By: Kelsey Logan, Youth Activities Director
In 1947, membership became open to everyone after only serving those of Czech and Slovak descent. The first English-speaking lodge was Lodge 262 of Cedar Rapids, IA. English speaking lodges began a new era in the history of the Association. The lodges attracted younger members, as the older lodges were mostly fluent in Czech. These new members brought fresh ideas to the Association. Initially, there was great resistance among some of the older Czech members to the formation of English speaking lodges. Mary Marvel, a charter member of Lodge No. 361 in Meadowlands, MN, remembers the dissension well,
“Young members of the Czech lodge went to the old lodge meeting to see what they’d say about forming a new English- speaking lodge. And, we went there and we were surprised. There were three of them that were very against it. They said we are a Czech lodge and we are going to speak Czech. There were Swedish people here and Finnish and they were intermarrying and they wanted to join a lodge but they didn’t understand Czech. The older lodge told us they would not help us and that we better come to their meetings and sit, listen, and when they are ready to give it up then we will know something. So we decided we were going to have our own lodge anyway so I wrote to the headquarters and got the information.”
Meadowlands Junior Lodge 361 chartered in April, 1935. Today, Lodge 361 is still active after more than 75 years. The lodge that did not want to join the English speakers, Lodge 65, came to see the benefit of the Junior Lodge and they hosted activities together for years. In 1973, Lodge 65 merged with the Meadowlands Junior, Lodge 361 since elderly members were unable to do continue doing activities.
*This story originally appeared in the Centennial Edition of the Fraternal Herald, 1997