Remember when we were all young and in better health? As young as fifty? And before we knew it, there was a code that served to isolate us where we stood in a nearly empty building? It’s humorous, and also a little frightening, when you stop to think about it. That we as a group, of all religious affiliations today, were forced at that time “according to code” to recite the Lord’s Prayer, even though its core beliefs might be anathema to our own. When I was Grand Master, I remember reminding members that “The Lord’s Prayer” was in the code, and their religious beliefs were not. I had no idea at that time that public shaming was part of the Grand Master’s job description.

Remember when those of certain races were not permitted on our premises? It was not as long ago as you think. In fact, some jurisdictions may still have these code books on their shelves. This was “according to code.”

Even before the beginning of this century, women were not permitted in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), and were relegated to a satellite group, the Rebekahs. This, too, was “according to the code.”

The point being is that if these things existed as recently as the beginning of this century, why is it that we assume all other code passages are still relevant? There are many ludicrous laws still in effect both in our code and in the real world. They can easily be found, as they are so humorous that no one has bothered to remove them from the books they appear in.

In Burlingame CA, you are not allowed to spit unless you are on a baseball diamond.

In Blythe CA, you are not allowed to wear cowboy boots unless you already own at least two cows.

No margarine is allowed in Wisconsin.

Children’s lemonade stands are illegal in Iowa.

In Alabama, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache and make an attendee laugh in church.

In North Carolina, bingo sessions may not last longer than 5 hours.

In Florida, no extra courtesy is thrown your way while you’re riding your elephant.

In Illinois, you are not allowed to give your dog a lit cigar.

In Florida, women are not allowed to parachute on Sundays.

In Memphis, Tennessee, women may drive but men must precede them waving a red flag.

While all these are humorous, and illogical, they all still exist, and are easily researched online. There are many more. This is not to say that our code is always wrong or abusive, but let’s remember that most code passages are first supposed to make sense, and still be relevant. Also, please keep in mind that the code is hardly perfect. It was composed by people. And people are hardly perfect.

In Friendship, Love, and Truth
Rick Boyles
Independent Order of Odd Fellows

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