Ritual of the Grand and Noble Order of Button Busters
First Degree - Apprentice
Select seven members as officers. The work is not hard to learn and can be given from the ritual without any trouble. Get all the paraphernalia together and have a rehearsal. The work is easily executed, and the more spirit and vim that is put into it, the more effect it will have upon the candidate. Have everything ready, and do not, if avoidable, have any delay or wait for anything, as an awkward pause will sometimes spoil the effect of a whole degree upon a candidate.
A very fair way to select the seven officers who are to give the degrees to the other members, is to put all the names of the participating members in a hat, and after shaking up well, draw out seven slips, the first drawn taking the highest office, and so on down.
Candidate shall be blindfolded, his trousers rolled up to his knees, and his coat removed. He shall wear a lady’s old hat, and carry a parasol. Some kind of a waist and a lady’s short skirt to reach the knees may also be used. Tie a piece of bunting around the waist. Stout cords with empty tin cans attached to them may be tied to the candidate’s ankles.
M. of C. gives alarm on inner door.
King.: Who disturbs the solemnity of our deliberations?
K. of I. D.: The Master of Ceremonies is at the door with a stranger who desires to enter into your Majesty’s dominions.
King: Admit them, but warn the stranger to leave all hope behind.
K. of I. D. repeats the King’s message, and admits the Master of Ceremonies and the candidate.
M. of C. enters with the candidate, the organ playing a march, and after proceeding slowly twice around the room, halts in front of the station of the King.
King.: Who is this miserable-looking specimen of humanity you have in custody.
M. of C.: He is an insignificant scalawag from name some nearby place who aspires to become a resident of your majesty’s realm.
King.: Stranger, when you enter here you leave all hope behind. Within these portals wealth has no influence, money has no purchasing power and pleas for mercy are heeded not. You have deliberately placed yourself in our power, and we shall certainly take advantage of the opportunity to make life miserable for you while you are in our midst. Do you still desire to go on, or would you like to retire while it is not too late? Our Grand and Noble Order has been in existence many hundreds of years, and we will now proceed to test your valor according to the laws laid down
by the Medes and the Persians, which know no change.
Master of Ceremonies, you will now conduct the candidate to the Lord Chancellor, who will administer to him the obligation.
M. of C. conducts the candidate to the center of the room or some convenient part, where one of the members is gotten up with whitened face in a reclining position, and appears to be a man that died undergoing test of the order.
M. of C.: Lord Chancellor, I present to you an insignificant scalawag, that he may take the obligation of our Grand and Noble Order.
L. C.: Master of Ceremonies, you will cause the candidate to kneel on both knees, place his left hand upon his heart and his right hand pointing upwards as if to strike a downward blow. Stranger, you will repeat after me: I solemnly promise on my word of honor that I will always obey the mandates of this Grand and Noble Order, and that I will forever keep secret the mysteries that shall be shown me tonight. I further promise that I will always treat the members of this order at my expense when reminded of this obligation, and have my bowels opened at regular intervals. I also promise to pay all bills contracted by members of this order. I further promise that I will obey the King, and always take a good liver regulator. I solemnly promise to keep this pledge, under penalty of running for public office. You will now arise, and the hoodwink will be removed from your eyes.
The lights are turned down, and the bandage is removed from the candidate’s eyes by the Master of Ceremonies.
L. C.: In this old world in which we live we are always on the brink of the unknown. One moment we are in seeming good health, the next we are in the cold. embrace of death, like the poor unfortunate before you, who was unable to stand the -tests of our order. At any rate, in a short while we must shuffle off this mortal coil and lay ourselves down in our narrow graves to await the last trumpet sound. Reflect therefore, on the solemn obligation you have just taken, and resolve that from now on you will have nothing but brotherly love for all mankind and malice and hatred for none. Master of Ceremonies, you will now conduct the candidate to the Chief Justice, who will give him further instructions.
M. of C., after conducting candidate to the station of the Chief Justice: Your Honor, by order of the Lord Chancellor, I present to you a candidate for further instructions.
C. J.: Stranger, many have passed along this way, but few have possessed the courage and determination to keep on until the end, and have fallen by the wayside, ignominious failures, BE BRAVE! a coward’s portion is sad indeed. Your road lies through devious and winding ways, and terrible pitfalls mark your path at every turn. The tests that we would have you go through are such that only the bravest of the brave will survive, for a coward will make a fatal error, and will be heard of no more. And so, stranger, we now warn you of the dangerous path you will have to follow before you can become one of us. And now that you have received fair warning, I ask you if you are willing to proceed? If so, we will now test your valor and your strength and quickness. You will be required to catch a heavy weight that we may see how strong is your arm and quick your eye. Master of Ceremonies test the candidate.
