Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A Texas Trifle of Triva


Now, I know you are jes' dyin' to know the story behind this photo.

I give you the Lufkin, Texas Hoo Hoo Band! Hey, don't be laughin', the band once played for the International Concatenated Order of the Hoo Hoo. Here's a descriptive passage of the fraternity's history taken from their web page:

Full of this idea, the group set about to mold the initial tenets of the new order; it was to be a war on conventionality; there would be no lodge rooms with forced attendance; no marching in the streets in protest; no "bothering" anybody; no uniforms or flashy regalia. There would be one single aim: to foster the health, happiness, and long life of its members.

It was further proposed that this new order should devise a secret means of communication so that any member could correspond with any other member on matters of interest to one another without revealing their identity to those persons outside the fraternity. It was also determined that only those individuals who by virtue of their avocations were naturally fraternal would be recruited.

Once the basic nature of the new order and its eligibility requirements had been determined, the men set about considering a name that would convey the proper "personality" for an organization such as this. The name would have to be friendly to represent the fraternal nature of the order,but also contain a certain degree of mystique to represent the exclusivity of its membership.

Recognizing that the name "Ancient Order of Camp Followers" did not accomplish either objective, the group wasted no time agreeing with the suggestion by Johnson that "Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo" was the perfect name. The word "Hoo-Hoo" had been coined by Johnson himself only one month earlier at Kansas City in describing a most peculiar tuft of hair, greased and twisted to a point, atop the otherwise bald head of Charles McCarer, of Northwestern “Lumberman”, Chicago. The name Hoo-Hoo became a catch phrase among the lumbermen in various areas to describe anything unusual or out of the ordinary. A good poker hand was a "Hoo-Hoo hand." A strange hat was a "Hoo-Hoo hat". The breakfast which was prepared by the old lady mentioned above was a "Hoo-Hoo breakfast" because the lady's fingerprints remained on both sides of the pones even after they were cooked.

Thus, Hoo-Hoo well described this new order, and since the word "concatenate" means "to unite", it was decided the two words made a perfect marriage.

Being a war upon conventionality, Hoo-Hoo was to be non-superstitious from the beginning. Therefore, when the discussion lent itself to adopting a mascot it seemed the black cat would be the critter extraordinaire due to its general association with bad luck. Also, having no history of its own, Hoo-Hoo would assume some other history, decidedly that of ancient Egyptians who worshipped the black cat as a deity. (Other Egyptian religious symbols and lore found its way into Hoo-Hoo in later years through the Osirian Cloister, an "upper chamber" of Hoo-Hoo consisting of the order's most dedicated workers.) In honor of the legendary nine lives of the cat, Johnson suggested that the number nine assume a high and lofty position within the makeup of Hoo-Hoo. There would be nine men on the Board of Directors. The order would hold its annual meeting on the ninth day of the ninth month beginning at nine minutes after nine. Annual dues would be 99 cents, and the initiation fee would be $9.99. The membership would never consist of more than 9,999 men.

W. E. Barns had just completed reading Lewis Carroll's "Hunting of the Snark" and suggested that the directors be given names of an "eerie and peculiar" nature like those used in the book. Hence, the names "snark", "bojum", "Sr. High Hoo-Hoo", "Jr. High Hoo-Hoo", and "bandersnatch" were chosen, although "jabberwock" later replaced "bandersnatch". The other names which are now affixed to officers (e.g. Scrivenoter, Arcanoper, Custocatian, and Gurdon)were the products of Johnson's imagination some days or weeks later. Johnson commented in later years that on that day the group could not get away from words like “'grand" and "sublime", and things that were "high". Therefore, the Grand Snark was born that day, but he later assumed the "universe" as his kingdom. The bojum became the Holy Bojum to serve in the capacity as chaplain. The name "scrivenoter" sounded like a "note scribe" and was assigned the duties of secretary. Smith filled the scrivenoter's position until 1896 from the Hoo-Hoo office on the fourth floor of the Equitable Building in St. Louis. The "arcanoper" was to stand within the garden and be the "opener" of the gates to those requesting admittance into the realm of Hoo-Hoo. The name "Gurdon" had the faraway hint of "guard" to it and was therefore assigned to the sergeant-at-arms, and was also an obvious compliment to the place of the order's birth.

It was decided at Gurdon that the board of directors would consist of nine men to be called the "Supreme Nine". It was also decided that the Snark would be one of these nine along with other elected persons who would bear the titles mentioned above.
The first Grand Snark was an appointed position being awarded to Charles McCarer whose tuft of hair inspired the name of Hoo-Hoo as mentioned above. McCarer was not present at that meeting but was still honored with the title and given the number 1. Johnson became member number 2. The remaining numbers were assigned as follows: W.E. Barns 3, George W. Schwartz 4, George K. Smith 5, James E. Defebaugh 6 of Chicago, Ludolph A.O.E. Strauss 7, Robert E. Kelley 8 of the BEAUMONT JOURNAL (Texas), and Thomas K. Edwards 9, Lumber AgentI.C.R.R., Chicago. No mention is made as to why William S. Mitchell was not given a number that day. He was later given the number 56but his concat is shown in the record book as having occurred on that day in Gurdon.

Thanks to Will's Texas Parlor for the link to Bob Bowman's East Texas
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K. said...

Finally: Someone takes a stand against lodge rooms with forced attendance. About time, too!

Naomi said...

and no ladies' auxiliary? sounds like a group ahead of its time, i.e., one that did not take itself too seriously.

bill/prairie point said...

judging from the picture the tenet about " no uniforms or flashy regalia" didn't take hold.

Pete said...

I love the photo of the band, although I was never one for fraternal organizations.

Nearly 100 years ago, my grandfather played baritone horn in the town band of Stow, Maine. The Stow band wore uniforms cut along the lines of Sgt. Pepper, although made from a more serviceable black velvet decorated with silver embroidery in a lyre motif (I wish I was making this up).

The jacket of the uniform passed to me after the old man died in 1967. It fit me pretty well until I was about 30. I remember wearing the jacket in the early '70s with white button-fly bellbottom jeans and Earth shoes.

There are no surviving photographs of this getup, thank you, Jesus.

Cowtown Pattie said...

K: And just how does one "force" attendance? Threaten to shorten a beanie blade?

Naomi: Ladies and girls auxillaries. Yech. I'll take the Groucho stand on that one (you remember, something to the effect, I wouldn't want to join a club who'd have me as a member?)

Bill: The rules I listed were for the Concanated Order, not for the actual Lufkin Band. But, hey, I think those snazzy uniforms are the cat's meow!

Pete: Awww, now that photo would be perfect for a blogsite template!

Kay Dennison said...

I love this -- sounds like an organization I'd have a big ole time with!