A View From the Corner -#4
A big hello again from the corner! Just when you all thought I had given up and gone away, here I am again, spouting off from the corner of the bar.
I was bouncing ideas for this article around my head (and believe me, its easy to toss around things in such a big empty space), wondering what to write about. One suggestion was that I talk about our 11 O’clock Toast. Another was to let folks know about the Elks Riders. That set my mind working, and I realized what I actually wanted to talk about was both of those things, but not specifically about either of those things. Instead, thinking about both of those things, it struck me that both of those things together reminded me how large and binding our organization is. Bear with me, I will get there in the end.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to be part of a pretty epic motorcycle trip across our great country. Myself, Chuck, Mark and two friends who are not Elks, got on our bikes and rode from Lakeland up to Chicago where the famous Route 66 begins. We rode from the very start of Rt. 66 all the way to its end in Santa Monica, California. We spent many nights in questionable hotels, drank more than our fair share of beer and made more than a few friends along the way. One of the very best things we did on our trip, at least in my mind, was to stop at Elk Lodges along the way. Almost without exception we were met with warm and heartfelt greetings and were afforded the very best of hospitality. On a few occasions we were present at the hour of 11 PM and were able to join in with other Elks in their home Lodges as they offered up the 11 o’clock toast. During that trip and a few others, I have been fortunate enough to share that experience in places as distant as Southern California and Maine. The people were different, the Lodges themselves were vastly different, but the words, and more importantly, the feeling behind those words were the same. It struck me then as it strikes me each time I hear our Toast, that Elks all over the country are, at that same time, reciting the exact same toast, the same stern command to all Elks that we remember those who are no longer with us. We, as Elks, are part of an Order larger than just our Lakeland Lodge. Larger than the district and larger than the state of Florida. This Order stretches from coast to coast with thousands of like minded men and women, all working towards the same goals, striving to make their part of the country just a little better.
Now, I know that my life is vastly different from the majority of you all out there reading this. I retired early and have the luxury of a pension and an abundance of free time. Those things afford me the ability to jump on my motorcycle and go as I please across this great country. Not everyone can do that. What we all can do, however, is make an effort to get out there and visit a few local lodges. It is no surprise that not many members have been able to visit Lodges in far flung states, but it IS surprising to hear that so few or our Members have ventured just down the road to visit the Plant City Lodge, or head out to any of the other Lodges in our District.
Our Lodge does have a way to reconcile that though. We have an active chapter of the Elks Riders. This is a group of Members who get together once a month to take a ride to different destinations across the area. We have visited outlet stores, diners, dive bars and even a winery. We are also making an effort to include visiting local Lodges in our upcoming rides. When we have a ride scheduled, the itinerary is posted on the bulletin board, showing stops and destinations. Riding a motorcycle is NOT required, nor is joining the Elks Riders (though it would be great if you did join, the more the merrier). The only thing that is required is the desire to socialize with your fellow Elks, see a few sights and have a good time. As a founding member, I invite and encourage you all to join us as we visit Lodges and hopefully you will be able to experience the warm feeling of belonging that I felt when I heard our 11 o’clock Toast so far from home.
See? In the end I managed to bring those two suggestions together!