The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
  • Denne, Williams & Stanton Records hearing scheduled

    A Cambria County judge will consider complaints filed by two Johnstown residents seeking documents related to the city’s municipal waste water operation at hearing at the end of this month.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sen. Bob Casey Casey targets heroin

    The heroin trade has brought addiction, death, violence and theft to Johnstown and other Pennsylvania communities.
    Figuring out how to deal with those issues is difficult for local, state and federal officials.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drive-in to open with high-tech projector

    Drive-in movie theaters and the term “state of the art” seldom share the same sentence.
    But that will soon be the case for the Silver Drive-In, it’s owner said. The Scalp Avenue site, often marketed as a nostalgic summer night escape, soon will boast a high-end projector capable of displaying the latest and greatest blockbusters in razor sharp high-definition, theater owner Rick Rosco said.

    April 18, 2014

  • Sheetz work underway

    Earthmoving is underway at Richland Town Centre for a nearly 6,500-square-foot Sheetz store.
    And the real estate broker marketing the land says a 3,000-square-foot retail building will be built next door.

    April 18, 2014

  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • home VIDEO | Volunteers ‘blitz build’ replacement home for Upper Yoder man

    One week ago, Joey Varmecky had almost nothing.
    In October, a flue fire claimed his Swank Street home. That night, Varmecky, a deaf and partially blind man who doesn’t speak, showed up on the doorstep of his friend’s home. His feet were covered only by a pair of stockings.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Toomey & Shuster Bill would help identify unclaimed remains of veterans

    The cremated remains of an estimated 47,000 veterans are stored throughout the United States, sometimes in nothing more than nondescript metal canisters on shelves.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • million Lucky Seward man finds ticket to riches

    People often play the lottery and dream about the things they would do if they won the big one.
    That dream came true for Karl Kadi of Seward, who won $1 million on a $20 Max-A-Million scratch-off lottery ticket.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • homicide new No suspects in Moxham shooting

    Johnstown police are searching for the person who shot and killed one man Sunday morning in Moxham and wounded another man.
    Zachary G. Andrews, 21, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and head inside a duplex in the 700 block of Grove Avenue, Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Lees said.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • CTC eliminates 16 jobs from Richland site

    A companywide restructuring at Concurrent Technologies Corp. has prompted the company to cut 23 employees from its workforce nationwide, including 16 at its Richland location, CTC officials said.

    April 15, 2014

AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide