Military Order of the Cootie of the United States
Transformation Ritual or Ritual of the Second Degree  


S.S., when ready: We are about to enjoy the supreme pleasure of the evening, the conferring of the second degree or Transformation upon such unsuspecting Nits as may be outside our door Provo Marshal, ascertain if there are any Nits scratching at the seams of this Pup Tent.
Provo Marshal advances to the center of the floor, salutes the Seam Squirrel and retires to perform his duties.
S.S. to Blanket Bum: The Blanket Bum will display the proper regalia. Graybacks will display the sign of Transformation.
P.M. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, I find Nits waiting to be transformed from a Nit to a Grayback. Retires to his station after saluting the Seam Squirrel.
S.S. to Adjutant: Hungry Grayback, have these pests received the degree of Nit in true form?
H.G. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, they have.
S.S. to Quartermaster: Custodian of the Crummy Duffle Bag, have you frisked them for the needful francs and pesos?
Q.M. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, I have.
S.S. to Shirt Reader: Shirt Reader, you will retire and prepare the Nits in waiting for the degree of Grayback.
Shirt Reader advances to the center of floor, salutes and retires.
S.R. to Nits: Inconsequential Nits, you seek advancement to our hunting grounds.
If you are willing to proceed, okeh, but if not, withdraw. The lessons and knowledge that await you are many. Are you willing to proceed?
Nits: We are.
Shirt Reader knocks at the door.
J.L.: Who scratches there?
S.R.: The Shirt Reader of this Pup Tent with inconsequential Nits who wish to learn the information given in this 2nd Degree of Transformation.
J.L. to Shirt Reader: Do they know what awaits them?
S.R. to Jimmy Legs: They do not, they will learn as they advance.
J.L.: Good, advance them.
Shirt Reader enters with the Nits, marching around the hail, dim lights.
Reaching the station of the Provo Marshal, the Provo Marshal will halt them.
P.M.: Nits, halt!
S.R. to Nits: Nits, halt!
P.M. to Shirt Reader: Shirt Reader, who are these insignificant beings you have in charge?
S.R.: They are Nits from the outside who desire admission to our seams, there to be deloused and cleansed so that they may walk upright on bended knees through the fertile hunting grounds that have been prepared for all deserving Species Peduculi.
P.M. to Shirt Reader: Proceed, watch well your charge, that none may fall by the wayside and thereby throw discord in our ranks through their unworthiness. Take these Nits to the station of the Hide Gimlet who will examine them as to their fitness as members of this Pup Tent.
S.R. to Nits: Forward march.
Shirt Reader marches Nits to the station of the Hide Gimlet.
S.R. to Hide Gimlet: Hide Gimlet, I present to you these Nits found loitering in the pastures about our feeding grounds. Their life has been one of pleasure seeking while we are devoting our time to work.
H.G. to Nits: Inconsequential Nits, you have been found loitering while our Brothers are hard at labor. Your life has been filled only with a desire for pleasure while ours is one of sacrifice. You will soon be transformed from a Nit to a Grayback and your lives from one of pleasure seeking to one of labor, and I trust that the Transformation may be complete. Shirt Reader, conduct these Nits to the Blanket Bum for further examination.
S.R. to Nits: Forward, march!
Shirt Reader marches Nits to the station of the Blanket Bum.
S.R. to Blanket Bum: Blanket Bum, by direction of the Hide Gimlet, I present these Nits to you for your examination.
B.B. to Nits: Inconsequential Nits, the time is rapidly approaching when these pleasures you have been seeking will be no more. It is well that as youths you should spend your time in play that your minds and your bodies might become better fitted for your future work. Just as the Atom by nature’s process blossoms forth into a Nit so will you Nits take another step toward maturity by being transformed into a Grayback.
The process is slow, the better to fit you for the succeeding degree and to maintain that only the fittest survive to reach that sublime degree of a Cootie.
B.B. to Shirt Reader: Shirt Reader, guard well these Nits as they enter the portals of our sublime order. You will escort these Nits to the station of the Seam Squirrel.
Shirt Reader marches Nits to the station of the Seam Squirrel.
S.R. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, these Nits who appear before you ask for knowledge as they journey through this life to the happy hunting grounds of all Cooties.
S.S. to Nits: Inconsequential Nits, the hour of your transformation has come.
Your days of pleasure are no more, you are about to reach another milestone of that journey upon which you are all bound. Many times you will be called upon for the last ounce of your strength and who knows but even that may fail as many of our namesakes have failed in the past. It is fitting that I should remind you at this time of some of the things that will be expected of you when you approach the Altar of His Highness the Great Blue Louse.
