Most likely arriving by carriage or trolley and working by gaslight, 19 men met in Pittston 100 years ago next month to form the Loyal order of Moose Lodge 1207.
Among them were J. Grant High, the national director of the 24-year-old service organization, and a committee from the Wilkes-Barre Lodge, including secretary J. G. Jones, who elected these Pittston officers: Elmer Rozelle, past dictator; Charles Stroh, dictator; D. J. Waldoner, vice dictator; Harold Casper, secretary; Bert Tennant, treasurer; Albert Evans, inner guard; Ralph Tench, outer guard; Hugh Hughes, Sgt-at-Arms, Bert Clark and trustees Isaac LaFrance, M. A. Kresge and George Dunn.
(The designation dictator was changed to governor after World War I.)
The officers installed 89 members in December 1912. A week later, 117 more candidates were accepted as members.
The first Lodge was located in a space in the Stroh Building on Luzerne Avenue in West Pittston rented for $60.06 a month. The flat under it was rented for $16 per month as the club room where a pool table - bought for $88 on easy terms – was installed.
Lodge membership grew in the early years. In 1913, the first member benefit – a $7 a week sick stipend – was offered.
In February and March 1919, a bond sale raised money for a new Lodge. On April 16, 1919 the Lodge closed on the two-story Huber Building in West Pittston bought from G. J. Huber for $8,500.
Buying the building required the Moose to obtain a charter in Luzerne County Court. Directors Tench, Stroh and Alexander Bryden applied and Atty. R. A. Huller represented the petition.
The new quarters were shown to the public at an Open House on Oct. 22 and 23, 1919.
In 1921, a block party and carnival raised $1,200 but a 163-day miners' strike the next year set back the local economy, trickling down to service organizations. The Moose recovered enough by 1924 to add a third story to the building and buy new furniture.
Along with the rest of the country, the Moose Lodge survived the Depression and World War II with belt tightening as most benefits were curtailed.
After the war, returning veterans grew the membership and, with the post-war economic boom, the local Moose built a new lodge on Exeter Avenue. The lodge, dedicated on June 18, 1950, still serves today and includes a social quarters and rental hall.
In 1965, officers George Nisky, Stanley Wieczorek, Gus Turonis, Frank Kirkpatrick, William Strubeck, Louis Forlenza and trustees Peter Miller, Joseph Comer and Michael Cordora burned the mortgage at the lodge anniversary dinner.
The Lodge served as a shelter during the Flood of 1972.
Along with other units of Moose International, the Loyal Order of Moose supports the operation of Mooseheart Child City and School, a 1,000-acre community for children and teens in need, located 40 miles west of Chicago.
The Moose Lodge 1207 will host a 100th anniversary party for members and their guests on Saturday, Dec. 8. The $25 ticket price includes an open bar from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., a hot buffet from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and a 20 oz. souvenir etched glass mug.
The menu includes beef stroganoff, meat ravioli, cheese ravioli, chicken tenders, seafood fra diablo with penne, sausage and peppers, meatballs, penne pasta with broccoli and garlic, mozzarella sticks, potato pancakes, anti pasta, pizza, rolls and butter.