Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shriner Saturday

Well, OK, these might not really be Shriners, but they are some form of Masons... Elks, Owls, Odd Fellows, Moose, Knights of Columbus, Knights Templar, Knights of Pythias, Red Men, Woodmen... the list goes on and on. There is something fascinating about these strange fraternal organizations - some, like the Shriners, are well known for their charitable works (and driving around in little cars). Some say their secrecy hides all kinds of sinister shenanigans. That's a nut I'm not going to crack on this blog!

What we DO know is that these guys love a parade. Mystical "Oriental" costumes are generally favored. "Salami, salami, baloney". Resplendent seems to be an apt description! These costumes are much more comfortable than the furry animal costumes some of them wear at home. You can see that this photo was taken along Michigan Avenue at Abbott; in 2013, Abbott street doesn't really even intersect with Michigan Avenue anymore. There's newer construction all around, even a People Mover station. Who knew! Anyway, I love the old buildings and vintage signs (EAT GOOD FOOD) in the background. 

Here's a photo from October 1961, in an unknown town, though I am guessing it must be near York, Pennsylvania based on other photos in the bunch. Also, the banner in the foreground shows part of the word "Harrisburg"(the capital city of Pennsylvania). Maybe this was a Columbus Day parade - the perfect time to put on turbans and silk pants and slippers with curled toes.  


Nanook said...


You've inspired me to pull my gay harem pants out of storage and wear them in high-fashion downtown. That should liven-up the usual hum drum street scene.

Nancy said...

Have to say that I was busy looking at those buildings too rather than the fellas even before I read your commentary. Cant help wondering who decided they need to wear THOSE shoes?

Love the old signs, too. This looks much like a spot here in my hometown, like the people watching from their windows and the fire escape :-)

Melissa said...

Grandpa was a Moose, and my uncle and his in-laws are Masons, so we always had lodges handy for big family events, and the Masons throw a great funeral. But everybody loves the Shriners best, because they throw hard candy and wear snazzy hats. These guys forgot to change out of their Crocs before putting their feet up by the fire.

I love how the marchers in the first picture are really getting into it with their facial expressions. And the audience is a neat group if you zoom in. I wonder if the adults and kids in fezzes marched earlier or if they’re just showing support. The standing serviceman in uniform looks like he might just be home on leave, but the one sitting down strikes me as an ex-service type. Of course, I’m no expert on uniforms, so he could be a Scoutmaster or a UPS man for all I know. The one guy under the Shooting Gallery sign looks like he’s wearing a Caribbean-style straw hat, but it’s blurry enough that he could just be standing in front of something.* On the left, on the fire escape, under the “Edges sign,” there’s a guy doing a Hidden Mickey. The grand prize comes if you follow down from the “G” in “General Store.” It’s the biggest, whitest babushka this side of the Volga!

This town seems satisfied with some very prosaic business models as long as their basic needs are being met.
“Acme General Store? No, thank, you, Mister! A Standard General Store suits us just fine ‘round these parts. They’ve probably got an Acme General Store in New York City if you like that sort of thing; probably got dancing girls in diamond tiaras packing your groceries into embroidered satin bags while they conjugate French irregular verbs. Probably got two brands of canned beans, too. Pervert.”
“A-1 Diner? What, Eat Good Food’s not fancy enough for you? You want to be fed turtle soup off a golden spoon by the Queen of England while the Vienna Boys’ Choir sings ‘Variations on Welcome to the A-1 Diner’ behind the counter, and all the dishes are made of pressed caviar and the caviar is made out of fine Wedgewood? No, thank you, neighbor. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be over at We Repair Automobiles, getting a Swedish massage.”

*In my Uncle Norm’s wedding picture, the two rather petite mothers-in-law are standing in front of enormous floral arrangements, and they look for all the world like they’re wearing big, Vegas-showgirl headdresses.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Don't know who they are but it makes want the watch "Malice in the Palace" by the 3 stooges.

