So I Became a Junior Oddfellow

Each time I do a massive culling of the “treasure” in our house, I come upon this relic; this 10×15 cm block of marble has a fountain pen attached with a magnet that allows it to rotate on the stand. At the bottom, a gold plate is engraved:

BETTY JANE HARKE

Presented by

Jr. Crest Lodge No.4

1962-1963

Exactly what honour was bestowed on me with this lovely piece? I can’t remember the words spoken when it was presented at John Russell Jr. High School in Camrose, Alberta, nor do I have a document with the proper citation. I believe, though, that it had to with high academic achievement or just being an all-round attagirl.

I am highly suspicious of “lodges” and “fraternities.”  A current IOOF website gives a long list of goals that seem to equip one for the business world, and a role as good all-round citizen. Still, I always think of rituals and secret handshakes and passwords…

The Independent Order of Oddfellows is documented as far back as 1730.

And —on September 20, 1851, IOOF became the first national fraternity to accept both men and women when it formed the Daughters of Rebekah. Not exactly a welcome to the boys’ club, but permission to be a subsidiary?

There are three linked circles in the IOOF icon representing Love, Truth, and Friendship.

The historic command of the Odd Fellow is to “visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan.”

An orphan I was not, but could it be that my timidity and what someone long ago described as “your constant expression of sadness” started that rumour?

There is no history in my family of membership in lodges, special orders, clubs, and I think I will divest myself of the Jr. Oddfellow affiliation, but I am keeping this fine desk ornament, and I’m quite sure that I can find a bottle of Parker’s Ink to get that pen moving again.

It has escaped the purge. How would one recycle this lovely piece? I will dust it off and let it stay on my desk as a talisman for my writing.

And I may send a photo of the award and a much belated thank you to the local order of the IOOF.

2 thoughts on “So I Became a Junior Oddfellow

  1. OMG cousin! Had no idea that you had been so honoured by such a curious (if not odd) group. Dave’s father was a Mason and his mother was a member of the … blah, blah Eastern Star (perhaps the gal part of the Masons). She was forever trying to interest Kezia in her pins and badges and at one point was anointed or appointing as something called a Worthy Matron. Apparently these women all sported short mink coats and reeked of perfume at their meetings. All very inscrutable to Dave and his siblings since they never divulged much about these affiliations to them. Please note that these comments have not been fact-checked and if you pass them along I don’t want to be your cousin anymore … just kidding. I remain your Cousin Dianne.

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