Ironton Elks remains part of community

Published 11:16 am Wednesday, May 27, 2009

As the “Cheers” theme song mentioned decades ago, “sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.”

Nearly 70 years ago, that place was the Ironton Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks No. 177.

Located at 416 Park Ave., the Elks was once a bustling social hub patronized by, it seems, nearly everybody in town.

A look through a scrapbook compiled by current Elks secretary Patty Kelley provides a glimpse of the 1940s and the stature the Elks held in the local community.

Grand initiations, one so large it was held in the Ironton High School gymnasium, were the norm back then. Visitors trekked from neighboring states to behold the cohesive manner in which Irontonians held their city together, especially at the Elks.

While thumbing through the newspaper articles in Kelley’s compilation, I noticed many last names I am certain are ancestors to present Ironton citizens and Elks members: Allyn, Stuntebeck, Mascari, Crance, Triplett, Brown, Mearan, Gallagher, Cloran, Meehan, Keyes, Heald, Henry, Leach, Ainsworth, Neal, Cooke, Murdock, Lutz. The list goes on and on. One article by The Ironton Tribune even boasted that seven of its employees were Elks.

I also noticed my great-grandfather, Joe Moreland, who was the exalted ruler for the 50th anniversary of the Ironton Elks in 1941, as well as my grandfather, Paul Anderson.

According to my grandmother, Wanda Anderson, the Elks is where the seed that eventually became the Ironton Tiger Clan was planted and germinated.

That seed quickly produced Ironton Sports Day at the Ironton Country Club, a once lavish occasion that kicked off its festivities at, you guessed it, the Elks.

Today, “Old 177” remains active within the community, albeit with a much smaller cast of characters than those of yesteryear.

The history inside this building connects the lives of so many of us. Once I noticed my grandparents and their roles within the club, I thought, “how many others have family who contributed to this organization in years past?”

For the purposes of future articles, I would enjoy hearing from anyone who has information about the histories of the Elks and/or Ironton Sports Day.

And, if you haven’t visited in a while, stop by the Elks clubroom and notice the many changes the current leaders are making to the facility.

Order a steak, burger or appetizer from the recently opened I-Town Grill. Reflect on the lives of past Elks whose names are prominently posted on the entrance walls.

Or maybe, once I finally return it, look around for a black binder with “Elks 177” on the cover and absorb the history of this great club’s past. A part of your own past may be included.

Billy Bruce is a freelance writer who lives in Pedro. He can be contacted at hollandkat3@aol.com or by visiting his website, billybruce45.com.