REEDSPORT — Eagles members are celebrating that which is new at their lodge. The Fraternal Order of the Eagles 2595, which has had a Reedsport chapter since 1966, emphasizes several different points from the last few years.
Harry "Jim" Ash said the building's looking better these days, thanks to donations and donated labor from the Lincoln Public Utilities District (new light poles), donated ropes from commercial crabbers, and bridge railings from city officials. These plus an exterior and interior paint job have brightened up the decades old structure instead of having it have the appearance of "a country-western bar," he said.
Ash and his wife discuss the changes during the Eagles' national 120th birthday.
The building dates back to 1940 and at one point served as Reedsport's library.
Albert Lambeth and Leroy Bleakney founded the Reedsport chapter in 1966.
James's wife, Darlene said that between the women's group, the Aerie and the Auxiliary, there's a little more than 200 members but as with any other civic group some are more active than others.
Those who are interested in joining the Auxiliary will go from paying $22 to $25 per year. By comparison, those who desire to join the Aerie, pay $65. Twenty five of that flows to the Grand Aerie. That will hike up to $63 per year starting in June of this year.
Civic groups around the nation seem to be struggling for younger members. Jim said the local chapter needs "younger and older (members)."
"Younger members carry on the history of the Eagles," he said. What may not be known to everyone is that the Eagles accept members as young as 18.
Jim, Darlene and fellow Eagles member Eugene Thomas visited recently at the lodge, sitting around a table.
"I can remember when IP (International Paper) was here and we had 300 members and that was Aerie," he said.
The two joke for a little bit.
"You're a Golden Eagle now," JIm asked.
"I'm just old,' Thomas replied.
The national timeline
Six theater owners established the Fraternal Order of Eagles Feb. 6, 1898, in Seattle, Wash. They were John Cort, brothers John W. and Tim W. Considine, Harry Leavitt, Mose Goldsmith and Arthur Williams.
"People Helping People"
Members established the Eagles Memorial Fund in 1944.
Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.
James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa.
In 1904, members started advocating for establishing a Mother's Day. In 1927, they created the Ladies Auxiliary. They supported the approval of the Social Security law.
Jim takes a much larger societal perspective in how we as citizens communicate, looking beyond the Eagles. He discussed younger men, wondering why some of them always seem like they're busy on their cell phones. Darlene was at the hospital and while she was she was being helped, there were 10 individuals in the waiting room. Nine were on their cell phones.
"Are they playing a card game?" Ash said. "Are they stock brokers? I know it's (communicating and being on a cell phone) a trend."
Ash spoke of the critical importance of the national Eagles, saying "they helped found Mother's Day."
Yet membership's declined over time. "All lodges are struggling because they're basically (composed of) senior citizens."
"The sad part is they think this is the Eagles and that's it," he said, looking around the recently painted, decades-old room. "Well, it's not a bar. The young people don't know what it's all about."
Ash makes the argument that through a lodge, one can find a better connection.
"It's more wholesome," he said. "More friendly."
Several American flags showed a bit of what it means to be an American in Lodge meeting rooms as volunteers decorated the building dining tables for an upcoming dinner with cheery Valentine's Day items.
For more information about the local unit or about the Eagles in general, call 541-271-2037 or email email@example.com. Locals have a Facebook page up and operational and are still adding items to it. Simply type in the words Reedsport Eagles.