Let me caution you that this order has no room for parasites, every member to enjoy the freedom of our seams must produce something worthwhile, otherwise you will find yourselves wandering alone without friends or hopes. If you are unable to do your bit, we do not want you, and the sooner you make yourself scarce the better we will like it. But if your purposes are noble you will find willing hands and hearts ready to assist you. It will be necessary that before you are advised of the secrets of our labors that you will assume an obligation of secrecy. Are you willing to assume such an obligation?
Nits: We are.
S.S. to Shirt Reader: Shirt Reader, form the Nits in a semi-circle in front of this station.
S.S., when ready: You will each raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, your name, in the presence of the members of this Pup Tent—and upon my honor as a man—hereby solemnly promise—that I will not make known—any of the secrets of this degree—to any person or persons—whomsoever—who is not a member — in good standing—of a Pup Tent—and not entitled to the same I furthermore promise—that I will not repeat—any of the events—that shall transpire—in a Pup Tent—to any person whomsoever—not entitled to the same—under no less penalty—than that of being degraded—and expelled from this degree—and deprived of the associations—of my loyal comrades. Down hands.
S.S. to Shirt Reader: Shirt Reader, you will conduct these Nits to the station of the Hide Gimlet.
Shirt Reader marches Nits to the Hide Gimlet station.
H.G. to Shirt Reader: Listen, Grayback.
S.R. to Nits: Nits, halt!
H.G. to Nits: Inconsequential Nits, you did good work as Nits and as a result you seek advancement to the rank of Grayback.
Shirt Reader, you will conduct these Nits to the station of the Blanket Bum for further instruction.
Shirt Reader marches the Nits to the station of the Blanket Bum.
B.B. to Shirt Reader: Listen, Grayback.
S.R. to Nits: Nits, halt!
B.B. to Nits: What seekest thou?
One Nit: A shortcut to more fertile hunting grounds.
B.B. to Nits: Inconsequential Nits, think not to escape the road from a Nit to that of Grayback. The degree of Grayback is not so easily attained, nor its hunting grounds so easily found. The Grayback has a mighty work to perform in the world, a task that requires courage, perseverance and strength. He must stick to the hardest seams for he is closer than a Brother. He knows no relaxation for he is busier than a bee. We hope that you will have all these qualities so necessary to attain this degree. Shirt Reader, you will conduct these Nits to the anteroom to await further work of this degree.
Shirt Reader and Provo Marshal take the Nits to the anteroom.
Hall now will be prepared for the Second Section of this Degree. All the necessary equipment for this ritualistic degree will be set up at once. Remote control of the microphone will be adjusted to the speakers’ voices Cooties to be stationed in places to avoid any chance of getting wires pulled from outlets One to be at the amplifier to see that it does riot distort and proper tone is assured.
Shirt Reader and Provo Marshal with Nits in the anteroom.
P.M.: Listen, Nits, you are now about to face the ordeals of the second degree and what will take place is serious and to make any break in this section wilt result in tortures of many forms known only to the Cooties. It will be well to consider all things first and save all laughs for the end.
Provo Marshal knocking at the door.
P.M. to Jimmy Legs: The Provo Marshal and the Shirt Reader with Nits who are ready to assume the obligation of this degree and desire admittance.
J.L. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, the Provo Marshal and Shirt Reader with Nits who are ready to receive the obligation of this degree.
S.S. to Jimmy Legs: Jimmy Legs, have they a password?
J.L. to Seam Squirrel: They have not, but are vouched for by the Provo Marshal and Shirt Reader of this Pup Tent.
S.S. to Jimmy Legs: Admit them, but instruct the Provo Marshal and Shirt Reader to admonish them that silence is demanded.
J.L. to Provo Marshal: Provo Marshal, the Seam Squirrel demands that silence be maintained by these Nits, have they been so instructed?
P.M. to Jimmy Legs: They have.
J.L. to Provo Marshal: You may enter with the Nits. Masks raised.
P.M. to Nits: Forward march to the station of the Sky Pilot. Nits, halt! Right left face.
P.M. to Nits: Listen, Nits. You will listen to the words as spoken by this former comrade of ours, who has gone before, even as you and I shall go some day, heed the words and remember that many are called, but few are chosen.
Skull and cross bones are resting on top of an amplifier or the altar of the Chaplain and speaker concealed so as to not be visible Skull and bones are painted with luminous paint.
Voice from Skull. (Remote control.) The poem of the Unknown Soldier is recited and emphasized.
We are the Unknown Soldiers, Comrades,
And we think we’ve got a right,
To ask some questions, man to man
Are the Comrades taken care of?
Was their victory so sweet?
Is the big reward they promised
Selling pencils on the street?
