Munchers of Hard Tack
or
Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel
Ritual of the First Degree


 
1888


Opening
 
Dramatis Personae
G.M.: Grand Muncher
G.V.M.: Grand Vice Muncher
G.A.M.: Grand Assistant Muncher
G.P.M.: Grand Past Muncher
G.K. of R.: Grand Keeper of Records
G.K. of S.: Grand Keeper of Spondulix
G.O. of D.: Grand Officer of the Day
G.L.H.D.C.: Grand Lord High Dog-Catcher
G.S.: Grand Surgeon
G.I.G.: Grand Inside Guard
G.O.S.: Grand Outside Sentinel


Regalia

The officers should all be provided with a black turban made of cheap paper muslin, and a long gown reaching to the feet, made of same material, and wear a black domino mask.
NOTE: The above regalia is recommended, but any other can be substituted to suit the taste of the officers who confer the degrees. The officers can have their rituals concealed in a large pasteboard cover painted black, decorated on the back in white with a skull and cross-bones, or some other comic design. A large jackass head should also be provided, and a "Day Mare," or "Wild Ass of the Desert," which the author can furnish, if desired, at list price.

 
General Instructions
There should be a large mallet or gavel on the desk of the Grand Muncher which will be used to enforce order; a piece of sheet iron can be placed loose on the desk upon which to hammer.
The Grand Keeper of Records should have a large pen, and while not engaged in writing, should have it placed over his right ear.
The Grand Keeper of Spondulix should hold an immense wooden key in his hand, and the Grand Surgeon should have a large
butcher-knife and saw conspicuous so that the candidate can see them.
All the details should be carried out without a smile from any of the officers, as the humor lies in the seeming solemnity, and all levity should be avoided. The officers should be dignified and speak distinctly, and, in a deep toned voice. If the members should become boisterous during the initiatory ceremonies the Grand Muncher should rap them to order with, his gavel and say in a loud voice, "No levity, Brethren! no levity! this is a solemn occasion!"
See key for corresponding numbers in Ritual.

 

Opening


The Grand Muncher will give one rap with the gavel and say:
G.M.:
We are about to open this Lodge of Munchers of Hard Tack. Let us have the assistance of all the members. If any present are not members they will please retire. The officers and members will clothe themselves in appropriate regalia. The Grand Officer of the Day will examine all present in the password.
G.O. of the D., after examination will say:
Most Worthy Grand Muncher, all present are privileged to remain and deliberate in this august body.
The Grand Muncher will give two raps with the gavel which calls up the officers.
G.M.:
Grand Vice Muncher, what is your duty in this Lodge of Munchers of Hard Tack?
G.V.M.:
To assist you in maintaining order, and kick any member out who makes a noise to disturb our deliberations.
G.M.:
Grand Officer of the Day, what is your duty?
G.O. of the D.:
To examine all present in the password; assist in conducting candidates through our mysteries, and to have charge of the regalia, and entertain and accommodate visiting brethren.
G.M.:
Grand Keeper of Records, what is your duty?
G.K. of R.:
To keep a faithful record of the business of the Lodge; receive all the spondulix paid in by the candidates, and pay (what I don't steal) over to the Grand Keeper of Spondulix.
G.M.:
Grand Keeper of Spondulix, what is your duty?
G.K. of S.:
To receive all spondulix handed over by the Grand Keeper or Records, and after' paying the necessary expenses, spend the balance in treating the members.
G.M.:
Grand Lord High Dog Catcher, what is your duty?
G.L.H.D.C.:
To trot the Victims in from the dog pound, and if there are none then go out on the streets and catch them and trot them in and conduct them through our significant ceremonies.
The Grand Muncher will give three raps with the gavel which calls up the Lodge.
G.M.:
This Lodge of Munchers of Hard Tack has met for the transaction of such business as may properly come before it, and to initiate candidates into our mysteries. I admonish you to be careful, and not cripple the victim, and if any member has a grudge against him, he will be permitted to use the paddle when the proper time comes.
We will now sing our opening ode:
Our Dog Catcher again presents
A victim for us boys,
See that you do him justice now,
And warm his corderoys;
 
Now let the paddle gently fall
Across his breeches tight,
And if be does not show his gall
Then let him have it right.
G.M.:
I now declare this Lodge of Munchers of Hard Tack ready for such business as may be thrust upon it.
Gives one rap, which seats the Lodge.
G.M.:
Grand Offiecr of the Day, you will again examine and see whether the flaps of the Munchers retreat are securely tied down, so that no one on the outside will be able to hear what is going on inside these sacred retreats during the initiation of candidates.
G. O. of D., will arise and after saluting the Grand Muncher with the Sign of the Order, will say:
They are, Most Worthy Grand Muncher.
G.M.:
Grand Lord High Dog Catcher, what has been the result of your hunt since last we met?
G.L.H.D.C.:
Grand Muncher, I have been successrul in corralling a victim in the dog pound, who desires to be initiated into the mysteries or our noble Order, and now awaits your pleasure.
 
