Tucson Oddity: The Odd Fellows carry on as their numbers dwindle

2012-01-16T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T12:01:21Z Tucson Oddity: The Odd Fellows carry on as their numbers dwindlePhil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 16, 2012 12:00 am  • 

In the middle of the 20th century, there was nothing odd about being an Odd Fellow.

The Odd Fellows, a group dedicated to community service projects, were connected to the town's movers and shakers in both the figurative and literal sense. From 1947 to 1957, the group opened up its lodge at 135 S. Sixth Ave. to those with dance fever.

The building, which now houses the Etherton Gallery and Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails, was known for sporting the largest dance floor in town. Lodge members would stow away their ceremonial trappings, then roll up the carpet to unveil the hardwood, and as many as 150 couples would pay between 75 cents and $1.25 to boogie on weekend nights.

Things are no longer hopping at the current Odd Fellows Hall, located at 1150 N. Palo Verde Blvd. since 1973.

But at least the fellows are still odd.

We're a little odd, I guess," said Charles Colvin, the 83-year-old Noble Grand - the organization's term for president. He says the group is stagnating, having difficulty recruiting new members.

"The people we've got are getting to the age that they can't do much anymore. It's kind of a Catch-22," said Colvin, adding that most of the 31 members have hit retirement age. He says the club's lone initiative is to raise support for a University of Arizona vision research program.

The group meets at 7:30 p.m. the first and third Thursdays of each month. Meetings are closed, and prospective members are invited to drop by a little earlier to chat.

Colvin says the Odd Fellows are a tight group, with members who are always there for one another, especially in current tough times for the group. Colvin said the Odd Fellows may be on the way out here because their attempts to recruit younger members have fizzled.

"We try, but we haven't had much success," Colvin said.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com

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