History Of The Toast Since Mondays meant going back to work (or because some legitimate gathering spots opened at the stroke of midnight), the meetings would break up around eleven. Any leftover food would be consumed or sent off to the unemployed preformers along with the charitable collection. This left the beverages and brought about the first ritual to be transplanted into Elkdom. All would fill their glasses and drink a toast to those whose misfortunes had made them absent from the gathering, after a custom Vivian relayed from the English Order of Buffaloes in commemoration of the eleven o'clock curfew imposed by Eilliam of Normandy after the Battle of Hastings. The same prayerful sentiment for friends at risk out in the world in 1066 was approptiate for those who were absent from the circle of friends in 1867. Thus came into existence both the Jolly Corks eleven o'clock toast - from a tradition spanning 8 centuries - and a few months later the Elks eleven o'clock toast to deceased or distant Elks. By the time the Corks met on Delancey Street in January of 1868, this custom was informally but well established.
The Current Eleven O'Clock Toast You have heard the tolling of 11 strokes. This is to remind us that with Elks, the hour of 11 has a tender significance. Wherever Elks may roam, whatever their lot in life may be, when this hour falls upon the dial of night, the great heart of Elkdom swells and throbs. It is the golden hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic roll call of those who will come no more. Living or dead, Elks are never forgotten, never forsaken. Morning and noon may pass them by, the light of day sink heedlessly in the West, but ere the shadows of midnight shall fall, the chimes of memory will be pealing forth the friendly message, "To our absent members."
Our Absent Members May They Never Be Forgotten