 
Initiation
 
G.M.:
Grand Lord High Dog Catcher, you will retire to the dog pound, and if you find the victim has not escaped, yon will immediately trot him in.
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher, after saluting the Grand Muncher, retires to the dog pound and blindfolds the victim and trots him in before the chair of the Grand Muncher.
G.L.H.D.C.:
Grand Muncher, I take pleasure in presenting to you this son of a gun who was round reveling in the quick-sands or sin, behaving or his own free will and accord expressed a burning desire to become a member of the Munchers of Hard Tack.
G.M.:
Grand Keeper of Spondulix, has the victim paid the required fee?
G. K. of S.:
He has, most worthy Grand Muncher.
G.M.:
'Tis well. You son of a gun, are you willing to pass through our most sublime initiatory ceremonies, which I can assure you in advance will be trying to your nerves and patience, and for aught I know may shorten your life, or even kill you? With this knowledge are you willing to proceed?
Candidate answers:
I am.
G.M.:
Grand Lord High Dog Catcher, you will conduct the candidate to the Grand Assistant Muncher who will instruct him as to the objects or our noble Order.
G.A.M., if a Son of a Veteran use the following language:
The object to this high and noble Order is to instruct you in the trials and tribulations or camp life and the bivouac, and to harden your nerve, so that in case you are ever called upon to take up arms in defense of your beloved country, you can withstand all the perils, hardships and dangers incident to a soldier's life, even to dying, if necessary, and with a firm determination to do your duty with a light heart and a smile; upon your face. If you are willing to proceed in our most significant ceremonies and desire to learn this honorable virtue, you will be conducted by the Grand Lord High Dog Catcher to the Grand Vice Muncher, who will prepare you for the trying ordeal through which you are about to pass, which has made many a brave heart quake and strong, man tremble.
If a member of the G. A. R., or an old Veteran, use the following language.
G.A.M.:
You old coon. The object of this high and noble Order is to recall vividly to your mind the many hardships you have endured upon the field or battle, also the many pleasures or camp life. Remember that before you have passed through our significant ceremonies you will be exposed to dangers both seen and unseen, as great and more terrible than those you encountered on the field or battle; when you had your breast bared to the rattle of musketry or thee death breathing cannon, and if you have pot the moral courage to face again dangers equally as terrible, I beseech you now to withdraw while life and limb are secure; but if you are now as brave and courageous as then, I would advise you by all means to secure the rights and benefits which our noble Order alone can bestow upon you. If you are willing to proceed you will please give your assent.
Candidate answers:
I am willing to proceed.
G.A.M.:
Having assented, you will he conducted by the Grand Lord High Dog Catcher to the Grand Vice Muncher who will prepare you for the trying ordeal that has made many brave heart quake and strong man tremble.
If any other than the Son of a Veteran, G.A.R. Member or Old Veteran, the Grand Assistant Muncher will use the following language,
G.A.M.:
My dear young (or old) friend, you are about to be initiated into the mystic rites or one or the most noble and honorable orders the world has ever known. Before, however, introducing you into our sublime mysteries I, as Grand Assistant Muncher of this Lodge, deem it my duty to inform you that both trials and dangers beset your pathway, and that you will find that "Jordan is a hard road to travel." Dangers most terrible in their nature will beset your pathway. You may be called upon and even compelled to endure untold tortures, more terrible than that of being burned alive at the stake, or you may be hurled all bleeding and mangled into a yawning chasm or bottomless pit for aught I know. It is the inexorable law of our noble Order to press forward and never turn back until the goal is reached. A candidate, after once starting in to take the degrees, must keep a stiff upper lip and grin and bear it even though the heavens fall. You now stand upon the blood stained spot where many a brave man has sacrificed his precious life by becoming weak-kneed and showing the white feather before completing his journey through our significant ceremonies. With this knowledge are you willing to proceed?
Candidate answers:
I am.
G.M.:
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will present the candidate to the Grand Vice Muncher to receive the obligation.
G.L.H.D.C.:
Grand Vice Muncher, I have been directed by the Grand Assistant Muncher to present you this candidate for obligation.
G.V.M. to Candidate:
Are you willing to proceed?
Candidate answers:
I am.
G.V.M.:
You will then be placed in the proper position to take upon yourself the obligation pertaining to this degree.
The G.L.H.D.C. will cause the Candidate to place both hands on his rumps, and say:
In order, Grand Vice Muncher.
G.V.M.:
You will repeat after me the obligation pertaining to this degree.
