or pagans, or whatever. The Elks aren't affiliated with any particular church, so I don't see the logic behind it. Oh, well. Not my call.)
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03-19-2010, 06:56 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 18,571
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
To the best of my knowledge, NeoPagans do not accept the concept of a God as such, so I'd guess no.
Is the objection that many of us believe in a goddess rather than a god, or that we believe in multiple gods rather than a singular one? (I realize that is a bit of a tangent, but I am curious.)

We certainly believe in a higher power(s) - or is this something that tends to be settled on a local level?

Last edited by Broomstick; 03-19-2010 at 06:56 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 03-19-2010, 07:37 PM
CaveMike CaveMike is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
Two requirements: you must be an American citizen (there is no foreign branch of the Elks) 18 years or older, and you must affirm that you believe in God.
Wikipedia has it wrong and lists the minimum age of 21.

You mentioned that a lot of your members were 70 or older. Is there any residual resentment about allowing African Americans to join? Or is that history at this point?

Last edited by CaveMike; 03-19-2010 at 07:37 PM.. Reason: to join, dagnabit
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 03-19-2010, 07:58 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 22,544
What would it take for you to accept atheists as members?
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 03-19-2010, 09:45 PM
hellpaso hellpaso is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2008
This made me laugh. Quite a few years back, my husband was interviewing for a job in a shithole town in New Mexico (possibly Carlsbad, but not necessarily). They insisted on us going on a tour of the area with a real estate agent. The aforementioned real estate agent made it a special point to note that the local Elks Club had a new pool. As individuals who have had their own home swimming pools for the past 30 years, this wasn't necessarily a selling point for us. I was unable to restrain myself for stating to the real estate agent--"my husband is not an Elk--he's a Mystic Knight of the Sea. In fact, he's the Kingfish." She was like, "Oh, well I'm sure they would welcome him in."

Last edited by hellpaso; 03-19-2010 at 09:47 PM.. Reason: punctuation
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 03-20-2010, 09:57 AM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Is the objection that many of us believe in a goddess rather than a god, or that we believe in multiple gods rather than a singular one?
Multiple gods is the issue, as I understand it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
We certainly believe in a higher power(s) - or is this something that tends to be settled on a local level?
It is typically settled at a local and individual level. Certain Lodges, certain towns, certain communities, are more open than others. At a national level, the requirement is that you affirm you believe in God. It is up to you whether you'd be comfortable saying that, and whether you'd be comfortable with prayers opening and closing the meetings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaveMike View Post
Wikipedia has it wrong and lists the minimum age of 21.
No, that was my mistake. It's 21.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaveMike View Post
You mentioned that a lot of your members were 70 or older. Is there any residual resentment about allowing African Americans to join? Or is that history at this point?
If there is any such resentment, I'm unaware of it. Again, it probably varies from place to place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
What would it take for you to accept atheists as members?
Me? Nothing at all. I'd welcome atheists. The Elks organization? I have no idea. It would probably require a concerted effort by a group of highly-placed members.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 03-20-2010, 10:16 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 14,220
Quote:
Originally Posted by AClockworkMelon View Post
Darn. There aren't any secret ritualistic fraternities for the atheists.
Sure there are. However, unlike the other so-called "secret" fraternities, ours are truly secret.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 03-21-2010, 08:39 PM
RalfCoder RalfCoder is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Can non-members go into the lodge or building and just look around? I was born in the Elks lodge in a small town in northern Michigan, and I'd be curious to see it.

Well - it WAS a hospital at the time, but when the hospital built a new building, they sold the old one to the Elks.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 03-21-2010, 10:04 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by RalfCoder View Post
Can non-members go into the lodge or building and just look around? I was born in the Elks lodge in a small town in northern Michigan, and I'd be curious to see it.
Many Elks clubs will rent out all or part of their building for special events. Contact the Lodge, and you can almost certainly get a tour. If you know a member, they could take you in as their guest when the bar is open. The only time that a nonmember can't be present is during a meeting.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 03-22-2010, 09:11 PM
Anne Elk Anne Elk is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
We are related, I believe, in theory.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 03-23-2010, 12:13 AM
drachillix drachillix is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Sure there are. However, unlike the other so-called "secret" fraternities, ours are truly secret.
Illuminati....hello.... I so saw you at the meeting last week

Oh I wasn't supposed to say that huh...
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 03-23-2010, 01:19 AM
guizot guizot is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: An East Hollywood dingbat
Posts: 6,266
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
Many Elks clubs will rent out all or part of their building for special events. ...
Before it shut down, I went to several quinceañeros in the Elks-99 lodge, in Koreatown, Los Angeles, at Western and 6th.

And I often have to vote at the Masonic lodge at Franklin & Vermont in East Hollywood. It has no windows, and feels like a funeral home inside--like a tomb.*



*None of its officers live anywhere at all nearby.