Did they really win the freedom
They battled to achieve?
Do they still respect the Battle Stars
Above an empty sleeve?
Does the Gold Star in the window
Now mean anything at all?
We wonder how our old girl feels
When they hear a Bugle Call?
And remember the little kiddies
Whose Dads fell in the fray?
Do they have a helping hand
To guide them on their way?
We wonder if the profiteers
Have satisfied their greed?
We wonder if the soldier’s mother
Ever is in need?
We wonder if the Kings
Who planned it all are satisfied?
They played their game of checkers
And countless millions died.
Oh, we’d like to see their faces,
When they reach the devil’s door,
But even down in hell,
There is no torture such as War.
We are the Unknown Soldiers,
Arid maybe we died in vain.
But if we were alive and our country called,
We’d do it all over again.
P.M.: Nits, left-right face, forward march, slow.
Reply to the Unknown Soldier’s voice by remote control through another hidden speaker in another section of halt. The poem, “A Comrade Speaks to the Unknown Soldiers.”
Listen, Buddies.
At this part the Provo Marshal will halt the Nits: Nits, halt!
Listen, Buddies.
You’ve been over there a long while on the green slopes of Arlington .
What do you think of it all?
I remember the day they carried you, in a pageant of glory, to your final resting place.
Just as you came out of the Capitol, down the east steps, a streak of red light broke through the clouds.
Old Glory covering you became an emblazoned emblem.
Soldiers stood at attention. Bayonets glistened. Statesmen followed in your wake. A military band, forgetting the martial music that marched you off to war, now played a dirge.
From the Capitol to the amphitheatre throngs lined the way. The President, his Cabinet, the Supreme Court, Senators and Representatives and Governors came to honor you.
Countrymen of every color and creed at the end of your journey, knelt in the purple hued soil. There were orations, and eulogies for you, known so well, but still unknown. You, dead, but yet living. America stood still. Foreign nations bestowed medals upon you.
Your mother was there, I saw her weeping. She thought of you as a little fellow, running around with a paper hat and wooden sword playing soldier. Your father was proud of the boy who made the supreme sacrifice. Your sister’s eyes filled with tears. Your brother stood beside me. That day will never be forgotten.
Many years have passed, and some of your Comrades with them—out on the hillside plots—row on row.
Autumn is in the air, your anniversary, we will get to thinking about you and what happened since we parted at the portals.
Even though your war was meant to end wars—younger generations have since marched forth to battle—and become our comrades in arms—on the land—on the sea—in the air.
In your bivouac, you know better than I, a mere mortal still stumbling around, what it’s all about.
I have a hope that in the whispering winds coming over the Potomac lush lands, there may be the sweet sound of your voices.
My buddies. If there’s a message for me boys, send it through. They are doing guard duty over you.
A bugler will sound Taps in a low muffled tone, if possible in an outside room.
I just heard Taps.
P.M. to Nits: Nits, forward march, column right-left forward march, to station of the Blanket Bum, column right-left march to altar forming the Nits in a semicircle in front of the altar.
Altar has Flag, Bible and is flanked on sides by two lighted candle sticks with colors of Post or Pup Tent, the National Colors only posted in stand to the right of the altar.
Provo Marshal is at one end of the circle and Shirt Reader at the other. This done he addresses the Seam Squirrel.
P.M. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, the Nits are ready.
Seam Squirrel advances to the altar.
S.S. to Nits: Nits, you have done well so far, but there is one with more power than I who will judge if you are worthy or not. You are required to pledge yourself to the COOTIE CREED. Are you willing to accept this Creed?
Nits: We are.
S.S.: It is well. He then steps to the right of the altar facing Nits and says: Nits, you stand in the presence of the Great Blue Louse.
At these words the Great Blue Louse will arise in a position in the rear of the Seam Squirrel station and three flash bulbs will be set off one at a time, these to be one at each side and one in the center, The GBL will advance to the altar facing Nits.
Great Blue Louse to Nits: Nits, before you are advanced to the Grayback Degree it is necessary that you pledge yourself to the Cootie Creed—as a VF W. Comrade it is assumed that you will—are you ready to take this pledge?
Nits: We are.
All present in hall will arise.
G.B.L. to Nits: Nits, behold the Starry Banner, Emblem of the Nation you have served so well. Listen to the words as spoken by the Flag.
Voice by remote control speaks the following:
The Flag Speaks
The que for the beginning of this is Listen to the words as spoken by the Flag.
Born during the Nation’s infancy, I have grown with it, my stars increasing in number as the country has grown in size; the domain over which I wave expanding until the sun on my flying folds now never sets.