I, , pronounce your name, of my own free will and accord, do most solemnly promise that I will do all in my power to keep secret the workings of this degree. Furthermore, I will remain loyal to my country, and do all in my power to protect its flag, the glorious stars and stripes, from being assailed and trampled in the dust by a despotic foe. Furthermore, I solemnly promise that if my beloved country should ever declare war against any foreign power, having for its object the acquisition to the United States of the Hawaiian Islands, and on account of the weakness of our Navy it could not meet that power triumphantly I will be in favor of privateering. Furthermore I promise that in order to strengthen our noble Order I will induce if possible all my friends to become members.
In token of your sincerity yon will kiss that which is upon the altar and which is the leading emblem of our Order.
The candidate should be made to kiss a Jackass head or picture of a Jackass.
G.M.:
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will now remove the Hoodwink, and conduct the candidate to the Dog Pound, and properly prepare him and in due time return with him for further instructions.
As the candidate is passing out of the room the Grand Muncher will say in a loud sepulchral voice:
The Munchers will now make all the necessary arrangements to kill the victim.
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will again enter with the candidate blindfolded and march him in front of the Grand Muncher and say:
G.L.H.D.C.:
I again place this son of a gun before you.
G.M.:
You son of a gun, it now becomes my duty to ask you certain questions touching your fitness and ability to become a worthy member of our noble Order. You have perhaps already divined that our Order is military in its character and no person will be admitted to membership knowingly upon whom even a suspicion of cowardice rests. Another requirement of our Order is that a member must be perfectly sound and in prime fighting condition.
G.M.:
What is your name? Answer.
What is your age? Answer.
Are you a military man by practice or inclination? Answer.
Do you understand the use of fire-arms, musket, revolver, rifle or broad sword? Answer.
Do you drink lager beer, hard cider, or gin, for the kidneys? Answer.
Do you eat onions, garlic, saurkraut and limberger cheese? Answer.
Did you ever have the ? Answer.
If an old veteran the following additional questions may be asked.
Did you ever, during your term of service in the army, have occasion to bite a ten penny nail? Answer.
Did you ever indulge in any bad habits; so common among the old veterans or did you return home pure and undefiled? Answer.
While in the service of your country, were you ever guilty of playing peek-a-boo with a niggerwench with your knapsack and accoutrements on? Answer.
Will you agree to set up the rot-gut whiskey to all the Munchers present if you succeed in. passing through the initiatory ceremony alive? Answer.
NOTE: A great many other questions can be asked, the candidate if the Grand Muncher so desires,
G.M.:
You will please kneel upon both knees.
NOTE: The candidate will be made to kneel upon both knees on a broom stick, bend his body forward, and place the elbow of his right, arm against the broom stick close to the floor; he will then be commanded to straighten out his arm from the elbow with his fingers extended, the palm of the hand upward. A lead pencil will then be laid crossways at the ends of his fingers. He will then be commanded to assume an upright position with his body, his knees to remain on the broom stick. He is then ordered to place both hands on his rumps, well back. While the candidate is in this position the Grand Muncher will say:
At death do you desire your spirit to ascend upward?
Candidate answers:
I do.
The Grand Muncher then commands him to stoop over and pick up the lead pencil with his teeth, and just as he leans forward to reach it,
the Munchers will say in unison:
end upward.
When the Grand Lord High Dog Catcher or the Muncher selected to perform that duty will hit him on the with a paddle. The paddle should be made of good hickory or some other tough wood, about three feet long and three inches wide, and by sawing in from the flat end several times about 18 inches, and putting a small wedge at the upper end it will make a loud report, and not hurt the candidate. If there is any member present who has, a slight grudge against the candidate, the Grand Lord High Dog Catcher should allow him, by all means, to use the paddle.
G.M.:
You will now, arise. The Grand Surgeon will examine the Candidate and ascertain whether or not any bones are broken.
G.S., after examination will say:
Most eminent Grand Muncher, I find upon examination that no bones are broken, and the Candidate is in prime condition.
G.M.:
Before proceeding further into our sublime mysteries I desire to ask, are you willing to proceed?
Candidate answers:
I am.
Members in unison:
Let it be recorded.
G.K. of R.:
It is recorded.
G.M.:
You havng signified your willingness to proceed you will be asked a few more questions, and the Grand Surgeon and Munchers will please pay particular attention, to the answers given.
G.M.:
Have you good teeth; sufficiently good enough to bite hard tack?
Candidate answers:
I have.
G.M.:
Grand Lord High Dog Catcher, let the candidate be tried with a hard tack.
He is handed a piece of sole leather or hard soap, and bites.
G.M.:
He bites.
Members in unison:
Let it be recorded.
G.K. of R.:
It s recorded.
G.M.:
Are you a good rider?
Candidate answers:
I am.
G.M.:
Brother Munchers, bring forth the goat.
