The tall square building is the old Bartlett Odd Fellow’s Hall. Whoever has it now put a coat of paint on it. When I lived there, it all looked like that top dormer, and the letters “IOOF” could just be made out above the second story windows.
Following is a post that I made on the AODA_Public board, but I also want to put it here because it’s kind of important to me, and it gives a brief review of a book I just read that is relevant to the topic of this blog:
“I just got this book [Inside a Magical Lodge, by John Michael Greer] based on the posts here, and I have to add to the chorus of praise – I love this book! As a founder and leader of a small magical/religious pagan group, I’ve found that there aren’t many helpful books on the subject – the only other really valuable one I’ve found was Judy Harrow’s “Wicca Covens,” which has more of a psychotherapy-influenced group-process approach. Everything else I’ve found on the subject seems to be aimed at teenage girls.
“Inside a Magical Lodge” comes from a different perspective and has gotten me really interested in the old fraternal orders. It’s also very practical and useful.
When I was about 11, my mom bought a big, falling-down old building that had the letters “IOOF” in faded paint across the top of the third floor. This place was totally unsuited for being a home, but it was lots of square footage for cheap. I now realize that my bedroom throughout my early teenage years was most likely the antechamber to the main lodge hall. There was a peephole in the door into the big
main room whose purpose I now understand. I knew what “IOOF” stood for, but I never gave it that much thought – though I spent many hours in that room as a kid reading books by Crowley and Regardie and others, wishing that there was something like the Golden Dawn for bright twelve-year-olds. Kind of gives me another perspective on the
. . . [edited out irrelevant bit about OES floor cloth, and bit about PA Grand Lodge. Leaving in the link for those who might be interested]
I had forgotten about much of this. I mean, I remember that we lived in an Odd Fellow’s Hall, but I never thought of it as anything all that interesting. Mostly I resented the place. It was drafty and cold and sort of embarrassing. I wanted a real house. As an adult, people hear that I lived in a tipi and an Odd Fellow’s Hall and we had sled dogs and stuff, it sounds interesting and exotic. At the time, I felt poor and wierd. I’m grateful now for much of it, because it made me into the person I am, and I like me. I’m not “normal” and I would have felt even worse trying to pretend that I was. I don’t think I realized that as a kid, so it didn’t help back then.
I’m now overwhelmed with curiousity about the history of fraternal orders in New Hampshire. I’ve tried to find information about the chapter that would have used our house as their lodge, but to no avail. The NH historical society seems to have the information on the IOOF in New Hampshire, but I’d have to go use their library to find out more. I may still do that, but not for at least a few months yet. I also found that there was a Knights of Pythias lodge in town, as well. I’m trying to find where that would have been – I have a suspicion but I don’t know. It’s not like it’s a huge town.
That’s another thing – such a small town, with two fraternal orders? Every man in town must have belonged to at least one. The Hall is a huge building, as you can see, and if the K. of P. lodge was the place I think it might have been, it was almost as big. I don’t know of any Odd Fellows or Knights in town anymore. There is a Masonic lodge in N. Conway, and the Grange is active all over, but those two seem to have melted away.
I looked into the IOOF, to see if I wanted to join. There doesn’t seem to be a Philadelphia chapter, but even if there was, monotheism is one of the requirements for admission. I don’t qualify. The OES sounds interesting, and there is a lodge, here, and I was tempted in spite of the “Supreme Being” thing when I found this from the Chick people. If they think it’s a source of evil, then there has to be something good going on. They want you to be related to a Mason, though, and I’m not.
When I finally get back to something like rural life, I’ll look into joining something – it seems really important, in spite of the Christian thing. Actually, I should say because of the Christian thing – it’s not like I’ll be joining a church, so this is a way of getting to know the neighbors. As long as they don’t burn me at the stake, we should be fine.
*Apologies to whoever I swiped the above picture from – I did a web search to find a picture, and I think that came from someone’s Flickr vacation pictures (seems to have been taken from the train). I right-clicked, saved, and moved on without recording where I found it, and now I can’t find it again. I wanted to find some old photos of Bartlett, but couldn’t. Got homesick looking for them, though.