We spent this past weekend in Picture Butte, a town of 1700 about 20 minutes drive north of Lethbridge. It wasn't a random choice, as Audrey's family (her mother's side, specifically) have their annual Oldenburger Family Reunion there every Labour Day, and we returned after an eight-year hiatus.
The reunion itself was even more enjoyable than I expected, with much time spent catching up, playing games, and enjoying large breakfasts and larger potlucks in the spacious hall.
Audrey's Uncle Bert is a member of the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, Lodge #268, in Picture Butte, and has booked their hall for the foreseeable future. It is a tremendous venue for such an event, as it has not only a large basement hall and kitchen, but also a grassy fenced-in enclosure large enough for a half-dozen fifth-wheel trailers, a camperized van, and a handful of tents.
The local lodge was founded in 1936, and the current hall was built in the 1950s. A couple of items in the lower hall caught my eye, the first being the vintage shuffleboard table.
Given the number of small children about, it was probably just as well the pucks were stowed away, but I was still fascinated by the workings and typefaces of the scoreboard, as well as the coin box, designed to safely stow the dime needed for one game's worth of scoring.
The other neat feature is this old safe, set into the wall by the doors leading out into the compound.
Now, given the various events the Elks can end up being responsible for, it makes a certain amount of sense for them to have something secure for cash or other valuables, but this seemed a bit much, so I asked Bert about it.
It turns out the safe came from the local feed mill when It closed down in the 1950s. The mill owners were going to throw it out, but let the Elks take it for next to nothing. Judging from the Ford Garage monicker, it appears the B.P.O.E. may be the third owners, and likely the last.
"The tumblers are getting so worn down now," said Bert, "that you have to open it by feel."
"Like a safecracker?" I asked.
"Pretty much," he grinned. "There's only two or three guys who can actually open it now. I know the combination, but I can't open the thing."