A heavy weight is shown the candidate by the Master of Ceremonies and his assistants, and is then placed on the top of a high piece of furniture or table. The candidate is then blindfolded: That is the Master of Ceremonies starts to blindfold him; but finally concludes to let him see, and the blindfold is removed. While his eyes are covered the heavy weight is quickly taken down and a light wooden weight the same size and color is put in its place. The candidate is then laid on his back with his head directly under the weight, and the weight is then pushed off and let fall. A pistol may be discharged at the instant the weight drops, or any noise made to make the candidate jump. The candidate is then brought back to the station of the Chief Justice.
C. J.: Master of Ceremonies, you will now blindfold the candidate and conduct him to the station of the Chief Apothecary, who will examine info his physical condition.
M. of C., after blindfolding candidate and conducting him to the station of the Chief Apothecary: Chief Apothecary, by order of the Chief Justice I present to you a stranger who desires to have a clean bill of health before proceeding further into our order.
C. A.: Stranger, what is your age?
C. A.: Are you a hearty eater?
C. A.: What did you eat for your supper?
C. A. : Do you eat onions, sourkraut, limberger cheese or cold pig feet?
C. A.: Does your liver ever palpitate or your bladder freeze over?
C. A.: Stranger, in order to be sure of your physical condition, we will now test you. Our horse doctor will examine you and report any defects that he may find.
M. C., acting as horse doctor: Seats candidate on a chair and pretends to examine him from head to foot.
C. A.: Doctor, in what condition do you find the patient?
M. of C., acting as doctor: The candidate is terribly run down at the heel, has fat on his gizzard, and is very much affected with the big head.
C. A.: What would you prescribe for these ailments?
M. of C., acting as doctor: For the running down at the heel I can do him no good. For the fat on the gizzard I must insist that he stop drinking so much Bootleg whiskey and stop staying out late at night; and for the big head I prescribe some of the water from the fountain of youth, which conquers old age and is often used for enlargements of this kind, which are brought about by one having a much higher opinion of himself than others have.
C. A.: Administer the treatment.
A little cold water is then poured on the candidate’s head, and is given a vigorous rubbing in.
C. A.: Doctor, do you preceive any improvement in the candidate?
M. of C., acting as doctor: I think some of the big head is removed, and that it will all be gone before we get through with him.
C. A.: Master of Ceremonies, you will now let the candidate see, and conduct him to the. King, who will further test his fitness to sojourn in our midst.
M. of C., after removing blindfold and conducting candidate to the King.: Your Majesty, I now present to you a candidate that you may test his fitness to reside in your ancient and glorious dominions.
King: Do you feel that you are worthy to belong to the Grand and Noble Order of Button Busters?
King: Why are you such a frequent visitor to (name some local resort)?
King: Will you faithfully promise never to go there again?
King: Were you ever an inmate of the lunatic asylum?
King: Did you ever serve a sentence in jail or penitentiary?
King: Do you ever take interest in politics?
King.: What political party do you support?
Answer: … All members groan.
King: The candidate has gone through the tests of the first degree. What is the opinion of the lodge of his fitness to become a member of our Grand and Noble Order. Candidate is seated.
Several of the members get up and proceed to express a grave doubt of the fitness of the candidate to become a member of the Grand and Noble Order of Button Busters, giving any ridiculous and trumped up reasons that they may think of, and make it as hot as possible for the candidate.
King: All members in favor of turning the candidate out, say I. All members vote I.
M. of C.: Starts towards door with candidate, as if to put him out.
King: All opposed say no. All members vote no. The vote is very close. All opposed stand up. All members stand.
King: Master of Ceremonies, blindfold the candidate and present him at this station.
M. of C. blindfolds candidate and presents him at the station of the King.
King: We wish to impress upon you the motto of our order, which is "When you can be of any service to your friends endeavor to be on hand."
King: We must yet have one supreme test of valor before you can finish this degree in our Grand and Noble Order. Every member of our order has branded on his arm the letters O. B. B., which is the official insignia of our order. You will now have to go through this ordeal, and if you as much as give a groan you will be forever barred from membership in The Grand and Noble Order of Button Busters. Master of Ceremonies, bring the red-hot branding iron and brand the candidate.
The candidate’s arm is bared and a chunk of ice is applied, or a lighted paper (which should not be lighted with a match on account of the noise of striking) may be held close enough for him to feel the heat, and gradually brought closer until the candidate flinches.
M. of C.: The candidate has stood the test satisfactorily.
King: You are now entitled to all the privileges of the first rank in our Grand and Noble Order and I congratulate you on the high honors you have obtained. We are now glad to confer upon you the degree of Apprentice in the Grand and Noble Order of Button Busters. Let the celebrated chair of honor be brought forward and our brother be placed upon it with all the pomp and ceremony due one so highly honored.
Candidate is placed upon a stout chair, which is dragged rapidly backward around the room, the organ playing some lively tune.