Thursday, March 13, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 133

Shrine parade Seattle, 1915

The Nile Temple hosted the parade shown on the postcard above in July 1915 as part of the Shriner’s convention held in Seattle with the slogan “Smile with the Nile.”  The convention, parade and decorations brought an estimated 75,000 people to the city plus an additional approximately 30,000 Shriners.  The parade and the crowds it drew generated over $2,000,000 in money spent on hotels, restaurants, and shopping by the Shriners and all the others who came into the city to see the spectacle.  There were rave reviews in the New Seattle Chamber of Commerce Record about the increase in business, the decorations and pageantry.  The card shows flags on the lampposts, banners along the buildings and over the street.  Members of the organization are dressed in their uniforms complete with the fez hat for which they were and are well known.

When the order was established in 1870 as a fraternal branch of the Freemasons (Masons) they were originally called the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine but commonly referred to as Shriners.  The name was officially changed in 2010 to Shriners International.  Perhaps best known for the Shriners Hospitals for Children and for the red fezzes that members wear they are headquartered in Tampa Florida.  The Shriners put special emphasis on fellowship and fun.

One report described the costumes or uniforms for the Shriners as cartoonish versions of Middle Eastern dress.  It is possible to see the embroidery on the jackets, the baggy pants and tight stockings, and as mentioned above the red fez hat.  One of the founders of the organization was an actor named William J. Florence and he made drawings and took notes at a party he had attended plus other events he had witnessed in Algiers and Cairo.  When he returned to the United States he shared this material with Walter M. Fleming, M.D. and together they made modifications to come up with what would later become known as the Shriners.

There is a network of 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children in the United States, Mexico and Canada.   When the first hospital was established in 1920 it was designated as a hospital for crippled children up to the age of 18.  Later the scope of treatment was enlarged and today they treat orthopedic cases, burns, cleft lip and palate and spinal cord injury rehabilitation.  Up until 2012 care was offered free to children who needed care but today due to rising costs and losses to the endowment fund due to the recession, the hospitals have had to start billing insurance companies.  No child under age 18 who can be treated is turned away and children who cannot pay are still treated at no cost.

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