They all look like Hassan Ben Sober, Ginna Rumma (Zorro's dad Don Alejandro de la Vega btw)and Affa Dolla.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, we all wore harem pants back when M.C. Hammer made them popular!

Nancy, I've always wondered how shoes with curled toes ever came to be in the first place.

Melissa, I think that on some level, the Shriners really DO get into their parades in a big way. It's not just for laughs. I can only assume that these photos show only a small part of what was a much bigger parade. Maybe a convertible with the local beauty queens, or even a big celebrity like Vivian Vance. Ha, I love the hidden Mickey! Not only is the general store a Standard store, it is a CUT RATE Standard store. Sounds like your Uncle Norm's mother-in-laws look like they belong in a mummer's parade.

Alonzo, I don't know that Stooges film (though I probably saw it when I was a kid). Hopefully it's one of the old ones, not a later one with Curly Joe.

Melissa said...

Our annual parade is pretty cool. We like to play up the contrast, like putting the beekeepers right behind roller derby girls, and the seniors' ukelele band with the cross-dressing bikers, and boy, does that unicycle group love to dart between the stiltwalkers' legs! The Shakespeare company didn't really enjoy having to swordfight around the cowpats and horseflops when they were behind the 4-H kids, but that's probably how they did it back in the Bard's day. It's no fun messing with the trainee guide dogs, because nothing fazes them, but they're so damn cute it doesn't matter. No, I don't know why the girls on the composting float are dressed like mermaids. It says right on their brochures not to put fish bones in your home composting bin. The chainsaw jugglers sure seem to like it. I think these Aladdin/Sinbad/Three Wise Men guys would fit right in (although I suspect some of the dudes in the second pic would have to wash their faces).

However, my absolute favorite part of the parade is the Random Weirdos.

They're not part of any organization, as far as I can tell. They don't march near any group or carry signs. They're not festival or parade clowns - nothing in their clothing or makeup suggests anything in any world clowing tradition. Occasionaly you'll see one on a unicycle or bicycle, but they're not with the unicycle group, and, well, we're the kind of town where you don't necessarily go a day without seeing someone on a unicycle or wearing a tricorn hat or singing in Latin at the bus stop or Morris dancing with his chums on the roof. They're just out there in the street, with funny hats or shorts and mismate striped kneesocks or tutus or something. Sometimes one might caper or wave to the crowd. I guess they could be supposed to be there, but I kind of think they just jump in, and the organizers feel that as long as they're not making trouble they might as well let them have a bit of fun. Every year when parade time draws nigh I toy with the idea of becoming a Random Weirdo, but I think if I drank enough to actually do it I'd and up hurling all over the rescue greyhounds, and they've been through enough.

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to be a Shriner and ride those little go-karts.

The closest I have gotten is to wear a fez, which I do often.

Cool pics, Major.


xjjjx said...

The first photo is at the corner of Abbott street and Michigan avenue in Detroit. You can tell by the street signs. That whole area is gone now, bulldozed to make way for the new federal building housing the local branch of the FBI and Veterans Affairs, etc... The two streets dont even cross anymore. the whole historic area has been obliterated.

The second photo is taken in Waynesboro, PA. The flower shop is still there and the block looks somewhat unchanged. the road was widened, by the looks of the stop line visible, but that side of the street remains intact. look in google street view for Eichholz Flowers
287 E Main Street, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

xjjjx said...

And check out, in the second photo, the guys in blackface. it sure wouldnt go over wellt in this hypersensitive society we live in today, but it was all in fun then, i guess.

Major Pepperidge said...

xjjjx, excellent detective work! It is interesting to see how much certain areas have changed over the years; I just scanned an old L.A. slide with a street corner that doesn't exist (one side street is now solid buildings). Thanks for the ID on Wayneboro, PA; amazing that the flower shop is still there. Yes, I noticed the blackface... that would never pass muster today!

xjjjx said...

After studying the second photo closer, it appears to be of the Oriental Band of the Zembo Shriner Temple in Harrisburg. That organization still exists. i sent them an email with a copy of the photo, and am awaiting a reply.