The Order of the Bakelite Obelisk
by Jonah Begone
Written in 1990
Dear New Member,
Welcome into the ranks of the Order of the Bakelite Obelisk, a secret reenacting fraternity! The fact that you have been granted membership (which is irrevocable and may not be refused) indicates the high regard the other member(s) of the O.B.O. have for you. Consider it an honor that you have been allowed into our ranks!
Please review the enclosed Charter, and become familiar with the provisions within. You will note that knowledge of who your fellow members are is optional, and that the exact number of O.B.O. members is known only to the Living Monument. Be assured, however, that your fellow members will seek you out at the next event you attend, and that if you are clever you will be able to figure it out for yourself.
Note the provisions concerning the secrecy of the Organization. Since the granting of membership in the O.B.O. assumes your trustworthy character we expect you will adhere to the provisions, especially number 26.
We are confident you will enjoy your association with our select group, and that you will come to treasure your involuntary membership.
Jonah Begone, O.B.O.
Living Monument, Order of the Bakelite Obelisk
CHARTER OF THE ORDER OF THE BAKELITE OBELISK (O.B.O.)
(a secret reenacting society)
1. The Order of the Bakelite Obelisk (hereafter referred to as the "Organization") is a secret reenacting fraternity. No member shall divulge the fact that he is a member to non-members (except possibly to his wife, who may be sworn to secrecy in some sort of appropriately inventive ceremony). No member will divulge the provisions of this charter to non-members. If queried about his membership, the member will perpetrate disinformation by stating something like, "The O. B.O.? Yeah, I've heard of them? Isn't (name some well-known non-member reenactor) a member?"
2. The motto of the Organization shall be: "When cannons are roaring and bullets are flying, he who would honor win must not fear dying!"
3. All members must obtain at least one nom de plume that they will use in official and covert correspondence. If a nom de plume is not chosen by the new member, one will be appointed for him. It may or may not be complementary.
4. No person granted membership may refuse membership in the Organization. This practically guarantees growth. However,
5. Numbers are not important. The Organization is looking for A Few Good Men so if the roster never exceeds one or two guys, it's no big deal.
6. Membership in the Organization is for life, with no hope of cancellation for good behavior. It follows, then, that election into the Organization is a rare, solemn and arbitrary process. The guiding philosophy for recruitment shall be "What's the Hurry?"
7. Initially there is only one member of the Organization, and he is called "the Living Monument." He grants membership to another member. The two grant membership to a third, who decide on a fourth, etc. Membership in the Organization is granted - not applied for or sought after - by the unanimous verbal or written election of all organization members.
8. Prospective members must be:
a) male (the Organization - like Alfalfa's "He-Man Women Hater's Club - shall be open to males only. This means no musket-bearing females allowed even if they pass the ten-foot test.)
b) 18 or above
c) veteran reenactors of any period
9. The exact number of members in the Organization is a secret ideally known only to the Living Monument.
10. Since record-keeping in the Organization is kept by false names, real member's names will not necessarily be given to members on a roster. It is therefore possible that members will not know each other except by behavior, inadvertent disclosure of the provisions of this Charter, otherwise unexplained companionship, or reading about it in "the Washington Post."
11. All members may follow their written nom de plume with the initials O.B.O. (i.e., "Jonah Begone, O.B.O.), but may not explain what the initials stand for to non-members.
12. Organizational Lore: the reply to the question "Is this a coincidence?" shall be "I think not."
13. The Organization shall sponsor secret Living History Activities for its members (like peering down women's Revolutionary War stays to observe cleavage without being noticed, for instance). These secret Living History activities are voluntary, and may be chosen by the members on an as-needed basis.
14. The title "Order of the Bakelite Obelisk" is based upon the instrument of death of Privates Gimbels and Stark as recounted in the Final Chapter of their saga. All Organization members shall avenge those honored two by swearing eternal opposition to the Confederate Reenactment Effort and the Richmond Confederate Memorial Parade. If the member objects to swearing, he doesn't have to.
15. Organizational Lore - The Promised Return: Pvts. Gimbels and Stark are not really dead but will return when their countrymen need them most. Let's hope they bring a cooler and a six-pack of Coke with them.
16. The official verbalized expression of anger from one Organization member to another shall be: "Why I Oughtta..."
17. It is intended that the Organization be a permanent, perpetual organization. However, should the organization be deemed unnecessary by its members by their inactivity in its affairs this charter will be considered null and void at the 1995 Richmond Monument Avenue Parade. 18. All Organization members must have A Life, or a suitable excuse for a lack thereof.
19. When spoken of in conversation among members, the Organization shall be pronounced (phonetically) "Oh-bo," like the musical instrument, oboe. In no wise shall the Organization be pronounced "O-B-oh" as it might be misunderstood to be "Oh, B.O.," as if the members smelled bad or something.
20. A primary reason for the formation of the Organization is to promote non-homosexual male bonding. A secondary primary reason is to insidiously undermine the Confederate Reenactment Effort (or any other Efforts deemed to be in opposition to Organizational Lifestyles) by witty aspersions, obfervations and excessively biting inside jokes.
21. Another primary reason for the Organization is to provide a structure whereby members may gather together around campfires at reenactments and engage in relevant and intelligent (or at least entertaining) conversation away from the influence of rednecks, drunks, social clods, millets, the emotionally unstable, new reenactors, founding fathers, those wanting to sing and those perpetrating an ego (staff officers of reenacting umbrella groups, for example).
22. No member of the Organization shall regard reenacting as anything more than a recreational pastime. Occasionally sentiments of sadness for "those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could enjoy the liberties, etc. " can be shared in a non-mawkish fashion among other members, but no more than rarely. Generally speaking, however, members of this Organization shall keep these feelings to themselves.
23. Organizational Rank Structure: there is the Living Monument and all other members . The Living Monument shall not consider his rank a big deal and the members, if asked, shall not express an interest in becoming the Living Monument. Tenure as the Living Monument is for life unless he gets tired of it and graciously grants it to someone else in due ceremony.
24. Punishment for divulging Organizational secrets shall include any or all of the following: a) being required to purchase at least one Civil War "art" print, b) singing "Just Before the Battle, Mother" a capella in a company formation, c) expressing love for the "Lost Cause" to an AK-47-wielding resident of Southeast Washington D.C.
25. Nothing is taken seriously. Since taking this Charter seriously is optional, it could be argued that this secret organization doesn't really exist (making it that much more secret since even its members are unsure about its existence).
26. Because of the bonds of Fraternal Brotherhood and convenience the Organization shall have, as an auxiliary unit, "Tracey's Independent Congreve Rocket Battery." The unit newsletter - "The Red Glare" - shall serve as the newsletter of the Organization when necessary (or, any member may appoint himself the newsletter editor and produce newsletters). Newsletters shall be printed infrequently on a regular basis.