If a live goat or jackass can be obtained or if you have a "Day Mare," the Candidate will be made to ride that. If not, the Munchers will get behind him with a canvas, and one standing in front of him can shove him back, when he can be tossed up and down and given a good shaking up, or he can be rode on a fence rail (not too sharp.) After the Munchers are through with him they will say in unison:
Let it be recorded.
G.K. or R.:
It is recorded.
G.M.:
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will conduct the Candidate to the Grand Vice Muncher, who will ask him a few questions.
G.L.H.D.C.:
Grand Vice Muncher, by order or the Grand Muncher, I present you this candidate to be questioned.
G.V.M.:
Do you desire to advance further into our most. sublime mysteries?
Candidate answers:
I do.
G.V.M.:
Can you keep inviolate the secrets already imparted to you?
Candidate answers:
I can.
G.V.M.:
I have but one more question to ask, and your further advancement in this Order will depend entirely on the answer you may give. Have you ever had any disease such as , or or any disease common to the urinary organs?
If the answer should be no, the Grand Vice Muncher should call on the Grand 8urgeon to examine him. If he answers yes, the Grand Vice Muncher will then ask:
From whom did yon catch these terrible diseases?
If he refuses to tell, the Grand Vice Muncher will say:
You may as well acknowledge the corn, and make a clean breast of the whole matter, for the Munchers are thoroughly posted and know all about it, and no member can be admitted into this noble Order who is not willing to acknowledge his faults and ask forgiveness from the brethren.
If the candidate still hesitates to answer, the Grand Vice Muncher will say:
You need not hesitate for same of the members caught you in certain places, naming them. At this point the members should get up a discussion, some taking the part of the candidate and others opposing him.
G.M.:
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will conduct the candidate to the Grand Assistant Muncher, who will further instruct him.
G.L.H.D.C.:
Grand Assistant Muncher, by order or the Grand Muncher I present you this candidate for further instructions.
G.A.M.:
You have passed through a trying ordeal, that required a great deal of nerve and courage, and I congratulate you upon your pluck; but I am sorry to inform you that we are not yet satisfied that you will make a good Muncher or Hard Tack, and before you can be admitted into full fledged membership with us, you must pass through another severe and trying ordeal after which if you are successful you will be restored to light and liberty. Are you willing to proceed?
Candidate answers:
I am.
G.A.M.:
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will place the candidate before the fiery furnace preparatory to receiving according and the members will see that it is heated to a white heat.
The candidate is led before the altar, when the members gather around him and get up a discussion, some objecting to him being thrust into the fiery furnace, and others insisting upon it. After the discussion the Grand Muncher will command in a loud voice:
G.M.:
Brand the candidate and plunge him into the fiery furnace.
The candidate is then branded on the cheek with a piece of ice, after which the members will grab him and rush him up a smooth board laying across-a high trestle, when he reaches the top of the trestle the board should be made to tilt and the candidate tall and slide to the floor, where there should be a large sponge filled with ice water in such a position that the candidate will strike it with his seat of learning.
G.M.:
I most heartily congratulate yon again for the bravery and courage shown in passing through this test. You will now be placed in proper position to take upon yourself another obligation pertaining to this degree.
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will place the candidate at the altar kneeling upon both knees, his hands resting upon a Jackass head. After which the Grand Muncher will administer the following

 
 
Obligation
 
G.M.:
I, repeat your name, of my own free will and accord do, most sincerely promise that I will not ruin my health by wandering in the quicksands of sin, or knowingly do anything that would bring reproach upon a Lodge of Munchers of Hard Tack. I furthermore promise that if in my wandering I should strike something nice and fresh, I will not monopolize it my self but will divide with a brother Muncher. I furthermore promise to do all in my power to relieve a brother Muncher when in distress; furthermore, I pledge my word and honor as a gentleman, that I will not herald it to the outside world that I have not been justly dealt with by the Munchers of this Lodge, and that the treatment I have received was rather mild, for a wicked cuss like me. To the true and faithful performance of all this, I pledge my most sacred honor, and bind myself under a no less penalty than that of being castrated and kicked out upon a cold and heartless world. Let the eyes of the son of a gun be now opened.
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will remove the hoodwink and command the candidate to arise.
G.M.:
You have thus far passed through our significant ceremonies without receiving a scratch or blemish.
Are you still willing to have unfolded to your astonished vision the balance of the beauties of our noble Order?
Candidate answers: I am.
G.M.:
The Grand Lord High Dog Catcher will then conduct you to the dog pound, where you will await a summons to appear before this august body to receive the second degree.


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