Mike Garniss thrust a steaming doughnut at me (not the one he was already eating) soon after I arrived at the Odd Fellows Hall, 4729 W. National Ave, Milw. for a night of introductions and familiarizing with the lodge, AND a sumptuous array of Chinese carry-out, beverages and desserts. Mike is English, with the accent, a personable and jolly chap in an Odd Fellows fleece vest.
My interest was piqued in the Odd Fellows fraternity when I moved into the Putney Building, and in fact within our dwelling on the 3rd floor we sometimes hear the ghosts of merry Odd Fellows cavorting about on the old plank floors, now carpeted over but still alive.
The building was erected, as formerly stated on these pages, in 1882 of limestone from the Silurian Age when the stone was formed first as sediment, 137 to 147 million years ago. That puts the Putney, and much of limestoned downtown Waukesha, in perspective.
Putney, the owner, was an Odd Fellow and a Mason. The roofline facade on the Grand Avenue side of the building has the Odd Fellows symbol, painted and restored by the current history-minded owners. (See: http://www.gmtoday.com/news/local_stories/2009/Feb_09/02282009_03.asp On the Main Street side there is a matching Masonic emblem.
Both orders held their meetings originally in this building where we now live.
Note horse and buggy whisking by on the right. This picture came from historian John Schoenknecht. The original was a stereopticon.
A brief synopsis of the Odd Fellows tenets.
enlarge to read
Last night's meeting showed the varied dress code.
The man on the left had a real hand-tied bow tie on.
It hung slightly askew in the manner that suggests the tie
is not a clip-on.
Mike again. An interesting chap who, I'm told, has been around.
Some Odd Fellow history about Thomas Wildey,
the founder of the North American order.
A shrine of sorts for the late Wayne Leverenz, beloved friend and officer of the lodge. His obituary in the framed assembly of memorabilia and badges he wore tells of Wayne's many fraternal affiliations.
I knew and admired him as a Knight of Pythias, Milwaukee Juneau Lodge No. 21.
The Odd Fellows credo is:
WE COMMAND YOU TO VISIT THE SICK
RELIEVE THE DISTRESSED
BURY THE DEAD AND
EDUCATE THE ORPHAN
Odd Fellow good friend Walt Lohman, Waukesha farmer, invited me to come to this affair. Here he sits.
The uassuming but ordered lodge facade.
The Odd Fellows order is open to all regardless of age, sex - there are several women Odd Fellows - or race.
The one caveat is that an applicant believes in a supreme being.
We are affiliating.
How can we not?