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The Grange is in Tulsa this week

By The Oklahoman - NewsOK (11/8/11)

  NOVEMBER 8, 2011 --

Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton were in the International Loyal Order of Friendly Raccoons. Laurel and Hardy snuck off for a convention of the Sons of the Desert.

In Tulsa this week, a conclave is under way for the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. This is not a comedy styling but the 145th gathering of a group with chapters in 2,700 cities and towns. From Tuesday through Saturday, delegates from 36 states will be in Oklahoma. Some of those attending will be conferred with the Seventh Degree, the order's highest status level and about the only part of the convention that isn't open to the public.

A group best known as “the Grange” was founded in 1867 by seven men interested in “preserving and expanding American democracy.” Its 11-story headquarters in Washington is the only private office building in a federal office complex near the White House.

The Grange has had the ear of presidents, no doubt, but it's the ears of farm kids that are of most concern to the oldest surviving agricultural organization in America. Its agenda has included things as “mundane” as rural mail delivery and as lofty as women's suffrage. Susan B. Anthony spoke at the 1903 convention.

With its vestiges of rituals, symbology and secrecy, the Grange could be caricaturized as a real-world Order of the Friendly Raccoons. Nearly 150 years of community service by its members proves otherwise.

We welcome the sons (and daughters) of the Grange to Oklahoma.

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