Last edited by guizot; 03-23-2010 at 01:23 AM.. Reason: Footnote
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 03-23-2010, 08:13 AM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by guizot View Post
Before it shut down, I went to several quinceañeros in the Elks-99 lodge, in Koreatown, Los Angeles, at Western and 6th.
What are quinceañeros?
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 03-23-2010, 08:32 AM
Scumpup Scumpup is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by MEBuckner View Post
Are the Loyal Order of Moose y'all's bitter rivals? Do you have gang fights with them, maybe involving fake antlers strapped to your heads?
I've been an Elk since 1986, so I'll field that one. Yes they are, and yes we do. No antlers, though. What we actually have are West Side Story-style dance fights.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 03-23-2010, 11:29 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: A better place to be
Posts: 26,718
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
What are quinceañeros?
Coming of age parties for young Hispanics -- girls, usually, equivalent to "Sweet 16" parties and "coming out" (when that meant as a debutante, not as a gay person). Held on or about the 15th birthday, hence the name (which means, roughly "fifteenth-year-ers").

Last edited by Polycarp; 03-23-2010 at 11:31 AM.. Reason: I am the Master of the Meaning-Reversing Typo!
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 03-24-2010, 02:53 PM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Springfield, IL
Posts: 8,226
Are there any non-smoking lodges? Our town has a smoking ban, but private clubs are exempted, which means that our local Eagles and Moose (and AFAIK Elks) are all choked with cigarette smoke. That's one of the things that's kept me from joining a fraternal organization.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 03-24-2010, 03:56 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeyHomie View Post
Are there any non-smoking lodges? Our town has a smoking ban, but private clubs are exempted, which means that our local Eagles and Moose (and AFAIK Elks) are all choked with cigarette smoke. That's one of the things that's kept me from joining a fraternal organization.
It goes on a lodge-by-lodge basis. I made my lodge non-smoking when I took over as Exalted Ruler a year ago. We replaced the carpet and window coverings, which got rid of the stale tobacco smell, and it's really a much more pleasant place now.

The new law in Montana is interesting. Restaurants and bars must be non-smoking now, and private clubs are *not* exempted as long as they have employees. We have a few part-time employees and one full-time employee, so we couldn't allow smoking now even if we wanted to.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 03-25-2010, 09:54 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Behind the rabbit
Posts: 17,445
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary "Wombat" Robson View Post
It goes on a lodge-by-lodge basis. I made my lodge non-smoking when I took over as Exalted Ruler a year ago. We replaced the carpet and window coverings, which got rid of the stale tobacco smell, and it's really a much more pleasant place now.
Can the exalted ruler prohibit or permit smoking by decree, or do you have to put it to a vote?

I'm not a Mason but I saw the inside of the El Segundo lodge quite a lot. The band I was in had its one and only gig there, and they let us practice in there, leading up to the gig.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 03-26-2010, 04:24 AM
EvilTOJ EvilTOJ is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Well you already answered one question, "what does BPOE mean?" I didn't see anyone ask the obvious question, how do you become an Elk?

It's interesting that near my house there's a Mason lodge, a BPOE, and an Order of Odd Fellows all within sight of each other. There must have been some sort of real estate conspiracy....
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 03-26-2010, 08:08 AM
Scumpup Scumpup is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
When I became an Elk, an existing member had to propose you for membership. New candidates were voted on by the general membership. Nobody from my "class" got blackballed, but it had been known to happen in the past.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 03-26-2010, 08:47 AM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: North of Boston
Posts: 7,136
Do you have a theory about the brontosaurus?
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 03-27-2010, 02:37 PM
Gary "Wombat" Robson Gary "Wombat" Robson is offline
Vombatus Moderatus
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Montana, U.S.A.
Posts: 9,444
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilTOJ View Post
Well you already answered one question, "what does BPOE mean?" I didn't see anyone ask the obvious question, how do you become an Elk?
If you know an Elk, ask him/her to propose you. If not, stop by the Lodge, ask for an application, and find someone who will propose you.

The application is pretty short and sweet. There are a few questions that sound like Senator McCarthy wrote them, but it's mostly just what's your name, where do you live, and so on.

Your application will be read on the Lodge floor, and the investigating committee checks you out. In our Lodge, that's pretty informal. We don't interview your friends or come to your house or anything like that. Then you get voted on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scumpup View Post
When I became an Elk, an existing member had to propose you for membership. New candidates were voted on by the general membership. Nobody from my "class" got blackballed, but it had been known to happen in the past.
I've seen blackballs cast (actually, we use white balls for "yes" and black cubes for "no"), but I've never seen enough to keep someone out. It's not like the old days when a single black ball blocked you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by muldoonthief View Post
Do you have a theory about the brontosaurus?
He got blackballed.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 03-27-2010, 03:03 PM
Tom Scud Tom Scud is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
I was an Antler (the junior version of the Elks) when I was a kid. Not because I wanted to belong to something (I actually avoid all fraternal organizations), but because everybody else had joined... Do the Antlers still exist for kids, or was that a local thing?
I can actually answer this one (in excruciating detail if I get to my notes at work)... they exist in some lodges, not in others; there are quite a few Antlers programs in New Jersey, New York, and California, and they're a lot rarer pretty much everywhere else in the country.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:08 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.