Back even before I was a kid, it seemed that fathers had this strage ritual to join a lodge. Whether it was an Elk, Moose, or some other wierd animal. I never quite understood it. It was some mystical place that only dads could go and do whatever it was that only dads did.
I think my first memory of this lodge thing was via The Flintstones when Fred and Barney were members of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes Lodge No. 26. (don't worry, I didn't know the lodge number off hand - that came with the search for this cool picture!).
Of course, by the time I was 18, a place where only grown men were allowed was called a bathhouse. But I doubt logdes were bathhouses ... although Fred does look mighty happy.
The reason I bring this weird thread of lodges, is naturally because of a memory from my past. It was early in the year 1982 and I had become friends with this incredible boy named Jeremy. Hot pink mowhawk and 100% pure punk. He lived in a room in a squat near Broad and Fitzwater sts ... which at the time was truly a punk neighborhood. No one really lived over there, cept those that were born and couldn't move away. So Jeremy and about 5 other punks took over an abandoned house and made it their own. They had a couple of kerosene heaters for nighttime when needed (esp since it was pretty drafty), and there was still juice in the house so they had light. The place was tagged from top to bottom with grafitti and there was usually a keg in the living room ... now that's life.
Anyway Jeremy and I became pretty close - I suppose by today's standards we were dating - although back then one never DATED a punk. You just hung out. One night Jeremy told me that he was going to initiate me into an official Lodge! Of course, all that went through my mind was the image above and that I'd have to wear some crazy hat. Thankfully, that wasn't the case.
The initiation was a mix of drinking a lot of beer and making out (not bad!) and then we walked down Fitzwater to 16th and there it was ... I had passed it before but never knew it was right there!
It was the Elks Lodge - technically still an offiical lodge, but pretty much taken over by the punks and now called a 'center'. They would have all-age punk shows where you could drink from the keg if you had I.D. I remember that there wasn't much on the walls or anything. It was like the owners took everything down for security and just opened the bare room up for these nutty kids. Which was a smart move, since this was the place to earn a bruise from a kick-ass mosh pit.
The energy was severe. The music loud. The memories foggy. But what I do remember most about the Elks was the people. Amidst a facade of anger and testosterone, there were a group of kids finally being free. There was a family. You could walk in there and punks I didn't know would come over and take you in. That's really the root of many of the clubs back then - and the scene in general. It wasn't JUST about seeing bands play. It was family. No matter where you went, you saw the same faces and you were glad to see the same faces.
Because it reminded you that you were home.