The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 20, 2013

Fraternal hazing pranksters recalled

JOHNSTOWN — The pieces may be a tad odd, but that was half the fun.

John Goldsmith, the curator of the DeMoulin Museum in Greenville, Ill., will present a free program at 2 p.m. April 28 at the Heritage Discovery Center, 201 Sixth Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

Goldsmith will speak on the history of the DeMoulin Bros. & Co., which specialized in the manufacture of prank lodge initiation devices.

The presentation will include a DeMoulin spanker, often referred to as a slapstick, from Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s collection that was once used by the Johnstown lodge of the Order of the Knights of Pythias, an international fraternal organization.

The order held its meetings in the GAR Building in downtown Johnstown.

During initiation rituals, inductees would be swatted on the bottom with the padded side, which created a loud bang when the spanker discharged a blank cartridge to scare the individual.

It is thought the device was manufactured between 1906 and 1930.

“We are always delighted to present programs like this, but the way this came about is unusual,” said Kaytlin Sumner, JAHA curator. “The spanker was shown in our April Collection Connection, which is a once monthly feature on JAHA’s Facebook and website, and it came to the attention of the DeMoulin Museum and Goldsmith contacted us.”

Goldsmith’s appearance at the Discovery Center is the first stop on an East Coast trip to promote the museum.

He’ll discuss the unique personality traits of the DeMoulin brothers and how they were “the right people at the right time” to capitalize on the fraternal craze that was popular in the early 20th century.

There also will be demonstrations on a few of the lodge initiation contraptions and a virtual tour of the museum.

By the Depression era, fraternal hazing fell out of favor and the company shifted its focus to producing marching band uniforms and graduation caps and gowns. They also ventured into woodworking and crafted furniture for lodges and churches.

The company remains one of the world leaders in band uniform manufacturing.

In 2010, the museum was founded to preserve the story of the DeMoulin brothers.

To read stories in their entirety, visit one of these links:

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

  • Homicides linked to center

    Three homicides that took place in Johnstown last year involved either a suspect or victim who previously resided in the Community Corrections Center.
    Police Chief Craig Foust confirmed the name of one victim, who spent almost two months in the facility on Washington Street during 2007, a time period verified by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

    April 19, 2014

  • bachota Volunteers helping to spruce up community

    Walls and ceilings inside the Cambria County Library look clean and bright with fresh new coats of paint on them.
    The work was recently done by inmates from the Johnstown Community Corrections Center.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • alanna Hartzok targets income disparity

    Alanna Hartzok described herself as being a conservative progressive.
    The Franklin County resident said she is in favor of conserving environmental resources, education opportunities, Social Security and Medicare, while wanting to progressively address wealth inequality, health care and taxation.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Schools rise to leadership challenge

    Forest Hills and Cambria Heights high school students put the spirit of healthy competition toward a good cause and picked up some lessons in leadership along the way.

    April 19, 2014

  • KATEY LADIKA Student’s photos win awards

    A Forest Hills High School junior has captured several awards in a high school arts and writing contest that has identified greats such as Truman Capote and Andy Warhol.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Siehl JIM SIEHL | Music to my ears

    Seldom has $15 produced such a high level of entertainment as it did a few weeks ago when I found myself in the second row just left of center keeping back the tears once again during my third live performance of “Les Miserables.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michele Bender Bye, bye, Easter birdies

    Animals fascinated my mom. Riding the train between Johnstown and Philly, she saw horses, pigs, sheep, cows … a Mattel See ’n Say of farm critters.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill Eggert Columnist Photo Travelogue of terror features Johnstown area

    A historic week will surround the venerable Silver Drive-In come the beginning of May.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads