Verdugo Views: Local Elks lodge has a rich history
Elks Lodge No. 1289 was dedicated in 1918 and membership grew rapidly. In the late 1940s they had nearly 2000 members. (Courtesy Glendale Public Library, Special Collections / April 5, 2012)
Germain said he was on a construction crew at the time. “My whole crew joined together. We all graduated from high school in 1945 or thereabouts.”
“I was pretty young,” he added. Germain was working for Welker Construction along with his friend Don Welker Jr. They had attended Hoover High School together, and he ended up going to work for his friend's father, Don Welker Sr. “There was quite a group of us, six of us out of the crew, that joined the lodge. I thought it was a good idea.”
The Elks lodge was a very active place when Germain joined. It had been formed in 1912, and the lodge building was dedicated in 1918.
Their membership grew rapidly. By the time Germain and his friends joined, the lodge had a band, a drill team, an orchestra and a bowling team, and they were also sponsoring a Boy Scout group.
In fact, the entire decade had been very active. In 1940, they already had an astounding 1,099 members, and their male quartet — composed of George Wickham, John Michelmore, John Marvin and Paul Kent — won a state contest, according to a booklet provided by the lodge. In 1941, the lodge sent the quartet, along with the band and five bowling teams, to compete at the state convention at Long Beach.
However, with the start of World War II, social activities dwindled as more than 200 men served in the armed forces. The next year, the lodge received a citation from the Navy for its support of the war effort. With the end of the war, membership grew again. By 1945 it had 1,600-plus members, and the following year it threw a big party to welcome home those who had been in the service.
Their musical group, the Choraleers, won a Glee Club contest at the state convention in 1947, and the lodge began enlarging its building in 1948.
By 1949, the year Germain joined, membership was heading toward 2,000, and the newly expanded lodge had been dedicated, with many dignitaries in attendance.
Germain served as the group's leader in the 1980s, just after the beautiful lodge building was destroyed by fire. The lodge burned down in 1986, and the year Germain was president, members held their meetings at a Pasadena location.
Germain said his wife passed away very recently, and the lodge has become an even bigger part of his life. “It has been a lifesaver for me to go down to the club and be amongst friends, play a little game of cards, visit with people. It's cheap therapy for me. I've made a lot of friends in this group. It's sure nice to have a place to go to enjoy being with them.”
Many of his friends from construction days are still around.
“There are still six or seven of us that meet for lunch. It's a good feeling to join a group that does good for others.”