Gertrude Stein, The Odd Fellows & The Essence of Place
September 11, 2013 in Grand Lodge
Gertrude Stein is one of our most famous literary figures. What many don’t know is that previous to forming her historical literary salon in Paris in the roaring twenties, she grew up in Oakland, California. Her literary salon was the destination of many famous figures from the early part of the twentieth century, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Djuna Barnes, Alice B. Toklas, Cole Porter, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and many others.
One of her most legendary quotes is “There is no there there”. There is an ongoing debate whether or not this was in regards to her early home in Oakland or in a visitation she made across the bay in San Francisco, but her meaning was clear in either case. One of the great messages of her life was to emphasize the meaning and essence of place.
No one can debate that her own life was filled with interesting people and points of view, and subsequently filled with activity and attractions for everyone. And a study of her life would show that she entertained individuals with many divergent personalities and did not judge anyone based upon her own political or artistic views. While her salon and the restaurants and saloons of Paris certainly nourished her visitors, it was imperative that their minds sought nourishment as well. If Gertrude Stein had only hung up a sign that said free food and drink, she certainly would have gotten visitors, but how did she get such a high level of visitors?
The answer is simple: she offered something beyond food and drink which was food for the soul. The real thing we all search for is nourishment for our souls. In our own group, we tend to forget that we have a motive beyond nourishment. All of us are unique but all of us are together in this group we all belong to beneath the moniker of The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Many of our lodges offer fine meals and snacks to our members and prospective members, but imagine if we offered something beyond that – camaraderie of sorts, opening arms, intellectual debate, congenial discourse; why, we might see an infusion of new and colorful members. Isn’t that what we all seek? Let’s ask ourselves in each lodge what we want to see in our lodges and perhaps we are already on the right path. In between the meals and the drinks, there lies humanity and if we are really interested in progress, we will realize that the path to the future is not only paved with good intentions but also intelligent conversation, congenial souls, and open hearts.
In Friendship, Love and Truth,
Rick Boyles, Grand Master.