The Mission Viejo Elks Lodge

Elks Care and Elks Share

Mission Viejo

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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.

After what I guess I'll always remember as "that night in Newport," I must confess that Stan and I embarked on the next leg of the tour with some concern. We arrived at the Mission Viejo lodge on Marguerite Parkway late Thursday night and went right to sleep. We woke up Friday morning and put out the lawn chairs to start receiving visitors, but I was starting to wonder whether this tour had been such a good idea.

But a guy in blue surgical scrubs came up a short time later, a relatively young and new Elk named Alan Jones, and he brought chips and other munchies and seemed overjoyed to see us. Alan would turn out to be one of the key guys in our Mission Viejo experience. Not only was he the first one there, but he helped BBQ the tri-tip and then was about the last to leave, at around 1 a.m. Saturday morning, after sharing a cigar with Stan, Sheriff's Sgt. Bill McGovern – making his second tour visit – and me outside the RV.

A number of Elk and non-Elk came by in the morning to chat. Nancy Allen, an Elk and a CPA, talked about her attempts to install an automated "point-of-purchase" system in the lodge that would very closely monitor bar service, but said that it was met with resistance. Man, after the whole Newport flap, the last thing I wanted was to inject myself into Elks internal politics again.

Similarly, a non-Elk but a faithful reader, Babette Grupp, asked me a little later whether I'd be critiquing the tri-tip technique of the lodge brothers who were cooking that afternoon. "Nooooo," I explained. Not only was it a bad idea at this venue, but the unwritten Central Coast Tri-Tip Code more less says that no tri-tip guy should start telling another tri-tip guy what to do unless he's asked for his advice. And these guys didn't need mine anyway. It was awesome.

Former Mission Viejo Mayor and current Elk officer Gail Reavisdropped by in quite the nice halter top, and gave us a hand fan from one of her campaigns. As the temperature built and the asphalt heated up, the fan became more than just a prop. (Later, though, the heat just got too much and we moved on the lodge's shady patio.)

Current Dana Point Mayor and never-an-Elk-officer Lisa Bartlett showed up with current political consultant and former motorcycle officer Steve Spernak. We accomplished two things: 1) I told Spernak I was sorry I hadn't yet reported that the recent Orange County Traffic Officers Association fundraiser made enough to send at least $10,000 to each of the four families of the slain Oakland police officers, but that this would be the perfect venue to accomplish that, and, 2) Stan – accidentally, I'm sure – burned the mayor's bare leg with his cigar.

The first casualty of the tour. She was tough, though. Didn't even cry – at least not in front of us. Of course, Stan, who also burned his finger in the freakish mishap, whined all afternoon.

Around mid-afternoon I got the clear sense that my column about the Newport incident had been posted online and that it quickly had become viral within Elkdom. As dinner time rolled around and the lodge started filling up, I saw that the Newport exalted ruler David Leonard and his wife, Melody, had come. We didn't talk about the incident, but it made me feel good to see them.

I'd talked to the Mission Viejo Exalted Ruler Jim Humphrey about what had happened in Newport, and he and his special-events chairman, Andy Costello, assured me that by setting me up in the lodge room – not the barroom – we'd avoid that unpleasantness. And we did. The crowd – and I'd guess that 15 percent or so were not Elks – seemed to get into my "Home Depot Woman" song and some of the excerpts from the columns.

Non-Elk Vikki Vargassaid she didn't want to appear to be flattering me, but would do so anyway by telling me that somebody she sat with at her table recognized me and not her. That almost made up for the gal I was talking to a little later, a day-spa provider offering me a free facial, who said … Wait a sec, I wrote it down on the bottom of a cardboard popcorn box. … Here we go: "You have tons of dead skin on there, trust me."

Exalted Ruler Humphrey turned out to be quite the crooner. As he was winding up "Sweet Caroline" on the karaoke, the hour of 11 p.m. drew nigh, and everything came to an abrupt halt. This is a solemn moment in every Elks lodge. All in the room gathered in a circle, held hands and Humphrey recited from memory the "Eleven O'Clock Toast." Not having another popcorn box to write on, I later asked Humphrey for a copy, which he gave me. It reads in part:

"… with Elks the hour of eleven has a tender significance. … It is the golden hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic roll call of those who will come no more. Living or dead, Elks are never forgotten, never forsaken." Then we sang "Auld Lang Syne." It was a tender moment. A couple of minutes later, someone cued up "Honky Tonk Woman," and the house started rocking again. It was a great night in every way.

Mission Viejo lodge profile: Founded: 1970. Members: 820. Length of (2) bars: 39 feet. Recent good works: Donated four fully trained police dogs to the Sheriff's Department; held a firefighter/police officer appreciation dinner; bought three pitching machines to replace those stolen from local high schools; donates more than 4,000 dictionaries a year to South County third graders; hosts an annual sock-hop and a Christmas party for more than 150 developmentally disabled youths and adults.