Sunday, October 16, 2011

Davis Odd Fellows Dubiously Claim To Be the “Oldest Organization in the City” (15)

1. Excerpt from the DavisWiki

I. Some years ago, the fading chapter of the Davis Old Fellows Lodge (DOFL) was taken over by a new set of people who began, among other things, to claim that the DOFL was the oldest continuously existing organization in the Davis area, or at least in the city.

Based on my research, I think this claim is dubious at best and almost certainly false. There are at least five older such organizations in the city and six older when considering the wider area.  In August, 2010, I researched the list of the seven seen in image 1, checked it for accuracy with specialist historians, and posted my findings on the Davis History and DavisWiki websites.*

At that time, I also communicated the error to the head--the “Noble Grand”--of the DOFL.**

I received a polite thank you note from him. Then some months later, I saw the DOFL was again making its erroneous claim. I drew the Noble Grand’s attention to the error again, but received no reply.

Now, in the October 13th Enterprise, we see that the DOFL continues its claim despite presumably knowing  its validity has been questioned and declining to respond to that questioning (image 2). What is even stranger, this falsehood is also now featured on its website (image 3).

2. Davis Enterprise, 10-13-11

3. Excerpt from DOFL website

The declaration that “you are entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts” apparently does not apply to the DOFL.

II.  It is in this context that I notice that the DOFL is also engaged in claiming to have created the world’s longest bike parade (or something of that sort involving bikes).

This focus on “est” (read best) prompts me to wonder if being “est” is not a central value for this group--as in old-est and long-est.

III.  Indeed, if we go back to the group’s formation in Davis in 1870, we find it was “est” fixated even then.  At that time, the “est” took the form of being the richest, as David Vaught reports about the DOFL in his book After the Gold Rush. (A key excerpt from Vaught’s account is given in image 4).
4. Vaught, After the Gold Rush, p. 138

IV.  What next? DOFL-ers parading and chanting, perhaps along these lines?:

We are the best!
We are the best!
Rich-est!     Old-est!     Long-est!****




Here are more examples of  DOFL fixation on “est,” this time expressed as “set the record:”