Filled with significance are my colors of red, white and blue into which have been woven the strength and courage of American manhood, the love and loyalty of American womanhood.
Stirring are the stories of my Stars and Stripes.
I represent the Declaration of Independence.
I stand for the Constitution of the United States .
I reflect the wealth and grandeur of this great land of opportunity.
I signify the Law of the Land.
I tell the achievements and progress of the American people in art and science, culture and literature, invention and commerce, transportation and industry.
I stand for peace and goodwill among the nations of the world.
I believe in tolerance.
I am the badge of the nation’s greatness and the emblem of its destiny.
At the words, I am the American Flag, all Cooties will raise their hands and point at the Flag. A pause of a few seconds will be effective.
G.B.L. to Nits: You will raise your right hand in a horizontal position, place your left hand over your heart and repeat after me.
The Cootie Creed
I believe in the Flag of the United States of America , Emblem of Truth, Equality and Freedom.
Born of loving hands in the Cradle of Liberty, Baptized with the blood of our forefathers Consecrated to the cause of humanity.
And sustained by the mighty arms of her patriots.
G.B.L. to Nits: You may lower your hands.
G.B.L. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, you may proceed.
G.B.L. retires to the station of the Seam Squirrel.
Seam Squirrel takes a position in front of the altar facing Nits.
S.S. to Provo Marshal: Provo Marshal, you will place the Nits in the proper position to take the great Oath of Comradeship.
P.M. to Nits: Nits, you will form the formation.
S.S. to Nits: Nits, you will raise your right hand, the comrade in front will place his left hand on the Flag of our Country, those in the rear will place their left hand on the shoulder of the comrade in front of him, pronounce your name when called upon to do so and repeat after me.
The V.F.W. Obligation is given now.
S.S. to Nits: Nits, you will lower your hands and resume your former position.
Nits again form in a semicircle.
The Provo Marshal closes the Bible.
S.S. to Great Blue Louse: Great Blue Louse, do you think that these Nits are worthy to proceed?
G.B.L. to Seam Squirrel: They are, proceed.
Provo Marshal, you will retire the colors.
Provo Marshal takes the American standard to its former position to right of Seam Squirrel’s position (if elevated—if not to S.S. left.) He then resumes his former position.
P.M. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, your orders have been obeyed.
S.S. to Provo Marshal: It is well.
S.S. to Nits: You will repeat after me.
Having survived successfully the—ordeals of this crummy scratch—and fearing nothing—I cheerfully swear—that I will faithfully attend scratches—of this order—and that I will constantly seek out—those who can appreciate this degree—and I will invite them—into this crummy fraternity.
I furthermore willfully and oathfully swear—that I will myself—work industriously—busily—laboriously and relentlessly—every seam within sight—sound—touch—taste or smell.
I furthermore promise and swear—standing upright on bended knees—that I will never knowingly—tread upon the pastures—of any Grayback or in any way—unbeknown to him—attempt to deprive him—of his food or pleasures—that I might become fatter than he—thereby forcing him and his associates—to beg of his Brothers.
I furthermore promise—by the sincerity of a dog robber—that I will not borrow—beg—steal—swipe-cop or appropriate—any of the glory rightfully belonging—to a fellow member of this degree—thereby causing my popularity—to be increased—and additional laurels—placed upon my brow.
I furthermore promise and swear—never to reveal—to anyone—not entitled to receive it—any of the work—of this order—secret, written or oral—and may the seams of my shirt—be as barren as a church collection plate—should I ever whisper—elucidate or sound off—any of the work—of this Pup Tent—within or without.
Any may my fangs—become as blunt as the back of a silver striped—Brazilian beetle—should I ever allow—any person—not a member of this degree—to obtain any of the secrets—of this—or any Pup Tent—through my own fault.
All this I promise and swear—as one true Grayback—can swear to another.
As you were.
S.S. to Nits: I now declare and proclaim each and every one of you a Grayback of this Pup Tent, and we shall have engrossed upon the seams of this Pup Tent your names in crimson hue.
S.S. to Shirt Reader: Shirt Reader, you will now instruct these newly made Graybacks in the secret work of this degree.
S.R.: Sign of Transformation—Both pants legs rolled up.
Grayback sign — Stand erect, both hands scratching breasts.
Grayback password—A.W.O.L.
Grayback at play—Lay on floor, on face, hands over head, both legs erect.
Sign of aggravation—Both pants legs rolled up.
S.R. to Seam Squirrel: Seam Squirrel, your orders have been obeyed and the Graybacks instructed.
Seam Squirrel now resumes his station and declares a recess of five minutes to welcome the newly made Graybacks into this degree.
The ritual will now be followed and all paraphernalia removed from hall.