The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Askeladden 610
Kalamazoo, Michigan

One of the newest lodges in the district grew out of the desire of Sons of Norway members to have a lodge close enough to be able to attend functions and get together often, truly able to develop a fraternal friendship.

In 1987, Myrtle Beinhauer and other officers of Vennskap 516 attended a seminar in Muskegon which so inspired her that she decided to do something about getting a lodge in Kalamazoo, the home of several Vennskap members who shared her frustration of traveling a distance, especially over icy roads in winter. Together with other interested Norwegians they formed a steering committee, meeting first in mid-September 1987.

A number of activities were planned so they could get to know each other better and bring in more people of Norwegian descent. A Christmas party drew a crowd of over 50, where a report was given on the progress being made toward a lodge of their own. In February a potluck supper sharing Norwegian food found even more attending. Then in May, sixty-two came to celebrate Syttende Mai and learn of the significance of the day. Meanwhile, the Sammenkonsts, or coffees, had continued, giving the opportunity to become better acquainted.

Shortly after the August picnic, Jim Holms, International Director, and immediate past president of the Fifth District, announced that Kalamazoo was to be the pilot lodge in the Sons of Norway drive for 500 new chapters before 1995, the 100th birthday of Sons of Norway.

All stops were pulled as the steering committee went full speed ahead. Field Staff Representative John Cooper came to enroll new members. Suddenly the drive planned for fall or even January was moved up to summer, and on September 24, 1988 the Kalamazoo lodge was instituted by Fifth District President Clare Almquist, with many other District officers and International Directors Cy Wittrock and Jim Holms attending.

Askeladden Lodge 610 chose Myrtle Beinhauer to be its first president, a fitting tribute to one who had worked so hard to bring the lodge into being. In February, 1988 President Almquist presented the charter with 113 names at a ceremony held in the Masonic Temple in Kalamazoo.

A number of classes have already been organized in language, crafts, folk dancing, etc. to help fulfill the goal to bring Norwegian culture to the members.