Dear Dedicated Members for Change,

Step into the Odd Fellows’ Time Machine with me for a moment, and let’s travel back 100 years, to America in 1915. How did things look in 1915?

The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
Only 14 per cent of homes had a bathtub.
Only 8 percent of homes had a telephone.
There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.
The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 MPH.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
The average US wage was about 25 cents an hour.
The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
More than 95% of births took place at home.
Automobile fuel was sold in drug stores.
Sugar cost 4 cents a pound.
Eggs were 14 cents a dozen.
Coffee was 15 cents a pound
The three leading causes of death were pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, and diarrhea.
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was under 50 people.
Two out of every 10 adults couldn’t read or write.
Only 6 per cent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
There were only about 250 reported murders in the entire USA.

Clearly, 1915 was a much simpler time and a much different time than 2015 – in almost every way.

And yet, there are still members of this Order who act as if they want us to continue operating our Order and our Lodges like we were living in 1915. And here’s another big difference: In 1915, there were 44,831 Odd Fellows in California. Today, we can barely must 4,000 members. Heck, there are high schools in this state that have more students enrolled than the entire membership of our California Order.

Our numbers have diminished by over 90% since 1915 – yet many Lodge adhere to a 1915 view of the world. Let me give you just one example of this. Odd Fellows in 1915 utilized the “unwritten work” and memorized large swaths of the ritual and the degrees. That was certainly impressive, but it was also a necessity for those times. That’s because, in 1915 precious few members of the Order could even read. Accordingly, rote memorization was required. Yet today, some Odd Fellows still believe it is imperative that new members memorize, memorize, memorize. It’s not. And it is simply off-putting to those potential new members. Other examples abound: Using tiny, hand-written membership cards, keeping laboriously hand-written minutes in a binder, strictly adhering to “dress codes” when no dress codes are indicated in our Codes, etc.

The world of 2015 is quite different from the world of 1915. Generation X, Generation Y, and the Millennial Generation move at a different pace than those of us who are part of the World War II Generation, or the Boomer Generation. The basic principals of our Order remain as valued and valuable as they were in 1915 or 1815 for that matter – friendship, love, truth, elevating the character of man, faith, hope, charity, universal justice are timeless. But if we as an Order are locked in a time warp behaving as if we were in 1915, we will never reach those new generations to impart the important lessons of Odd Fellowship.

It’s time for all members of this Order to start living in the present. To attract new members to our Order in 2015, we have to stop living as if it were 1915, or 1945 for that matter, and start living in 2015.


Ready to “party on”? Here’s a final reminder to RSVP for the Social Hour and Pizza Party on Thursday evening, May 14, in Modesto, open to all Odd Fellows and guests. This event is hosted by Donna Morrison (the incoming Rebekah Assembly President) and me (the incoming Grand Master). You don’t have to be a Grand Lodge representative to attend. At last count, we already have over 160 RSVPs! All-you-can-eat pizza, live musical entertainment, great social time, and a no-host bar. Attire is comfortable and casual – T-shirts, Polo shirts, Hawaiian shirts, shorts, jeans, tennis shoes, flip-flops, sandals, are all welcome. The invitation is attached to this e-mail. Make sure to RSVP right away as the event is only days away.

F – L – T

Dave Rosenberg
Deputy Grand Master

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