The Westminister Elks Lodge

Elks Care and Elks Share

Westminister Lodge

Tour - Buena Park | Tour - Fullerton | Tour - Garden Grove | Tour - Huntington Beach | Tour - La Habra
Tour - Mission Viejo | Tour - Newport Beach | Tour - Orange | Tour - Santa Ana | Tour - Westminster

These write-ups are the fine work of Frank Mickadeit of the OC Register who published a series of articles on the Elks Lodges.  There are repeated onto this site to make it easy for our friends to find.

From Westminster – First, if you haven't already, you'll want to go to my two online-only columns that appeared over the weekend about our visits to the Newport and Mission Viejo lodges. Newport provided us with a classic "Frank" incident that has apparently sent reverberations through Elkdom and reminded me that the world doesn't necessarily share my views on free speech.

Anyway, after the Bad Night in Newport, we had a glorious day and evening in Mission Viejo – although I can't say the same for Dana Point Mayor Lisa Bartlett, whose bare leg Stan managed to burn with a cigar – and we arrived in Westminster about noon Saturday.

There's something tremendously appealing to me about the Westminster lodge. Tucked into an industrial park, the building started life as a bland concrete-block auto-repair shop and then was added onto over the years by the Elks in a spectacularly unplanned fashion. I used to build backyard forts with a better sense of scale and proportion. It's an original dog's breakfast of wooden lean-to additions and shedlike structures, just a lovable mutt of a place, really. And it also serves to remind you that it's the people inside that really matter.

For example: Like many of the smaller lodges, it can't afford professional cooks and waitstaff, so members take turns. Stan and I were fortunate to arrive the weekend that Lesvia DeLeon and her family were doing breakfasts. Her mother and father – both deceased – were Westminster Elks. Now, Lesvia cooks; her daughter,Gina Montes, cooks and bartends; her son, Mario Albert Parras, and her husband, Byron O'Bryant, both cook; and her 16-year-old nephew, Gary Fuller, washes dishes.

I'm not a biscuits-and-gravy guy, but I actually asked for a second helping of O'Bryant's on Sunday morning – and this after a huge plate of BBQ master Jack Milks' tri-tip, chicken and hot links the night before. Milks has the finest portable BBQ rig I've seen in O.C., and to show you the degree to which Westminster lodge rolled out the red carpet for us, Jack had it freshly powder-coated for the occasion.

The lodge P.R. person, Judy Brooks, made good on her promise to have a Westminster dignitary there to welcome me. Unfortunately, the purpose of his visit apparently wasn't relayed to Mayor Pro Tem Tri Ta. Wearing a three-piece suit, he went to the mic to say a few words. As I stood as his side, waiting to blush, he mentioned the beautiful weather, his beautiful wife, and the beautiful Elks. And then stepped back, never having mentioned the beautiful me.

Wow, I'm thinking. This self-important schmo must think this is all about him. Man, I felt so embarrassed for him. During my brief but erudite remarks, I helpfully pointed out the mayor pro tem's blunder, and he was gracious enough to return to the microphone and make the necessary additions.

There was no lack of pageantry and adoration, however, on the part of the lodge's Beefeater Guards. Being the Westminster lodge, it is proudly unique in Elkdom for its Beefeaters – members who dress in the uniform of the English Beefeaters who guard the queen.

"So whadda you want us to do?" one of the guards, Rick, asked me. Hmm. I said: "Why don't you escort me in when I make my grand entrance at the beginning of the show?" He replied: "Sure, we just gotta get out of here soon. Carl has to get back to Yucca Valley for something."

They were later dispatched all over Westminster (the city, not the abbey) to pose with Judy, who was modeling one of my T-shirts. The photos, which accompany the online version of this column, are not to be missed.

Westminster lodge profile: Founded: 1966. Members: 358. Total length of (2) bars: 49 feet. Good works: Ongoing Christmas basket program for 180-200 families; started the city's Flag Day program. The lodge is starting a push to host dinners for veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. If you know of any, contact Brooks at jbihvh@hotmail.com .