Jun 17, 2010 1:10 PM | 1
Like the Shriners mentioned some time ago in Brooklynology, the Loyal Order of the Moose has long had a presence in Brooklyn, raising money for good causes while promoting pleasant social intercourse among its members. Founded in 1888 by Dr John Henry Wilson, who admired the way the moose protected the young and old of its species, the Order was originally nothing more than a social club. But according to its web site, it soon began using membership dues to offer benefits to members in need, providing "security and protection for a largely working class membership."
Relatively obscure among fraternal organizations, in the early 20th century the Order was one among a loopy constellation of inventively named clubs: The Ancient Order of Gleaners; Daughters of the Nile; Fraternal Order of Orioles; Improved Order of Heptasophs; Independent Order of True Friends; League of Elect Surds; Order of Owls; Tribe of Ben Hur; Woodmen of the World; and my favorite: Mystic Order Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm. Among that company, the "Loyal Order of the Moose" seems tame but solid and imbued with considerable staying power.
The Order's "Temple" at 482 Franklin Ave was not the only one in Brooklyn. The 1929 Eagle Almanac also lists the Coney Island Lodge at 553 Neptune Ave, and the Bay Ridge Lodge at 1223 78th Street. Nationwide the Order counted 674,630 members that year, although its numbers fell rapidly during the Depression. In 1953 a new Brooklyn clubhouse was dedicated at 7709 18th Avenue, with celebrations that included a rabbi, a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor, reflecting the ecumenicism of the organization.
While the hearts of the Moose were most definitely in the right place, their giving during the 1950s reflected the tobacco-addicted habits of the era. In fact the Veterans of Fort Hamilton Hospital were particularly favored as the recipients of thousands of Moose donations. In the picture above, disabled veteran Arthur A. Hofsahs is likely rendered yet more disabled by a gift of cigarettes from the basket of the Loyal Lady in the armband.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Today, the Moose are an "International organization of men and women dedicated to caring for young and old, bringing communities closer together and celebrating life." To that end they run many warm and fuzzy--and by all accounts highly effective--programs including Mooseheart City and School for children in need, and Moosehaven retirement community, fully persuading me that given the choice between ending up as either a Veiled Prophet of the Enchanted Realm or a Moose, I'd choose Moosehood, any day.